sunday sounds

Love six ways: Songs that explore this basic human emotion from different angles

Love, ultimately, is the source and purpose of music.

God is Love. Love is God. Love is. Love is All. All you Need is Love. Love is the Answer. Love will Find a Way.

Love is always in season and love, ultimately, is the source and purpose of music.

Go ahead and listen to these songs, each of which look at this basic human emotion from slightly different angles.

Mere Ranjha
Akhtar Ali

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Love as Sacrifice. The story of star-crossed lovers is one of the oldest and most enduring human stories. In Punjab and Sindh, the tale is told in many ways with the lovers adopting many names: Sohni and Mahiwal, Sassi and Pannu, Umar and Marvi and, Mirza and Sahiban. Of course, the most well-known version of the story is that of Heer and Ranjha, the beauty and the young flute player-turned-jogi. This version of the tale is told in the voice of beautiful Heer, who in the end is poisoned by her own family in order to stop her love for Ranjha. Akhtar Ali is a folk musician from Punjab who has been recorded by the amazing De Kulture label out of Jaipur. Ali’s earthy voice is full of longing and heartbreak, making this track a much underappreciated gem.

Love, Love, Love
Shaukat Ali

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Love as Pure Joy. This instrumental number by Punjabi harmonium ace Shaukat Ali is unadulterated bliss. Love may sometimes be beyond words, but it is never beyond expression as this gorgeous solo demonstrates. Ali makes your soul scamper and skip and almost leap for joy as he cajoles the keyboard with his bewitching light touch.

Ek pardesi much aank bagi
Dana Bharmal

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Unrequited Love.

My eyes met those of a stranger from a faraway land and it was like a bullet piercing my heart. O beloved, I know not from which land you come. I know not anything else about you. I cannot understand your language. Please learn Sindhi otherwise our romance will never progress. 

So sings Kutchi musician Dana Bharmal after spotting a Western woman in the crowd. Was she a tourist or one of the thousands of aid workers who flooded into Kutch after the horrible Bhuj earthquake of 2001? Bharmal doesn’t say, but he conveys his infatuation powerfully and with a wry sense of humour. He sings solo while accompanying himself on clay pot and tin washing basin, a percussion combination referred to locally as ghadho gamelo.

Pir Pagaro
Bijal Khan Mehar

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Love as Loyalty. The 7th Pir of Pagara, Syed Shah Mardan Shah II, was a larger-than-life figure in Pakistan. Ace player and developer of Pakistani cricket, ruthless politician (Muslim League), excellent bridge player, master horseman, lover of Western classical music, and wealthy zamindar. He was also the hereditary spiritual leader of the Hurs (Free) community that lives on both sides of the 1947 border.

Bijal Khan Mehar is a Sindhi-speaking member of the Pir community in Rajasthan. Here he leads his fellow musicians in a song, praising the Pir in anticipation of a much longed for visit.

Lambi Judai
Reshma

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Love as Sweet Separation. Reshma, Queen of the Desert, almost needs no introduction. In this sensational and lively clip, one of the subcontinent’s great folk voices expresses the anguish of millions of separated lovers and broken hearts:

Lambi judaai (What a long separation)
Chaar dinaan daa pyaar ho rabba (Just four days of love, oh God)
Badi lambi judaai (What a long separation)
Bichhde abhi toh hum bass kal parson (We are separated yesterday and the day before)
Jiyungi mein kaise is haal mein barson (How will I manage to live in this state for years?)

Yaar dadhi, ishq lai hai
Mohammad Jumaan

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Love as Devotion. A kafi of Ghulam Farid sung by Ustad Mohammad Jumaan, a traditional Sindhi musician. Jumaan came from a musical family with roots in the Lasbela region of Baluchistan. Though he sang from boyhood, taking after his father, his initial entrance into the music scene was a surando player. Surando is an ancient Kutchi/Sindhi "fiddle" played with a bow, similar to the sarangi.

Ishq aur aag dono baraabar 
[Love and fire are the same]
At ishq da ta wadera
[The heat of love outweighs the heat of fire]
Aatish sarre kakh te kaan ate ishq sarre dil jaira
[Fire burns material, but love burns the heart]
Aatish paani naal bujhe, di...
[Fire can be put out with water, but…]
Ishq da daru kera?
[What is the remedy for love?]

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“My body instantly craves chai and samosa”

German expats talk about adapting to India, and the surprising similarities between the two cultures.

