Shiraz Hassan and Chintan Girish Modi ‘met’ on Twitter, following an article Chintan had written about his visit to Lahore. With a shared passion for music, travel and culture, they started an email exchange
From: Chintan Girish Modi (Date: Sat, Jul 7, 2012)
To: Shiraz Hassan
Happy birthday, Shiraz bhai!
I wish I could send you a birthday gift but the given the difficulties involved in sending things across, we’ll have to make do with love and prayers.
I hope this year brings you happy times, and that you continue being the way you are – eager to question, ready to speak up, lost in poetry, surrounded by friends, carried away to wondrous places by your wanderlust… I hope you visit India sometime this year.
How are you? It has been a while since I saw any new blog posts or photo essays. You know how much I look forward to them. They bring me glimpses of places I’d love to visit but am required to stay away from, because of the current political situation between our countries.
I am glad you liked my pictures of Rajasthan. I visited Jaisalmer in April. It is one of my favourite cities in Rajasthan. The golden sandstone structures are gorgeous beyond measure. I am not sure if we’ve talked about this but my family is originally from Rajasthan. My paternal grandfather moved to Mumbai for work, got married to my grandmother here, and chose to stay on. My father was born and brought up in Mumbai. So was I. My mother too is from Rajasthan. She grew up in Sirohi, a town that is a few hours away from a famous hill station called Mount Abu. I do visit Rajasthan every once in a while.
You asked if I had the chance to listen to any folk musicians on the Rajasthan trip. I did. At the Jaisalmer fort, II bumped into a man who played the Ravanhattha. It’s one of the many instruments Rajasthani folk singers play. I also happened to listen to a folk music troupe of the Kalbeliya tribe. Their act was quite commercially oriented since it was for a particular sort of audience, mostly rich urban folks looking to get a quick dose of ‘culture’.
Do look up Mukhtiar Ali and Mahesha Ram. They’re folk singers from Rajasthan. Really good! Some of their music is available on www.kabirproject.org. I worked with the Kabir Project in Bangalore for a year, and had some really enriching experiences. I’d love to tell you more. Perhaps we should keep that for another mail.
From: Shiraz Hasan
To: Chintan Girish Modi (Date: Sun, 8 Jul 2012)
How are you? Sorry for late reply, as I was busy in work 🙂 Thanks for the birthday wishes. What a blessing, we had first Monsoon rain last night – God’s way of wishing me happy birthday. After some really hot days it was really a blessing. The weather is quite pleasant here now.
How are you doing? Great to hear about your Rajasthan visit. Heard a lot about Rajasthan folk music. Guess what, Mehdi Hasan was also born in Rajasthan. I believe there is something about mysticism in that area. Deserts are mystical. An ocean of mysticism, one can say.
My workload will continue till this week. After that, I may get some free time.
This year I am planning to visit some other areas of Kashmir. Though Murree is just 32 miles from Islamabad, nowadays people from the southern parts of Pakistan are visiting Murree – as locals say “Yeh season ke din hain”. Last year, I visited Rawalakot and nearby places in Azad Kashmir.
Once you told me about writings of your students regarding Pakistan visit. I would like to read those writings, in which students expressed their thoughts before and after visiting Pakistan.
Do you know Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s house in Mumbai? Can you give some update about it? I think we have almost forgotten about it. Do share current status and pictures, if possible. It’s ‘our’ heritage.
As you know, I recently moved to Rawalpindi and Islamabad – twin cities. I am trying to adjust here.
Of course I miss Lahore. Though Rawalpindi has a history of some hundreds of years, Lahore is matchless, I think. Islamabad is totally a different city. I like visiting old places and old areas of the city. That always fascinates me. I love meeting people from those areas, photographing old buildings and different colours of life. It’s all very interesting. I hope we shall walk together through these streets of Rawalpindi and Lahore, soon.
I am also planning to document old and ruined religious places of Rawalpindi. I feel disappointed when I see nobody is interested in these historical landmarks and these buildings are in ruins. I, at least, photograph them and collect some info about them. Let’s see. 🙂
You say, how’s everything at your end?
Shiraz Hassan is a journalist and researcher based in Islamabad . Chintan Girish Modi is a school teacher, writer and researcher based in Mumbai