When I was a child, I believed like all children do; that there is goodness everywhere and in everyone; that people love freely and without reason. Then after a few years, I learnt to talk, to walk, to listen to harsh words, to understand how different I am, I found myself in the school system where I began loosing that child; I then left school and soon enough I went to work in the real world; the real world was made up of people, from whom I learnt many lessons; suffered many disappointments, many heart aches, many confusing ideologies, many sad moments and then along the way, not knowing when it happened; I lost that child completely.
After many years; I began missing that child and I started craving for that child…which led me to start woman2woman – my events company which I started on the founding thought that I will work only on events, projects that will somehow change my world. That will gravitate me towards the good in me and maybe others too; I will create my own reality where I will make the changes I want to see and I will one day, if I work hard enough; find that lost child.
Its been 6 years now since I started woman2woman and I finally found my child in a school; ironically where I first lost that child; is the same place that the universe led me to…
Here is how it began; It was a hot summer day (which will be my statement for the next few months) It was so hot that I couldn’t grab my steering wheel to drive; it scorched my hands. I had just wrapped up a shoot and was rushing to drive over to Winchester School to meet the Finalists of the SMARTLISFE’s Smart Idol. I had of course heard about the event but still hadn’t met anyone.
The brief I had was pretty simple: “Smart Idol is an annual talent contest organized by SMART LIFE wherein more than 400 blue collar performers are auditioned in various labor camps & in public places for several weeks & the top 12 talents are showcased in the Grand Show Finale called Smart Idol.”
So when I found out that these 12 Finalists train at a school every Friday, it intrigued me and rain or shine, I wanted to get there to meet them personally.
I got to the parking of the School and right at the gate, I could hear soulful tunes; it was incredible, I didn’t need any directions to get to their training room. I followed the vocal chords and found the most fun-loving people, some dancing, some singing and my favorite part was, that all were happy to see me. I got the brightest smiles and the warmest Hugs (I am a sucker of HUGS btw).
I wish I could take each of you with me, so you could have felt the energy; every molecule in my body was vibrating with the positive vibes. Kalyan (who is my amazing friend and soul brother) Was the one who introduced me to this event and encouraged me to be a part of Smart Idol. He warmly, introduced me to the whole team who had been working day and night to host this event for the past 6months. They started auditioning for this project since January of this year – making the lead up time almost 6 months. I also had the pleasure of meeting the beautiful Navya Sajeevan; who is also a professional Dancer and has been the main guinding force working hard to audition, select, train and put the event together. She along with the smartlife foundations’ team members visited more than 20 camps; met over 600 candidates; and now have been training the 12 Finalists for the past 4 weeks leading up to the Grand Finale taking place on 22nd of May.
I then met a finalist, Biji who will be singing at the show; I asked her to sing a few lines and when she did; I couldn’t help gasp at her golden voice. With no formal training or opportunity; she could easily take the stage and mesmerize the world with her powerful voice. The winner is to receive a cash prize, I made a mental note to ask all the finalists what they were going to do with the money if they won. So I proceeded to ask Biji; her reply, “I would give every penny I have to my sons’ I have two sons and I would use the money to give them the best education for a better life”.
A queit and shy Kopila Ghimre Korki was next in line to meet me, this was her first interview and she was very nervous. My first question to her was where are you from? She said Nepal and tears came running down her cheeks; she had lost two homes in the earthquake; the devastation had hit her own home and also her inlaws, both destroyed completely in the quake. She said that everything she every owned was gone; when she first got selected to be a finalist, she said she was very happy and excited but as the disaster hit her home; her spirits also took a hit. Even with the tears and a lump in her throat; she sang for me and I couldn’t help feel the tears welling up in my eyes after hearing her sweet voice. When I asked her what she would do with the money if she won? Her reply, “I would give half the money to my Mother and the other half to my Mother in law; both of them have lost their homes and I want to help rebuild what they have lost.”
I was then introduced to the gorgeous all girls dance troupe; all of them Nepali; all of them had lost their homes in the earth quake and all of them stood together united in their pain and in their hope for a better future. They will be the live performers at the show; and were there to support their friends who have made it to the Finals. The four girls included: Sapana Rai, Gita Gurung, Ramita Maharajan and Diya Bista.
