Blown away! (finally!)

Now THIS…my dear Single Malt Monkey….is the definition of Coke Studio awesomeness!

Feel free to head-bang your way through this number.

Nationwide opinion seems to be that Coke Studio has been a bit ho hum this season, with the exception of Charkha Naulakha. I mean, the songs have been easy enough on the ear……but we now expect quite a bit more in terms of edginess. ‘Neray Aah’ has delivered on all fronts! I LOVE the way both Farhad and Rachel seem immersed in belting out the lyrics…with such…..feeling! And omg, that girl can scream!

This is seriously good stuff people.

Here is something about the band called ‘Overload’, how they came into being, what set them apart, and what happened to them subsequently.

And watch the ‘behind the scenes’ bit to know what the song means, how they put it together, and how Rachel overcame her issues with pronouncing the Punjabi ๐Ÿ™‚

pain in the neck

Around two weeks ago, my pillows, our new mattress, the overhead fan and bad posture, all conspired to give me a crick in the frikkin neck. (Hmm, that phrase had a nice ring to it. I repeated it to myself four times just now. Fun!)

According to my calculations, I get a crick in the neck at least once every year and I am left to deal with the resultant pain and discomfort for at least two weeks, give or take a few days. The only good thing about this is that experience has taught me a few things by now.

For example, I now know that cold packs work wonders, soothing the inflammation and giving miraculous pain relief. I know that painkillers do, thankfully, take away a bit of the sting of the injury as well, enough to make it bearable. I also know that it’s no use trying to ‘give it rest’. The best thing is to NOT rest but to try and keep moving. Lying around in bed moaning and complaining, satisfying though it may be, will NOT help AT ALL.

Usually, I find that pain brings out the worst in me. I happen to be one of those people who have a rather low threshold, and I’m neither proud nor ashamed to admit this. That’s just how I’m wired I guess. Pain makes me cranky. It can frustrate me. It can make me rude and offensive to people I generally love. It can make me resentful and bad-tempered and anti-social. It can make me oh-so-sulky and withdrawn and prone to shooting dirty looks at anyone who glances at me sympathetically. It can do a lot of things to basically turn me into a little monster. Nope, I am not fun to be around when I am in pain.

So around two weeks ago, when I sat up and felt a sudden sharp pain in my neck, I knew in an instant that I was in trouble….

I got out of bed unable to turn my head in any direction. If I made one wrong move….it would have me howling. First things first. I went out of the room to seek out the Huz, mumbling a series of expletives and ‘ows’ all the way to the living room, where Huz was to be found. I informed him of my predicament and asked for a shoulder rub.

Like any normal human being, I adore massages, especially back and shoulders because I often strain those muscles. This penchant for being kneaded has grown exponentially as I have aged….and so has my dissatisfaction with the only people in the house who I can ask to oblige.

I would have thought that the man who found me nice enough to marry would positively jump at any opportunity to give me pleasure. But that was not to be. I realized early on in my married life, that here was a man who would never EVER offer to give me a back rub of his own volition. Being fidgety or rubbing my own shoulders while giving him meaningful looks had absolutely no effect. Here was a man who was truly macho.

I also worked out a few other things. In other words, passive aggression would not work on him. Giving him the silent treatment did not bring about the desired effect either. I decided to swallow my pride and resort to begging.

Over the years, Mr Macho learnt to recognize the needy look in my eyes when I approach him and preempt the question he knows is coming with a ‘No!’. Undeterred, I plead with him to have mercy, rub my shoulders, just 5 minutes…..please….

He sighs, looks away in resignation and reluctantly agrees….but just two minutes, he says.

I am grateful for whatever I get. It is far from enough, but something is better than nothing I suppose. This is what I say to myself as I daydream wistfully of a personal masseuse who’d rub my back with essential oils and proceed to knead me for an hour of pure bliss, recognizing without being told all the sore spots, knowing the right amount of pressure to apply, understanding where to use the palms, where to use knuckles, and where just fingertips…

And back to reality, where Mr Macho is all thumbs. But I am grateful.

Surprisingly enough, I have found myself to be rather upbeat through this latest cricked-neck episode, despite the fact I can’t seem to get comfortable enough at night to get what I’d call a really restful sleep. I usually sleep on my side, with an arm tucked under the pillow under my head. Unfortunately, the cricked neck gave rise to stiff shoulders, and the stiff shoulders along with tennis elbow have led to a pulled muscle or something in my upper right arm. So sleeping with that arm under my head is downright painful.

