Tag Archives: jodhpur

Sultan Khan: a king at heart

Humility is the hallmark of a person and by this yardstick Sarangi maestro Late Ustad Sultan Khan was miles ahead of others.

This is no obituary piece or great remembrance, but an experience that came to my mind the moment I came to know of his demise.  Having only met him once and listened to his song tracks a few times I cannot vouch more about the maestro, but can share an incident which spoke volume about the man.

It goes seven years back in time, somewhere around February March 2004. It was Monday for sure for I had just entered office a couple of hours behind   time for I was returning back from Jodhpur.

Responding to the good afternoon, my bosses reading something handed me an envelope and looked at his watch signalling me to rush. I saw the envelope stepping out and it was press invite to meet Ustad Sultan Khan at Park Royal hotel,Nehru Place.

It started  10 am sharp and I was already over two hours late for the interview.

I rushed with my photographer  by 1 pm and by then all the media had left and Ustadji was in his room set to order his lunch.

Outside his suit I pleaded with the publicist Harish Sharma, “I have just returned from Jodhpur and got late.” I tried to make my point and before I could further argue a voice emerged from the room.

Jodhpur se kaun hai? (who’s there from Jodhour?),” said a voice. I dashed in fancying my chances, but was clueless what was in store for me.

Wearing a chequred lungi and white kurta, an elderly man was sitting on the bed leaning against the wall. A smile emerged as I walked in, “Aap ho jodhpur se, kathe birajo( you are from jodhpur and where in the city do you stay put),” he asked signalling me to sit on the bed  next to him.

I said near masjid in jalap mohalla and he said I used to live near that place barely a kilometre from my house, he recalled an elderly khan sahab in my area and was chatting as if we had known each other for ages.

“Take your note-book out,” he ordered. Very sweetly without me asking he quickly started speaking about his album Piya Basanti and in a matter of few minutes responded to all my questions.

As I was about to pack my bags he said, “aaj daal roti aur subzi le aao, (get daal and bread with vegetables), will eat with the pandit after a long time.”

He held my hand and said I am your elder and you can’t say no to me. Over the next half hour we chatted and had lunch, much to everyone’s amazement.

Done with lunch, he took his paan daani and offered me a pan, “isme tambaku nahi hai (there is no tobacco in this one.)”

Taking the paan, I just wished him well and he patted my back and put his hand on my head as a gesture of giving blessing.

As I came out of the room amazed Harish commented, “you got a lottery today.” I just smiled back.

That was the end of my tryst with the Sarangi player, may be would have listened to the Piya basanti track a couple of times later playing on TV, but still today that hour spent with the maestro is clear in my memory.

May his soul rest in peace.

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Simply Jodhpur @553

Happy Birthday Jodhpur.

Today, the Sun City of East turns 553 quietly taking a small and quiet step into the future basking on some recently added laurels.

Ironically the day matters to no one, I am putting the blog after being pushed into it and reading the almost predictable reports and glorified messages in a newspaper.

The chief minister and local Ashok Gehlot screams from the page one of Rajasthan Patrika stressing ‘prosperous culture is our identity’, giving him company is the erstwhile ruler Gaj Singh II who urges people to ‘safeguard the city’s heritage’.

The paper reports; 2023 master plan is planned, 18 new roads costing Rs. 150 crores envisaged and miraculously parking lots proposed for the city’s ever crowded marketplaces.

Perfect, predictable and politically correct messages coupled with dreams unlimited.

Joining the brigade of my fellow locals with almost all free time and being part of the majority I jot what I have seen in my hometown doing more or less nothing.

The second largest city in the state of Rajasthan today is a developing educational hub. To add to its list of six private engineering colleges and a regional engineering college it now has an IIT to its name.

The famed National Law University is here in the city, AIIMS medical college is soon to be functional, and its one of the leading Chartered Accountants producing centres in India.

Handicrafts and tourism have made the city a global tourism destination. Politically speaking it’s the home town of the state chief minister and has given the state three CM’s.

Its habitat diameter is growing and the once attractive walled city shrinks every passing day.

Inside the walled city new floors are being added to the old houses, automobiles are on the verge of outnumbering humans, the once playground for children are now the new unauthorised parking lots.

On the outer locations the mall culture is trying its best to survive, fast food joints and chains are dishing out localised adaptations of global fastfoods to out do the local mirchibada’s and kachori’s.

Gen next now flaunts designer tags, some designer boutiques have cropped up and keeping a couple of swanky mobiles is norm of the day.

Economically speaking, the signs are that the city is prospering and that’s no mean deal.

But look a little further and the beneath the glitz the dry and deteriorating image of the city stares at onlookers. The city seems to be almost static for at least three decades that I have seen.

The local inhabitants of most of these educational institutes are clueless about their goals; the affluent parents are least bothered.

The potholes on the city roads have stood the test of time and development, their consistency and precision has an enviable accuracy. They are where they were years back with more grave effects.

The civic amenities are in shambles, the system is just for the record books and infrastructure or the absence of it in the real terms has benefited a select few.

Only recently close to 20 newborn lost their mothers to government hospital negligence. All that the grieving families and a desperate city got was a suspension of the staff and some token compensation, but on ground zero the hospital still suffers.

This is just one of the few examples, of what plagues the city.

Not to say that these problems are particular to Jodhpur, but being a non resident Jodhpuri who luckily enjoyed the last few bits of pleasures the city offered till a couple of decades back it hurts.

It hurts to see that neither the flag bearers of the city are even saying leave aside doing anything for it nor are the people bothered. For how long will the city revel in the past?

When will the city get a new reason to tell its people and visitors Padharo mahare desh( come visit my land).

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