Monday, October 04, 2010

I'm moving on

It was long due and I felt totally worthless. Even it didn’t end as I expected it to be but at least I am happy that it’s over.  I have surprised myself in last year or so. Whenever I had a similar situation earlier, I went down for weeks but lately when I get hurt for some reason, it’s just one bad day. Life has made me stronger and tougher somehow.

Big “NO”’s have always led me to greater decisions and redefining myself as I believe everything happens for a reason. I sincerely hope that this comes as a similar moment. I have never lived in yesterdays and am now a strong believer of moving on no matter how I am treated.

As I left with heavy heart after the conversation, I wished the other side very best from the bottom of my heart. I tried to find peace in sleep. Couldn’t sleep. Then God came to my help. I thought about all those friends and family members who are concerned and decided I’ll start tomorrow with a smile. Over the last evening, I have realigned my brain, heart and soul. I have replanned matters and am now all set to take on this day as nothing happened. I am ready to rock the office team and a business development meeting today. :)
Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Na Khedaange, Na Khedandayange Policy of Pakistani Telcos

Everybody of us knows about the power of cellular phones in Pakistan. Practically, there is no comparison between the cell phone subscribers and internet users. However, these days software development in Pakistan is mostly being done for Smart Phones, web or other conventional desktop solutions, and nobody is interested to touch the other side.

Some friends ask me why can’t we make innovative solutions for the telecom companies. Why aren’t there any interesting business solutions and apps for mobile phone users who don’t own a smart phone? The answer is simple and straight, “Because Telecom Companies are not themselves interested.”

As per my experience, most of the individuals working in their Business Intelligence (B.I.) Teams only have “Basic Intelligence.” But they are not the only one responsible. The upper management in these telcos is only concerned with the new packages, call and sms rates. They have miserably failed to analyze what their infrastructure can provide to masses.

Telcos normally don’t have big IT Departments and VAS is normally outsourced to a vendor like in case of Tower Planning and Deployment. Even if somebody makes a good VAS application, he’s offered peanuts for his work. Also the 80-20, 70-30 Business Model and Setup Costs etc. are way too unjust. But this happens once when you go into advanced stages of negotiation. Prior to that, reaching out to the value added services team is somewhat an impossible task for new comers and application developers. The planning managers would never respond to your emails and if they do, it would be an email expressing no interest in the product.

I have seen various individuals who wanted to make a difference by running their services independently, leaving their idea or product half heartedly because telcos never believed in them nor provided them white label short codes at an acceptable price. Also if they were able to get a long code from a telecom solution provider (TSP), either the developer/organization failed to monetize the product or the telecom solution provider stepped up with a heavy invoice. Availability of same service on all operators is something not acceptable to them and they will try to bitch you up in every possible way. Their ultimate goal would be to own the product exclusively. Millions of rupees would be spent on publicizing “Bacha Bachi” packages but you will never see advertisements of products that can add real value in the lives of people.

Mobilink has come up with an online store, Mobistore which primarily focuses on the smart phone apps on a 50-50 revenue sharing model. This is certainly a good effort but before moving onto smart phones, we need to explore the huge potential in conventional SMS and MMS infrastructure. So it’s high time that telcos should let go of this “Na Khedaange Na Khedan Dayange” (Neither will we play nor will we let you) policy, and open up their platforms on relaxed terms and services for voice/text solutions. Let people innovate with your infrastructural support. If you'll rub their back today and play part in their success, they’ll definitely love to rub your back by sharing the revenue stream.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Groove Resort - Check-in & Enjoy The Musical Chords

It’s now a full decade since I am promoting underground musicians via texts, spam emails :D and since the arrival of orkut on social networking sites. PMR, UMR, J4Jumpy, KoolMuzone, PakiUM and others can somehow give me credit for their visitor development. In January, I was asked by an Indian Media Group to be part of their International Screening Panel for a Battle of the Underground Bands. The post “The decade long affair with pakistani underground music finally pays off” is pretty much self explanatory.

Those who know me well have an idea that I only promote young and underground musicians. Once they are famous and into the mainstream media, I abandon them. Same is the case with other promotions that I do including local technical and software products. During the screening process, one of the other judges asked me why I never took Band Management professionally. After all I have connections with both B’s, the Brands and Bands. My answer was simple and straight. “Because I love staying underground and only promote those who need promotion.”

