Sunday, September 27, 2009

Changus Sings Again: Recreating an old Kashmiri melody from year 1835.

The year must have been 1835. Godfrey Thomas Vigne, an English traveler in Kashmir,one of the first, was visiting a decaying old village called Changus( Shangus, as it is now called), a miles from Achibul (or Yech-i-bul, as he called it) in Anantnag district. He had heard that in the old glory days of Kashmir, this village was renowned for its colony of dancing girls. The singing, dancing and the beauty of  the nautch women from this village was renowned all over the valley. The most famous among these danseuses was a women named Lyli. Englishman's local host, a nobleman named Samud Shah, spoke of her with signs of regret, and expressions of admiration. But Lyli was long dead and so it seemed was the village. There were still some dancing women in the village but none refined like the days of yore. Like most places in Kashmir, this village too had lost its muse. The dancing muse - Terpsichore, no longer lived in that village. Or so it seemed. While he was walking around in the village, he heard a woman sing a song whose opening notes reminded him of a certain old comic song  "Kitty Clover" by one Mister Liston and yet to him the song's import seemed rather amorous. He was fascinated enough by the melody to have copied it into a sheet and then have it published in his book 'Travels in Kashmir, Ladak, Iskardo ' (1844) under the title 'Kashmirian Dancing Girl's Song'.

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When I first saw that small sheet of music given in G.T. Vigne's 'Travels in Kashmir, Ladak, Iskardo '( see my post about nautch girls of Kashmir ), a strange thoughts occurred to me, 'What song had G.T. Vigne heard that day? Wouldn'y it be nice to some how recreate that tune! Would it sound familiar?'.

With no knowledge of sheet music, I set about doing something about it.

(Sheet for Kashmirian Dancing Girl's Song given in Travels in Kashmir, Ladak, Iskardo)
After experimenting with a number of software, I settled with  a software called SharpEye2 that reads sheets from images and converts them to Midi format. The music sheet generated by the software isn't perfect. Facility for editing the notes is provided but it isn't very flexible. After tweaking the sheet, the end result looked something like this:
 It isn't pefect but still good enough.
And here is the sound generated (MP3 converted from Midi format):













Don't know about 'Kitty Clover' (couldn't find anything on it) but the opening notes are certainly wonderful and it indeed sounds Kashmiri.
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Enjoy a variation on the song with images of Shalimar Bagh:

Saturday, September 19, 2009

School Excursion to Shalimar Bagh


Every Friday Open.
Original Mughal Garden Plan didn't include an Iron gate. Stupidly enough, nobody thought of it at that time. And these Royals were supposed to be master builders of gardens. The iron gate stands right over the stream making exit from the garden.

Queued. As Master and Madam confer. Children are all ear. Almost all of them.

We are in. It's a Picnic.







Watch me make a splash! Don't wet my shoes!
The kid just put his face right in front of my face, smiled and went, ''Asalawalekum!'  The right thing to say is - Walaykumsalam.

As stood on the ancient terrace, a little girl walked unto the place where I stood, confident, she went, 'Execuseme!'. I realized I was blocking the entry to the monument. The right thing to do is - walk aside.

The humble-almost embarrassed - source of all water in the great garden.

Alternate entry point. No entry fee. And it is fun. Again, stupidly enough, it was not included in the original garden plan by the great Mughals.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Swimming, Fun and Frolic at Nehru Park

 
Nehru Park in Dal Lake
 
Boys fishing and swimming at Nehru Park
 
Splash
The boy kept pushing his friends into the water. Finally, they all ganged up on him, caught hold of his legs and arms and swinging his body in air, prepared to throw him into the water. The boy started screaming, 'I don't know how to swim! I will die! I will die!' His friends got tired of his drama. They let him be. Some minutes later, one of his friend talked him into going into the water. He agreed. Once in water, he almost drowned his friend by riding onto his head. 'What's wrong with you! You want us to get killed. Nothing will happen! I won't let you go'. The boy wasn't so sure, he kept repeating, 'I don't know. A boy drowned at this very spot a couple of days ago. Swear on your mother you won't let go of my hand. I will die. Die' The boy was a genuine dramabaaz, anybody could tell. There was also a slight chance that he even knew swimming. A couple of minutes later he was (while still holding onto his friend's neck) splashing his legs wildly in water, exclaiming, 'I can swim! I can swim!'. His other friend, standing at shore, threw a brick (deliberately mis-directed) at him. Of course, it missed and hit the water, creating a big sploosh. The boy looking genuinely offended told them, 'Swear on mother, you won't do that again. You want to see dead!' All the boy were in their late teens. If you witness a scene like this anywhere else in this part of the world, boys having fun like this, there is a good chance that they will also be rhyming insults at each other's mother and sister - it's almost a way of showing endearment among males. It seems Kashmir (at least most of it) is still too idyllic to move in that direction. Pleasures are simple. Friends are friends. Mothers are mothers. Swimming is swimming.

Remaining Pandits of Kashmir

“Waliyu, waliyu (come, come).” Little Aadesh welcomes this writer at his house on the edges of the forlorn village Haal, about 30 km south of Srinagar.

It is a typical home with a wooden door in this village of 3,000 people and their burnt-out, collapsing brick-and-timber structures, once inhabited by 150 Kashmiri pandit families.

Adeesh’s family is the last.

The three-year-old is the grandson of Omkar Nath Bhat, 72, the only Kashmiri pandit to have decided to stay back in this once-vibrant village of friendly people and views of snow-clad mountains and forests.

The other pandits, Kashmiri Hindus, of Haal left in the winter of 1989, the year militancy exploded across the valley.

- A piece on 'Remaining Pandits of Kashmir' by Arun Joshi for Hindustan Times (September 14, 2009)


It's not 'Waliyu, waliyu'. It's 'Wal'yuur, Wal'yuur'.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Rural Houses

 
A Rural House.
 
Work under way.
 
Transformer
 
Airtel

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A New Rural House

A beautiful little house in rural area.Somewhere on the way back from Gulmarg.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Along with TV

[Cross posted at my other blog

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"The hiss of TV static denotes remnant radiation that still lingers from the big bang 14.5 billion years ago."

 - National Geographic, February 2003September 2009 marks the 50th year of dear old national broadcaster Doordarshan. 

Yeah, it's kind of hard to believe, I told my Uncle about it and he didn't believe it. He thought Doordarshan must have started in 1960s, it should only be around 40 years old. 

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