I try sleeping on my back, but eventually the tension builds up under my neck because of it being raised on my pillow. If I remove the pillow, the gap between the back of my neck and the bed makes me uncomfortable. So I turn to the left and try sleeping with my left arm under the pillow. This works for a little while….until my exercise-induced Restless Leg Syndrome kicks in.

Unable to sleep, I try putting my head on Huz’s chest to see if that would help. He fidgets and rolls over and I’m back to square one, tossing and turning most of the night, trying to get comfortable as rest eludes me.

You’d think I’d be waking crabby and sleepy the next morning, unable to function, but you’d be wrong. I’m actually so happy to not have to try and sleep anymore that I bounce off the bed merrily, eager to get on with my day. It’s all very strange and I don’t know what’s going on, but I’m not complaining.

Of course, as luck would have it, Zahooran has once again left me in the lurch when I am at my most vulnerable and gone off to her village for a month.

I put my current favourite song on repeat as I wash the dishes and clean the kitchen, my neck loosening up as I get grooving.

I defy you to listen to this song and not want to get up and start dancing ๐Ÿ™‚

‘The Dewarists’ ~a quick post

Just a quick post to tell you this was fun listening to and watching this morning. Nice beat too. The Dewarists…..Vishal/Shekhar and Imogen Heap collaborate and sing ‘Minds without Fear’. Have a listen. And look of course ๐Ÿ™‚

A little about The Dewarists here, where and how this particular video was filmed (That Samode Palace is unbelievably beautiful!) Very lovely and informative! A bit long, but worth it ๐Ÿ™‚ My favourite bit is when Vishaal and Imogen visit an antique musical instrument shop and try out the various instruments.

Enjwoy! ๐Ÿ˜€

Dil-e-nadaan tujhe hua kia hai? (what is UP with you, silly ol’ heart?)

After being serenaded in the wee hours of the morning with a ghazal by Abida Parveen I have begun to rethink my lack of enthusiasm for her voice.

Good music is good music after all, and whether I consider pirs and murshids to be flaky or not is irrelevant ๐Ÿ˜‰

Sometimes the time of day greatly affects your receptivity and enjoyment of a particular piece of music. And the mood dictates what meaning you’ll glean from the lyrics.

I happened to be listening to this one when the first light of dawn was just about to break. The mood was mellow and the house was quiet….and Abida finally managed to work her magic on me….

That was nice.

With my heart agreeably melted, I let my guard down further when someone posted a different song on a music group on Facebook. I clicked on the link, and was surprised once again by my receptivity. Does this mean I’m finally acquiring some ‘culture’?

But I’m throwing down the gauntlet with this one. Written by Ghalib and beautifully sung by a woman who imbues her voice with her soul.

I feel less like a neanderthal already! ๐Ÿ˜€

All time favorites-Coke Studio

In the aftermath of the 4th season of Coke Studio, I thought about all the other perfornances we have watched over the last couple of years and decided to compile a short list of my absolute favourites, barring the ones I showcased in a previous post.

These are the ones that immediately sprang to mind.

Josh and Shafqat Amanat Ali (Mahi Ve)

I love the energy of the Montreal-based Josh duo Q and Rup, coupled with Shafqat’s classical input. The original is better, but the Coke Studio version is pretty good too, a lovely mix of bhangra, pop and hip-hop.

Atif Aslam (Mai Ni)

The boy with the golden voice, who gained recognition with the song ‘Aadat’ as the lead singer of Jal….they soon split up in a rather messy, ignominous way.

Mai Ni….the Coke Studio version is haunting, and beautifully sung by Atif.

Arif Lohar and Meesha Shafi (Alif Allah)

Never been a fan of Arif Lohar’s genre of music or his flashy dress sense, but I believe he’s immensely popular in Punjab. This song though, was simply awesome!

Meesha, of Overload fame, added some extra oomph and pizzazz as Lohar’s sidekick, and this Bahoo-inspired song became an instant HIT throughout the Pakistani music-loving world, much thanks to Coke Studio and Rohail’s vision.

Zeb and Haniya (Bibi Sanam Janem)

These two US-educated girls from Kohat, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa are cousins. Their music is melodious and really easy on the ears, with a folksy, bluesy sound. Stars, these two.

Bibi Sanam Janem is an Afghani song, very catchy tune and eminently sing-able.

Zeb and Haniya (Nazar Eyle)

A Turkish number this time. Literally translated, the song is quite absurd, but mesmerising if you have no clue what it means…

Beautifully sung by Zeb.

