Thoughts,opinions and musings of a restless nomad

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North Carolina, United States
A nomad in today's world, a world traveler in essence

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This is your captain speaking....


The bone tired group comprising my wife, son, Oza (a friend & colleague who travelled with us) and me had just settled into a disturbed nap in the plane after the evening snack, when the captain’s nasal voice broke through the hazy mist of sleep enveloping us “We will shortly be landing on time at Newark, the weather is fine, slight winds….and so on…

I sat up with a jolt, the others were still in the grips of Kumbhakarana…What the bloody heck, and we were supposed to be going to Baltimore (Washington!)? Oh! I moaned, now what??

After a rough 4 days in the burning sun at Orlando’s Disneyworld, we were drained and glad to be on the next leg of our US tour, this leg a stay with my cousin sis…We were late to the Orlando airport, reaching the desk a few minutes before the flight departed. Now this was ages ago in 1989, much before 9/11 and the such happened, so things were pretty cool in US. The lady at the counter bellowed that she would send the baggage through and suggested we speed up (meaning RUN RUN….)our move towards the departure gate. Which we did, Ozabhai was distraught, his back was acting up and he had not planned for all this. Anyway we reached gate 87 which looked closed, but the gate next to it was open and a lady stood there, compact in hand, painting her lips.

I stopped for a moment, wondering what to do and approached the lady at gate 88. She took a quick look at the boarding passes and said go on. Ozabhai behind me cautioned, Dekho ye kuch gadbad lagtahai, hamara gate 87 he na? I snapped at him, ‘look Ozabhai, don’t worry she has checked our boarding passes & waved us through. It is ok’. Oza looked blank and kept mum, after all I was the travel group leader..

That was an hour ago, now we here we are 25000’ above sea level and headed for an unplanned stopover in NY.Sheepishly I woke Oza up and admitted ‘ha ji, ozabhai, gadbad to ho gaya…’ Oza kept mum. Well, the plane landed in Newark, and I decided that offence is the best form of defence, walked up to the counter and complained about the inefficiency of the ground staff and so on and so forth plus the fact that we were tourists on a first visit to US. The lady there listened patiently and stated that we had nothing to worry; she rebooked us on a morning flight to Baltimore and sent us off to a nice hotel in Manhattan with dinner coupons & a Limo…plus pick up the next morning.

My cousin, who was waiting to receive us at the airport that evening, saw our bags go by, but not us…She was allowed to go into the plane to check if we were asleep or something (believe me, all this was possible in the late 80’s). Not finding us she went home, wondering what had happened. No mobile phones those days, so it was only hours later that she knew we were spending the night in Manhattan..

Well, the next morning we flew to Baltimore without any problems and arrived in time for lunch…I frequented Delta, the airline that took good care of us, since then.

Now – compare the scenario at airports these days, post 9/11. Gone are the nice & cheery airline staff. Surly looks on every face, snappy attendants and poor overall service, no wonder the airline business is in doldrums..

Forgotten or less known singers - part 2


Bhupinder Singh

Starting as Panchamda’s (RDB) guitarist, Bhupinder ended up as a reputed Ghazal singer after a foray into movie music. And the few songs he sang with his deep sonorous voice are still remembered by all. But like they mutter, his voice was never meant for the chocolate-faced teen heroes….

Well Bhupinder sang some melodious songs like in Mausam ‘Dil doondtha hai’, Gharaonda ‘Ek Akele is sheher mein’ and Naam Ghoom jayega from Kinara…each a masterpiece..amongst a few others

His passion was ghazals and he did them so well together with his wife Mitalee singh (they met on-stage!!). I remember one of his Ghazals ‘Ahat se koi aye to lagata hein’…wonderful, mellifluous, soothing…...

Naushad once said that nobody does better than Bhupinder on a guitar…well that sure is some compliment!!
Here is a very comprehensive article on him.


Hemalata

She came into the limelight together with Yesudas, the movie being Chitchor. ‘Tujo mere sur mein’ was a superb duet…Akhiyon ke jarokhon mein was one of her great solos. Today, she does stage shows and plans to come out soon with a new Geet Album soon with
Ataullah Khan. Looking back, only Rajashri films and Ravinder Jain got the best out of her.

One article says - The title song of “Ankhiyon Ke Jharokon Se” is her masterpiece. While Ravindra Jain and Hemlata have worked on many other exceptional songs, this is easily their best one together. This was hailed as the most popular song of 1978 by ‘Binaca Geetmala’ (a radio show that used to compile records of album sales).

But well,
did you know that she has sung over 5000 songs in 38 languages. She was planning on doing a Punjabi English pop album!! and that she was introduced by Usha Khanna?

Nazia Hassan

She entered the music scene with a bang. While many were listening to disco from Saturday night fever (the famous Beegees songs) and Boney M and the such, Nazia and Zoheb brought a new sound to the Hindi pop scene with the Disco Deewane tape. It soon became a rage and Nazia’s good looks helped, also the fact that the music was by a Brit of Indian Coorgi origin – Biddu. She followed with a couple more of disco records, a few songs here and there in movies (Star was a movie where they had some songs) – but nothing to beat her first song - Aap jaisa koi meri zindagi me aye from Qurbani. She moved back to the Pakistani music world…Soon she was lost to the Indian music scene. She married, became a mother, divorced and got involved in a number of charitable causes. Then came news that she was suffering from cancer and well, she passed away recently, leaving only some sonorous musical memories….

