Songs in exilehttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/songs-in-exile/

Songs in exile

A small stuffy room,a guitar resting by the wall,a keyboard placed carefully on a small table,an amplifier,a drum-set and chairs all around.

Banned in their land,an Afghan band plays on in Delhi

A small stuffy room,a guitar resting by the wall,a keyboard placed carefully on a small table,an amplifier,a drum-set and chairs all around. The room had all the instruments which gave the feel of a band’s jam-pad. A young man entered the room with a welcoming smile on his face and introduced himself as the band manager of ‘Yuva Beats,an Afghan refugee band’.

That’s Khalid,an Afghan refugee,who came to India from Kabul in 2009. The band has given his life—and that of other band members—a new meaning. Flipping through the pages of a notebook,Khalid talked about how music has given him the strength and hope to live through the hardships of life. “I was completely disillusioned. I thought my life had ended till I found a new meaning to my life here…and that is music.”

For Khalid and other members of the band who are also refugees from Afghanistan,their music has given them a new vocation. Getting together,practising,singing and playing has helped these young men regain their confidence which had shattered under in Afghanistan where bands and musical performances were banned.

Khalid was frustrated and wandering aimlessly in the streets of Delhi after fleeing Kabul,when he decided to set up a band-in-exile. He spotted a few talented youngsters–now members of the ‘Yuva Beats’— in a talent hunt organised by the Youth Club in association with the UNHCR and the Don Bosco Ashalayam.

“The main objective of setting up this band is to promote talent but more importantly to forget your sorrows and pain,and smile for a while. Its goal is to give a message of hope to my brethren around and soothe their pain.” ‘Yuva Beats’ is now more than two years old. It performs for their community and small gatherings of the youth club.

What makes the band special is its versatility. It plays a mix of Hindi,English,Farsi and Dari songs. “We like Hindi songs. The melody of Hindi songs and their rhythm is really catchy. I love to sing them,” smiles Rahmat,the lead singer of the band. “We’ve also started singing songs in Punjabi because the crowd likes the beats,” he says. Their songs are often on peace. “A song on peace is what we hold close to our heart. It sends a message across to the world. All one needs to live a happy life is peace,the rest falls in place,” says Khalid. “I forget about all my problems when I hold the guitar in my hand. While playing,I forget about all the pain and sufferings,” says Hamid,the lead guitarist.

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Yuva Beats is now planning to launch a magazine for the refugee community which will include articles on the life of refugees away from their home.