Home Sweet Home – Ehmad Ridwan’s Pad, East of Kailash
In a musician’s world.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
It’s late night. He picks up his guitar, strums the strings and starts to croon Feeling Good.
The Nina Simone classic instantly catches Rumi’s attention. He leaps up to the chair, jumps on the writing table, and listens intently to the rendition.
Rumi is used to these guitar songs. Because Rumi’s roomie is a musician.
Rumi is a cat. His mate, Ehmad Ridwan, is a human.
This is their pad in south Delhi’s East of Kailash. They are the only guys in the flat. Both the other flatmates are women, who have their own rooms.
“While I often play the guitar in the drawing room, our common room, I prefer to listen to music alone in my room, with eyes closed,” says Mr Ridwan. In his mid-20s, he is giving a tour of his small room. Since it is pandemic-time, the visit is unfolding through WhatsApp video.
Mr Ridwan returned a week ago from a summer spell in his hometown, Srinagar. A graduate in Peace and Conflict Resolution in Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia University, he confesses that “things aren’t going well because of the pandemic.” His main source of income in the Capital was giving performances in public and private gigs, but both have temporarily stalled. He also had a series of jobs in Gurugram and Delhi, but gave up that regular career to be with his mother during the pandemic—his father passed away in January last year. He isn’t unduly worried for his prospects, though, “for everyone is suffering financially these days.”
Mr Ridwan calls his music genre Urdu blues rock, “in which I set music to lyrics by well-known poets as well as some I write myself.” Poet Faiz is a passion, though there isn’t any of his books in the room. It is an elegantly sparse place, with a few potted plants scattered around. The most noticeable elements are two guitars, and the wall decked with a dozen postcards sent by friends during travels to various places.
As the outside world remains mostly out of bounds, one wonders why Mr Ridwan came back to this windowless room instead of staying in his Srinagar family house, with six rooms, where the windows look to a great variety of views—a graveyard, a panorama of poplars, and the famous Shankaracharya temple on the top of a hill.
“Because this room is me. And I need to be alone to create my music.”
He now again picks up his guitar and starts an Urdu song. This time Rumi sits by a potted plant.