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Posted by on in Community Blog
Klose To My Soul

The first time I attended a Sonu Nigam concert, I was amazed. My second time attending the concert? I was completely mind-blown. At the beginning I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I’m glad I didn’t because my expectations would have totally off mark. To even think that the two concerts -last year’s Klose to my Heart and this year’s Klose to my Soul show would be even similar to one another was a complete mistake.

On Jun 7th, 2014, Palace Concerts promised to deliver an “unforgettable show” and they exceeded it by miles. On Saturday night at the lovely venue of Chene Park Amphitheater, the legendary Bollywood Singer, supported by his troupe of musicians and dancers brought music to life and took us on an unforgettable journey of melodic euphoria and bliss.  

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 The tickets stated that the show would start at 8pm, and sharp at that time, a large group of orchestral men clad in white jackets who had been silently creeping on to the stage and settling themselves on their seats, blasted through the chatter in the crowd with upbeat music. 

The host for the night Shruti Menon, whose personality we adored as much as her outfit. She was donning gold accessories to match with her beautiful cobalt blue sari. She wasted no time as she immediately took the stage, charming us with her smile as she introduced Jonita Gandhi.

The Canadian singer’s outfit spoke of elegance, and matched her voice. As much as we were enjoying the show, we were getting anxious for the star to get on stage. A young girl was dancing around a white sheet, held by some dancers, shortly and as she exited, we saw a lean figure entering the stage, and we knew what was coming. The white sheet dropped and a thundering roar of applause of heard. Sonu Nigam was finally on stage.

The star smiled in disbelief, as he paused to sink in the atmosphere and the audience. He was dressed in black trousers and a black jacket performed alongside his talented dancers with a few classic songs.

Why was the show called Klose To My Soul? The singing sensation paused his orchestra for an explanation, bringing the audience to tears with an emotional explanation about his mother, his soul, who had passed away last year. Involving the audience with his moving tribute to her, he sang. But he sprang right back up as the audience called out his name in support, not being able to see him in such a state.

The versatile artist continued to mesmerize the audience as he belted out his array of hit songs and with an electrifying performance and stage presence, the show exemplified in foot-tapping blockbuster numbers. The packed audience went into total euphoria when he burst into Abhi Mujh Mein Kahin from Agneepath.
Fans were especially enthralled and surprised when the star performer, inspired by the dance crew, decided to loosen up and break out his fabulous moves. Indeed proving that he wasn’t just a singer with a mellifluous voice. He wasn’t just a flexible dancer. Sonu Nigam was indeed a full-fledged, entertaining performer.

The energy level was extremely amped at the last stretch of the show by Sonu and his rocking troupe, with all-time hits and sending the crowd into a whipping frenzy of ecstasy. He wrapped up the evening on soulful song Kal Ho Na Ho. The audience- including me- was simply stunned. He definitely had lived up to his title of an ‘iconic legend’!
The concert came to an end, and the audience was yearning for more. Sonu Nigam had left an indelible mark on the audience, and they were heading home with ears ringing and hearts pumping wildly after what was musically, the biggest and the most successful Bollywood night in Detroit. 

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The 3rd annual Basant Bo-Kata Festival 2014 organized by Nargis Khan of Pakistani American Social Network (PASN) at the Camp Dearborn Chalet, Milford, MI was a again a great family fun event, having a large number of people spending a beautiful day flying kites with us. We had a variety of stalls of clothes, food, henna, jewelry, snow cones and candies for kids, and much more. The event was filled with colorful kites that PASN arranged for the event participant. People also enjoyed some delicious food by some of the Michigan’s best caterers while listening to bhangra beats and live music. The customized kites were especially imported from Pakistan for this particular event with the special twine (Monjha) that people used to fly the kites. The kites were made in a variety of sizes so that kids can also enjoy the event as much as their elders would do. Apart from that, special ‘easy-to-fly’ kites were also arranged at the event for little kids. The caterers provided a big selection that included BBQ, Chicken Biryani, Samosa, Paan, etc. Overall we had a very positive feedback from the people who attended our event and they looked forward to more of such events in Michigan. PASN is planning to organize this event on a larger scale next year, and we hope to keep entertaining the community.

When death claims a loved one, a child in particular, it devastates the whole family. Every child, when well taken care of, represents a tremendous labor of love. Every child brings a package of dreams for his/her parents and no parents anticipate those dreams to be shattered. But death sometimes takes a very painful toll. This happened to Shahida and Mukhtar Khan whose life received a very difficult shock through the loss of their high-achiever son Hassan Khan, who had just made his way into medical school, a dream for many of the proud parents. I did not know the couple then nor have I ever asked them how they handled this major test from Allah Subhan Wa Taalah but seeing them now and working with them through Hassan Foundation, I truly respect how they have turned their grief and tragedy into life and happiness for thousands in Pakistan through fresh water and yes that direly needed commodity, education, in regions of Pakistan where ordinary Pakistanis cannot even enter- areas beset with the hard line militants.


