Monday, May 29, 2006

Sachal Sarmast's sufi kalaam - live recording

Sachal Sarmast's Tomb
I recorded a few bits of performances of sufi siant Hazrat Sachal Sarmast's kalaam (poetry) at his tomb in Daraza Sharif, some 50 kms outside Khairpur Mirs.

A trip to Khairpur cannot be complete without exploring many of its spiritual treasures. Khairpur itself is a calm, quiet city. You can feel the stillness of the air.

The Dating Season
I have heard that this stillness becomes slightly oppressive at around this very time of the year - the hot summers - when the area transforms into a gigantic dates bazaar. In the heat and stillness, dates - the prime agricultural product of Khairpur - come to ripen. Temporary shack cities spring up in the area as pickers and traders come in droves. Many use the by-products of the dates industry - the barks and the gigantic leaves - to make woven baskets, sweepers, and other handcrafted products.
Folk performer at Sachal Sarmast's tomb
Sufi Music - Live Recording at the Tomb
But I digress. I recorded several bits of music and this one is my favorite. I used an iRiver MP3 player+radio+recorder to capture the music. The night was calm and beautiful, and our small circle sat with their heads one their knees and eyes closed - in a state of absorption. in our group was Sindh's popular activist Amar Sindhu, her faithful friend the gentle-natured Arfana Mallah, my journalist friend Afia, and our kind hosts the Joyos.

The Real Sufi was Standing Up
I shouldn't forget to mention that I went to the tomb to learn more about "sufis." I found that we had a beautiful soul right within our group - the son of the Joyos who stood holding my camera for over an hour while its ever-failing batteries charged. I asked him to leave the camera and the charger in the care of one of the care-takers of the dargah (tomb), but he stood guard. He was known to be the naughtiest of the Joyo boys, and calls himself "dangerious" with that exact spelling... How often do we pass by such people who serve without expectation everyday and never find out what true Allah ke banday they are!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The God of Mad People

Tonight, I met a mad woman. Then I met a mad young woman. Both were in love with their lives. The matured lady was happy, laughing, and telling me about life. I quickly told her about my life in theater and how theater is an amazing analogy that humankind has created to understand life.

The younger one hadn’t yet figured it out. She was fumbling, telling me about her experiments. She is playing around with anorexia to understand what goes through the minds of anorexic persons – I watched with interest as she gulped down greasy food after what she said was a week of extensive hunger. She told me about her life and aspirations and what she had given up in order to just live her dreams. She wants to be a child psychologist and left med school half way through.

It was a great night. To have met two mad persons!

I love mad people. When they shake up reality, I am able to catch a rare glimpse of God behind it all.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Lover's Quest

Who seeks for heaven alone
To save his soul
May keep the path
But will not reach the goal
While they who walk in love
May wander far
Yet God will bring them
Where the blessed are.

Henry Van Dyke
The Other Wise Man

Thursday, May 25, 2006


This road-not-taken is pretty damn strange. There are no milestones, and no indications. The best hope is that it leads to a destination no one’s ever been to before. Wherever.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

To be, and not to be known

Thought-provoking question: Is genius really genius unless/till it's recognized? (Extiinct)

Philosophical answer: We’d never know. (The Prophetess)

The Journey of a 1000 Miles

This is what I did: I resigned from a job that was killing me at a time when everything else in my life was killing me too. Or I was killing my life, depending on the way we want to look at it. This answers the question about what I did, which a blog post raised a year ago.

I didn’t want to write about it then because:

  1. I wasn’t sure.

  2. I was feeling great, but I wanted to feel great within, not feel great because I was cheered on.

  3. I wasn’t sure I was feeling great or that I would continue to.

It hasn’t been easy. A day before I handed in my resignation from a high-flying career (many will keep considering me silly even if I become the richest woman on earth), I scanned my body mentally. It felt tired, bruised and almost broken from the pressure of a life I did not love anymore. I remember lying in my parents’ room staring up at the ceiling… counting the troubles ahead on my path no matter what the decision. Measuring the value of my life and happiness vis-à-vis the raise in salary that had been given to bait me.

I finally asked myself: who was I doing it for, if I wasn’t happy? And I said so many names, I had so many reasons. And nowhere on the list was I.

So then I made that which was perhaps the most sane independent decision of my life. I have made tough decision before, but those were of a beneficiary nature to all around me. So it was no problem getting cheers and good wishes. But this decision was different. It was something to do with what people did not call success. But with my cold, numbed body and a rapidly-sinking heart, I had to redefine success.

I wrote what must have been one of the strangest resignation letters – in that it sounded like an encyclopedia of reasons to leave. And I hadn’t put the most original reasons in. Such as, oh I want to do what I love.

Obviously, such an absurdly full resignation was seen as an attempt to escape to greener employment  pastures – and I was offered a near double salary and what not. It took me a couple of days to readjust my mind to my new number 1 priority: Me.

I waited to write about it until a year had passed – for I knew I will be tested. What has happened in this one year, I am ready to write about.