Lately, few of my family members and friends who are now abroad working or studying sent me few requests for songs and I eventually had to make up an Online Music Repository for them. This made me think over the process again. Why bands contacted me before the age of social networking?  They needed technical assistance to promote their songs online. Now things have changed with more awareness amongst us all about web tools. They have their fan pages on Facebook where they can upload music, pictures and videos. Also they can update their fans and interact with them. So practically people don’t need that “ROOFI” anymore and I am really happy things have changed for good. I remember JAL’s "Aadat". This is one of the biggest promotions that I have done in my life. The song was released in underground circles in 2003 and it took the band around 15 months to take the video to masses. That’s why Basim, on of my college friends taunted me with this. “Tu wohi ganay sunta hai jo koi naheen sunta and baad mein wohi 2-3 saal hit ho jatay hein and har koi sun raha hota hai”.

Cutting it short, one of my best friends recently convinced me that you should continue the practice even if things have changed and in fact bring all musicians on a single platform where fans can come and interact with them. So we thought about the idea of Groove Resort.

Groove Resort, a project of ROOFExpress is a social networking place for artists and their fans. It primarily acts as a bridge between the artist and music listeners. It has potential to become a powerful music community to share any music related information. Artists can register for free and share their musical experience through blogs and other sharing tools. The artists can provide information about upcoming shows, add albums, add fans, add photos, add videos (also embed video links via YouTube), create customized profile page and do other related tasks. Moreover artists can even give iTunes and Amazon links to buy the original work.

Any internet user can come onto musician’s profile page and can listen or download (if allowed by the artist/band) their work or videos. Registered listeners have privileges to create a customized profile, add photos, add albums to favorites, comment on blog, and do lots of exciting stuff.

Once you will sign up for your account, you will get to know about dozens of options that are available to you. Groove Resort would be a complete failure unless and until supported by artists and their fans so now it’s up to them how to make use of it. I have done my part so that no artist comes up to me and say “Roofi Bhai/Jigger, mera gaana and video upload kar dein and please post this as your status. I need your support to hit masses. Aap sirf apne doston ko promote karte hein.” They now have all the control in their hand with this automated system. Ending this post, I would even request the mainstream artists and bands to also consider it as an option to promote their music and show the rest of the world about the strength of our music community.
Sunday, August 01, 2010

How "I" saw this year's TEDxLahore

Yes John G. Rives it’s exactly 4 in the morning when I have started writing this post as the call for prayer is being given at the moment in Lahore. If you ask me, great ideas and thoughts come to me after 3 a.m. most of which are archived by the office time. I never wanted to write this post as Tajdar, one of the organizers at TEDxLahore assured me that he’ll post the post-event details but right now I feel should jot down few random thoughts that some people may or may not like. So let me begin.

As I was about to leave to attend TEDxLahore, the rain started pouring and the only thing on my mind was if I would be able to make it. Thanks to my brother that I did and to my surprise every confirmed attendee did. Wasn’t that some kind of achievement with majority reaching the venue an hour before the actual event time in Pakistan?

Some people hate me for calling spade and spade so I won’t tell the organizers that they were perfect, awesome etc. etc. since they are my friends because if I’ll do so I’ll be dishonest with them. They won’t be able to improve. The event had technical glitches yet it was a great event because the positive things overshadowed few negative ones.  I say this because the “Haters” who are criticizing this event should take into account the stupendous effort that has been done behind the scenes to make this event possible. Being an event organizer myself for the last 7 years with dozens of events in my profile as volunteer, I can understand the side of organizers.

Those who missed the event, I won’t tell you what speakers talked about as videos would be soon uploaded by the TEDxLahore Team and you can watch all talks for yourself.  After combining the both sessions, you’ll see that both inspiration and information were present in the event. Those who left after the first session should’ve sticked back.

What I most hated about the event was everybody including myself complaining for one reason or the other. It didn't come as a surprise as we are a nation of complainers and commentators with expert opinion on every issue that the world faces.

