Friday, July 24, 2015

Her illustrious musical family

If you are an avid Bollywood music fan, you must have heard about the internationally acclaimed Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan Sahab. He was born in 1931 and as a teacher he has trained several noted playback and classical singers. Some of his students include my favourite playback singer of all time Sonu Nigam as well as Shaan, Geeta Dutt and Hariharan. His sons are well known classical vocalists within the Hindi film industry and have worked with legendary music directors like A. R. Rahman.

According to wikipedia, Khan Sahab was awarded the Padma Shri in 1991 followed by Padma Bhushan, the third highest civilian award of India in 2006.In 2003 he was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award highest Indian recognition given to practicing artists given by Sangeet Natak Akademi, India's National Academy for Music, Dance and Drama. It gives me great pleasure to be interviewing Shadma Khan, the daughter of the living legend as she takes us down memory lane talking about her father's musical career and what it was like growing up in a musically inclined family. Read on to find out more in her words.


1. Firstly Shadma jee, thank you so much for taking time out to be interviewed by me on such short notice. Tell me a little more about your family background and life from childhood until present? What was it like for you as a child growing up in an illustrious world renowned musical family?
It is my pleasure to have been given an opportunity to speak about my beloved father. As a child I remember my father doing his riyaz (music practice) for more than fourteen hours a day. He devoted most of his time to music. I am grateful to God to be born into such a musical environment. While growing up, I got the opportunity to listen to quality music and meet great personalities from the world of music. I am lucky enough to have the same environment even after getting married. My husband Ustad Ghulam Abbas Khan is a renowned Ghazal, Sufi and Hindustani Classical Vocalist. So, nothing much has changed after getting married.

2. Did you also have an opportunity to learn music from your dad?
We belong to a conservative background where the women of the household were not encouraged to perform music publicly. So I did not learn music from my father. Also, I was more interested in listening to music rather than performing it. My husband and I do, however, encourage our daughters to learn music and pursue it as a career if they please.

3. Elaborate further on your family's relationship with Sonu Nigam jee.
My father very beautifully breaks down the word ‘Gharana’ into ‘Ghar’ and ‘Ana’ which means ‘coming home’ in Hindi. He considers all his students as his children. Sonu is very dear and near to all of us. He has been learning from Papa since 1997 and has become a very important member of our family. We think of him as our younger brother and even tie him rakhi. (Rakhi is a sacred thread which sisters tie on their brothers’ wrist indicating an eternal bond of love and protection).

4. How did your dad embark on a musical career? Did he learn music from childhood? Is it a gift that is passed down from generation to generation?
Born into a family of traditional musicians, my father breathed music from the very first moment of his life. Having maestros in the family was a huge source of inspiration to him and at the tender age of three, he was initiated into music by his father Ustad Waris Hussain Khansahab and later continued his training under his paternal uncle, another renowned vocalist, Ustad Fida Hussain Khan (who was a court musician in Rampur and Baroda Darbars) After his death, Padma Bhushan Ustad Nisar Hussain Khansahab took my father’s charge. Thus, he had his complete taleem (musicial education) at home. Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khansahab started performing vocal music from the age of eight years. He is an approved artist of All India Music since 1949. So yes, music is indeed a gift that is passed down in our family from generation to generation. My father received it from his father and then he passed it down to his sons and now his grandsons.

5. How does an individual become a classical singer? How much of practice is involved and how is this art form taught to students?
To be a Classical Singer, one has to have a lot of patience and perseverance. It requires proper taleem, and hours of vigorous riyaz (practice). The guru teaches his students according to their personal requirements. The guru also assesses their skills from time to time.

6. Is Indian classical music a dying art form or do you think that it is an art form that requires more exposure globally?
No, I do not believe Indian Classical Music to be a dying art form. It has survived and thrived through centuries and is still an important part of India’s heritage. It will live on for many, many centuries to come. It could definitely do better with more global exposure so that more people would get the opportunity to listen and appreciate good music. For this purpose, Indians from all over the world should consider it their responsibility to help this art form flourish more at a global level.

7. If you could be granted one wish and have any skill or talent in the world, what would it be?
If I could, I would love to be an organiser and promote the rich culture and music of my country on a global scale. It has always been a dream since childhood.

