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The Power Of Bhangra

The Power Of Bhangra

February 13, 2010

Western may be invading the East, but it's no one-way street. We're giving them philosophy, culture... and bhangra.

Yesterday, a friend and neighbor died of cancer. She would sit my kids for me from time to time. I found out about this as I exited the elevator on my way to do some errands. The building management always makes a notice to go on the community bulletin board, so we can all know we’ve lost another member of our family.

She had been sick for quite some time, and in and out of the emergency room over the past several months. It wasn’t unexpected. But it’s always a bitter blow when it happens. I made it out to my car and sat in it to grieve for her for a while. To say my goodbye and sort her into my “Memories of Friends Past” file.

It’s a melancholy thing, and I will miss her. Her time on the planet is done. A human life seems so long to us individually, but thinking of how swift our lives pass on the planet’s own timescale really makes me feel insignificant and puts me in my place better than any sermon ever could.

I finally managed to drive to the store, and on the way I switched my CD out to my favorite bhangra mix. And then promptly forwarded it to Track 8 — Mul Na Lagda. Within half a mile I had it cranked up full volume, windows down, shouting along with Shinda and Gill at the top of my lungs.

Here’s the thing: I’m a Westerner. A firangi if you prefer. I don’t speak Punjabi. I’m trying to learn Hindi but it’s hard to do by myself considering the way my brain prefers to learn. The only Punjabi I ever hear is from my music of choice. Yes, it’s true; I have the dreaded Bhangra Fever.

I rarely listen to Western music these days. It’s balle balle balle all the live-long day. My children ask for Aao Giddha Palay-eh by name. It’s our favorite car song.

Thanks to my best friend Google, I occasionally manage to find bhangra lyrics transliterated into English phonetics. So the parts of those songs I’ve managed to memorize I know I’m singing properly. I like to learn the (to me) exotic chord and melodic structure and do my best to yodel along in the correct key. Most likely I’m making a spectacle of myself, but it wouldn’t be the first time. You learn to live with it.

I have been extremely unlucky in locating any lyrics of Shinda’s other than Ghum Sum Ghum Sum. So you can imagine how hilarious my rendition of Mul Na Lagda must sound to the educated ear. Sometimes I get the giggles wondering what the hell I’m really singing. “Come and dance, my crazy chicken! I have a house on my head! Beautiful green paint brush, throw my book off a cliff!”

Well, I suppose one of the good things about being clueless is that you really don’t know how utterly you’re humiliating yourself. And if there’s no one around that knows what language you’re mangling, you just sound pretentious, which I can live with.

By the time I got home, my spirits had been considerably lifted. I can never keep still when I listen to bhangra; nor can I keep up a melancholy mood. It is impossible to be down near the sound of a dhol.

So, I have to wonder: Is there nothing bhangra can’t do?

Oye! Bhangra!
Get in the kitchen and make me a sammich!

6 Comments

  • HARRY
    By
    HARRY
    19.10.11 11:38 PM
    That's how it sounds to me as well BARNS and nice subtitles as well. good one.
  • HARRY
    By
    HARRY
    14.10.11 12:34 AM
    I WILL PAY TO SEE YOU DANCE ON BANGRA MUSIC AND THAT'S A PROMISE. HARRY
  • Barnaby Haszard Morris
    By
    Barnaby Haszard Morris
    23.02.10 02:29 PM
  • Gori Girl
    By
    Gori Girl
    13.02.10 02:00 AM
    Hey, thanks for that! I forgot about that site. I'll add it back into my bookmarks.
  • A Singh
    By
    A Singh
    13.02.10 01:35 AM
  • A Singh
    By
    A Singh
    13.02.10 12:38 AM
    Hey Gori Girl, very funny post. I just came across a site with English translations for a list of Punjabi tracks. One of Shinda's is included!

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