Meesha Shafi (Chori chori)

Model/singer, Meesha was catapulted to fame in this season of Coke Studio, first with her duet with Arif Lohar (see above) and then with this soulful, trance-like rendition of a song originally sung by the renowned Reshma…

What do you think? Got any favorites you think I should include in this list?

My Top 5 from Coke Studio Season 4….so far.

Season 4 of Coke Studio is proving to be as much fun as the previous one, and I have an urge to share the performances that I REALLY enjoyed. But for the record, I’d just like to say that I love Rohail Hayat. He is quite awesome in my books, and has come a looooong way from his gangly, awkward days as a keyboardist for the Vital Signs.

Junaid Jamshed may be remembered as the lead singer of the most popular, the most phenomenal, the very FIRST pop band in Pakistan, but what the hell has he done to himself??


Rohail on the other hand has forever made his mark on the music scene as the producer of Coke Studio. The others just…faded away.

So yes, Rohail is now my favourite Vital Signs group member. Long may he live. He has succeeded in presenting obscure artists and musicians to us, as well as re-introducing established singers with a fresh sound.

The following videos are not in any order as such, as each one is so very different in terms of genre and calibre. They’re a mix of modern and traditional, and what I like about the ‘traditional’ performances is the way they have been fused with more western instruments and produced a sound that is a wonderful blend of both East and West.

So here goes.


Mizraab is a band I didn’t know anything about until now. This is one of the songs from the first episode I think, I can’t remember for sure, but it doesn’t matter. It got stuck in my head for some reason, so it must be good. Hope you enjoy it too. (you can stop watching when it gets too dramatic towards the end)

The lead singer, Faraz, is great with that guitar. And Rachel and Zoe add a nice touch with their voices to accompany Faraz’s singing.

Sanam Marvi

I admit I didn’t much like Sanam Marvi at first. She was introduced in the last season I think, and at the risk of incurring the wrath of Abida Parveen lovers, Sanam Marvi sounded a bit too much like a young version of her for me to like her. (Never been much of an Abida Parveen fan)

But she has grown on me since then, perhaps because of the glimpses we get of her humble personality, and earnestness. She once said, ‘Agar mujh mein mosiqi na hoti, tou shayed mai bhi na hoti.’ ย (if I had no music in me, I wouldn’t exist)

She sings ย Sufi ‘kalaam’ (verses) with verve, passion and sensitivity. I think I REALLY like her very much now.

This is her singing ‘Ith Naheen’ by Baba Bulleh Shah. It means, if not here, then nowhere.

Ataullah Khan Isakhelvi

Isakhelvi needs absolutely no introduction. He is a phenomenon. I think Rohail must be over the moon with joy that he managed to rope him in!

For those who know nothing about him though, Ataullah Khan Isakhelvi, or Khan saheb as he is known on the sets of Coke Studio is a Punjabi folk singer, crooning songs of love in his instantly recognisable gritty voice. There’s something about it and his songs that I find incredibly sexy.

This is the Coke Studio version of a song from a Punjabi movie, very romantic. ‘Pyar Nal na sahi, ghussay naal vekh liya kar…beemaaraan noo shifa mil jaandi ay’, which means, literally, ‘look at me with anger, if not love…that would be enough….this sick person would be cured’ ๐Ÿ™‚

But first, a peek at what goes on behind the scenes…..(love the deference with which Rohail speaks to Isakhelvi, and the various artists goofing off with each other) ย ๐Ÿ™‚

Fareed Ayaz and Abu Muhammad

I don’t even know if this is classical or if it’s qawwali, but it’s sixteen and a half minutes of pure entertainment. I’m amazed at how Fareed Ayaz can belt this out with a mouth stuffed with paan! And the body language of the singers, the way they move their hands and seem to put their entire bodies into their performance is just great to watch. I don’t even know what it is they’re singing so passionately about….but I can feel it. And it’s great fun to see the head-bobbing and the smiles on the faces of the guitarists and Gumby the drummer….they just look like they’re enjoying it immensely and that is fun to watch too. I think it’s called synergy. And pure artistry. Fantastic.


Another band I know nothing about, but I just fell in love with the softness of this song. It’s more a lullaby, really. And another song I couldn’t stop singing to myself….

Beautifully rendered. Here’s ‘Nindiya re’….

Hope you enjoyed the various sounds folks. That’s a wrap ๐Ÿ™‚

p.s Would love to hear from you and know which songs you enjoyed so far this season….


my lovely companion ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

I lost my cell phone yesterday. I can’t say it hasn’t happened before though. It has. Twice. The circumstances are different every time though the reactions are always the same. It goes from bafflement, at not feeling the familiar shape of it in my bag after several minutes of rummaging, moving on to panic. Then the creeping realisation of loss, followed by a heart-sinking sense of bereftness and melancholy, like a part of me got severed or something.