  • The doors are not open yet. What’s the purpose of First Come First Served?
  • Why is there no security check on the gate?
  • Who made the pathetic choice of speakers?
  • There is too much mismanagement.
  • The organizers are from elite class and they know nothing about TED.
  • Why they have put MAC for presentations if nobody knows how to use it.
  • What are musicians doing at TED? (Hello, "E" standards for Entertainment retards)

Well my friends, should I lodge another complaint that somebody hit me accidentally from behind and made my famous iPED hit the floor to break its touch screen. In fact I didn’t say a single word to the guy because I left my attitude at home when I came to attend this event. For God Sake, it’s not a paid Concert or Research Conference where you are expecting VIP treatment. If TEDxLahore team would have asked me to sit on the grass to listen to the talks, I would have loved to do so. It’s an event for sharing with each other, the ideas and the experiences even those of organizers. Those who have attended earlier events of TEDxLahore would know how far they have come since last year and Insha'Allah they’ll improve more in next events.

Coming back to the speakers, I feel that it’s not an easy task to pick ones. In my point of view, Khurram & Asim did marvelous work in selecting the ones who presented. Where the speakers had to come from? They had to come from our society. Our leaders are corrupt because majority of us as individuals and Pakistanis are corrupt. Moreover did you take your precious time out to nominate a good speaker?  Seriously did you?  Most of those who don’t know, Dr. Zeeshan Usmani (whom I now call the Dr. Charles Eppes of Pakistan) was not even on the watch list of TEDxLahore Team.  Somebody nominated him and therefore TEDxLahore reached out to him. Apart from that there were dozens of speakers that were asked by the organizers to join in but they couldn’t due to their commitments and busy schedule.  Those who were expecting James Cameron or Steve Jobs like speakers at the event should admit the fact that we don’t live in the innovative society for the moment. As Dr. Nadeem said we are “mimickers” so let’s accept the ground reality.  We deploy or use what becomes obsolete in the western world and then feel proud in sharing it. So unless we have a good entrepreneurial culture, investors, people appreciating each others ideas, you wouldn’t produce great speakers either. Having said that, I don’t buy the argument that speakers were not inspiring. They were the best mixture of different professions at a single event that I have ever seen in Pakistan.

Moving onto selection of attendees, the other type of “Haters” emerged who didn’t get accepted to attend the live event. They only had a mission to propagate the few negative things that TEDxLahore had onto every social media platform or forum. I would ask them to get a life. Over 1000 people applied out of which TEDxLahore could only accommodate 400 at the venue. They wanted an audience of individuals from all walks of life and let me assure you that the rejection rate would increase in coming events of TEDxLahore as more and more people would become aware of it. But did anybody stop you from viewing the proceedings of the event?  There were 4 Viewing Parties within Lahore, one in Islamabad and Karachi each as well as one in Pakistan’s Embassy at Netherlands. Moreover the event was being live streamed and anybody could have joined by just logging onto their broadband internet. They didn’t because they were too busy posting negative comments for the whole world to see.  

Those who are criticizing the organizers should seriously shut up. I am harsh on this because those who are doing so are themselves a bunch of douchebags. This event was not managed by a professional event management company. It was done purely by professionals and students between the age 19 – 30 while taking time off from their other daily commitments. Did anyone stop these "Haters" from acquiring a TEDx license? After all the international conferences are going for so long and they should have applied for license before Asim did.  They didn’t because they can only sit back and complain about things going wrong everywhere.  Did anyone stop them from volunteering for TEDxLahore?  Was an IP jammer/blocking done by the TEDxLahore team for them not to submit their forms as volunteers?  If Yes then if they can find a way to access facebook in countrywide ban then they surely could have used some proxies to submit their form. What are their contributions to the society?  So if they can’t support or volunteer for such a positive endeavor, they don’t have any right to bitch about the event. They should better get out, organize a better one for others to see and I can assure all possible support in my capacity. The TEDxLahore team deserves kudos and appreciation at all forums for coming forward and putting up a good show.

This long blog post was some sort of an indirect message for all Pakistanis to please get up and start bringing the change. If you can’t change others, at least change yourself. If we want to see positive things happening around us, we would have to complement each other. If such a culture is developed and we in real terms become “A Developing Country”, things would start changing on their own and we would automatically have better professionals and experts to speak on such events.

TEDxLahore team burnt the incomplete original soundtrack on the TEDxLahore Music CD. So let me share the complete version below which is available at Youtube and I would soon post the Mp3 Link and Arafat's wonderful speech on stage before the song was played. By doing this, I have at least reduced one complaint about the event before ending this note.

