Borders blur in Kartarpur as Bedi, and Intikhab catch up over some jazz
Borders blur in Kartarpur as Bedi, and Intikhab catch up over some jazz. As the song goes, “When the saints go marching in…” Louis Armstrong’s jazz floats down the Ravi River near Kartarpur, on the outskirts of Lahore.
This legendary shrine has brought together a great Indian Sikh spinner, a respected Pakistani Muslim captain, and a famed African-American artist who also sang gospel tunes.
Intikhab Alam, recalling his reunion with his old buddy Bishan Singh Bedi in the Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara on Tuesday, told me over the phone, “I could see tears welling up in his eyes when I performed that song.”
That song has a significant impact on both of our journeys. When we first met we were all in tears.
Anju, Bishan Bedi’s wife, shared the emotions of sadness. They were all holding hands and crying: Intikhab, Shafqat Rana (a Pakistani international from the 1960s), and Bishan.
It was something to see. Intikhab kept in touch every three days through Bishan’s illness and subsequent recovery. So, too, would Zaheer Abbas, who isn’t feeling very well right now.
He had a lot of friends among the Pakistani players based in England, such as Mushtaq Mohammad, and they would constantly bother him with phone calls. “Bishan has always been very popular in Pakistan, and Intikhab has been a fantastic, real friend,” she says.
Three days after Bedi had heart surgery in February 2021, he had a stroke caused by a blood clot. In this case, surgery was performed immediately. It was taking a long time to get anywhere.
At first, he could not walk or identify the people around him. However, Bedi got better. Alam presented Bedi with a timepiece during their encounter in Kartarpur. Anju, given multiple presents by Alam and his family, explains, “He put it on Bishan’s wrist.”
She specifically requested a mixer (that steel-waali blender). She noted that the plastic and glass ka mixies that may buy in Pakistan are prone to breaking.
A steel mixie from India, if you please. Although I wasn’t sure if I could, I bought two of them in Amritsar. “Take it, mummy; who’s going to stop my dad?” Angad asked, according to Anju, who laughed.
The item was part of a larger gift, which I accepted. No one from either Customs Office expressed any concerns. We, too, had lost track of the Covid examination, but the authorities handled it with kindness and efficiency. A one-day visa was all we needed,” she explains.
Bedi’s deepest wish was to meet his love in Kartarpur finally. Anju had been communicative with both Intikhab and his wife. On our grandson’s third birthday, October 3, Bishan suggested we make the trip to Kartarpur.
When I told Intikhab’s wife, she answered, “Don’t worry, we will be there.” When that happened, I was shocked to see that Pakistani border guards were equally willing to risk their lives for a picture op with Bishan, as Anju recounts.
In addition, Bedi is a fantastic human being, which your people would surely recognize. Holy goodness, what a soul. Courage. In all honesty, he is a man. Additionally, he is a very funny guy. Everybody in the room was in fits of laughter. As a couple, we also shared a mutual love of Louis Armstrong. It was Anju-ji, Intikhab says with a chuckle, “who encouraged me to break out in song.
And now, as I told him, you have to sing that song,” Anju explains. I told him to sing and he said, “Are you mad? We are in a Gurdwara.” Wow, that was a beautiful scene.
Kerry Packer’s renegade league in the 1970s, which revolutionized cricket, is where the musical connection begins.
Bedi and Intikhab both played for the Rest of the World squad. Throughout the competition, we held a weekly Sunday club. So many various nationalities were represented among our participants. There would be dancing, singing, instrument playing, etc.
Intikhab claims that his family was the very last to leave Shimla for Pakistan during the Partition. His family had military ties because his grandfather had played for the Maharaja of Patiala.
He recalled that a brigadier had organized transportation for his family by sending a truck to Ludhiana. They relocated to Kalka and traveled to Lahore by train.
This one was a passenger train, and it was the first. Intikhab explains, “We were able to cross the border because a misread signal indicated that the first train was a freight train while the second train was carrying passengers.” Wow, you got lucky. The last train has left. There was no other Indian train that arrived.
In a game, he first encountered Bedi. “I gave him a six or two, and he joked, ‘Bhai, why are you striking me? The crew also includes additional “spinners.”
When I first met her, I could tell we would become fast friends. Since then we’ve been inseparable ever since that competition in Australia (Packer’s World Series).
Regarding Bedi, he prays, “Allah inko lambi umar dein and give him all the good health. People of his caliber are extremely uncommon in today’s world. Pray that God blesses him with a long and happy life.
“I know Bishan is immensely adored in Pakistan,” Anju says. Yet, it is quite remarkable how well Intikhab, Shafqat, and all of his Pakistani pals have kept in touch.
They just held each other and sobbed. “When Bishan left, he told me, ‘Come to India,'” Intikhab explains. I’ve had visited and explored Purani Dilli (Old Delhi) with him. There have been many years since then. Inshallah, I will be there.
That day is one that Anju eagerly anticipates. In the meantime, she has one more Kartarpur memento to treasure. “A journalist from Pakistan inquired as to my favorite aspect of Pakistan. What do you need? Shawls, garments, dry fruits… When asked which kind of love I preferred, I said, “Apka pyaar sabse behtar lagta hai (I like your love the most).”