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Lokvani Talks To Jawed Wahid

Ranjani Saigal

Born, 1953, in Karachi Pakistan Wahid  spent early years in the Netherlands, and New York. He moved to the Boston area in 1973 to attend MIT as an undergraduate student in Electrical Engineering. He received his Bachelors degree from MIT in 1975, Master degree from MIT in 1978, and an MBA from Harvard in 1983. He married Iffat in 1976. They have 4 children and one granddaughter.  His interests include music, skiing, cycling, sound engineering, movies (both Hollywood and Bollywood), socializing, and most importantly hanging out with his granddaughter.

What brought you to the US?

When I was in grade school I came to New York with my parents. My father worked for the Pakistan Foreign service and he had been posted to New York. We lived in New York for most of the ‘60s. My father was posted back to Pakistan in 1968 and I went back with him just as I was about to start High School. I completed my High School in Pakistan and then returned to the US in 1973 when I came to Cambridge MA as an undergraduate student at MIT. I have never left the Boston area since, and have made this my home.

What motivated you to start a company ?

I had always been interested in entrepreneurship and so after completion of my MBA at Harvard in 1983, I decided to have a go at starting my own company. I finally started my company in 1985 in the area of Digital Signal Processing. I operated that company for about 17 years and had to wind up operations in 2002 when our primary market (jet engine manufacturers) went through major financial crisis, resulting in a significant drop in sales.

How did you develop an Interest in Indian classical music?

From my earliest memories I have always been drawn to music of Pakistan and India to which I was exposed through film songs. I have had a passion for film songs for my whole life. But along the way I found that I was much more drawn to songs that had a strong classical foundation, my earliest and still favorite being Madhuban Mein Radhika Naache Re from film Kohinoor. So I decided to find out what was it that made attracted me to these songs over the other songs. I found out that these songs were heavily grounded in classical music, so I decided to study the foundations of classical music to better understand classical music as a listener. The more I got into it the more I enjoyed it.  I have now become an ardent fan of Hindustani classical music and devote a lot of time to promoting the music so that it can be enjoyed collectively and also to support the artists who have dedicated their lives to this art.

Could you tell us a little about the Baitaks at your home?

My wife Iffat and I both share a passion for music, and so when we had an opportunity in our life we created a space in our home dedicated to music in which we started holding informal music sessions. Around that time I met and became good friends with Pradeep Shukla. Amongst the many activities we become involved in we discussed the concept of forming a membership based group for aficionados of Hindustani Classical music. Based on our expectations of the audience size, the music room at my home appeared to have been custom built for Baithak. So we formalized the Baithak group, the music room at my house became the venue and we went on a membership drive. Our membership signup far exceeded our expectations and Baithak came into being. We are now completing 2 years of presenting world class concerts in the Boston area and have received tremendous support from our members. But the best tribute we have gotten is from the artists who have performed in our home. Every one of them has said that our music room exudes an ambiance and spirituality that inspires them, and makes it a thoroughly enjoyable experience to perform here. With such endorsements, Iffat and I both agree that building a room dedicated to music was a great thing to do. We encourage classical Hindustani music fans to become members of Baithak and support and enjoy our music in the traditional baithak setting that fosters interaction with the artist, a key ingredient in this form performance, which is sorely missing in the large auditorium settings.

What motivates you to provide audio technician services to various Indian concerts including Arangetrams?

As I started to attend live concerts of both classical and filmi music, more often than not I was very dissatisfied with the experience because of the poor quality of the sound engineering. Here we had high class artists coming all the way from India and Pakistan to perform for us, and the beauty of their art did not reach us because of poor sound engineering. Having a background is in digital signal processing I knew the theory of what it would take to provide good sound and so I decided to acquire some equipment and got into sound engineering in a small way. However as time progressed, I acquired better and more powerful sound equipment and was called on by people I know to provide the sound for different events. As I got into sound engineering I really got to enjoy the experience, because you become an extension of the artist’s skills and work with the artist to provide the best possible listening experience for the audience. I am happy to provide sound engineering for concerts ranging from Bollywood film songs, to classical Indian music both Hindustani and Carnatic, to Arangetrams. In all these the common factor is to connect the artist with the audience and create a memorable listening experience for everyone.

Any special message for our readers?

Friends, life is short, put aside your differences, work together, play together, enjoy life together, and make the world a better place for our children.

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1.What are the details of the membership based baithak ? September 19, 2011MusicLover 
2. September 17, 2011Farhana 
3.Inspirational September 16, 2011Shridhar 

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