Friday, June 18, 2010

Sick leave and coke studio

I have been away these past few days because a) I was very very busy, and b) following the business, (as expected) I was very very sick. For people wondering how that can ever be 'as expected', relax... you don't know me/you don't live life in my shoes. Whenever I get supremely busy, I also tend to de-stress later by falling sick (unwillingly and totally unplanned), and I tend to lose all my creativity/sanity/insanity in the process. I become quite boringly normal on high doses of Benadryl...not a good idea at all.
Anyways...back to my normal. I've been doing absolutely nothing, except watching a lot of random videos on youtube (God, I wish I knew how to put youtube videos on this blog... I need to learn that), and waiting for new episodes of "Coke Studio". This program is honestly amazing. It's basically a live recording session of various famous/unknown singers which come together and record a totally different version of their songs. It's amazing because it brings together a modern western orchestra, traditional classical instruments (Indo-Pak subcontinental) and frequently a single instrument as the focus (e.g. dhol (traditional drum), bansuri (flute), rubab (string instrument) etc) to create great music. Finally, it aims to bring Sufistic influences into modern music and introduce it to the masses.
It makes me very happy when I see our younger generation paying special attention to the wisdom of the Sufi saints' words, as they come alive on the lips of today's popular artists, and the music adds another dimension to the overall atmosphere. This program is sponsored generously by Coca Cola, live studio recordings take place in Karachi (so proud of you, my city), and it is directed by the genius Rohail Hyatt. Rohail Hyatt...I always thought he was a 'gora' (foreigner) in the nineties pop band (Vital Signs, how I miss them!) but turns out he was not. So far, my best episodes have been Aik Alif (by Noori - that bubblegum rock band totally wowed me!), Paimona (Zeb and Haniya were introduced for the first time), and Khamaj (I thought the song was perfect as it was, and no one could top it... but Coke Studio did). I was completely moved by the amount of sufi-poetic treasures hidden in our local history, and how people have chosen to ignore that part of history.
Our land of wandering dervishes who settled in the desert sands and lush farms, or at the edge of the ocean, their words, their love, their God - forgotten. Hundreds of years ago, Sufi's from all across the Central Asia and the Middle East, and all of the Sub-continent, found peace on this land. Here people didn't judge them as crazy, didn't call their words or actions heresy, and just let them be. Here people didn't understand the Sufi's language (persian or arabic dialects), yet understood the look of pure wisdom or pure love upon their faces, and respected them for it. They didn't understand which God these people were searching for, which Khuda they danced in madness to reach, yet they were touched by their purity and their insanity in some way. When these poor wanderers, beggars, Faqeers, from far-away lands passed away, leaving this mortal world of sadness and danger behind, the people of this piece of land buried their remains and remembered them. Some built stone graves with green flags in honour, some carved their names in crude childish Farsi/Arbi script, some remembered their poetry and sung it often. Some, forgetting their own rites and rituals- their own religions, got lost upon the path of these wandering Sufis. These people believed in the all accepting, all encompassing... absolute pure love for the Divine.
Years have passed, and the people of this land have sadly lost the way of the Sufis. We are no longer the all inclusive, all encompassing, loving people... we cherish the cracks on this land, on our person and our heart and soul. These cracks have become who we are: ethnic cracks, religious, language. "You pray in that mosque, I pray in this one." "You say Khuda-Hafiz... you are a heretic." "You wear this, you are not one of us."
I wonder, if any lost wandering Sufi from the pages of ancient history, if ever such a poor soul happens to re-trace his steps and enters this land... who here will call him 'Baba', and let him stay under the shade of a tree? Who here, will listen in amazement at his wisdom, sung out in a beautifully exotic foreign language, and still understand the essence of his words? Who here, will give the poor faqeer, a proper burial, and put a green flag to mark his resting place? Who here, when in difficult times, will recall from his memory the words and the ecstatic dance to the Divine,- for comfort? No one. The poor wandering Baba will no longer find peace in this land. His love, his Khuda, his poetry, is not welcome here. People here follow the Petro-Islam now.
Ending on a happier note: Coke Studio, well done for bringing some of the beloved poetry back to our days.
The great Bulleh Shah once said in Punjabi:
"Parh Parh ilm teh fazil hoya,
teh kadey apney aap nu parhiya nai...
bhaj bhaj warna ey mandir maseeti,
teh kadey man apney wich barhiya nai...
larna ey roz Shaitaan de naal...
teh kadey nafs apney naal lariya nai...
Bulleh Shah, asmaani ud-diyan pharo nai-
te jera ghar baitha unhoon pharya nai...
Bas kareen o yaar, ilm-oun bas kareen o yaar!"

"you read to become all knowledge-able,
yet you never read yourself....
you run to enter your temples and mosque,
yet you never entered your own heart....
every day you fight Satan,
yet you never fight your own ego...
Bulleh Shah, you try grabbing that which is in the sky-
yet you never get hold of what sits inside yourself...
Stop it all my friend, then stop seeking all this knowledge, my friend!"

1 comment:

  1. i totally agree with ur analysis of coke studio, i've sat down and heard the recordings of artists i wouldn't normally and have been wowed!