8. What are your favourite websites?
I am a full time homemaker and I also manage my husband’s career so I don't get much time to browse through websites. Occasionally, I do go on YouTube to listen to a variety of artists.

9. I understand that your brothers are all classical vocalists. Tell me a little bit more about their musical journey.
My brothers are all very talented vocalists and they are not just limited to Hindustani Classical Vocal but are also accomplished Playback Singers. They have sung several Bollywood songs for AR Rahman and other Music Directors.

10. Does your dad still teach music?
Yes. My father is still an active guru but he teaches very selectively. Sonu Nigam’s son Neevan is among his students.

11. What advice would you give to young aspiring musicians out there?
I’d like advise the young aspiring musicians to have patience, perseverance and to work hard to achieve their goals. Vidya hasil karne ke liye sabr ki zaroorat hoti hai (You have to be patient to achieve education) To be a good musician is to be honest to yourself.

Once again Shadma jee, thank you for agreeing to be interviewed by me . 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 honoured and proud to have interviewed the daughter of a living legend who has made a positive impact globally through his music whilst the world is engulfed in political turmoil and war. Thank you for giving me this opportunity Shadma jee and hope to meet you one day in Mumbai.

As a side note, Shadma jee mentioned to me via our telephonic conversation that her husband, Ustad Ghulam Abbas Khan  teaches music to students throughout the world via skype. If you are interested in learning how to sing on a professional level, feel free to contact Shadmajee through her facebook page. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The global drug epidemic is here to stay


My colleague and I were left in shock and total disbelief a few days ago after a patient of ours decided to relate his life story to us. He walked into the pharmacy with a suit and tie and portrayed the image of a professional person. He requested for flu medication and made it quite clear to us that he does not want any medication that contains codeine as he is a recovering addict. We then asked him more about the rehabilitation centre he resided at for the last 6 months. He then told us that he has been using CAT for the last fifteen years. He started buying it from the Nigerians who prowled the main roads in Roodepoort. After becoming a frequent buyer of the product, they made him an offer to join their global drug trade syndicate. He started manufacturing CAT at his house in the Roodepoort area. He had a friend who was a biochemist and he forwarded him with the "recipes" on how to manufacture a variety of drugs. His mom owned a gas factory and had a licence to keep hazardous substances on her premises.
He started supplying kids at school and many families within his neighbourhood in addition to manufacturing for the Nigerian drug lord, Zion... That was apparently not his real name. He never divulged his real name to anyone. In return for manufacturing drugs for the syndicate, he would receive large sums of money in addition to brand new luxury cars. He would enjoy luxury holidays all over the world. The drug lords owned homes in many different countries abroad. In his own words, he was living the high life. That is until his best friend reported him the police. He could not tolerate the fact that his friend was destroying families and leading the youth astray.This should n't come as a surprise considering that we reside in one of the most corrupt countries in the world, when his friend went to the police station to lay a complaint, he was not given a hearing. Only after seeking further help from the higher authorities was action taken. Undercover detectives raided his home and of course arrested him.
But here comes the most shocking part. At first they wanted to implicate his mom for manufacturing drugs as all the hazardous substances were bought through her company. He pleaded with the police not to arrest him or any of his family members. The detectives handling the case demanded a million rand each along with a few luxury cars. Guess what, he paid them out and now walks scott free. This man mentioned to us that the police are bluffing the community by arresting the drug users. The real truth is that these Nigerian drug lords who have infiltrated our country will never ever get caught. Why? Because they have police members, airport officials as well as senior government officials in their pay roll. They operate with multiple passports as well and hence they have people within home affairs that are also on their pay roll. The gentleman said that after coming out of rehab he finally realizes that what he has been doing over the last 15 years was wrong. He does have remorse for destroying so many lives. If he was arrested in the middle east, he would be a dead man. In this country, the criminal is king. Our judicial system has failed us yet gain!!!! This country is truly run by idiots. We have regressed from a world class country into a banana republic.........

