‘Two Poets and a River’: Worlds of love in the Wakhan Valley

first_imgOn opposite sides of the Oxus River border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan live two poet-singers who share a common language, faith, and family network, and yet remain separated by vicissitudes of the Great Game, the 19th-century conflict between the British Empire and Czarist Russia. Ethnomusicologist Richard Wolf has been contemplating the rupture that exists across this divide in “Two Poets and a River,” a film in progress about poet-singers Qurbonsho in Tajikistan and Daulatsho in Afghanistan.Wolf, a professor in music and South Asian studies, has a longstanding curiosity about Central Asian people and music, but his research efforts began in earnest on a Fulbright Fellowship to Tajikistan in 2012.,“I went to Central Asia to work on Wakhi music and soon came to know of Qurbonsho, a poet-singer who lives on the Tajik side of the river,” he said. “I was always curious about the Wakhis living on the Afghan side, but in 2012–13, as a Fulbright scholar, I wasn’t allowed to cross into Afghanistan.”The border had been negotiated long ago by Britain and Russia, and Wolf was intent on crossing it, but the effort took years. In 2015, he returned to Tajikistan with names of Wakhi poets, musicians, and their villages in hand. He and his small team drove for several days until the road came to an abrupt end: Melting snow had descended in torrents off the mountaintops and washed out the road and many settlements. Wolf and his companions were forced to continue into Upper Wakhan by foot, yak, and donkey. In village after village, he would hear of Daulatsho, who seemed to be everyone’s teacher as well as the composer of most modern Wakhi songs. Wolf arrived at Daulatsho’s village of Yur (alt. 10,500 ft) only to find that the musician had retreated to the higher pastures where Wakhis graze their cattle in the summer months. The poet-singer finds much creative inspiration in the high mountain flowers, fields, rocks, and rushing water.“I left word that I’d return the next year. In July 2016, Daulatsho was ready for me and set me up in a one-room house. But I didn’t get much of a chance to see what was going on in the village. So I proposed making a film in order to have an excuse to see more of the village,” he said.,Wolf had used other formats to present scholarly material before — his 2014 book, “The Voice in the Drum: Music, Language, and Emotion in Islamicate South Asia,” was a work of creative nonfiction based on 30 years of fieldwork in India and Pakistan. He had been thinking about using a film to create a sequel, but his current research in Central Asia led him to postpone that plan.“Two Poets and a River” took shape over the next several years and has been shown in the U.S. and Europe as a work in progress. Wolf traces the poets’ contemplations on separation, family, and environment, as well as their imaginings about what lies on the other side of the border. The two singers knew of one another by reputation and through recordings Wolf had made, but they had never met. In the winter of 2018–19, stranded with Daulatsho not far from the border because an enormous truck had broken down and blocked the road, Wolf realized he was close enough to pick up a cellphone signal from Tajikistan. He called Qurbonsho, and the two poets spoke to each other for the first time.“The life experiences of these two musicians differ significantly,” Wolf said. “Qurbonsho studied in Soviet schools near his house and served as a construction worker for the army; Daulatsho had to relocate to the district center. He has crossed the border into nearby Pakistan but for the most part stays in Wakhan. Qurbonsho lives on what he makes from performing at weddings, but no one can afford to pay Daulatsho for his performances — rather he survives on his meager monthly salary as a schoolteacher. Distances that can be covered in hours on the Tajik side may take days on the Afghan side. Wakhis from Tajikistan see in Afghan Wakhis images of themselves 50 years ago. Afghan Wakhis see in their Tajik counterparts a measure of freedom and wealth.,“But as I worked with each of these musicians I found many similarities. They share common lifeways of pastoralism, house construction, and food. Their musical poetry is based on themes common to the Persianate world. The quintessentially Wakhi song of separation, bulbulik [nightingale], inspires the art of both poets with its sparse, three-line structure. Daulatsho’s Afghan Wakhi poems tend to be lengthy but use only a few melodies. Qurbonsho writes brief, pithy poems that draw from a variety of musical styles current in Tajikistan.”After more than 100 years of imposed division, what resonates among the Wakhis, what their poets sing and write about, comes from something deeper: love, longing, and distance from a beloved.“My film considers the broad trope of love as well as what it means for members of a community to be separated across a national divide. I was thinking of ending ‘Two Poets and a River’ with the two men meeting in person,” said Wolf. “But I’m not sure that would be true to the spirit of love, loss, and separation that underlies the river metaphor.” Conservators and curators are researching and restoring a portrait of King Philip III of Spain that is one of a series of identical works Related Feinberg Collection highlights the rich variety and diversity of the Edo era A peek at a critical time for Japan through its artcenter_img Unraveling a fine arts mystery ‘Stand Up’ for best song Recent alums Joshuah Campbell and Gabe Fox-Peck on their Oscar nomination for ‘Harriet’ last_img read more

