My “now” song: Ambwa talay

Do you ever have a song, an idea, a story line, or an image stuck in your head? And it just refuses to go away? For some time at least? I have this with music — it could be a song, an instrumental piece, a jingle, a background score, etc. That particular piece of music becomes my “now’” song, and the “nowness”  (pardon my English here) could be for any length of time.

My current “now” song is Ambwa Talayan Amir Khusro composition, sung here by Javed Bashir and Humera Channa as part of a Coke Studio Pakistan performance.

Ambwa Taley is a traditional bidaai or farewell song, which is sung when the bride leaves her parents’ home for her marital home. The bidaai songs are usually weepy songs, but Ambwa Talay is different. It is a sublime song with just the right tinge of the bittersweet. The bride can’t wait to begin a new phase of her life with her beloved, and yet there is sadness at leaving her childhood behind — her dolls, carefree days of playing on the swing, the rains… The bride requests her palanquin bearers to halt under the shade of the mango tree to look back and reminisce.

A friend recommended this song to me about 2 months back and I was instantly drawn to it. It began with the melody and then the beautiful lyrics and each time I listened to it I fell more in love with it. Javed Bashir’s earthy vocals and Humera Channa’s melodious voice with just the right tinge of longing — for both the future and the past — were spot on and I can’t imagine anyone else singing this song. I also felt that the use of the clarinet as a substitute for the shehnai was masterstroke for mirroring the sentiments of Ambwa Talay. As a ‘modern’ instrument, it hinted at the future, and yet its reedy notes conveyed the sacredness and solemnity of the traditional shehnai, which usually accompanies a bidaai song. Ambwa Talay is based on Raga Desh, one of my favourite ragas, and one more reason for it to be my “now” song.

It has been a very busy time lately and I have been away from the blog for more than 2 months. Glad to be back here with this song that has literally captured my heart and my emotions too. Hope you enjoy listening to it as well.

PS: What have you been listening to these days and what is your “now” song? Tell me.

For more of my “now” songs and my other writings on music, do click here.

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20 thoughts on “My “now” song: Ambwa talay

    1. I was introduced to the “Ride of the Valkyries” about 20 years back and it became my introduction and entry point into Norse mythology. So yes, it is pretty special. I hope I get a chance to listen to it being performed live one day. 🙂


  1. Very well written piece. Can’t listen to your ‘now’ song at the moment.
    But yes, songs do get stuck in my head, and they’re quite sticky. So I prefer to sing songs in the praise of Lord so that it’s music + some bhakti as well. My nephew thinks I’m a lost case.. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Amby. I hope you got a chance to listen to “Ambwa Talay”.

      Music is deeply personal, perhaps more so than other creative forms and is not always easy or possible to explain choices or preferences. Or understand others’ choices too ! For example, heavy metal music is beyond my understanding.


    1. Hi Vishal, nice to see you here after so long.

      I love Coke Studio Pakistan and that’s where I get most f my “now” songs from. I think I have written enough about them to rename the series as perhaps “The Coke Series” ! 😛


    1. Thanks for sharing Suman Kalyanpur’s version, Nutsure. Though I have come across songs with similar lyrics or tunes (Bandini’s “Abke baras bhejo bhaiya ko babul… which I have featured in this series before), I wasn’t aware of this particular one.

      Thanks once again. 🙂


    1. Aha… so you found the Bandini similarity. If you remember, I had featured that song in this series some time back.

      Regarding the similarity, SDB was inspired by and also borrowed heavily from folk music and passed them off as his compositions. Ab ke baras from Bandini was one of them. That song is a copy, while Ambwa Talay is the original.


  2. This sounds lovely! I’m going to listen to it once I get home from work. 🙂

    I’ve been on a bit of a break from music lately. I’m looking to create a new, more meaningful playlist. All the “normal” songs just make me irritated these days. I’m going to go through the rest of your series at leisure to see which ones I can add on. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. There should have been a love button for this post ala Facebook. I’m a huge Coke Studio Pakistan fan. This just went on my list of favorites and I’m sure it will be played on loop today

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank uou, thank you, MM. Such a beautiful, mellow song it is.
      PS: I’m thinking of changing the title of mt=y now song series to “My Coke Studio Pakistan Song”, considering that 90% of the songs I have shared have come from there. What say? 😛


  4. I absolutely agree; plus, Desh’s signature is shown so beautiful by Humera in the song that the words become even more bittersweet. Even I who has never been in this position, I could feel the emotion in this piece as though it was my own wedding.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I have a different interpretation of this sublime song. It is symbolic of the journey from this world to the next, rather like the symbolism of the “Babur mero naihar chooto jae ” song. The singer has hardly finished playing her games in this world when Death calls in the form of “kahars” from another world. It is very touching, like many Coke Studio songs, because of its other world connections. It is Sufi music at its best.


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