Monday, July 19, 2010

What to Express and what not to

As I start writing this while sipping hot tea, I have just entered inside my house experiencing the wonderful cool breeze outside. It might rain too if Lahorites get lucky enough.

It’s been an exact week since the football world cup final and this post should have come at that moment. However I felt writing it now before going for a power nap.

As soon as Iniesta scored in the extra time, I jumped off my table spilling tea into the keyboard of my laptop making it dysfunctional and making everything around caffeinated. I was still jumping around for no apparent reason with no one except my grandma at home. I felt happy doing crazy stuff.

I was still cleaning up the mess that heavy rain started resulting into power shut down as well. I went onto the rooftop in my T-Shirt and Shorts to experience the first Monsoon of the season. In all these long years, I almost forgot how the rain felt. I went straight into the middle of the rooftop at around 3:30 and stood against the winds. It was a lovely rain accompanied by marvelous lightning and thunder. I kept bathing for around 40 minutes and yelling like a happy lion against the winds. I wanted to express myself out and the rain definitely provided me the chance. Even after the rain stopped, I kept watching the thunder and lightning till 6 in the morning. These were the best I have ever seen or perhaps I didn’t have a memorable rain earlier. I was alone. I didn’t need anybody to be with me in all my craziness, wildness and remembrance of recent years. I caught cold later yet I enjoyed every moment of it.

It’s almost a year since I have shifted into my current office and life has been a roller coaster ride since then. I properly started my first venture from my pocket money and taking a loan of Rs. 30K from the dad, conducted interviews, hired people and did hell a lot of stuff which I couldn’t have done while being on a job. Fights with my co-founders at DesignMyWork & PrintMyWork, dusting of office furniture, cleaning the toilet, washing utensils, making tea and snacks for the employees and friends somewhat made me jack of all trades. Those around me never believed in me. I remember people feeding negative things about me to those who wanted to work for me. We wrapped up DMW on friendly terms in November 2009 for the reasons I mentioned in the post “DesignMyWork: My Stunt with the Graphics Design Industry in Pakistan”, and because one of our co-founders couldn’t differentiate between friendship and business.  The entrepreneurship and risk taking should have been over for me but I stayed put and God took me to the right direction.

What happened in last many months would require many lengthy posts which I might write at some other time but I am having amazing time at the moment. A lot has happened and is happening and we are MashAllah growing. I am at an ideal position with two amazing people around me. They are mentors, friends, well wishers, my current life makers and what not. They have faith in me and I have in them. Without taking their name, I would like to thank them for believing in me and trusting me. A bigger “Thank You” goes to Allah Almighty for guiding me to select my new partners amongst the lot that offered me to join their respective teams.

A lot of things have changed in my life in last 1.5 years or so.  I am currently cruising in the ocean of success and every few days we have some new achievement to talk about. In the last couple of months, I have also somewhat learnt the art to say “NO” though I don’t say that much often :) .  I have definitely reduced my college lectures and other social meetups. This can be evident from the fact that I didn’t even go to collect three awards and souvenirs in last two months. We have been nominated for an upcoming International Award with sponsorship of  company delegates for Travel, Tour and Accommodation but all of us are not going as we don’t want to waste our days while we can do few more amazing things in that time.

My CTO keeps on convincing me that I should now start charging for everything I do whether it be a college guest lecture or a social initiative as both Dr. Laltein and the Guru think that I am really bad at monetizing stuff. “Aapne Thayka Uthaya Hoa Hai Poori Dunya Ka Gandhi Sb.”  I do things from my heart while they do it from their brains and that makes us a wonderful combination.

The yelling that night was my answer to the life and to those who termed me a failure. For those who were sure that I have ruined my career by not accepting the job offers of some really good multinationals. For those who mocked me. I am still standing in front of you happily whereas you are still trying to find happiness. Now I don’t need your certificate of achievement. If a Director or a VP of an MNC calls you and requests to join him for a dinner, it speaks for itself.  You have been calling me “Senior” and you have made me one. 
Saturday, July 17, 2010

What the hell is going on?

Wait! Wait! Wait!!!  Sorry Peepz!  I am here. I am here to answer your queries and yes I apologize for the time off.

