Sunday, April 22, 2018

Rahat Fateh Ali Khan illuminates sold out show

Image may contain: 4 people, people on stage and people playing musical instruments

Well done Blu Blood on executing a phenomenal show at Emperors Palace on Saturday night. The living legend Rahat Fateh Ali khan illuminated a sold out show with his enthralling voice belting out one hit song after another. The venue was classy with absolutely no incident of hooliganism observed. What really impressed me was the fact that the concert started pretty much on time. I was so glad that they got straight into the show with a bang without the audience being forced to listen to our local artists. I was however disappointed with the behaviour of some of the audience. I think a big contributing factor to the bad behaviour was the fact that alcohol was allowed to be served at the event thereby turning respectable individuals into absolutely pathetic imbeciles. Also the seating arrangement in the vip section was an absolute mess. There were people who came from the back and took up seats in the front causing absolute chaos. We were asked repeatedly to produce our tickets causing unnecessary altercations with shady characters. This kind of behaviour disrupts the ambience of the show. I also think that in the future a full barricade should be erected in front of the stage as there were people walking aimlessly up and down. This is very disrespectful to the artist as well as to the audience. When an artist is on stage, his stage becomes his temple. They evolve into a different world. Some songs would require absolute silence and quiet especially if the artist sings a song that is sentimental and close to his heart. Undoubtedly the highlight of the show for me was meeting the maestro himself along with the band members. Rahat Sahab definitely comes across as a soft spoken, kind hearted, down to earth human being. Thank you Blu Blood for once again bringing world class entertainment to our country and for allowing the Indian community to keep in touch with their culture through the magical world of Bollywood and music....

As a side note, a big shout out goes out to Shazia, Aadila, Fatima, and the families who recognized me through my blog and social media posts. It was really fantastic interacting with all of you....:)

Image may contain: 5 people, including Sumayya Mehtar, people smiling, people standing

Image may contain: 5 people, people smiling, people standing

Image may contain: 4 people, people smiling, people standing

Image may contain: 4 people, including Sumayya Mehtar, people smiling, people standing

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people on stage and indoor

Image may contain: 2 people, people on stage, people playing musical instruments and concert

Image may contain: 2 people, people on stage and people playing musical instruments

Image may contain: 2 people, people on stage, people playing musical instruments, night and concert

Video links:

Friday, April 20, 2018

See the worry in my eyes

12 April 2018

So this morning I read Faizal Sayed's post about the piety brigade and I was left in stitches of laughter. I think I need to elaborate further. Last weekend I attended the saffron book launch and it was such an amazing afternoon in the company of like-minded intellectuals. Those of you who know me on a personal level will acknowledge that I am a person who loves singing. I grew up listening to Rafi Sahab, Kishore Kumar, Sonu Nigam and so many other world famous artists. A part of me has always wanted to learn about Indian classical singing and being able to sing difficult raags. It is a phenomenal talent that only a few have perfected. I am always in awe of these artists who place tremendous effort in being maestros in their field. At the book launch I was asked to sing a nasheed as a part of the program. Even though I am no meastro or diva,I enjoyed doing it thoroughly. The video that was uploaded on social media garnered almost 2000 views thus far and I have received so many kind and warm messages from so many new friends that I made at the function. However I have also received so many nasty inbox messages filled with criticism, hate and animosity from fake profiles. I’ve had messages stating why am I singing about the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) and God Almighty with my shoes on. I should take it off. Another comment was related to the fact that I am a female and hence I should not have been invited to sing in the first place. A male person should have been asked to sing. What absolute rubbish. Why should a male be asked to sing at a function that was put together to celebrate the trials and tribulations of 56 inspirational women. There are people on social media who thrive on snooping at other peoples profiles and taking out fault in others. They forget their history and backgrounds. They more interested as to why a woman is not wearing a head scarf rather than airing out their own dirty laundry which is far worse than not wearing a piece of cloth.. Why is our community so ridiculous? If the neighbour’s daughter is getting married or divorced, it’s not your business. It doesn’t concern you. Worry about the happenings in your own home. I honestly don’t care about what anyone thinks about me. I live my life by my own rules. The people who are important to me are close to me and their opinion matters. My piety is nobody’s concern. The bond that I have with my Lord is between me and Him only. It involves no one else. Stop sending me messages from fake profiles. Only cowards behave in this manner. Why can’t we live and let live. Why can’t we be happy for someone else’s successes in life? By burning down someone else’s candle does not make your own candle burn any brighter. Learn to see the good in others. Juma Mubarak to all my friends and family across the globe. Kindly remember my family and I in your prayers.

