Sayonee, the first one named for the song, is eleven now. That's how long it's been.
The other day she asked her guitar tutor to help her play the opening riff of the song she thinks was written for her (two years before she was born!). The guitar teacher, a twenty-something Indian-Chinese boy with tattooed arms and a job with a rock music magazine, tells me: 'You know, it's funny that I never really listened to Junoon, but I remember that song. I see a hundred bands come and go but the real touchstone for the best and great music is that it stays with you, in your head, that you don't forget it.'
That much is true. Junoon brought us some unforgettable music. Off and on, during my very long commute to work, as my driver tunes into the popular Indian FM channels, I will hear the awesome opening to 'Sayonee' or the 'Saaien' and sometimes, rarely, 'Bulleya'. And I will wonder at how many, many years it's been. And how I remember each word and note.
I didn't know Junoon when it first began, but I had a first with them, nevertheless. I first became the first Indian to first contact them. It's a story I have told often - 'Two junkies in search of peace', which you can read at: http://bit.ly/VatsalaJunoon (though I have no clue why the headline termed us 'junkies' ?). And that's a first I am honoured to be. It was another first for me, too - I met my first Pakistanis. It was a watershed moment, a moment that shattered many myths, and created new possibilities and probabilities.
What were these?
What weren't these! What didn't we dream of those days. Through the Channel [V] and MTV accolades, through countless gigs and milling fans, through the hundred thousand autographs, through the nuclear tests, an earthquake and a war, there was a windstorm of hope - and it blew to the tune of Junoon's music.
For the first time here was someone from Pakistan who had something to say that a whole generation wanted to listen to. It was part melody, part mission. It was history and poetry and heart and soul and rhythm and rock and opinion, and it said simple, crucial things. It said we are the same. It was love and sad things and romance and protest and a plea to come together. To come together as we did at the gigs.
We looked at the bright side suddenly. A handshake between politicians held hope and scope. A bus between the two countries would do what no man or woman had ever been able to do. The hearts of a people riven by history and politics would reunite.
To do what exactly? you may ask.
Many things - to move forward instead of back all the time, to not waste what we have on conflict, to value and honour what was shared, and understand what was different, to drop the steely cold guns and manic buttons of discord, to hold that white dove called peace in our hands and marvel at its fluttery softness - and let it fly away, knowing it was forever ours.
Why should an iffily-labelled 'Sufi-Rock' band make you feel that? you may ask. Because that's what music does. It makes you dream. And then it makes you move to that dream. It makes you cry, laugh and love, sink and swim, and live moments and lifetimes of possibilities. Or at least, that's what Junoon's music did.
That's also why I called my daughter after that song. She has chosen Urdu as the third language at school, and was recently thrilled to bits at figuring out that Junoon's band symbol is 'Jeem'. It's another matter that she thinks that 'Pappu Yaar' is the most awesome of Junoon's tracklist.
At her age, there is a whole different set of possibilities, a different sense of Junoon.
The writer is an editor and occasional journalist, currently publishing director for children's and reference books at Hachette India.
Wednesday, October 05, 2011
Page 180 of 174
The News on Sunday Special Report: India Pakistan prisoners more editions
We probably didn't need to do this Special Report. Newspaper stories don't matter when it comes to Indians in Pakistani jails and vice versa. In fact, 'vice versa' sums it up. We do to them what they do to us.
Except when the two countries decide to begin talking, yet again! This time a little before the foreign secretary level talks, some Pakistani prisoners were released by India (and vice versa must have happened) and some more were release....read more
For the past 2 years the Jang Group and Geo have been working on a project of great national interest; one that we hope will help usher in an era of peace and prosperity in the country and indeed, in the region. And one that hopefully all Pakistanis can be proud of. more
The Jang Group has entered into an agreement with the Times of India Group, the largest media group of India, to campaign for peace betw