S. Jafar Siddik Basha was waiting next, he is a young Dancer from India; his idols include Prabhu Deva (Who once came to his school performance) he always wanted to dance but life had other plans for him and he had to leave his dream behind; so when Smartidol came along, this was his chance to re live his dream; he said that the journey with Smart Idol has been an emotional one; where he is constantly learning and discovering and if he wins he says; “I would give all my money for my 2yr old son’s education; so he can have a better life, so that he can have opportunities that I didnt have.”
Ammar Saeed came in next sporting the most mischevoue smile that I had seen in a long time. I instantly felt at ease with him; I learned that he hailed from a very conservative Pakistani family that never encouraged singing and from a very young age; all Ammar wanted to do was sing. The one good thing about leaving home and coming to the Gulf was that he could sing freely and his passion got the freedom it required, when he sang; I could feel the vibratons of sufi souls swooning around me; his voice had an age beyond his years; I was truly dumbfounded by the time he finished. He mentioned that now after hearing about Smart Idol; his family has warmed up to the idea of him becoming a singer and they are actually rooting for him to win. He said If he wins “ I will make my dream come true of becoming a singer, thats all I want to do”.
The most brightest Smile was held by Suresh Kapoor; hailing from India; he could walk in to a room and the room would light up just by his honest smile. He spoke about his childhood, about his dreams of learning music and also to desire of becoming a singer; but due to harsh realities he could never do what always dreamed of pursuing and instead left home at a young age to earn for his family. When he sang for me, it was hard to believe that his voice was so refined without any formal training and I understood what they say; when God decides to give you a gift…you don’t need anything else. If he wins he explained; “I would make sure the my two sons recieve the best training in Music that I could never afford; they will one day grow up to be amazing musicians.”
Aju George a very shy young singer was next in line, he spoke to me in whispers and the only time his voice was raised in excitement was when he spoke about his two daughters; who he loves dearly and who he hasn’t seen for 5 months; he then sweetly sang a Malayalam song for me and even though I couldn’t understand the words, I could feel the love and it overwhelmed me, a fathers devotion to his daughters made my heart melt. If he wins he said, “My two daughters are my world and if I win, it would be for them, I would use the money to educate them and give them a better life.”
Meeting Aasman Tamang was a special treat, starting from his name which means “the sky” I learnt that he is an aspiring Dancer from Nepal. When he was in school he danced for fun and once he started growing up, dancing became a form of expression for him and he felt free when he danced. He smiled and told me that he came to Dubai to make money, he worked hard, saved for years and with all his savings he built his own home for his parents back in Nepal and when the earth quake hit, he lost everything; he said I am very lucky ma’am..my parents survived…I will work harder, and re build what I lost. My being has never met a spirit so strong and like his name suggests…Asmaan is made to touch the Sky, he said if he wins “I will give my all to make my home for my parents; they are now living in a tent and I want to give them a home.”
My last finalist meeting for the day was with a handsome young man; that everyone around me referred to as “Ramesh Sir” – I learnt that this young man has been dancing since he was 5yrs old and its his long life dream to become a choreographer. When he was growing up all he wanted to do was either be dancing or showing someone how to dance. Then with the situation at home and the need for him to work, he took over lifes responsibilities and put a full stop to his dream of every becoming a Choreographer. When Smart Idol came up, he said that this was his chance to re ignite his lifes passions and he took this opportunity with all his might and passion. He has been training day and night to perform and he has been dedicatedly teaching and supporting his fellow participants. I found that gesture so noble and I understood why everyone has that respect for him, he is a true teacher; who is secure enough to share his wisdom. When asked about winning; he said, “Everything I am and I do in life is for my mother. My mother, who right now is in criticial condition with kidney failure and heart disease; I want to go home and make her well. She is everything to me and everything I have is hers.”
On my way out I bumped in to last years winner, Ejaz Ahmed; he turned out to be from Kashmir, my Ammi’s hometown and while speaking to him I realized how much his life had changed since winning last year. His level of confidence and his warm approach displayed star power without the diva attitude. After winning SmartIdol 2014, he went on to perform on live events and was also picked up by Zee TV for a drama serial, to sing play back on Parwaaz. He will also be performing on the 22nd of May along with Aftermath a local rock band. It really will be a treat for any music lover. When he sang for me, my heart beats fluttered and I couldn’t help blush like a school girl.
“I came in to the School that day looking for the finalists and I left finding myself….”
Date – 22nd May 2015
Time – 6:00pm Onwards
Venue – Sheikh Rashid Auditorium at Indian High School Dubai
For more information on Smart life:
Mob: 052 8080621
For more press information, please contact:
Zareen Khan – W2W events – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org – 050 5515979