The
linked article has Raju Bharatan stating a lot of very interesting stories!!! It says….
AND the unvarnished truth is that Nazia Hasan's Aap jaisa koi meree zindagee mein aaye stayed put, in the top slot of Ameen Sayani's Binaca Geetmala, for (believe it or not) 14 weeks running! There was no way even the velvet voice of Lata could scale down Nazia during that spell. Not since Lata herself had occupied an enviable slot in the same Binaca Geetmala for one full year before the film's release, with her Mera salaam le jaa charmer from Naushad's Uran Khatola (1955), had we witnessed a Binaca phenomenon lik Nazia.


Another
detailed article on her can be found here, she is well covered on the net, unlike the others.

The girl and the BART


SanFrancisco is a big and vibrant city. Like most cities the airport is a far way from the city center and one uses the BART to commute. The BART, well what an acronym- bay area rapid transit system, it has always been rapid whenever I went by it. So here I was standing in front of the BART ticket machine at the San Francisco international airport around 830PM wondering how much money to put in or if I should pick up a return or a one way ticket, when I saw her.

She looked quite perplexed, a pretty face with a deep frown. Dressed in a bright orange and spotted churidar kameez, she naturally elicited a lot of looks at the buzzling airport. Most regular travelers dress inconspicuously, so this was probably an oddity. I was walking briskly to the ‘down’ escalator as the girl was virtually dragging herself along. The leather yellowish orange duffel bag, that she carried, though stylish (now that was another disparity) is not normally carried by desi’s…Most hobble around in black or dark ensembles out here in America while traveling….Anyway, the girl looked quite uncomfortable, she seemed terrified actually as she neared the escalator, one the bag was obviously heavy and two she had never been on a BART or for that matter the SFO airport. Three she had a laptop bag unbalancing her… Then the obvious errors started, she dropped the bag on the escalator step in front of her. I, a couple of steps behind was startled; the thing did not roll down fortunately. Two - her long 2.5 mts dupatta was starting to trail on the escalator steps, it could easily get caught and create all kinds of problems. I was about to warn her, but she was oblivious to all this, she picked up a mobile from her handbag and was trying to switch it on, at the same time realizing that her dupatta was trailing, but fortunately she had it in her head to pull it up, though more as an unconscious act rather than the danger at hand prompting it. Well anyway the escalator was moving down rapidly and she was still fiddling with her phone and loudly muttering in an obscure undertone…the dammn cell would not start up. And to top it all, she was the least bothered about the fact that she was on an escalator that was about to plunk her on the platform, or me standing a step behind…well the escalator reached its destination, the bag rolled off and the girl stepped down to retrieve it while still on the escalator. By now I was also about to start swearing, what an idiot, I thought, but at the same time I was also feeling sorry for her, I assumed she had come straight from India or well, not very long ago. FOB as they call in US..’fresh off boat’ ( thanks for the correction - anonymous) gal. Just as I was about to fall over her at the foot of the steps, and imagine I myself was already half bent with the heavy overnighter hanging off my back, she managed to retrieve her bags and stepped off, no sorry, no nothing. I was fuming by now. There were hardly a few passengers on the BART station that night and I idly continued to track her with my eyes…

She went to one guy and asked if this was the BART station, indeed he said, she moved off, bag and duppatta trailing, found another Indian uncle about 55 plus I think and comfortably started chatting with him. I was surprised, she was by now managing famously. But the next was out of the blue and caught me totally unawares, she, without any doubt in her mind, tossed her head and walked way across the station (probably 30 mts or so) directly to me and said in a typical singsong south Indian accent ‘can I borrow your cellphone? My phone is dead and I want to make a call’. Well, I sure was surprised; what gall! no American would be so direct. Now I was wondering, who does she want to call, has she come from India, is it India she wants to call? And I asked ‘who do u want to call?’ She murmured ‘my husband’. I had no answer to that, she reeled off a number…561 something (actually I know it, is still on my phone) and I dialed it for her. She launched into a dialogue with hubby straight away, in Telegu, pleading, entreating him about something. Our man was obviously not in any mood to listen to her. That moron was also asking her whose phone she was ringing him with and the such, and he would not understand when she said that it was some Indian guy from the BART station. The girl tried pleading a few more times and finally hung up on him. The instant that was done with, her face relaxed, she returned the phone to me, murmured a thanks and walked off..to continue the chat with uncle.

I thought, well finally all is well that ends well, may she reach wherever she had to reach, safe & sound and make peace with her husband…probably she was on her first unescorted business trip and learning things the hard way…

Well, the story of this encounter did not end there. After a while (the BART had another 3 minutes to arrive- my phone rang and it was the husband calling his wife to settle things or so I presumed. His voice was breaking up but he was asking for her…I could hardly hear so I tried walking across to the wife, phone in outstretched hand – emissary or messenger or whatever. By the time I reached there the line was disconnected. I told her that her husband had called…and that the line had got cut. Believe it or not this is what the girl said, ‘oh the phone got cut, eh? Great, that’s good news (sounded more like - good riddance to that hubby of mine). Good job, thanks…Both the Indian uncle she was chatting away with and me were left astounded…The BART finally came, of course the girl went on and asked yet another guy if that was the BART before getting in and that was it – she went her way..

I spent the next few minutes trying to fathom what transpired in that call and what a strange relationship this couple had…Obviously a small fight which they would eventually resolve, not my headache…

Welcome to San Francisco bay area…..the Mecca for the Indian IT crowd…Go on, enjoy life you IT guys, Strange are your ways, , but we old timers have to wonder at times…to figure out what’s going on…..