Thursday, October 18, 2012

Life, I want to recognize your helper verb

After days of arguing over music, Saadia and I found one song we could both dance to. 

See, we share a room. We became close friends after staying in the same apartment building, but now that we share a room – waking up together, going to bed together, eating together – we can sometimes drive each other a little crazy. Especially recently. All I want to listen to is old blues and bluegrass. Saadia wants to listen to anything BUT that. And we just bicker, bicker, bicker.

I don't know why I didn't think about this before. I have one Indian song that I used to listen to ALL the time! Why didn't we start dancing to this weeks ago?

How did I find this song? By compromise. We started with Nirvana's cover of "In the Pines" because Saadia loves Nirvana, for some reason. I then played Leadbelly's version as the compromise. Because his version is obviously the greatest. Well, where can you go from Leadbelly other than to Skip James? So I played "Cherry Ball Blues," which led to "Devil Got My Woman".

And "Devil Got My Woman" brought us into the soundtrack to the film Ghost World.

I've written about my love for this movie before, but it never proved more useful than last night. I was looking through my iTunes, knowing Saadia wouldn't let me keep playing old music, and I saw it, on the Ghost World soundtrack, right after Skip James:

"Jaan Pechan Ho" by Mohammed Rafi. 

Anyone who has seen the opening scene to Ghost World has had this song stuck in their heads, no doubt, never knowing how to pronounce the words or what they meant.

Well, now I do! Saadia and I stepped outside to get some fresh air and enjoy a Kingfisher and ended up staying out for nearly an hour, dancing our way closer and closer to midnight while she taught me the lyrics to the song.

But after all the dancing and the beers, she began translating in a very interesting way, in a way perhaps only Christopher Hitchens could keep up with at that point. She was trying to explain the power of Urdu verb conjugations, or as she said " vern congenations." "He is trying to say that if they could only recognize each other –helper verb– life would be like a dream..."

So that was our Wednesday. Some chain-smoking Brooklynite teaching me – a tragically white Nebraskan – the ancient poetry of Urdu.

Eventually, I got the hang of it.

"Dil pe chrale wallet auk nah churau. Nam to patau…" Those who steal my heart, do not steal my gaze as well. Please, tell me your name at least…

So when we go to Kashmir this weekend, in the land of Urdu, I can tell my taxi driver, "Jaan pejan ho. Jeena a san ho." If we could really recognize each other, life would be a fantasy.

Perhaps I'll get a cheaper cab fare...

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