In Al-Quran, Allah invites our reflection in Sura Al-Hadid (C57) in Ayah 17:

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which could translate as “Know that Allah gives life to the earth after its death; indeed, We have made the communications clear to you that you may understand”. In this ayah Allah reminds those who have doubts of resurrection that it is not difficult at all for Allah to resurrect us at the right time as can be seen every year at spring- the barren trees and the brown grass is completely replaced by new and lush foliage-life! But the model of Hassan Foundation takes this concept to a higher level. While Hassan is gone, the grief and love have catalyzed the setting up of hundreds of fresh water projects in Pakistan and multiple schools and believing in Allah’s grand and sustained love and Mercy, one could only marvel at how every drop of water and ink that has flown through these projects can be a source of grand salvation for the departed soul, the Khan family and every contributor and friend who has stepped up to share this dream through prayer, words and contributions.


When I was invited by Dr. Mukhtar to attend the annual fund-raiser event in Detroit Michigan, I was very happy to be able to travel to Detroit to meet his family and the leadership and friends of Hassan Foundation. He is one of those rare people who rarely, if ever, asks for help from anyone and if he does, it is never with a sense of compulsion. But the people at the helm of Hassan Foundation can only do so much and the more help and support they will receive from all of us, the more fresh water and much needed education will they be able to bring to our beloved brothers and sisters in Pakistan. It is ironic that Pakistan is an atomic power but Pakistanis do not have the basic necessities like water, roads, healthcare, economic security and effective education that could lift Pakistanis out of misery. This is where Hassan Foundation has stepped in to bring a little happiness and a dream to some fortunate ones. The magnitude of the shortcomings is so great that perhaps even 1000 Hassan Foundations cannot replace what the Pakistani government needs to do. But what Hassan Foundation does, it does very well.


Since my wife and son also wanted to travel to Detroit, we decided to drive up from Memphis, about 750 miles (one way). We had decided to break our journey in Louisville both ways and had also planned to enjoy some nice Turkish cuisine on our way back in Nashville (I recommend Istanbul Restaurant). The drive both ways was long, but uneventful. We had prayed to Allah to accept our travel as an act of faith, a mission, since we were going to Detroit to help with a great cause for a great organization.

 

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The event was very well organized and as promised started on time. A silent auction/sale had been set up in the foyer with sale proceeds intending to support Hassan Foundations missionary work. The volunteers were there to log in the guests and to show them where their tables were. Before the start of the formal proceedings, a very sumptuous dinner (middle-eastern and Pakistani) was served. Sister Alia was the MC of the event and welcomed everyone. In audience were Mr. Faisal Niaz Tirmizi, Council General of Pakistan in Chicago, and Dr. Tariq Shahab and Mrs. Reema Khan from Washington DC. Imam Amin Mustafa Al-Turk was the first to speak and highlighted the role of charity in Islam. He offered his enthusiastic support to Hassan Foundation’s work. Dr. Mukhtar Khan next thanked all of us who had traveled from different parts of the country, and also Canada, to be there to share the dream. He also informed us that by the end of 2013, Hassan Foundation had completed 494 water projects, around 250 of these had been completed in 2013. We were very heartened to learn that Hassan Foundation is putting up roughly 5-6 hand-pumps or wells/week now. I then followed Dr. Mukhtar Khan to the stage and shared my thoughts about why I was privileged to be a part of the Hassan Foundation now and how this relationship has helped me realize a vision/dream that I had of giving something back in return to my biologic homeland and my brothers and sisters in Pakistan. Also, I challenged the audience to join me in rebuilding a second school in Dir that was blown up by the extremists and could be retrofitted at a cost of $10,000.

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Dr. Shahida Khan then came to the podium to thank all the guests who were there to attend this august event. She was followed by Dr. Tariq Shahab and Mrs. Reema Khan who came to the podium to thank everyone and to encourage the guests to help Hassan Foundation. Both committed to work with Hassan Foundation for the betterment of Pakistan. Hassan Foundation had invited Fariha Pervez to fly in from Pakistan to entertain the guests and she performed really well. She understands music and has a great sense of poetry, particularly Punjabi poetry. What was interesting that in the audience was a fan of hers who contributed for a hand-pump/water well to be dug in her honor to provide fresh water to hundreds over many years. This gestured summed up very well how we can turn our grief and our joy and happiness as a source of life and well-being for ordinary Pakistanis devoid of even basic necessities.

The long journey to Detroit, while arduous, was very rewarding an empowering. We returned from Detroit knowing that the 500 or more in audience, and others who could not turn up for the event, shared a common dream of serving God’s people, particularly in a part of the world where all of us can trace our roots to and a homeland that is going through major pains to survive and provide basic necessities to our brothers and sisters. 

The author is a physician based in Memphis-TN and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . The author gratefully acknowledges the help of Mr. Saleem Siddiqui for sharing the media to be used for this blog post.

 

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