Friday, October 29, 2021

A tribute to Jagjit Singh - Thank you INDIA New England

 Originally published on IEN Oct 28th 2021

Jagjit Singh: Remembering the King of Ghazals and Some of His Not-So-Known Ghazals

Jagjit Singh (Photo courtesy: Spotify)

By Jaya Pandey

(Editor’s note: Undoubtedly, Jagjit Singh (Feb. 8, 1941-Oct. 10, 2011) popularized ghazals popular in India and brought this art of singing to the masses. His first LP with his wife Chitra Singh was released in 1977 and became an instant hit. It was called “The Unforgettable”, which had his most famous ghazal–Baat Nikalegi–and every ghazal lover knows that ghazal by heart. On his 10th death anniversary, Jaya Pandey pays a tribute to the King of Ghazals and shares some of his not–so-known ghazals.)

Jaya Pandey

सुनते हैं के मिल जाती है हर चीज़ दुआ से, एक रोज़ तुम्हें माँग के देखेंगे ख़ुदा से…

The month of October brings a beautiful fall season for us New Englanders and in general we associate it with crisp cool breeze, apple picking and colored leaves.

For me it adds one more thing to the list. Perfect outdoor weather of fall brings awesome morning walks with headphones on and evenings with a nice cup of chai on my deck and Ghazals in the background. Ghazals are part of my existence all year around but fall season does add it’s own flavor.

For every music lover, there is one singer or musician who speaks to their soul and for me Jagjit Singh has occupied that space forever.

Oct 10th is Jagjit Singh’s death anniversary. It’s been 10 yrs. There are days when I don’t want to believe in my loss and there are days when I feel why it matters to me because his physical presence didn’t matter anyway. But back then, I wish I knew better so I could have enjoyed his “live” concerts more.

I did see him in person a few times. But now I realize that I would have appreciated those even more. More than anything I miss the “access” part.  I wonder how it would have been if he was visiting Boston now, I could reach out, meet or see him in close proximity. I have written about his ghazals, music and what he did to our generation in my previous articles.

Today, I want to write about some of his masterpieces. If you have not heard these before and got to know about them today through this article, then that makes it worthwhile for me. 

There is no way to fulfill the void he created in my musical world. But to overcome that I did what I could to best and brought people in my life who were lucky to be around him.

Talking to them, listening to their stories and cherishing their memories seemed good enough for me and brought me closer to him in my own way. Through them, I can now listen to some of his amazing live and rare recordings, including some from private collections. So for now, I am just happy to be able to hear them.

Over the years I have come a long way, I love a good music system and appreciate the nuances of clean recordings but when it comes to Jagjit Singh it does not matter. I won’t mind a messed up sound too, as long as his voice is there because that makes it up for me.

I used to listen to all the “studio recordings mostly” but I am loving the “Live recordings” more and more now because they bring another level of vibrancy and connection. They also show the brilliance of his singing. I am not the kind of fan who has a favorite ghazal or song as I don’t even listen to his regular/popular ghazals. But there are some that I always go back to because they are connected to me due to various events/stages of my life. And listening to them always brings back that nostalgia.

So I go back to them often. However, today’s list is different. Please note that I am not listing his usual hits because the idea here is to introduce some new ghazals to your playlist. Hope you enjoy these rare gems.

1.Gin Gin Tare Raat Guzaari

2. Mujhse milne ke wo karta tha bahane kitne ( Sung by Chitra Singh in the album)

 3.  Bahut Bechain hai dil Jahan ho chale aao

4. Chandani hai hawa hai

5.Ye kis khalish ne phir is dil mein aashiyana kiya

  1. Rooh Bechain hai is dil azziyat kya hai

  1. Woh Mujhse Hue Hum Kalam Allah Allah

8.Kab Yaad Mein Tera Saath Nahin

9.Jinhein main dhoondhta tha aasmanon mein zameenon mein

 10.Phool barse kahīñ shabnam kahīñ gauhar barse

  1. Ilaj E Dard E dil tum se masiah ho nahi sakta

12.Ishq me jii ko sabr-o-taab kahaan.