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Reys's quick and easy bread pudding recipe

Almost every second night my mom has been spoiling us with freshly baked bread pudding after
the evening prayers. It tastes absolutely delicious especially on a cold winters night. Today I decided to share the recipe with all my friends and fans....

                                                   1. Pour 3 cups milk into a liquidizer machine

                                                    2. Add 3 eggs to the milk

                                                    3. Add a half a cup sugar

                                                    4. Blend all of the above ingredients together

                                                     5. Pour the mixture into a medium size
                                                        oven proof bowl

                                                      6. Smear apricot jam on three slices of bread

                                                     7. Stack up the bread slices and cut into 
                                                         cubes as depicted below

                                                      8. Add the bread cubes to the milk 

                                                     9. Now add 2 dessertspoons coconut

                                                      10. Add 1/2 teaspoon ground elachi

                                                      11. Add 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg

                                                      12. Add a hand full of almonds. Crush 
                                                       it into smaller pieces in your hands

                                                      13. Mix all of the above ingredients
                                                       thoroughly. Then take 2 ounce butter
                                                       and cut it into blobs.. Scatter all over the

                                                      14. Preheat oven at 180 degrees. 
                                                      Bake until golden brown...It takes
                                                      approximately a half an hour to bake

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Words of wisdom and inspiration

Kindly share this post with all your friends!!
In response to my blog article " Life is what you make of it", I received this comment from Dr. Ahmed Adam. I was left speechless and almost in tears after reading his very touching story. I would like to commend him and thank him for sharing his very inspirational story to the world. Dear Dr. Ahmed, I pray and make dua that Allah grants you complete shifa and may He fill your life with patience always. May you endure all of life's trials and tribulations with a positive attitude knowing that whatever He has written out for us is the best for us. In every negative situation there is always some positive that comes out of it. Allah has used you as a tool to inspire and motivate others. God bless you.
"Hi Desert Moon, I thoroughly enjoyed your post “Life is what you make of it.” I also commend you for giving advice to our youth that the time spend at University is a Golden Opportunity and should not be wasted. In brief, my story, so that hopefully someone may realise that Life can change in an instant. I am a Medical Doctor (I have 4 Tertiary Degrees); Executive Director of a large Private Hospital; Executive Director of a TV Broadcast Company on which I presented many shows; Vice Chairman of Human Rights Foundation; Author of 3 published books; Gym fanatic. I was at the top of my game: superb physical fitness and sharp mental acuity (telling myself that I will do this for the rest of my life). One fine morning, I awoke with partial paralysis and severe pain over my left arm (could be a heart attack); Investigations showed multiple Disc prolapses and severe spinal stenosis in C4-C7. Then followed a series of tests and further deterioration. In brief: I have had several minor strokes (TIA); Pituitary infarct; gunshot chest and leg; IBS; Accelerated osteo-degenerative changes; lax ligament syndrome; sleep most days on a recliner (cannot go flat otherwise my breathing stops); in constant pain every single day (tablets are useless and they don’t help; cannot drive a car; have difficulty in moving my neck; unstable legs which meant that I feel recently with bleeding in the brain leading to further memory loss (plus a few more, but you get the idea); so from riding the Crest of a powerful exhilarating wave, I fell to the bottom and felt the crushing weight of tons of water pressing me down; I use a wheelchair on the rare occasions when I go out; so the advice for some youth: next time when you are complaining of the traffic jam, remember that there is a Doctor who can no longer drive; next time you are lazy to study , remember that there is a person who would love to read and study from large textbooks, but cannot lift anything heavier than 1 kg; next time if you complain that your car is parked very far from the entrance to a shopping mall, remember that someone has not seen a shopping mall in 2 years and needs crutches or a wheelchair just to get from point A to point B. We need to look at our own life and count our Blessings, before we lose something and then realise how important a person or body organ has been to our life. Fortunately, perhaps because of my training, I have no regrets, no grief, no sadness; I have embraced my new life and look for opportunities within that limited scope, to make the best of everyday. The best years of my life were at Varsity, and it is sad to hear that some Varsity students are wasting this awe-inspiring phase of their lives. Thank you for a wonderful article and may all that is good for you come to you in great abundance, warmest regards, Dr Ahmed Adam [South Africa]."