I had made plans to visit my friend Ustad Amb Jogi at Radio Pakistan in Hyderabad to discuss the music for “Risalo”. It takes a while to get to Hyderabad from Jamshoro via bus, so I thought I would try a rickshaw. Not a good idea.
The rickshaw took at least as long, and went much slower. We stopped for gas for 20 minutes, then to make repairs, got stopped at a check point and the driver had no papers. It was quite a ride. Eventually, I got there and it was great to see Ustad Amb Jogi. After the roughness of the past week, he was a much needed friend.
We grabbed some delicious lunch at a dhaba near by. The fish, karalai, and more fish were really good. I am even more strict on the bottled water thing now, after that last experience in Umerkot. I just don’t have the time or energy to deal with that.
After lunch, we head back to the radio station, where we sat down and discussed the vision for the music. Ustad sahib gave me a bunch of names that came to his mind. Basically, we need to find people that can do the task of reading and performing poetry in a form and order that I have put together and fit into my budget. There is a lot to do, but having Ustad Amb Jogi on board is a huge relief.
Afterwards we set aside the work talk and just caught up. It made me really glad to hear how with his generation in the family, they had gone from centuries of being wanderers like gypsies and had now settled down and focused on educating their kids. Many artists, including these Jogis and the puppeteers I met in Multan have had to face these drastic changes in their sources of income due to changes in how society consumes entertainment. Ustad sahib lacks literacy, but from a young age he focused his energy on becoming the best musician possible.
Afterwards, I walked down the street to Hyder Chowk, to look for a few books I needed for “Risalo”. My copy of the Urdu translation was left somewhere, during all this crazy travel. Thankfully, I kept good cross referenced notes, so I can find all the stanzas of poetry I referenced, but I need that book. I checked one store, and they claimed that no one had that book. That seemed odd. I walked over to the book selling street carts in front of the building and the book seller assured me that he could get me several options.
He offered me tea, then walked off to get the books for me from nearby shops. I waited, and watched the mad traffic around me. He came back with a few books. The same translation had been published by a different publisher as well, but I really wanted the same one so that I could reference the page numbers I had noted to find the bits of poetry I had chosen for the film.
I also wanted a proper Sindhi version, as Ustad sahib and I had discussed the need for a script for both all the Urdu text and the Sindhi original verses so that singers could start learning them and working on it. That was my next task. After a couple of rounds of searching, I remembered that the publishers of that book were in the building upstairs across from me. I did not want to cut the book seller out of his commission either, but I needed to see the books myself to make a selection, so I let him know and walked up to the book shop telling him that I would just pay him whatever commission he would charge for the books. He was very nice and we had met briefly once before.
Shah Latif’s poetry, upon which my film “Risalo” is based is huge. There are so many books on his work. Some contain partial verses, some contain a ton of commentary and explanation. I found the Urdu translation I was looking for easily enough. Next I needed to find a copy of the original Sindhi version that best matched the translation I was working from in terms of containing all the verses I needed.
Since I don’t really read Sindhi, it was challenging. I found huge tombs filled with commentary and smaller sections of verses. I kept looking until I found an edition that was almost entirely verses and decided to pick up those two books. I got a sweet 40% discount from the publisher, then walked out with these huge books to the book seller on the street.
He was very nice about it all. He did not want to take any commission for books he had not sold me, on principle. We sat down and drank some tea together. We got to talking about a few other books, and I ended up picking up a couple from him that sounded interesting, including a book of his own poetry, which I will need someone to read to me.
I picked up a cheap, used digital camera from shopkeeper who seemed intent on not selling anything. I think because I was wearing traditional clothes, he assumed I was just looking and not going to buy. Weird, but hey, I pass as a local. What an honor to be treated like crap like a regular old local. At least the price wasn’t raised. I did not have the heart, or frankly the funds to buy a camera like the one I had, so I got this one.
I hopped on a crazy neon bus to head back to Jamshoro. The bus would stop every few moments and start shaking. The lights would go out. One time, a woman panicked and tried to get off the shaking bus. The conductor spent about 10 minutes calming her down, reassuring her that we would get back.
The inside of the bus was more decorated than most. We chugged along and somehow made it to Jamshoro by nightfall. I hopped on a rickshaw from there to get the rest of the way home. The rickshaw driver was a wirey guy, with jamming tunes. It was actually a lot of fun after all that other mess. Once we got there, I thanked him for the musical ride and head inside to rest.