The cultural similarities between Germany and India are well known, especially with regards to the language. Linguists believe that Sanskrit and German share the same Indo-Germanic heritage of languages. A quick comparison indeed holds up theory - ratha in Sanskrit (chariot) is rad in German, aksha (axle) in Sanskrit is achse in German and so on. Germans have long held a fascination for Indology and Sanskrit. While Max Müller is still admired for his translation of ancient Indian scriptures, other German intellectuals such as Goethe, Herder and Schlegel were deeply influenced by Kalidasa. His poetry is said to have informed Goethe’s plays, and inspired Schlegel to eventually introduce formal Indology in Germany. Beyond the arts and academia, Indian influences even found their way into German fast food! Indians would recognise the famous German curry powder as a modification of the Indian masala mix. It’s most popular application is the currywurst - fried sausage covered in curried ketchup.

It is no wonder then that German travellers in India find a quite a lot in common between the two cultures, even today. Some, especially those who’ve settled here, even confess to Indian culture growing on them with time. Isabelle, like most travellers, first came to India to explore the country’s rich heritage. She returned the following year as an exchange student, and a couple of years later found herself working for an Indian consultancy firm. When asked what prompted her to stay on, Isabelle said, “I love the market dynamics here, working here is so much fun. Anywhere else would seem boring compared to India.” Having cofounded a company, she eventually realised her entrepreneurial dream here and now resides in Goa with her husband.

Isabelle says there are several aspects of life in India that remind her of home. “How we interact with our everyday life is similar in both Germany and India. Separate house slippers to wear at home, the celebration of food and festivals, the importance of friendship…” She feels Germany and India share the same spirit especially in terms of festivities. “We love food and we love celebrating food. There is an entire countdown to Christmas. Every day there is some dinner or get-together,” much like how Indians excitedly countdown to Navratri or Diwali. Franziska, who was born in India to German parents, adds that both the countries exhibit the same kind of passion for their favourite sport. “In India, they support cricket like anything while in Germany it would be football.”

Having lived in India for almost a decade, Isabelle has also noticed some broad similarities in the way children are brought up in the two countries. “We have a saying in South Germany ‘Schaffe Schaffe Hausle baue’ that loosely translates to ‘work, work, work and build a house’. I found that parents here have a similar outlook…to teach their children to work hard. They feel that they’ve fulfilled their duty only once the children have moved out or gotten married. Also, my mother never let me leave the house without a big breakfast. It’s the same here.” The importance given to the care of the family is one similarity that came up again and again in conversations with all German expats.

While most people wouldn’t draw parallels between German and Indian discipline (or lack thereof), Germans married to Indians have found a way to bridge the gap. Take for example, Ilka, who thinks that the famed differences of discipline between the two cultures actually works to her marital advantage. She sees the difference as Germans being highly planning-oriented; while Indians are more flexible in their approach. Ilka and her husband balance each other out in several ways. She says, like most Germans, she too tends to get stressed when her plans don’t work out, but her husband calms her down.

Consequently, Ilka feels India is “so full of life. The social life here is more happening; people smile at you, bond over food and are much more relaxed.” Isabelle, too, can attest to Indians’ friendliness. When asked about an Indian characteristic that makes her feel most at home, she quickly answers “humour.” “Whether it’s a taxi driver or someone I’m meeting professionally, I’ve learnt that it’s easy to lighten the mood here by just cracking a few jokes. Indians love to laugh,” she adds.

Indeed, these Germans-who-never-left as just diehard Indophiles are more Indian than you’d guess at first, having even developed some classic Indian skills with time. Ilka assures us that her husband can’t bargain as well as she does, and that she can even drape a saree on her own.

Isabelle, meanwhile, feels some amount of Indianness has seeped into her because “whenever its raining, my body instantly craves chai and samosa”.

Like the long-settled German expats in India, the German airline, Lufthansa, too has incorporated some quintessential aspects of Indian culture in its service. Recognising the centuries-old cultural affinity between the two countries, Lufthansa now provides a rich experience of Indian hospitality to all flyers on board its flights to and from India. You can expect a greeting of Namaste by an all-Indian crew, Indian food, and popular Indian in-flight entertainment options. And as the video shows, India’s culture and hospitality have been internalized by Lufthansa to the extent that they are More Indian Than You Think. To experience Lufthansa’s hospitality on your next trip abroad, click here.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Lufthansa as part of their More Indian Than You Think initiative and not by the Scroll editorial team.