It just so happened that a friend and former colleague messaged me one day. Her father was getting rid of his music collection and there was quite a bit of vinyl of old Indian and Pakistani music. Should she bring it down to Melbourne next time she was in town?
The gentleman in question, who has so kindly gifted these records to me, is a Sikh from the Chakwal area of Punjab in modern day Pakistan. At the age of 11 he was forced, like nearly every other Sikh in that part of the world, to flee with his family to India. The biggest transaction of human capital and one of the biggest human, not to mention political and cultural tragedies ever to visit any country was underway in the form of the Partition of British India.
Our hero studied agriculture in India but left for Australia to pursue graduate study while still just a young man. It was the 1950s. Australia’s infamously racist White Australia immigration policy was at its peak. How a turbaned Sikh managed to make it through the bureaucratic defense systems is a story I’ve yet to be told. [About 20 years later our art teacher at school, one of India’s finest talents, who was married to an Australian, struggled for years before he managed to get an entry visa!]
Once landed he married a Latvian woman, had a family of find Latvian-Punjabi-English speaking children and developed a career as an educationist in Queensland.
One day soon I hope to have the privilege to meet him in the flesh. I will thank him for his music collection and I hope he will tell me stories of pre Partition India and 1950s Australia.
It is a joy to share the first album from his collection.
This is a rare record in that there were probably no more than a few hundred pressed. Clearly the work of music fans and homesick immigrants, this record is entitled Latest Edition in Love and Romance. It is a collection of ghazals from the modern master of the form, Mehdi Hassan.
The label, Oscar Records, has a replica of the famous golden statuette as its logo. One can safely bet that the brains behind this effort was one Mr Asghar, whose enterprise, Asghar International also gets billing on the back of the album.
The vintage of the selected ghazals is well loved rather than rare. Mr Asghar appears to have had connections and good relations with executives of EMI, Pakistan, whom he thanks for their cooperation in producing the album.
A final note of interest is the label on the front of the album which indicates the record was purchased at Ambika’s Record Bar in Vancouver, British Columbia. So altogether, a well journeyed record/music: Pakistan, New York, Vancouver, Queensland and finally to my humble home in Melbourne.
I’ve cleaned the vinyl a bit but only minimally. It is in outstanding condition, considering its date of release (early-mid 80s, I would guess).
01 Jidhar Deedaye Jana Hongay
02 Hosh-e-hasti se begana banaya hota
03 Jal Bhi Chuke Parwane
04 Tere Zalim
05 Garche Sau Bar Gham-e-hijr se Jan Guzri Hai