It is not a nice feeling. And it always makes me re-trace my steps in a futile attempt to turn back the clock to a point where I could have steered the course of events in such a way as to avoid what eventually happened. But now, all I’m left with is a feeling of ‘if only’……

My Nokia X-3 was running low on battery and I was trying to make up my mind whether to take it with me or not. I was getting ready to be picked up by a friend to attend a spring festival on the other side of town, and I had to decide whether to take my camera or use my phone to record a video of the event. Turned out the camera was completely uncharged, so instead of leaving my phone at home to get juiced, I opted to take it with me and wing a video with whatever little charge that was left in it.

To be honest, I was in two minds about going to the event at all, as it was to be outdoors and I knew it would be terribly sunny. But I went, partially because I knew my friend wanted company and I was feeling sporty. Plus there was an impromptu flash mob in the offing and around forty drummers would form a circle and play their hearts out. We couldn’t miss that!

So off we went, and it was a nice drive on a lazy Sunday without the usual frenetic traffic on the roads ย and a feeling of adventurousness in two girls who would otherwise be lounging in comfy pajamas and t-shirts at home. We bought our tickets and some coupons for games, not really wanting to play but just to contribute towards theย worthy cause of the SIUT, an organisation that works towards free treatment of kidney patients, including dialysis and transplantation. It was breezy and would be quite a pleasant afternoon if not for the summer sun making its presence felt. We bought a few ice lollies to cool us down and wandered around looking at options for entertainment, though it was apparent that this was more a carnival for children than 30-somethings ๐Ÿ˜›

A few more friends joined us, amongst them some of the musicians who had been rounded up to be a part of the ‘drum circle’, which I imagined would be something like this…

The plan was to watch the drum circle play and then skedaddle back home asap. The timing was delayed due to a no-show by about 35 of the 40 drummers, but after a bit of discussion around one of the large tables dotting the grass under the humungus tent, they decided to go ahead with the plan sans the missing drummers in a little while. ย I pulled out my phone to check the time and to send a whimsical message to another friend to come join us there.

cavity in a cup

While the musicians drifted off in search of food, we walked over to a gola ganda stall to buy a styrofoam cup of what is essentially shaved ice smothered in colourful syrups and condensed milk, and shared it sitting under the shade of a huge cargo plane, one of the features on the lawns of the PAF museum where the festival had been arranged. It was really pleasant in the shade and we slurped our gola ganda and crunched the ice while chatting about this and that until it seemed the drummers were gathering to play nearby. We got up and walked over while I rummaged in my bag for my phone…..

Well, you know what happened next. Instead of watching the drum circle perform the event of the day, my friend and I spent the ๏ปฟnext fifteen minutes backtracking and searching for the phone. She used her phone to call mine only to be told by an automated voice that the device she was trying to reach was powered off…..a surefire sign of it having been picked up by someone with not very noble intentions.

We drove home feeling dejected and sunburnt. My friend couldn’t help feeling that it was somehow her fault for having asked me to come along with her to the spring festival in the first place. If we hadn’t gone, I wouldn’t have lost my phone. But really, it was just my own carelessness. I had probably dropped it on the grass after getting up from the table, forgetting that the phone was in my lap rather than my bag. It could have been picked up by anyone, maybe a kid….perhaps one of the attendants who were busily cleaning up litter around the tables had spotted it on the ground and quietly pocketed it.

Dejection is not a natural state for me to be in and one of the ways I cope is to temporarily block it from my head, call it denial if you will. It had barely been a year since I lost my last phone, and the feeling of loss then was so intense and I missed it so much and was so outraged with myself for being careless I cried for a week thinking about it.

This time, however, I bore up with a touch more sang-froid than usual. It was unfortunate, yes, but after all unfortunate things DO happen. Okay, so I lost a phone worth 12000 rupees. It could have been worse.

But today I find myself feeling outraged not at myself but at the inevitability of a lost phone being stolen. Why does it always have to be this way? Why can’t there be any honest people with morals enough to return lost property to its rightful owners? What ever happened to decency and common courtesy…and doing the right thing? Is it natural to expect your lost cell phone to be sickeningly powered off EVERY time you have the misfortune of dropping it somewhere?? Doesn’t this god-fearing nation have any capacity for goodwill, and the most basic reward of satisfaction at helping someone find what belongs to them?ย Is it too much to expect an ounce of conscience?