Ever since I won the Google & CIO Pakistan Blog Award in May 2010, there have been lots of queries that what’s going on and why the hell I am not blogging on my personal blog. I should at least show some “SHODISM” on the blog but why I am not doing so. Those who are in my FB list or following me on twitter knew that I have been micro-blogging as well as writing on other blogs. So why not here?

Well it’s a weekend so let’s sit down, turn on your AC (if there’s no power shut down at your place), be patient and I’ll try to answer as much as I can. When I wrote my last post, I decided that I would write the next post after couple of months and those who are regularly following should know that I am blogging less here since some time due to professional commitments & busy day schedule.

To be honest, I wasn’t writing here because I didn’t want to. A friend of mine advised me that I should only share exclusive news with my best friends and I have been giving his advice a shot. This experiment of sharing news with only close friends has been marvelous and I plan to continue it for a while. Meanwhile, let me broadcast now what’s been going on my side.

May and Early June 2010 were pretty much down for me. Though there were good news but yet I was overburdened with negative stuff. I lost one of my great buddies and yet couldn’t do anything about it. The thing I liked the most about me at that moment was that though I wasn’t talking, I managed myself to the office at 9 a.m. the next day.  Organized couple of events for few of my friends in last few months as well as helped P@SHA organize one at Royal Palm.

With the help of IEEE Lahore GOLD Team, placed around 23 students/recent graduates in summer internship program so far and am somewhat content with our performance this year.

Dad gifted me an iPed ( on Father’s Day and I loved sharing pictures with all my Facebook Friends. Even gave a test drive of it to few people at the P@SHA LaunchPad 2010.

So yes, before I close this post and move to another one let me get into some Shoda Mode. I won the Google & CIO Pakistan Blog Award in the “Gossip Blog” category and Yes I publicly admit that I am happy about that :) . Couldn’t attend the event due to some office commitments and would sometime soon collect my trophy from the organizers. A very special thank you to all lovely people out there who voted for me.

The announcement slide and a congratulation note from Sidra Iqbal’s “Status Pro Inc" follows this text.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Don’t you want to be like Umar Saif?

I have known Dr. Saif since like 4 years when he joined LUMS and believe you me he’s a great inspiration for all young entrepreneurial minds out here in Pakistan. He certainly has a league of his own and he along with his team has done some outstanding work for sure.

Sometimes when I am in a difficult situation, my friends are fond of uttering these words These things happen and bear such things buddy. Don’t you want to be like Umar Saif?  If he can do it, you can too.” In some cases, being quiet was the best weapon I had. But lately when somebody posed this question to me, my reply was simple and straight. “I don’t want to be like Umar Saif. I would better like myself to be known as a low profile and not that successful Rafaeel Akbar than to be termed a successful person’s clone.”
Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Cute Post

Those who are looking forward to a complex topic for their thesis, I would request them to please undertake the word “Cute” as a suggested one from my side and I am even ready to fund this research. Throughout my life, I never understood what women mean when they say This so cute. Every second thing that women in my network see is CUTE. This cup is so cute”, “Did you meet her cute nephew?”, “Uska Doggy Itna Cute Sa Hai”, “CUTOOOO”, "I love him because he's so cute", “Your socks are so cute”, “It is such a cute pencil”. I wonder how a vegetable can be cute. Even voting for the American Idol and other TV shows is done on the basis of cuteness

I remember when I was in FAST-NU, we were informed that there is a rat in the fountain area and before filling the tank, we have to take it out. The rat made us run all across the front lawns and as we were about to capture it, a lady yelled “Please, don’t hurt him! See it’s so cute”. It frustrated me so much that if I had the power, I would have thrown her in the fountain later in the evening saying “See! You Look So Cute!” 

It would not come as a surprise if this post is also termed as “Cute”.
Saturday, February 20, 2010

DesignMyWork: My Stunt with the Graphics Design Industry in Pakistan

There have been speculations about it since I joined Aeon Technologies. But till now, I have been maintaining balance between both things. However now its time to officially announce that I would be leaving the active management of DesignMyWork and 13th March 2010 would be my last day as the CEO of this company. PrintMyWork affairs were already transferred to Salman and Shigrif back in October 2009. The reason of leaving DesignMyWork is somewhat the same as of PrintMyWork. Though being a techie, I am an admirer of design and beauty, yet admiration of great designs and art work doesn’t add any value to the company. I want to enjoy whatever I want to do professionally and somebody who dreams about innovative products was finding it really difficult to adjust in services of low cost projects. Yet the experience of jumping into an industry of which I had no idea was truly marvelous and I thank all my employees, partners, friends and mentors for being there when I needed them. The tenure taught me the designing issues, HR and Financial issues, problems in the BFA/MFA curriculum here in Pakistan as well as managing the Design HR. You surely cannot treat a designer as a software developer and apart from that awesome designers are really scarce these days. This venture would certainly help me in future with my professional life.

