Rhythm and Raga -the making of…1
It’s likely you haven’t heard of me
or, maybe you have but like a while ago…
or maybe your cousin shared a youtube video
or you caught a bit of an interview here or there
You probably wondered… what is she doing in Pakistan? Why is she here?
Well, the honest answer is… I’ve kinda been here the whole time.
but, it wasn’t until recently that we did something special
something really worth sharing
something I am so proud of…
and I’m dying to tell you about it.
But not yet. First, you will really need some context in order for it all to make sense. So, lets back up.
I know that YOU know I am not the only American living and hanging out in Pakistan.
But, just look at this footage from the 60’s. Americans on the Karachi beaches, chilling out in their 60’s bikinis, JFK welcoming the Pakistan president to America. There is Jackie O, all these people welcoming this presidential flight…
ah I promise you, I do not want to get into it.
(its crazy to think of how far we’ve come…or how far we have gone backward?…but I digress)
anyway, for the purposes of Backstory…
I grew up in Marlborough, Connecticut on the east coast….I was a happy kid but…upon honest reflection… an odd kid.
An intense kid. This is my senior high school recital. I was a total music nerd. This is not what the kids thought was fun in my day…this is what I thought was fun in my day.. a full concert of opera.
And here is another high school precious moment, I was in a beauty pageant singing Phantom of the Opera. This is not a video of me winning a beauty pageant, this is a video of me obsessively and awkwardly touching my face while singing about a man with half of his face burned off.
Cuz that’s just what kids do…
And all the way through college- at Boston University. Still a music nerd. Still a bit odd. Still intense.
But, intensity, as it happens, often pays off. And relentlessness, no matter how irritating to people, works.
The world started to notice my kind of singing. and by the world, I specifically mean China.
Take out on stage saying why here. Footage good.
In 2006 China was just starting to open up to foreign artists. As a communist country, decisions about how foreign artists could perform and where they could perform was decided from the top. It was just at this time that the big whigs gave the full go-ahead to artists from abroad to book out stadiums and perform at new hotel openings. This was my particular area of expertise.
yueyang live show And not all of China, starting in small cities, like Yueyang, Ninghbo, Nanjing, and Suzhou.
live shows As a nerdy musician- I was all in. I re-wrote songs in Mandarin, learned how to introduce people and order food in Mandarin and even enjoyed transforming myself into a Chinese opera star.
chinese opera star photo-shoot Well, just for show.
As it turns out, parts of China really loves a good American live performance. (fan shots, became famous) I booked show after show performing crossover pop music ending the evening interviews with a classical aria just for fun.
And just like that, my childhood dreams were realized. I was singing opera for money, well for Renmembi- Chinese money. poster of me on a billboard, billboard, billboard.
And then as I traveled, flying footage and performed and met people Chinese fans I learned about life.
I learned that the world is not all about me. I learned that the places I felt best, most fulfilled and the moments I was proudest of weren’t about me. Charity orphanage, and village
Its hard to imagine on this massive egoic journey (of music and pop star fantasy) that there was one person who was always, always there. Its impossible to imagine that, one person would tolerate all of the plane flights, all of the uncertainty, all of that music….well and adventure. But I look back on it now as the most selfless act of love. A dedication and devotion so deep and tireless that it literally transcended continents. It was always -one.
This one,(photo or video of rafay and heather together in China-Wugong mountain) This Pakistani born and raised one, who is more of a healer to my soul than anything else, he is the one. The one. (videos of heather and rafay together throughout this section) Ending with a long moment.
Rafay is a Karachi boy,(rafay on his terrace in Karachi) full of adventure. He was a happy kids and…upon honest reflection… an odd kid just like me. (photos of little cute rafay) An intense kid. Coming from a family of healers, this guy had that medicine running in his genes. (His future was in his genetics.) doctor photo
And just like for me, his intensity paid off and earned him a medical degree from America.
Rafay and I met at Boston University both of us studying away towards our future, while on what could only be described as a spiritual journey. We literally met learning to quiet our minds…
A spiritual journey…
ahhh but what would our parents say? Two very different traditions, two different continents divided us. And…of course there’s arranged marriage. sigh…
The truth is though, our families and traditions are similar. We both honor education, and value family life the most.
I like to think that when our families were confronted with true, absolutely honest and apparent love, true love- they couldn’t help but honor that emotion.
And they did. They all really did.
We had a lavish wedding in Karachi at Allhumra club and my parents and our best friends came over and we had the most magical amazing time. It was truly such a blessing. Rafay’s family hosted, his amma and abbu, his bhai, bhabi, their young bachis, his older sister and family and his younger sister and her new husband.
And then we all took off for an adventure to see Pakistan, Muree, Gilgit, Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi…
my parents honestly loved every moment of Pakistan.Parents in Northern Pakistan photos from the wedding. Except the driving, they were apoplectic with fear about the driving. This was back in the day of ‘No Laws apply traffic rules’.
Back home, Rafay, still as intense as ever, built his medical practice. And later a second company, House Calls. Earning a reputation as a true healer, his medical care turned from everyday antibiotics to thinking about life’s bigger questions.
Our daughter was born and feeling grounded and a happy family life brought us back to thinking about and traveling to Pakistan all the time. We spent many summers in Karachi, with Syra’s dadi and dada.
And it wasn’t until the earthquake of 2005 in northern Pakistan that shook us out of our family bliss and into action. Real action.