13.Kuchh Hosh bhi hai dast E junoon

14.Sar jispe na juk jaaye

15 Dukh apnā agar ham ko batānā nahīñ aatā

(Jaya Pandey lives in Boston with her sons (Ajey and Anand) and husband Ashish. 

She is passionate about music, poetry, cooking, Saree and autism awareness

 and founder of “Desi Moms Network” for familes with children with special needs. 

She is a Jagjit Singh fan, blogger and story teller. To know more about her visit her blogs – and  

She would like to thank all Jagjit Singh lovers in her life with this tribute to Ghazal maestro.)

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

50 yrs and journey of 50 Sarees - 50 साड़ियों और 50 साल का सफ़र

Like everyone else’s bday mine too fell into middle of pandemic, actually two of them one of those was my 50th. It still is a milestone Bday just the different kind of celebration. 

When we were in India in 2019-2020, My sisters asked Mr husband what was his plans for both the 50th Bdays ( his and mine) and 25th anniversary and he joked he didn’t need anything, no party for sure and their sister will be happy with the sarees so there was no need for finding the perfect gift. We all laughed, it was Jan 2020. Who knew what we were getting into. 

 Pandemic stoped and changed everything. All 3 milestones were celebrated as Mr would love-calm, quiet and intimate. I also adopted to new life style and things changed for me too. I didn’t crave for party, was just happy with small celebrations. One thing didn’t change was my love for sarees and yes Saree shopping didn’t stop either.

After a year and 8 months of that conversation I went to India again. I realized my 50th bday brought 50 sarees in my life. The collection includes something old something new something borrowed, something blue. I will write about them in my next post. The Sarees were shipped, sent with someone, brought back with me the whole year. I realized the love comes in many forms. The collection includes my grand mother’s saree and My dad’s aunt’s saree. There are many from my mom’s, my sisters, my sister in law’s, My mother in law’s, a friend’s mother, gifts from people who adore me, admire me, friends and family. I did shop plenty too.

I will write about them slowly but for now I am celebrating my 50th year of existence with love.

What does celebration means to you? What would you want for your milestone bday? 

A gift from a friend who says our one conversation changed her thought process towards Special Needs and acceptance 

my loot in my Boston home, waiting to find a place 

 I shopped only two things - Glass Bangles and flowers and yes one silver anklet too  

we were driving from airport to my sisters home and I came across this, had to stop the car. 

 Bangles shop in Bhilai, have been going there for years, this time the dad was away and the son took care of business with same care and respect I get from his dad.

When every 100 gms matters

If you are like my husband you wouldn’t know what a KG means when you travel and if you are like me you will weigh everything you carry. He travels ultra light ( if there is a term for that) and I can carry the whole world with me. Its funny because I am a least maintenance woman but when it comes to traveling to India for me every inch and every 250 gms in my suitcase counts. It’s not all about me its about everyone I know.

Every trip till this one has been planned, that means the lists have been exchanged, talked and added and deleted some with cost analysis benefits. For a long time I have stopped buying “ just gifts” for my sisters and their kids. Even though you get everything in India the quality and cost matters a lot so I buy the “need gifts” what they need/want not exactly in the traditional way of gifting.

But this trip was different, not planned in advance, also shopping with limited time and due to COVID I didn’t want to go out multiple times. Costco and Amazon were the life savers. So I could plan and finish everything the way I wanted to. We have some standard items in our list, my sisters’ wear 9.5 Wide shoes and that is one of the necessities not the gift item. I remember When Seema came to visit Ashish and me in Feb 96 ( her Bday month) We got her a pair of woodland shoes in Pune. One of the most expensive and weird gift at that time. Ashish bought of a pair of shoe for his sister in law but that has been a tradition since then. I don’t even remember how many pairs of shoes I have bought for my sisters. But as Varsha joked her feet are so used to USA Reebok and Naturalizer shoes they don’t like the shoes they get in India. Last time I got a tiny weighing scale for them and it has been a game changer for us in packing.

