India-Pakistan border blurs in Kartarpur as Bishan Singh Bedi and Intikhab Alam get caught with some jazz

“When the Saints Sail…” Louis Armstrong’s jazz floats to Kartarpur on the west bank of the Ravi River outside Lahore. A great Indian Sikh spinner, a respected Pakistani Muslim captain and a legendary African-American musician, who also sang gospel songs, found a way to meet in the fabled temple.

“I could see tears in his eyes when I sang the song,” #IntikhabAlam said on phone about meeting his old friend @Bishanvedi at Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara on Tuesday.

Sriram Veera and Sandeep Dwivedi ✍️

Read: https://t.co/Y5MYz4BQ7c pic.twitter.com/Lfo9TGOQ4m

— Express Sports (@IExpressSports) October 6, 2022

“I could see tears in his eyes when I sang the song,” Intikhab Alam said by phone about meeting his old friend Bishan Singh Bedi at Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara on Tuesday. “We’ve both come a long way and that song plays a part in that. In fact, we all cried when we met.”

Bishan Bedi’s wife Anju also broke down in tears. “Intekhab, Shafqat Rana (a Pakistan international of the 1960s), Bishan, all holding hands and crying. It had some scenes. Intekhab called every third day through Bishan’s sickness and well-being. So will Zaheer Abbas, who is not well these days. Pakistani players in England like Mushtaq Mohammad are all his friends and keep calling. Intikhab is a great, true friend and Bishan has always been well liked in Pakistan,” she says.

In February 2021, three days after Bedi underwent heart surgery, he suffered a stroke due to a blood clot in the brain. Emergency surgery was performed. Progress was slow. Initially, he could not recognize the people around him and could not even walk. But Bedi recovered. And when met at Kartarpur, Alam gave a watch to Bedi. “He put it on Bishan’s wrist,” said Anju, who received several gifts from Alam and his family.

Before Kartarpur pressed Intikhab’s wife Anju with a “simple request”.

“He told me to get a mixer—Steel-Wally, that blender. He said, ‘In Pakistan, you get a mix of plastic and glass and it often breaks. Can you bring a steel mixi from India?’ I bought two of them in Amritsar and wasn’t sure if it would be approved. My son Angad said, come mother, who will stop my father? Anju says smiling.

Louis Armstrong’s jazz floats in #Kartarpur. A great Indian Sikh spinner, a respected Pakistani Muslim captain and a legendary African-American musician have found a way to meet in the fabled temple.

Sriram Veera and Sandeep Dwivedi ✍️

Read: https://t.co/73wAntpIO1 pic.twitter.com/8VGfMybKa0

— Express Sports (@IExpressSports) October 6, 2022

“And so, I took it with other gifts. No one from customs here or there said anything. In fact, we even forgot about the covid test but it was sweetly done by the authorities without any problem. We went on a one-day visa,” she says.

There was a great desire for the Sabha Bedi in Kartarpur. Intekhab and his wife were detained by Anju. “On October 3, we were celebrating our grandson’s birthday and Bishan said we should go to Kartarpur now. I told Intekhab’s wife, and they said ‘don’t worry, we’ll be there’. When this happened, I was surprised that even the Border Force on the Pakistani side was dying to take pictures with Bishan,” says Anju.

“I could see tears in his eyes when I sang the song,” Intikhab Alam said by phone about meeting his old friend Bishan Singh Bedi at Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara on Tuesday. “We’ve both come a long way and that song plays a part in that. In fact, we all cried when we met.” (Photo credit: Bishan Singh Bedi)

Intekhab says he doesn’t need an invitation. “It was five hours of joy. Old memories turned to dust. smile And your countrymen will know that Bedi is a great personality. What a heart. the courage Honest people. And a funny man. We laughed and laughed. Louis Armstrong was also part of our relationship. And Anju-ji asked me to sing,” laughs Intikhab.

Anju said, “I told him now you have to sing the song. He said ‘Are you crazy, we are in the Gurdwara’ but I said you have to sing. It was so beautiful.”

The song’s connection is to the 1970s five-match unofficial Test series between the World XI vs Australia. Intekhab and Bedi were in the world team. “During that tournament we had a Sunday club. We had players from different countries. Some will dance, some will sing or play instruments etc. I used to sing this song the way Armstrong sang it or tried to do it and Bishan loved it. I guess he still does,” says Intikhab, a jazz lover who picked up the song during his playing days in Scotland.

There was a great desire for the Sabha Bedi in Kartarpur. Intekhab and his wife were detained by Anju. (Photo credit: Bishan Singh Bedi)

His family, Intikhab says, were the last to flee to Pakistan in Shimla during Partition. His father played for the Maharaja team of Patiala and was a friend in the army. He recalled that a brigadier sent a truck that took the family to Ludhiana. They went to Kalka, and then took the train to Lahore. “The first was a passenger train… but a wrong signal said the first train was a goods train, and the second was carrying passengers, and that’s how we made it across the border,” says Intikhab. “Very lucky. It was the last train. No other train came from India.”

He first met Bedi in a match. “I hit him with a six or two, and he joked, ‘Brother, why are you hitting me?’ There are other spinners in the team. I knew immediately that we were going to hit it off. Then, that Australia tournament happened and we’ve been close friends ever since.”

His family, Intikhab says, were the last to flee to Pakistan in Shimla during Partition. His father played for the Maharaja team of Patiala and was a friend in the army. He recalled that a brigadier sent a truck that took the family to Ludhiana. (Photo credit: Bishan Singh Bedi)

Referring to the altar, he said, “May Allah grant him long life and good health.” Aise insaan to kum pede hote hai aajkal (People like him are very rare these days. May God grant him a long, healthy life).

Anju said, “I know Bishan is loved a lot in Pakistan. But the interaction with Intikhab, Shafqat and all his Pakistani friends was amazing. They just hugged and cried.” Intekhab said, “After Bishan left, he told me ‘come to India’. I have been there before and toured Puran Delhi (Old Delhi) with him in the past. It has been many years now. I will come insha’Allah.”

Anju is waiting for that day. Until then, he will also cherish another lasting memory of Kartarpur. “A Pakistani journalist asked me what I liked most from Pakistan: dry fruits, shawls, clothes… I replied ‘apka payar sabse behtar lagta hai (I like your love the most)’.”

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