The problem with design business in Pakistan is that a design which might be awesome for one would be pathetic for the other and as Steve Jobs says that “You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new”. Also that “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works”.

Most of the time people called us and said “2 Din Mein Website Banna Dein” without even realizing what pain one has to go through while making an original design. Even if you see our website, we did a wild experiment with it. Everything was developed from scratch. Even the music was specially produced for the website. But most of the clients don’t understand and perhaps the post on OatMeal explains it beautifully.  Also we were being tagged as a web design firm and that’s why we have been very selective in taking projects. We tried to maintain our focus on original graphics designs. Our initial idea was even to provide the IPhone Developers & Application Builders with original designs and music as most of them are currently using the ones copied from web.

Now that I am becoming busy day by day, its becoming increasingly difficult for me to manage things. I am shedding off most of the extra affairs, volunteer activities as Saad Bhai, Khurram Bhai, Adil Bhai and Irfan Bhai advised me to concentrate on one thing instead of putting my legs in multiple boats. This also means that I would also be reducing my frequency of guest lectures in universities. I have one plan on mind at the moment and I want to concentrate all energies on that and Aeon Technologies.

DesignMyWork is however still the brand of ROOFExpress. I have not yet finalized to sell it off or to keep it with ourselves as a freelancing/full time firm but all I know is that I am done with it. 
Thursday, February 18, 2010

Rowgs of Employees

When i did my first venture, one of my mentors and friends Adil Saleem told me that 99% of the employees are not happy with their work environment. Knowing that i always kept my attitude at home whenever i came to office. I open/close doors for them myself, make tea for them and throw frequent office parties to make sure they are comfortable. Even though i don't smoke, i stand with them at the "Soota Gate" and discuss affairs other than the office work. Games, Social Networking sites are not banned on network. You can do whatever you want to do provided you are giving the input required from you. Even when i hired at DesignMyWork, i hired everyone on their "Expected Salaries" without a bit of negotiation.

Being a music fanatic myself, i have been generous in providing my office colleagues with headphones or small dual speakers so that they can enjoy music to keep themselves up. Recently i walked into my office in the morning after a quick nap and i was like :S and :/ to see the following song being played on 2 office systems. Still trying to figure out what "Sitams" i have done.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

How was the Valentine's Day?

Many of my friends messaged or called and asked how did my Valentine's day go. Though i normally tell them that i spent the day with my family or in some social work initiative. But since i was so pissed off at how the media campaigns were run this year and wrong messages were sent to the youth of our nation most of the time, this year the reply was a bit different and loserish. 

"Mera Din Aisa He Guzra Jaisa Aik Shareef Single Shakhs Ka Guzar Sakta Hai."

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

GunKali - A Fresh Breath for Pakistan Music Industry

If there was one album that I was waiting for since long apart from The Rising’s, it would definitely be “GunKali” by Kaavish. I have been following this band from the day it released its single “Bachpan” on some Pakistani music websites. Moreover, I have listened to all their songs done for different plays as well the jingles for various advertisement campaigns.

The album, GunKali was released on 15th January 2010. Thus I recently got hold of a copy and frankly it doesn’t disappoint you. Jaffer’s mature vocals complimented by Maaz’s music have truly created wonders in this album and it is extremely difficult to figure out the best song. All the songs are fantastic, up to the mark and not ones done by learners and amateurs. That is why the album is selling like hot cakes. Hats Off to Jaffer and Maaz for producing such awesomeness in the tough times as well as Fire Records for believing in them. I can surely rate “GunKali” amongst the best albums of this year.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The decade long affair with pakistani underground music finally pays off

Wednesday, January 27, 2010    09:51 PST

Mobile Phone starts beeping.

I wake up cursing the developers that I told them that I am going to sleep at 6 a.m.  Can’t they just let me sleep for few hours? As I see the cell phone screen, the call is coming from an Indian number not in my phonebook. Yawning, I take the call.