This is so funny that Seema starts packing for me and all of us including Amma sit and watch her in action. I just pack and unpack in USA. She does the same in India. The day I land she will sit and sort the so called “gifts” there is nothing surprise for anyone its the stuff from the list as my gifts for them. I usually buy same things for all my sisters and brothers in law but this time something changed. I traveled back with Varsha form Raipur. She has “necessity” stuff for grown ups, the “asked” from Raipur but for kids she got something wrapped in the gift boxes. The kids loved everything about it, The gift wrapping, the stuff inside ( surprise) and the whole “what did Varsha Mausi” get. 

Last night while packing I was thinking I dont have anything “surprising” for Ashish and kids. In fact the two eatables I had for them were in my overweight cabin bag so I had to send them back with my sisters because I had so much stuff for everyone else. The suitcases are full of sarees and blouses for my friends and they took over the “gift” feeling. As I type this on the plane I feel guilty about them I should have taken two of my sarees out instead of those.

What is your gift story? Do you travel light and what do you bring from India? 

This was my biggest gift, My Mom in a better shape. The thought of "what is going on upstairs in my room" was motivating enough for her. 

My check in bag holds the key to happiness for many women.
the last day pampering 
 My dad would pick these every morning because I love eating green split Pigeon peas from garden 
Welcome home
Unpacking - oh I so miss my sisters 

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Magic of Saree - A virtual meet in Bangalore

Saree is magical in so many ways, but for me it’s not only a garment it has become the symbol of connections, emotions, inspiration and my identity. 

It was a trip to Bangalore in 2015 connected me to whole Saree magic in form of 100 Saree Pact. I build friendship and met so many amazing people and it motivated me to do something beyond my comfort zone. I wore Saree for a reason since then, to raise awareness and acceptance for Special needs families.

Down the road I joined Saree Speak and that brought another set of wonderful people in my life. My stories made some difference and the Saree saga continues.

Saree love brought so many people in our life which we would have never met otherwise. All of you reading this will agree to that. 

This trip to Bangalore was different so no meet ups, not going out for dinners or lunches no shopping. ( how I am coming back with so full suitcases that’s a mystery)

Covid took away the “in person” connection but brought another way to bring us together. 

 It made us explore the virtual world.And that’s how I met some of my Saree Speak friend in Bangalore this time. One tiny post that I will be in Bangalore for some time but cannot meet in person triggered a conversation and the virtual meet happened. That virtual call on a weekday evening was wonderful. My heart is full of gratitude. The Bangalore crowd made me feel like we have known each other forever. They were there on a week night for more than hour and half to meet me.

I am in awe of the power of this 6 yards. They never knew me but made me feel like I have known them forever. My mother sat next to me whole time watching how amazing her daughter’s saree world is.

The yellow Kosa from baby sister’s closet. The kids were so used to seeing me just two sets of clothes, it was a change for them seeing me all dressed up. 

Friday, October 1, 2021

Time flies when you are having fun

 Sometimes it feels like time really flies or goes too slow - but there are the same 24 hours in a day 

I am almost at the tail end of my trip and trying to do as much I can. I still have a lot of things I would like to do with my parents. I look back and think where did the days go.

Time flies by, especially when you are having a lot of fun. But at the same-time everything moves so quickly too, even if you are *not* having fun, a friend mentioned a while back. .

I am wondering what did I did in these last 13 days. This trip is at a totally different time, Covid has changed everything. Also I came with a totally different mindset. The idea was to be with ma papa. Having 3 wonderful sisters helps too. My India trips have always been “stormy” with plans to do this, do that and visit here and shop there. Meet this person and call that one. But this time I had no agenda. I am surprised that I don’t have many pictures of the trip. I survived in 3 sets of clothes and a pair of PJs. I never got around to changing bangles, nail painting or putting on earrings. Have worn a saree only once till now, didn’t eat out, had take out only once and I still feel content.

I did eat lot of seasonal fruits , home cooked snacks, meals, walked the dog with sisters and kids, watched sunsets with them, chit chatted with Amma-papa, listen to some Jagjit Singh and more so learnt some more about dogs, specially the German Shepherd kind. My youngest sister has one and I finally warmed up to him a little.

In less than 48 hours I flyback and here I am sitting in my room trying to check in, fill the forms for CDC requirements and planning for my COVID test. 

