Relevancy

This is what separates the good from the best, but only under rare circumstances. Usually, relevancy separates the good from the useless.

As my wife constantly keeps reminding me, ‘When good does nothing, it is evil enough‘ – that is relevancy explained in another way.

Relevancy – how significant is your actions as compared to the situation at hand – can easily pass off as the dividing line between good and bad.

I fear that many commentators on our society and our politics miss this point. Ahmed Quraishi missed it by claiming that Ch Iftikhar did something that is – essentially – negative. In our society where you have to get the Quaid involved to get the court reader give you your basic rights, an act as simple and straightforward act of refusing to do something that happens to be wrong becomes immensely relevant.

Laga Reh

Our music scene – as very accurately explored by Fasi Zaka – faces the same problem of not being relevant. No doubt our music has created some very serious waves in and around the region, if not the world, much is still required. Although we seem to have found our Beatles, Dire Straits & Pink Floyd,  we still have to find our Lennon, our Knofler or our J Page. Heck, there are still no signs of our version of Rage Against The Machine here, so a Zach De La Roca in our society seems to be a far way off, unfortunately.

But there is hope. Shahzad Roy’s Laga Reh is as relevant as it gets, and that is saying a lot. Firstly, the music is rock, not pop. Rock is the language of rebellion, whereas Pop is a tool of a trade. Supposedly.

More importantly, the video goes where no video has gone before i.e. reflects the society on an ‘as is’ basis; there are no sultry chicks roaming behind veils, there are no hot cars racing everywhere, no heavy bikes, no wheat fields with a damsel keeping her promises. It is in-your-face. But not as in-your-face as the lyrics.

The lyrics are the real drivers here, as is the case with practically all ‘relevant’ songs. The lyrics of Laga Reh are – by all means – unique. This in itself does not make the song relevant, but it makes it what it eventually became – a hit.

The composition of the song, the sudden break from patterns, the use of guitar as a ‘vocalization’ instrument (dare ask me what that means 😛 ) and the deliberate ‘music less’ areas of the song makes this song the most unique I have heard coming out of our music scene so far.

mujhay fikar yay nahi hai keh yay mulk kaisay chalay ga, mujhay fikar yay hay kaheen aisay hee na chalta rahae

(I am not worried how this country will run, my worry is that it might run like this forever)

I have sat in a few sessions with Atif Aslam, talking about relevancy. I think the problem is the same. He – possibly like so many – wants to break out, wants to say his mind, wants to sing the most ‘relevant’ of songs, songs that induce change, if not bring it themselves. Bring change by being it.

But being relevant is usually not easy. It is not what will earn you the most money, at least initally. It is not what will win you more friends, at least initially. Almost certainly, it is difficult to be relevant – not only in music – but in journalism, in media, in business, in anything. I kid you not when I tell you that I think Shahzad Roy’s Laga Reh and Ch Iftikhar’s refusal to tow the line are both relevant in their own domains. The ex CJ’s domain just happened to have a more immediate affect than S Roy’s domain. But I wonder how can I be relevant, how can you be relevant? Kuch na, Kuch na kar tu, sab kuch Allah peh chore tuu, Allah hee taira haafiz hay

Letting Loose

I always, almost as a rule, never let loose. Never let my guard down. At least that is what I try. There are some chinks in my armor, surely, but it is an armor nonetheless. Given that I know I will probably not be a loud mouth, I try to make sure that I don’t come off as a tight-ass dude. (For example: My mind tells me not to write ‘tight-ass’ as it includes the word ‘ass’, but I have actually forced myself to write it, in an attempt to do what I have been thinking of doing for some time now).

You see, I like to plan. A lot. I am the king at analysis paralysis and therefore, this king never leaves the building. (I just think about leaving the building).

I bought my second guitar, a Yamaha semi-acoustic (my dream guitar) I think five years

Mona Lisa My Guitar
The Mona Lisa

ago. Almost immediately after I bought the stringed thing of beauty, I read some seemingly convincing articles on why music is prohibbited in Islam. The articles made sense. The only problem was that those articles were penned down by the same folks who consider that drawing (of pretty much any nautre; cartoons, figures, people) and photography is also not allowed in Islam. Now, I totally disagreed with the logic presented by these fine folks that the Almighty dissallows drawing. After some serious research to further back my off-the-top-of-my-head (OTTOMH) and from-the-bottom-of-my-heart (FTBOMH) conclusion, I did some pretty extensive research and was (and am) convinced that there is nothing at all wrong with drawing or photography or movies etc. (given of course, that they are not lewd or unjustifiably offensive; basically the same rules that apply to what you say, or write etc). With music, I was not so sure. The arguments presented against music were too subjective (as usually is the case) to begin with but I for one, did not have convincing arguments to confidently say that music is allowed in my religion. Because of this indicision, I did not play the guitar or listened to much music for mmm, I think for about 3 years. And I was the guy enjoying BeeGees and deliberating on their complex chord structure, meanwhile rapping Eminem songs at college (with the semicircle of folks standing to listen and everything) and finding interesting patterns and rythems not only in sounds but in lyrics. I think I am still the only one I have met or have known who listens to Eminem and Abrar-ul-Haq with exactly the same passion (There was a time I knew all of the songs of both of these artists).

Atif Aslam and Gohar, being my buds at college, used to jam at my house with me providing the beat on my second-hand congos. In fact, if I remember correctly, I talked to a certain owner of Domingo’s Cafe and got these two (singing as Atif & Gohar) performing their first-ever concert (I think it was their first concert). Again, I tell you this to convey how mmm, how deep a connection I had with music. But I am quite good at removing and introducing things in my life that are non consquential (meaning that they don’t amount to shit :) ).

The above monologue was just to convey that I am quite careful (at least try to be) in the habits that I have yet to pick up. That is my only luxury, so to speak. I do have a bunch of habits that I can not remove from my life even upon repeated trying (smoking being numero uno). But why am I saying all of this?

It is time, I think, to again wear the adventurer cap. To discover. To do things that would make people call you crazy. ‘What the hell are you doing?’ should be the most asked question. ‘You dont ever know it will work out, so why do it in the first place?’ should be the most asked rhetorical question. Unfortunately, not many people would ask ‘why are you doing this or that?’. The ‘why’ usually implies that the asker actually wants to know the reason in an attempt to understand and then perhaps advice or criticize. But people usually do not have the time to bring you in their lives for that long.

In 1998, on my eighteenth birthday, I bungee jumped off the Zambezi river bridge only to find out that:

  1. some things are fun only after you have done them
  2. most decisions, once made, should be carried out without ever going back to the drawing board
  3. attacking one’s fear head on doesn’t necessarily decrease or eliminate that fear (I am still scared shitless of being anywhere that is 30 feet or above ground level)

I think I need to tie them ropes around my ankles once more. Not do something crazy just because it is crazy, but do something crazy to find out if it is really that crazy. I am not talking about dare-develling my life to come, I am talking about doing something – anything – that I have not done before. All within the confines set by my God as I understand them, God willing. I know I want to continue to write. I know I have to earn now in dollars (or euros or pounds). I know I have to listen to God more, I know I have to travel more, I know I have to take responsibility of others more often now (given that I am a father of the cutest thing that walked planet Earth, mashAllah :) ).

Well, I only wish I had my four year old posts here on this blog. The comparisons to what was then and what is now would have been interesting. But God willing, things should be getting interesting.

First and foremost, I think I need to get a ‘following’ of this blog, so it can be monitized and hence the effort justified from all angles (currently, my blogging habit that I am working with is justified from all angles except the financial one). Let’s see. God guide me and us all.