Read More »

Backroom bargain: House holds closed meeting on job creation bill

first_img“Almost all of the other members attended virtually,” Willy told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.However, the press was only invited to join the meeting at 3 p.m. via Zoom, a video conferencing program, just as the meeting, chaired by Baleg chairman Supratman Andi Agtas of the Gerindra Party, was about to finish.“We only discussed the two main points of the meeting. First, the House will hold a hearing with the government next week to ask about its readiness,” Willy, a member of NasDem, said.Read also: Guide to omnibus bill on job creation: 1,028 pages in 10 minutes The House of Representatives Legislation Body (Baleg) has begun discussing the controversial omnibus law on job creation by holding a closed, partially virtual meeting on Tuesday despite extensive public criticism and the COVID-19 pandemic.The meeting was not scheduled on the House’s Tuesday agenda. According to Baleg deputy chairman Willy Aditya, the meeting began at about 12 p.m. and was physically attended by four leaders of the body as well as about nine other members. In the next meeting, he said, the House and the government would establish a working committee “with Pak Airlangga [Hartarto, the Coordinating Economic Minister], and other related ministers”. He added that the body would not set a target date to resolve the bill.At the Tuesday meeting, factions in the House were asked to prepare problem inventory lists (DIMs).The body will consider the lists after holding a series of hearings involving various parties, such as labor unions, experts and businesses.According to the conclusion of the meeting, which was shared by Baleg via Zoom, the deliberation of the bill will begin with noncontroversial topics.“Therefore the government can start with the easier topics of the bill first,” the document read.Read also: Key points of labor reform in omnibus bill on job creation: What we know so farThe public has widely criticized the House for deliberating the omnibus bill during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many said it showed that the lawmakers had little consideration for the opinions of the people it would affect.One of Indonesia’s biggest labor groups, the Confederation of Indonesian Trade Unions (KSPI) plans to hold a massive protest against the bill, despite the pandemic.The protest will be held in mid-April, involving 50,000 workers from Greater Jakarta, and will take place in front of the legislative complex in Senayan, Central Jakarta.Civil society organizations, major labor unions and student organizations had previously prepared for street rallies in March to protest articles in the omnibus bill on job creation that — if passed — they said would harm labor rights, the environment and democracy. They also opposed the bill’s opaque drafting process.However, the rallies were canceled because of the pandemic.center_img Topics :last_img read more

Read More »

French private sector pension scheme deficit falls to €1.2bn

first_imgThe deficit in France’s mandatory private sector pension schemes amounted to €1.2bn in 2017, nearly €1bn less than the year before.In 2016 the overall deficit was €2.2bn.Agirc and Arrco said the technical deficit for 2017 was €3.5bn, down from €4.2bn the year before.Returns of nearly €1.5bn generated by invested reserves were offset against the technical deficit. An exceptional gain of almost €900m was also booked in 2017, mainly as a result of the schemes taking over legal ownership of real estate assets from La Foncière Logement, a public housing association. The agreement was signed in April 2017, with a €6.2bn portfolio of 30,000 housing units the first assets to be transferred.  The schemes took in €65bn of contributions last year and paid out €73.8bn in benefits, a slight increase of 0.5% on 2016. The schemes are unfunded.The results put Agirc and Arrco slightly ahead of the trajectory agreed by the social partners, the schemes said in a statement. Agirc and Arrco are the compulsory pension schemes for the French private sector, with Agirc covering managerial staff and executives and Arrco covering employees. As of the end of last year 1.6m employers and 18m employees were paying contributions to the schemes.According to a report released in January, in 2014 Arrco counted 40.5m members, meaning that almost 96% of individuals born in France and between the ages of 24 and 59 had at one point contributed to the scheme.The two schemes are separate for now, but are due to merge under reforms agreed in 2015 as part of an effort to tackle the funding shortfall.last_img read more

Read More »

Beer Distributor Challenges Indiana Liquor Laws

first_imgA lawsuit filed by Monarch is challenging liquor laws that date back from the Prohibition. (Image: Monarch Beverage Co.)A lawsuit filed by Indiana’s largest beer distributor is challenging liquor laws that date from the Prohibition.Monarch Beverage Co.’s lawsuit against the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission alleges that a state law that limits alcohol wholesalers from supplying both beer and liquor violates the U.S. Constitution.Monarch has tried unsuccessfully to advance a bill supporting its position the last four legislative sessions. Indiana Legislative Insight publisher Ed Feigenbaum says it is unlikely to change this coming year.Liquor distributors say changing the law would allow Monarch to create a monopoly.last_img

Read More »