Watch the video here:

Image may contain: 2 people, including Sumayya Mehtar, people smiling, people standing

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Letter from a prisoner - Wakey Wakey

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                                         Picture taken from google images

One of life's simplest but greatest pleasures is a good nights sleep. As a prisoner, it took a long time before I could sleep soundly. The thought of sharing a room with convicted strangers, an uncomfortable bunk, unfamiliar nightly noises and a mind constantly thinking of loved ones; were but some of the impediments to blissful sleep.

After acclimatizing, sleep came easily enough. Falling a sleep was no longer a problem but being aroused from sleep remains a periodic issue.

For much of my life and especially as a teen, I was not a morning person; it was only after loss and tragedy that I learnt to consider each day as a blessing. On school days, mum would gently knock on my door, open it and lovingly coax me from dreamland. Knowing full well that I would simply turn over for a few more minutes of slumber, she would then shout to me as she prepared breakfast downstairs. Only at the sound of her second or third attempt, would I reluctantly rise. That was the best way, my fondest memories of waking up. Mum's method could never be replicated, but she spoiled me in that I still required a few pushes of the snooze button before I finally woke up.

Unfortunately, I have been awoken in some of the most crude ways possible. As with many others, sounds awaken me rather easily. Even at home, sounds used to wake me but these were comforting in their own way. The rustling of palm trees against the roof, dads joints creaking as he ascended the stairs, the cat pleading to enter the room, adhaan being called out, dad mowing the lawn and the like; were sounds that comforted in as much as they disturbed.

In prison, I have awoken to a plethora of sounds which elicit the worst of emotions. For hundreds of days, my after fajr sleep (the best sleep ever) has ended with the traumatic sound of the cell door being unlocked. The gigantic keys make the most horrifying clank as they turn the robust locks. It is a sound that not only jolts me from even the deepest of sleeps, but is also an emphatic reminder of where I have awoken. It is a sound that is impossible to get used to.

Occasionally, I have been crudely awoken by the sounds of men vomiting, coughing incessantly, farting at decibel levels sound enthusiasts would admire, screaming in nightmares, having sex, snoring at octaves only sopranos could outdo or simply deciding to blast a radio or TV at full volume, with no care in the world.

Sound, though, is only one sense. Long ago (and hopefully soon again), I remember occasionally being awoken by a kiss or caress. Fortunately, I haven't been awoken in that manner in prison! Prison beds are what offer a great challenge. The steel double bunks wobble at even the slightest movement. Having someone above or below, is frustrating and at times, simply infuriating. Their every motion is felt making me wonder how sailors even get used to sleeping on boats.

I have learnt to deal with sounds and touch, to some extent at least. There is however one manner that robs me of sleep to which I cannot return or ever get used to; being awoken by smell.

