When I hear the melody and nuances of raag Pahadi I am taken back to the green hills and snow capped peaks that I saw everyday for four years as a child growing up and going to school in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh. So, when I eventually did return to the school in those hills in 2015, the experience of seeing that view again inspired me to write a few words about that special place, which I incidentally would sing in raag Pahadi:
I have returned to you door
Still the same as ever it was before
You have a place at my core
I long to see you once more
Then, in November of 2017 when we got the opportunity to perform at the Faiz International Festival in Lahore we found ourselves alongside Ustad Shafqat Ali Khan, a Pakistani classical singer that I have had playing on my iPod for many years, particularly his rendition of Saiyan Bina Ghar Soona, a thumri in raga Mishra Pahadi.
Whilst we sang this thumri together with Paulo playing guitar, enjoying the flow of improvising the raag, I introduced some of the English poetry I wrote into the composition. Khan Saab enjoyed it and suggested that we ought to sing this together during his concert at the festival. That, unfortunately didn’t end up happening. But what did happen was that the next day after the festival, Khan Saab came to the studio where Paulo and I were recording some songs with bansuri player Akmal Qadri. We recorded a few takes, improvising on the thumri in Pahadi, interweaving it with the English poetry I had written about returning to the place of my childhood in the mountains.
Return is on our second album Senses, which is due to be released on the 16th November 2018. Check out this video which explains more about the process behind Return…