Karachi is a difficult city for most of its dwellers. Crumbling infrastructure, pollution, rising cost of living, incompetence, disappointments can take its toll on anyone. Time and again you have to look and seek for inspiration.
The Karachi Walla was in Lyari to meet Ibad who has been conducting Drum Circles across the city, most notably in Machar Colony, Lyari and at The Second Floor in Defence. As I looked for the right street, I saw him taking his drums out from a car. I somehow squeezed my car into the narrow street and followed him to Kiran Library which is part of state-of-the-art Kiran School system.
Drum Circle is an informal gathering in which people play drums and percussion in a circle. The result can surprise anyone who has struggled and never dared to play a music instrument out in a communal setting. Drum circles can be therapeutic. It gives a sense of achievement to its participants as each member contributes to new collective voice. Ibad has an incredible ability to mingle with people of all ages. He has been instrumental in making it mainstream and attract people of all ages and backgrounds especially at The Second Floor. His Drum Circle in Machar Colony and Lyari is aimed at younger audience.
As we settled inside the library, lights went off. ‘Regular load-shedding’ as someone told me but it did not deter Ibad or his students from starting the session. Kids lit up the candles, picked up their favorite hand-drum and formed a circle. Ibad later told me that most of his instruments such as dholak, Daf and hand drums have been bought from flea markets across the city. He started the session with a quick introduction and much to my surprise, all the kids confidently introduced themselves in perfect English. And it was not just their ability to converse in English but the confidence with which they had intelligent conversation with Ibad and the rest. It spoke volumes about the school system which has won accolades due to consistent high quality of its students.
Some of the students have already attended one session while few were there for the first time. Ibad quickly helped them understand rhythm with the help of clapping. Later everyone was asked to catch the first beat that Ibad chose. Soon the library vibrated with energy which could inspire and give hope. Ibad was quick to provide coaching to those who lost the beat in middle. Later the kids were asked to play any tune that they had in mind, some of them pure genius. Ibad encouraged others to join whenever he picked a good beat from one of his students. I could sense pride on the faces and a sense of camaraderie among the students. The session continued with newer beats, some as colloquial as ‘Anda Paratha’ to others more famous such as Bobby McFerrin’s ‘Dont worry be happy’. The session lasted for 90 minutes.
As we were about to leave the lights came back. The kids helped Ibad pack his drums back with a promise to resume the session back on next Saturday.
The other more accessible venue to catch Ibad’s Drum Circle is at The Second Floor where anyone could come and be part of the group. The video will give you an idea on what to expect out of the session.