‘Bin Tere Kya Hai Jeena?’ – A Message to Jawad

“Bin Tere Kya Hai Jeena” was one of the masterpieces that Jawad would frequently sing in our Satwa Sessions (SS) performances, it was one of his trademark songs. Jawad and I had been playing, singing and writing music ever since I met him in Dubai seven years ago. It is hard to imagine my dear friend is no longer with us considering that it only a few days ago that I spoke to him before leaving Dubai for holidays in the UK. We had discussed that, upon my return, we would continue with our jam practices; the group would reunite early next year; all fresh and re-energized with new material, new ideas…however, the unfortunate reality is that with Jawad’s demise, SS will always remain incomplete, without his voice, warmth and presence.

Jawad was very instrumental in initiating our band together; he was the first person with whom I had discused the idea of a group of Pakistani musicians formally coming together for music. I recall receiving a call from him one late night, insisting that I turn on the computer and to my surprise he had gone ahead and created a Facebook profile for Satwa Sessions; it was his idea to quickly formalize the profile and make it functional. Regardless of having work the next morning, both of us were unable to contain our excitement and kept discussing in detail how to make it work and make the project take off. Of all the musicians I have worked with in my life, I have never met anyone with as much passion and love for music as Jawad. I remember numerous nights at my place when he would enthusiastically share any new material he had written, always appreciative of feedback and different points of view.

Amongst all of us, his positivity, energy and zest to perform always remained strong. He was one person who was never afraid to perform in any sort of surrounding (a rare quality among performing musicians in general). There was an incident at a part earlier this year that I can never forget: there was no live music and Jawad quietly picked up his guitar (the one he always left at my place for his use) and started playing one of his signature Vital Signs songs. The loud stereo and the continuous chattering of guests did not distract him from playing and within half an hour, the lights were dim, microphones were hooked up, and different people were taking turns to perform. The last guest left at 4:30 am! Jawad was a catalyst in turning many of my social gatherings into impromptu enjoyable jam sessions.

Last week, I moved into a new apartment and decided to play a practical joke on all the SS members by senidng them a lengthy email stating that I would be leaving this place (never mentioning that I would actually only be moving next door and would remain in Dubai). Within a minute of sending the email, I had five missed calls from Jawad and two SMS’es insisting that I call back urgently. Before any possible rumours could spread about me leaving Dubai, I called him back and kept the joke going that I am indeed leaving the place and could no longer host the SS jam sessions and as Freddy Mercury stated, “the show must go on.” Finally, after a while of joking with him, I clarified the matter and we both had a good laugh. However, Jawad’s sad yet intense reaction to the joke made me realise how personally committed and completely dedicated Jawad was to SS and to music in general. Being a devoted family man, he always made time to meet and practice even if the other members were busy. When it came to music and good friends, Jawad always made the time, he was just a phone call away. With a missed call still present in my phone from him when I was in London, I wish now that I had called him more often.

Many may not know, but apart from singing cover versions, Jawad was also very fond of song writing and insisted on the idea that we sing our original material at the SS performances. One song that he had writted a few years ago is titled “Khud Faramoshi” and it is one of my favourites, we have sung it together many times in the past. We had promised each other that one day we would record it and release it for public consumption…sadly enough, we never got around to it. Below are some of the lyrics that Jawad had written:

Khud Faramoshi

Terey yaad mein sab kuch bhool gaye
Raaton mein diyay na jale
Jab teri chaahat mein doobay
Hum khud ko bhool gaye…

Jawad, we will miss you buddy. Thank you for sharing your music, your artistic qualities, your warmth, friendship and positivity with us. We have been truly blessed to know you even if it was for a short limited time period. Nonetheless, your voice will remain with us forever. God bless you.

Afaq Mufti
Dec 24th, 2010

Afaq and Jawad, at one of their typical jam sessions

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A Coke Studio Inspiration: Satwa Sessions!

Almost everyone I know has heard about Coke Studio. Pakistanis living in the country, or as far away as the outback of Australia have either heard of or know about the music that Coke Studio produces. It’s a diverse fusion of typically ethnic, groovy Western, and locally inspired music, that showcases the awe-inspiring talent of the music industry of Pakistan. From maestros like Saeein Zahoor and Abida Parveen, and classical cult members such as Tina Sani to the pioneers of pop and rock like Ali Azmat and Strings, it is a platform that uses music in order to promote unity and tolerance and instill into Pakistanis a sense of pride and accomplishment.

Coke Studio also serves as an inspiration for many. Some prefer to make home videos parodying the performances (‘Alif Allah home version’ is a classic now!), while others become motivated to finally follow their dreams. One example is Satwa Sessions, a Dubai-based group of professionals who come together with one thing in mind: the enjoyment of music. They are men and women involved in all sectors of the corporate world, who take out the time from their tangled, material lives to jam together. My brother, Jawad Sakrani, happens to be one of the vocalists part of this eclectic group.

He’s been singing for as long as I can remember, whether its covers of Vital Signs and Junoon or original stuff. He’s also been playing the guitar for many years, both acoustic and electric, and has also learned how to play the harmonium recently. He is a music buff and it’s been a regret of his that he could never get completely involved in it, but now he’s found a way to give in to his passion without overdosing our eardrums at home. Satwa Sessions is unique, it’s where you can go to relax from the otherwise frantic pace of Dubai life without worrying about how you look, how much you earn, what car you drive, etc. You can play any instrument and sing in any language, be it Arabic, Urdu, English or even Swahili. Satwa itself is one of the most non-pretentious neighborhoods in the city; free of dizzyingly tall skyscrapers or gigantic malls, it’s a cul-de-sac reminiscent of the old, more traditional Dubai lifestyle.

Satwa Sessions is more than a month into its inception, and it’s already churned out some great covers, such as Vital Signs’ ‘Tere Liye’. Each session is recorded and the video displays how much harmony is present, it gives off a vibe of camaraderie, a vibe of happiness. And this is precisely what the point of music is, to allow you to escape into a realm of dreams where nothing is impossible.

To listen to some of their stuff, search for ‘Satwa Sessions’, they have a profile on Facebook, and many of their videos are posted on the wall.