Monday, July 07, 2008

When I was in India this past year, I was randomly surfing TV channels when my mother made me stop at this performance. My mother loves Hindi film music; I have inherited this love from her. When I was a kid, Radio Ceylon [yes Radio Ceylon, the oldest radio station in South Asia] would always play in the background of her morning and as a result, mine. Even today, I know the lyrics of songs far pre-dating my youth of music. As a result, I straddle a few different eras of Hindi film music. But I digress. My mother loves this program, but more importantly, the performance that she serendipitously made me hear had my stupefied.

Ladies and gentlemen, Amir Hafeez.

The song is lovely, but it is the quality of his voice. Listen for the slight nasality, the incredible power and the anomalous reach.

Remember when the phenomenon of train travel was ubiquitous? When we were internal expatriates? When air was out of reach and twenty four hours was the time duration one had to reckon with before getting to the nether regions of the ‘native place’? On such yearly (more often than not summer) journeys, one would stare out of the window and watch arid Deccan interiors whiz by. And singing beggars would pass through. And every once in a while, one would hear a voice so strong, so unwavering and so expansive that time would stand still and the heat, the smells and the colors coalesce in a moment of soaring wonder.