Saturday, February 21, 2009

Mehran University Rocks

Written by | Arificial Intelligence


t was the re-union of all the batches of Mehran University, Jamshoro. The University's Vice-chancellor started the proceedings. It was a long reading effort.

"People say that he reads this speech at every occasion."

Then it was the turn of the President of Mehran Alumni to 'read' his speech. It was comparatively well-written, but the accent was outrageous. Nobody listened to him either.

Speech excerpt

"Now I would like you to listen to some blood dripping from our hearts."


Click play to see the video.      

It was now time to award the most prolific engineers of Mehran University. The guy announced, "The first award goes to Engineer Ibrahim Samoon." That's my father. I never new that he was such a high achiever. I turned on the camera and taped the historical moment; dad receiving his award from the Chief guest, and heavy applause from the crowd. I was stunned in disbelief.

The award ceremony ended, and I didn't even know.


Snaps before dinner

The secretary of Mehran alumni, in his terrible accent, announced the commencement of dinner. Ladies first; then the chief guests and finally the rest of the crowd.

It was a sorry state at dinner. Engineers, dignitaries and respectable members of the society all pushing each other to get hold of the best [and biggest] part of the chicken. Cold drinks were taken in seconds. Water was avoided.

There was one guy who took 6 pieces of chicken, that's around half a kg. I stared long into his face, but he was least bothered.

Amid this pushing and pulling, I managed to get a single piece of chicken; although things looked so bad that I thought I might have to compromise with pieces of roti [bread] only. 2 glasses of water. Enough! I was done with dinner; I was not mentally prepared to shove and shrug people to get hands on food. I am indeed not the man from the cave.

Time for some music. My brother and I came back early from dinner; the guitars and drums guys were still jamming. They played the same tune over and over again, for twenty minutes.

When their jamming ended the anchor of the show arrived. He introduced us to the guys on the drums and guitars; they called themselves: Craze Band. Of all the 144,000 words from the dictionary, one had to be significantly insane to choose 'craze' as a name.

The first singer arrived. She was at least 30. Yet she acted as if she was a rocking teenager. Maybe some weight loss could have done the trick. It is a terrible sight to see people not acting their age. Absolutely unbearable.

Meanwhile, she started singing. The vocals were weak, but her energy got the crowd going, especially the young ones, who danced, out of tune, like nuts.

After 3 songs, it was duet time. She called up on stage her co-singer. And together they butchered the catchy 'teri ore'. The guy had a relatively better voice, but it was never a match for Rahat Fateh Ali Khan's.

That was her last song. Thank God. Again the anchor of the show arrived. He went: "Now I would like to call upon Khawar Riaz. Khawar has a way with words. His is witty. Extremely successful, he has done  many voice overs and skits for GeoTv. Now please put your hands together for Khawar Riaz."

A minute passed. There was no sign of Khawar Riaz coming. So the anchor spoke up, "Khawar Riaz is me". The entire hall giggled with laughter. Some street quality comedy followed: Fauji, Pathan, Memon. Hah! Very funny.

He then called upon the guy who had done concerts in the toughest of places; even on Siachin Glacier[19,000 ft]. He is leading a charitable organization, which builds schools for poor children.

From backstage to center-stage, came a guy with a sleepy face, and jumbled hair. Yet, the attitude was sky high. It was Shehzad Roy.

Shehzad Roy Talks about the University's high class look.
Mehran Entrance
Entrance view of Mehran University from my car.

He wore his guitar on, adjusted the mike to his own height and said, "As I entered the university, I was amazed to see the infrastructure. I never knew such a high class university existed in Hyderabad [actually, Jamshoro]."

The crowd cheered. He had come here with a price tag of 450,000 Rs/-, and it was worth every penny. His voice sounded excellent, just like the one on the CD; not even a sinle instant of the voice wavering. Song after song, he kept on singing, for almost an hour. He also sang his super hit "Laga Reh [Keep Going]. 

Shehzad Roy left. The guitars, piano and tambourine were replaced by tabla and harmonium.

People leave as guitar and piano are replaced by harmonium and tabla

With this scene on stage, the auditorium went half empty. They had no taste for classical music. People left as if Shahid Afridi had just got out.

Two old guys arrived. I had already seen one of them; remember the guy who ate 6 pieces of chicken. They did their jamming, tha thak thai.

Khawar Riaz returned to announce the arrival of a singer who is touted to be the next Lata Mangeshkar. The two guys were still busy jamming; tha thak thai. Khawar Riaz asked the table nawaz [player] to play out a tune. When the tune ended, he joked, "The animal from whose skin this tabla is made must be writhing in pain." 


The audience cheered with laughter; the tabla nawaz went red with anger. Finally the next Lata Mangeshkar arrived; two books in one hand, and eyes fixed on the floor. There was little space between the two musicians, so she stood, staring at the floor for a quite a while. Finally she sat.

The next Lata Mangeshkar?

She looked too young for the task, but the moment she started singing, pin drop silence prevailed. The voice 'was' indeed as strong [and squeaky] as that of Lata Mangeshkar's.

Song after song, she sang, reading the lyrics from one of the two books. There was no air of confidence. It appeared as if she was humming to herself. And with the two books open in front of her, it appeared as if she was solving her home work. Nevertheless, there was heavy applause, I dare say, even more than that given to the guy who had charged 450,000 Rs/- for the night.

After thirty or so minutes, her quota of songs was fulfilled. She book-marked both her books and left. One of the musicians paused her to wave to the audience. She waved, still staring at the floor.

It was time for a lucky draw. The secretary of Mehran alumni, yes, that guy with the terrible accent, announced the winners.

Next in line was a Sindhi singer. He was a hit with the crowd. A strong voice, confidence, and the poetry of Latif; it was a perfect setup. However, it was getting late now. So we left for home, and throughout the two hour journey the vivid events of the night scrolled around the eyes. Dad received an award. Saw Shehzad Roy live in concert. Listened to the next Lata Mangeshkar. And yes, saw many Sindhi people: Ada, Adi, Chokro, Chokri.

About the author
The author is a Second Year student in Urban Engineering. He is also the editor of this blog.

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