India can’t be truly appreciated by those who live in the country. Only those who love music, dance, architecture and culture can understand India. But Hindustani classical music makes me forget my identity and takes me to a world of love, peace and spirituality. And, this kind of music and musicians are found only in India. That’s why I love being here.
I was motivated by tabla maestro Ustad Zakir Hussain to listen to the Indian classical music and later learned a lot from Ustaad Shahid Parvez — not from their lectures but by listening to their music.
When Hussain came to Islamabad on January 3, 1990, I was 21 and one of the organisers of the music fest. But I had no interest in tabla and had a terrible headache. But I had to attend the concert and Hussain enthralled me with his performance. The maestro proved to be a great human being too. The next day he performed at the Indian High Commission. I didn’t have an invitation and requested him to arrange one. He was kind enough to take me to the High Commission along with him.
Parvez came to Islamabad on August 10, 2006. I spent almost three weeks with him. I had no intention of attending his concerts in Lahore and Karachi. But it was his first concert in Islamabad that bewitched me. He played raag Yaman for over an hour. I listen to this raga whenever I get an opportunity and each time it sounds better than the last time.
I attended Shahid’s concerts in Lahore and Karachi and recorded every piece. I decided to learn tabla and the North Indian classical music after his concert in Lahore where he got a standing ovation. When I saw him off at the Karachi Airport, there were tears in my eyes. “Shehzad bhai, we will meet again,” he said. And, now Parvez has invited me to Pune. “You will stay with me. You will be with me wherever I go,” his invitation says. I accompany Parvez on the tabla almost everyday in my dreams. I will be doing it in reality on June 30.