There are times when men defecate or fart resulting in a stench indescribable by any metaphor. I once had the horrific task of cleaning out a deep freezer that was filled with only meat, meat that had been rotting for over three weeks.  I didn't think that anything would ever compare to that, until I experienced the potential of men.  The stench is exacerbated by rooms without decent ventilation and air freshener makes no difference at all. All I can do is bury my face in my pillow and wait it out.
These putrid odours fully awaken me into instant nausea and even scares my fatigue away.So the next time a seemingly nagging voice, meow, lawnmower, adhaan or restless spouse awakens you; remember that someone dreams of having just that!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

"Wrong number" theologians - Time to root them out of society

Image result for WRONG NUMBER PK
                                                                             Picture taken from google images

I find it sad that despite our country having so many learned Islamic theologians, key pertinent issues within our societies are not addressed. The latest issue that has made its rounds on social media is the aalim who was found guilty of molesting his students. This is happening in our institutes but is a topic that is swept under the carpets. Then we have aalims who are associated with fraud acquiring millions of rand in a haraam manner. These same individuals are allegedly apart of the tabligh jamaat movement. How can you be calling your self a religious scholar on the one hand whilst you are a thief on the other hand. Why are our scholars covering up for each other? These wrong number aalims need to be exposed and brought to task. Lets talk about the blatant sexual harassment that women are enduring at Islams holiest site whilst making tawaaf. Women all over the world are starting to write about their experiences with many saying they don't ever wish to perform another pilgrimage due to the uncouth behaviour of Muslim men. Our scholars need to talk about these issues, not cover it up and act as though all of these issues only exist in other cultures and that we Muslims are perfect. .. the truth is we not... Let's talk about favouritism in our institutes. If your father is a big donor and contributor towards the institution then you are allowed to smoke in the institute and also carry a mobile phone no questions asked. This is why i am not a fan of islamic institutes that do not practice what they preach.Let us talk about nepotism within our institutes and organizations. We have Muslim organizations whereby the president down scales to a vice president after serving a term. Nepotism is not a part of Islam then why is it practiced in so many of our institutes.We are quick to bring down other religions and condemn people who are different to us yet we are morally and ethically imperfect ourselves. A friend of mine removed his kids from the local islamic school due to the blatant favouritism and bias afforded towards rich kids whose parents contributed significantly towards the running expenses of the school. He noticed that kids who came from middle income or poorer homes were ostracised and looked down upon by kids who hailed from affluent homes. You would expect kids going to an Islamic school to have qualities of simplicity and humility engrained within them as these are true Islamic values but in essence it's quite the contrary.The school is a symbol of class and prestige. I know I will be gunned down for generalising so please forgive me if this does not apply to you. Mom witnessed this kind of rotten behaviour first hand when she was asked to pick up kids from the local islamic school and drop them off home. The kids refused to sit in mom's car as she drove an old rickety Peugeot 504 at that time. It wasn't a fancy BMW or Mercedes Benz..I feel like puking when I think about how some parents bring up their kids to be so shallow. They brought up with this notion that wealth is their tool for power and success.Little do they know that wealth is a bounty from God Almighty. Today you can be high and mighty and tomorrow you can be penniless.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Padmavati - A cinematic masterpiece

