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A singing Romanian gypsy falls in love with Lahore

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  • singinggypsyEuropean artist fears terrorism will shatter her dreams
  • Jina Rubik says Pakistan cultural heart of subcontinent, suffering because of insecurity

    By Afnan Khan

    LAHORE: A European artist has found herself trapped between her passion to learn and promote music and performing arts of the subcontinent, and the current downfall of arts and culture due to terrorism in Pakistan.

    Jina Rubik is a singer, writer, composer, actress and a classical dancer who has been traveling across the subcontinent for the past three years to learn the different styles of music and performing arts in the region.

    Despite having a family history of contributions in the fields of science and arts, Jina chose to follow in the footsteps of her maternal ancestors. She is a descendent of the royal Kalderash Gypsies of Transylvania (now in Romania). Her father Dr Zoltan Perjes, a theoretical physicist, is considered one of the top scientists of Hungary because it was he who worked with Stephen Hawking and Roy Kerr, discoverer of the “Black Hole Theory”

    “My ancestors believed that the gypsies migrated to the Indian subcontinent from Europe due to massive bloodshed caused by invasions from Afghanistan. I am here to rediscover my roots, and revive the gypsy culture”.

    I have learnt a bit of Kathak (dance) during my stay here in Pakistan other than my key research, which is about folk music genres such as Qawali, as I believe there is a link between the gypsy music of Europe and the folk music of the subcontinent, and I am here to discover the link,” she said while talking to Daily Times.

    Jina has a strange story to tell about how she came to Pakistan after her months long stay in India. “When I was in Mumbai, I saw Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan in a dream. He told me to visit his home in Lahore, saying that it is a safe place for me. I visited Lahore and realised that Nusrat was not only right, but a part of my soul also belonged to the historic city,” Jina stated.

    Jina has studied the performing arts, filmmaking and photography other than things like ‘Hatha yoga’. She has performed with a variety of bands across Europe, and in 2002 played the lead in ‘The Wind’, a play by Niall Walsh, an Irish playwright.

    She also had her poetry published in the Dublin-based literary magazine “College Green” founded by students of the acclaimed poet, Seamus Heaney.

    She told Daily Times she has decided to stay in Pakistan for a little longer due to the pathetic condition of music, arts and culture in the country despite being the hub of culture across the region.

    “I am currently working with different underground bands, helping them reform and grow as well as assisting different classical singers and performers to organise events across the subcontinent, and helping people discover these wonderful artists,” she said. “Pakistan is matchless in different genres of music, and their classical singers are phenomenal with artists like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Shafqat Amanat Ali and many others”. She said this is what sells across the globe and no one can be a better ambassador of a country than musicians and artists to promote a soft image across the globe.

    She said that it was a pity that such a glorious asset was being wasted because of poverty and lack of the government’s patronage.

    “I have seen the Indian government offering scholarship programmes for foreigners in their art institutions, as these students not only learn the Indian arts themselves, but automatically become Indian ambassadors across the globe after getting training. “Why cant the Pakistani culture ministry do the same?”\11\23\story_23-11-2009_pg13_6

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