Yes time flies when you are busy or not busy. It’s a state of mind. I still have a list of things to do with Amma Papa but I guess that will motivate me to come back soon again.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

What was teen romace for you - Jagjit Singh and Shivani are mine

When I flew from Bangalore to Raipur few days ago, I didn’t have much stuff , for a change I really flew light. My check in bag was way within limit and my hand bag was 3 Kgs, Because the shoes couldn’t fit in check-in bag.

On the way back we had another story, I could use every inch and grams possible and much more.

The person on was Indigo counter was a happy young man, wasn’t cranky working at 7.30 AM.

That is one thing I find with indigo - very prompt service and young and energetic staff. . He was courteous and kind and ignored that I had little more stuff ( Little?).

Last night while we were packing It was overwhelming to see stuff all over the place. I wasn’t ready to leave anything behind but I was very tired and emotionally drained so decided to let it go.

Woke up in the middle of the night to join HMEA’s board meeting and then had a clarity about luggage. Isn’t it funny how brain resets after a break.

I exactly knew how to carry everything. Its is easier when you have a do-er sister and instruction follower brother in law. He didn’t question anything and just did what  asked for. By 7 AM we all were showered, dress, packed and had the breakfast. 

Once we reached airport the security and check in was smooth, I was surprised they didn’t ask for Covid negative test or vaccination proof. That did make me nervous. 

3 of us flying with all sort of stuff but interestingly local snacks claimed the prominent space .But for me the most precious things are Novel’s by Shivani. I read them in my teens, I guess her writing and Jagjit Singh’s ghazals raised the bar so high for anyone to fit in the perfect “lover” mold.

My dad kept them safe for over 26 plus years and my sister carried them from Balaghat for me. I bought them when I was in school/college. They were my Mills and Boons (Mills & Boon is series of a romance imprint from Britain ) and build an imaginary world for me.

When I went to bed last night, I kept them aside thinking it is just not worth carrying the weight. I should just get them on my Kindle. But this morning I woke-up with the need of hugging a piece of my past. Shivani’s writing had a place in my life, and this morning I realized it still does. My connection to my past holds a key to my happiness.

What is that connection for you? What do you have from your past, a book, some music, some art work or something else. 

 Heard Shivani is available on Kindle now. My idea of romance then

 I spotted the flower market on the road, had to stop to buy some. This is my idea of the romance now - flower on my hair. 
A new bride in the plane. 

Friday, September 24, 2021

My other mom - I so wish I had done this much earlier

My Jetlag is a blessing in disguise. I get a lot more time in hand than usual. I can spend time with people who stay up late and then wake up early to chat with early risers.

My sister in law has two sons, they work till late so they were my late night companions. We chatted after their work hours. My sister in law and Mother in law are early risers so I could enjoy their company without any interruptions.

I woke up earlier than usual , tried but just couldn’t sleep so came downstairs only to find my MIL waking up. We were having fun talking about our saree organizing saga a day before. 

When my sister in law started her morning prayers my MIL and I decided to go for a short walk. It was a beautiful morning with a light breeze and not many people on the road.  We found a place to sit and I am glad we did. The two of us sat on a bench and memories took the form of words. Her childhood, her life with her younger siblings, about her parents, then marriage and life with my father in law. She talked about happy and not so happy days, loss of a child, the joy of raising 3 wonderful children, the struggles she went though in her life, my father in law’s sickness and many more personal stories. As I was telling her about my mom and her wishes, I asked her what would she want to do and to my surprise my mother in law is very content with whatever she has. Very firm in her beliefs and hopes to go to the other world peacefully and quietly. She doesn’t need much and is just spending her time with prayers. She showed me some of her writings/Prayers( bhajans) she wrote. 

I have been married to her son for more than 26 years and today I had a glimpse of a different world. She did open up and talked about her views on rituals performed after death and what is important to her. I don’t think her own kids have had that conversation with her. I am leaving today with the hope that I come back soon to spend more time with her. We both have come a long way and one thing binds us together even more - the love for the man we have in common. 

Her companion, always around her.