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Padmavati- a cinematic masterpiece beautifully put together by the magician Bhansali. The 3D experience made the movie more enthralling. The larger than life sets, regal costumes and powerful battle scenes took me back to a bygone era- an era where kings and Queens resided in beautiful fortresses, an era where slaves served their masters whilst beautiful fair skinned women were sought after by men in power. Ranveer Singh plays the role of the Khilji king Alauddin Khilji. He is undoubtedly the life of the movie and acted out each scene effortlessly. However Bhansalis portrayal of Alauddin Khilji is a bit flawed. The Khilji dynasty were devout Muslims who drew inspiration from Persia in terms of literature, music and poetry. Alauddin was a ruthless, treacherous king but he was definitely not a barbarian and neither did he reside in a dungeon like haunted palace. The Khilji dynasty resided in palaces that were ornately decorated with exquisite furniture surrounded by mesmerising gardens.Alauddin might have been a wicked man but he was definitely intelligent when it came to strategically winning wars. He had in his possession weapons that were totally unfamiliar to his enemies. Therefore, Bhansali could have portrayed Ranveers negative role in a more tactful manner. Reference is also made to the Khilji kings homosexual or bisexual tendencies through his most favoured ally Malik Gaffoor. I am pretty sure that conservative Muslims in India must have been up in arms about the fact that a Muslim warrior king was portrayed in this light. Well, hats off to Bhansali for having the guts and being bold enough to highlight a subject that is prevalent yet taboo in the Muslim world. Homosexuality exists in all Muslim societies yet it is a subject that is not discussed openly. In exists in our schools and in our Islamic institutions but never discussed. It is a subject matter that is swept under the carpet.In the middle east, prominent members of society are bisexual and homosexual too. If you under the impression that being a princess in a Muslim Kingdom is hunky dory, think again. I met many princesses in the Middle East who were suicidal and ill treated by their wealthy canniving husbands. They are basically trophy wives and as such treated as a commodity in the same way that the Khilji king treated his subdued wife.Deepika padukone played her role as the Rajput queen with absolute grace and finesse. Whilst many may argue that her decision to take her life by jumping into a fire is wrong I think it's debatable. Would you rather be taken captive and stripped off your dignity by the same coward who killed your husband or would you carry out this act of self immolation thereby taking your own life and maintaining your self respect and dignity. This act of jauhar was very much a part of Rajput tradition in ancient times and as such it should be respected rather than frowned upon. The soft natured demeanour of the Khilji queen depicts the kind nature of a Muslim towards a non Muslim Rajput king and queen. Her character is a total contrast to her tyrant partner but in essence reflects the true character of a muslim. She comes to the rescue of the Rajput king and queen by helping them escape and in the process she is banished to a dungeon and is then referred to as a traitor. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, but if you are a closed minded Muslim person who believes that homosexuality does not exist in the Muslim world, if you believe that women are not used and abused in the Muslim world and that all Muslim leaders are perfect ( hell no..they not.... look at the ruthless, treacherous muslim leaders we have in current times murdering and killing innocent kids) then you are definitely residing in a fools paradise and this movie is not for you..

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Siddharth Slathia - Doing what he does best

A few days ago a friend of mine sent me a music video by Siddharth Slathia. I was totally impressed and taken aback by his beautiful, melodious voice. I found his facebook page and decided to drop him a message. I never expected to get an almost instant response considering that he has a massive social media following.  He comes across as a very simple, down to earth human being who enjoys engaging with all his fans on a personal level online.  Read on to find out more in his own words.

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1. Firstly Siddharth, thank you so much for taking time out to be interviewed by me. I am curious to know, who is Siddharth Slathia? Tell me a little about your family background and life from childhood until present?

It’s my pleasure and honour. Well, I come from a middle-class family from Jammu & Kashmir. My mum is a school teacher and father works in a bank, and I am the only child. I grew up in Jammu and after my high school, my parents sent me to Jaipur to study Engineering. However, my heart was always in music. So, I quit engineering in the fourth semester after watching Aamir Khan’s 3 Idiots and started learning Indian Classical.

2. Do you belong to a musically inclined family? Did you always want to become a musician or did you embark on another career first?

No, I am the only one and the first one to have chosen music as my career in the entire family. I was always interested in music but it was only after I started studying Engineering that I realised that it wasn’t for me and the only thing I wanted to pursue was music…the Aamir Khan movie “3 Idiots” inspired me and pushed me to go for my passion which has always been music.

3. Are you a professionally trained singer or is music just a hobby?

I’m trained in Indian Classical and singing is my profession.

4. Tell me more about your massive social media following on You tube as well as facebook. How did that come about? Were you surprised that so many people took an interest in your songs?

I don’t know how but I guess it’s because of all the hardwork and dedication over the past 6-7 years. It hasn’t come about over night, it’s taken a long time but as they say “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. I am thankful to all my fans who have been supporting me throughout my journey.

5. Who is your favourite singer of all time?

I listen to all the great legendary singers and try to learn from everyone but Rafi Sahab and Sonu Nigam ji are the two singers who I idolize.

6. If you could be granted one wish and have any skill or talent in the world, what would it be?

Haha, I am happy and content with the talent God has already given me.

7.  What are your favourite websites?

Have never thought about favourite websites before but I guess I use Youtube, facebook and google on a regular basis.