Friend: “Hey, Rafaeel there?”
Me: “Yes, who’s this?”
Friend: “Dude, I am ******** (name not being mentioned deliberately). How have you been bro? Seem busy with your new ventures.”
Me: “Hey, whats new? I am good. What about you?”
Alah Blah Talking ……..
Friend: “Hey, I called you because I need a favor.”
Me: “Ofcourse, I know you have some work. Else tum itne achay jo you’ll give me a call.”
Laugh (both ends)
Friend: “So now that you have figured out, can you tell me when we can have a talk on Skype?”
Me:  “At anytime convenient to you. I am not that busy guy. BTW give me an idea what’s the issue?”
Friend: “I have now joined this Media Group, (name not published) as an Associate Producer and we’ll be doing an underground battle of the bands here in India.”
Me:  “Oh! Great!”
Friend: “Well there are large numbers of entries, like 200+ and I want you to be part of our International Screening Panel to shortlist them.”
Me: “What?  Me?”
Friend: “Yes.”
Me: “Dude, I am not the right guy for this. First of all, I am not a musician. Secondly, I don’t have time. However, I can refer few good people to you whom you can contact for this.”
Friend: “Listen! I don’t need them. I need you. Regarding you not being musician, I don’t care. All I know is that you were the first guy from whom I got to know about Noori, Jal, Roxen, Call and the band of your close friends, The Rising. BTW where are The Rising people? :D    Its been quite some time that you are promoting underground bands and I know your opinion would not be biased because if I only take in musicians, they’ll be inclined towards their own genre. I know you listen to all types of music, so you are perfect to be part of our panel. Your second excuse is quite lame. I know you always have time for good music. Hope things get better and in coming years we'll organize Indo-Pak Battle Of the Bands. Any more questions?”
Me (reluctantly):  “Fine! Details?”
Friend: “On Skype. I’ll ping you. Amongst the 8 screeners, 4 are outside India. You all would have to judge the bands on the basis of music maturity, lyrics and image etc. I’ll send you the evaluation sheet. We’ll either upload all the 209 demos or courier you the DVDs.”

I woke up analyzing why God is pushing me back into the underground music scene one way or another while I have kept quite a distance from it for last couple of years. There were few other signs in last few days as well which led me to go into my old room (now a store) and open the things that I abandoned long ago. I captured few shots with my camera few of which I am uploading to show my craze for music in my teenage life. At that time, internet was all on dialup and CD’s market was still emerging. Also PMR, J4Jumpy, UMR and other music promotion sites were just starting up. I used to download the songs from some local website at 2.3KB/s :P and then manually record them via "Line In" on empty tapes so that they can be played on home and car music systems. I marked every cassette with the RMC number. RMC stood for “Rafaeel’s Music Library” but now these audio cassettes filled in almost 5 bags RIP due to my busy schedule and the new gadgets & computer systems.

Audio Cassette Line In System - 1 (Speakers still used. Cassette playing abandoned)

Audio Cassette Line In System - 2 & 3 (Totally Abandoned)

Music CDs

 RMC Collection Image -1

RMC Collection Image -2

RMC Collection Image -3

RMC 8: Indus Music Album featuring Ahmed Jehanzaib's first song

RMC Collection Number 5:  Top Underground Songs (perhaps 2003) including Noori and EP 

These things took me back into the memories that how SHODA I used to be after making people listen “Ali Noor and Ali Hamza” songs in early 2000.  Aadat by JAL was actually released in late 2004 and I remember how me, Hamza (Aitchison, Hammy’s friend) used to sing it during A-Level days on Acoustic in Summers of 2003. EP’s “Hamein Azma” and “Kahan Hai Tu” and then how I used to make people listen “Yaadein” by Roxen in 2005 before its release. Basim in the college life used to say me that “Tu wohi ganay sunta hai jo koi naheen sunta and baad mein wohi 2-3 saal hit ho jatay hein and har koi sun raha hota hai”. :)  Also few of my friends used to say “Why you do all promotions for free? You should charge for such promotions and making us hear this crap. Nothing is FREE in this world. There are always strings attached.” So I feel today I have been paid up for promoting these underground bands (now the stars).

Lets see how things turn up in future. I have listened to 7 demos and 2 of them are covers of Pakistani songs  :D.