Song: Chalti Chali Jaye

Song: Chalti Chali Jaye…. (A Journey Into The Unknown)
Vocals: Azhar Hameed. Videography: KamranOnBike

I met Mr Azhar Hameed over a year ago in LA where he arranged a place for me to stay for two months. One day when we were driving, he played a song for me in the car. It was a song from an old Hindi movie which we sang along. Then he said it was a cover song—recorded in his own voice. I couldn’t believe!

Azhar Bhai isn’t a singer by trade or training. He is an entrepreneur who retired at the age of 44 and now devotes his time for charity work. His Wednesdays are only for playing golf and his evenings, for singing. His biggest regret in life?

“I couldn’t get to meet Mohammad Rafi when he was alive.”

He said he would have sacrificed all his possessions only to see Rafi perform live.

Such is his love and admiration for Mohammad Rafi.

Now in his mid 50’s, Azhar Bhai is rediscovering what he loves doing the most. Recently, he started taking singing lessons from a classical Ustad in California, but after two lessons, his teacher got so ill they couldn’t continue. Now when driving to his office in the morning, Azhar Bhai does Riaz (practice) on the sound of Tanpura, for precisely 9 minutes. After that, he takes a break and then does it again for another nine minutes. Trust me, it is exhausting; even for a listener.

In a world where we measure success in terms of wealth, power and fame, it is heartening to see him follow his passion. People don’t come to the US to learn classical Indian music but to make money and then get stuck in the limbo. But, here is a man who has already established himself as an entrepreneur and saying, “You know what? I am going to sing!”

When I was cycling in Utah last year, he sent me a song which he had recorded in his voice for me. It was a beautiful song about travelling. The song went like “Chalti Chali Jaye, Zindagi Ki Dagar…”

Now a year later, he came to visit me in Whitehorse on my request. We spent five days together travelling around in Yukon and Alaska. We engaged in a spiritual companionship known as Sohbat. In the Sufi way, it is the sharing of blessing, nurturing of the soul through love and friendship in each other’s company.

On our last day together, while driving from Skagway to Whitehorse, we stopped at Tutshi Lake where we made fire and tea. I saw him singing the same song he had sent me a year ago. I began shooting him candidly. Later, I shot some more clips as we drove back to Whitehorse.

In the evening, we sat down next to the fire stove in a log cabin near Cowley Lake and looked at the footage shot during the day. We began putting the clips together and in a couple of hours, this video emerged. Nothing was planned. We had even not thought about making a video. It just happened. We used the same song recording Azhar bhai had sent me a year ago.

This Hindi song is about the endless journey of the human soul that is unaware of its destiny yet goes on a quest into the unknown. We are all on this journey taking different paths.

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