8. I noticed that the videos you post online are very well put together. Who assists you with the technical aspects of your videos?

I do it all myself

9. Has social media changed your life? Since you have reached a certain degree of online fame, have you received offers to perform on stage or to become a part of the mainstream Bollywood industry?

Yes, of course. I got an opportunity to work with A  R Rahman sahab and the composer duo Salim-Sulaiman. I have been getting so many live shows as well. I am also discussing a couple of Bollywood projects as a composer/singer. And this is all because of my work on social media.

10. Where do you see yourself five years from now?

I see myself as a successful Bollywood playback singer five years from now.

11. What advice would you give to young aspiring musicians out there?

Be original..originality is very important to survive in the industry for a long run. Keep on evolving. Listen to a lot of quality music of different genres. Be consistent in publishing your work on social media. 

Once again, thank you Siddharth for taking the time to answer these questions. Desert Moon wishes you all the best in your future endeavours!!! This is definitely one of the most inspiring interviews that I have ever done. I am so honored and proud to have interviewed a man who is all set and ready to make an impact globally. Thank you for giving me this opportunity.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Those were indeed the good old days

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                                                 Picture courtesy Power your city website

During my childhood years I use to spend most of my vacations at my maternal grandparents home. The festive cheer during the December month definitely transcended into our home as well. Nana and his friend, the late Uncle Ebrahim Bhika use to drive my brother and I down town Johannesburg to take a ride on the famous topless bus to see the Christmas lights. There was never a December that went by without taking a picture with Santa Claus. To appease one of my crossy face episodes, I recall Nana purchasing a talking and singing Christmas father toy for me as a gift. It subsequently suffered a horrible death as it went flying down the flat window accidentally. Nana and Nani resided in Wynberg, a suburb that bordered Alexandra township. Whilst many viewed the area as being notorious and dangerous, for us it was home. Mom’s family resided in a small one and a half bedroom flat. The lounge area had a few arm chairs and a couch that could open up into a bed as well. Both the lounge and the master bedroom had entrances into the cosy kitchen. There was a small pantry adjacent to the coal stove. Whilst the master bedroom had an ensuite bathroom, the toilet was located outside in between two flat units. The neighbours had to share a communal toilet and mind you waking up at night to go to the toilet was actually a terrifying experience for a kid even though the main gate at the bottom was always kept locked with a chain. Despite my grandparents home being small it was always a place of love and laughter. No one went to bed hungry. During the day, Nanis neighbour, Kajja bhai use to spoil me with garam garam sugar roti. May God Almighty grant her the highest stages of paradise. The people of that time had little but they were content. They appreciated the smaller, finer things in life. As the years went by, my grandparents moved to Marlboro as the flat they were residing in was going to be demolished. Naturally, there was huge excitement when they moved into their new home. During this time of the year, nana would take us for a walk in Joubert Park. On other days, we would take a drive to Johannesburg’s Lilliputian wonder, Santarama miniland. We were welcomed by a giant statue of Jan Van Riebeeck and definitely enjoyed boarding the full scale model of his ship, the Dromedaris. With smiles and laughter we ogled at the miniature models of prominent city landmarks. No festive season was complete without visiting the musical fountains at Wemmer Pan. So what has happened to these iconic places? From what I heard, these places have been neglected and totally run down. Many visitors have also been robbed and mugged at knife point. The city of Johannesburg needs to revive these places especially now over the festive season. I am not a person who goes crazy over firework displays but I do recall Uncle Ebrahim visiting Nana's home during the festive season with a big box of fireworks that he would light for us. Believe it or not we all use to enjoy the classic Boney M Christmas carols. In fact, my colleague and I had a big laugh this week trying to recall some of the lyrics. This is how I reminisce about the festive season during my childhood. It never made me any less of a Muslim and neither did I change my faith of birth. It simply made me more aware and more understanding towards other people’s culture, faith and tradition. Those were indeed the good old days!