Indian one-man band blows, strums and sings against smoking

This picture shows Indian singer and songwriter Gladson Peter waiting for his transportation to a performance in Mumbai on May 5, 2017. (File photo by AFP)
Updated 06 October 2017
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Indian one-man band blows, strums and sings against smoking

MUMBAI: Indian musician Gladson Peter strums the ukulele while blowing into a harmonica and smashing a cymbal using his foot as children from one of Asia’s biggest slums clap and cheer.
Peter, who can play 45 instruments, claims to be India’s only one-man band and enjoys something of a fan following for his renditions of popular songs, including Ed Sheeran hits.
The 24-year-old, a keen musician since the age of three, performs to raise awareness about the dangers of passive smoking after he lost part of a lung as a teenager.
“My shows are the hook through which I share my messages that can change someone’s life. Many people have come up to me and apologized for tobacco consumption and have quit smoking,” Peter told AFP.
At college in his late teens, two holes caused by tuberculosis were found in one of his lungs.
Peter feared that he would never play wind instruments again.
Doctors said the disease could be exacerbated by passive smoking. So last year he decided he would form a one man band, playing 11 instruments, as part of his own anti-smoking awareness campaign.
“We built the equipment in a week, rather miraculously, and I kickstarted my performances,” said Peter, who has since played around 200 concerts across India.
The instruments in his repertoire include guitar, melodica, bass drum, slide whistle and tambourine.
He now plays 13 at once using a kit that weighs around 25 kilograms, no mean feat given his weakened lungs.
“Though I cannot even run half a mile, my faith keeps me going and when I wear all the instruments and become the one-man band I feel empowered,” he said.


Baghdad gun shops thrive after Iraqi rethink on arms control

Updated 19 August 2018
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Baghdad gun shops thrive after Iraqi rethink on arms control

  • Shop owner sees increasing demand from women, says self-defence is main reason for buying
  • Customer says legalized gun sales will act as crime deterrent

BAGHDAD: In the middle of Baghdad’s busy commercial neighborhood of Karrada, where most retail outlets sell home appliances, shoppers can now also buy handguns and semi-automatic rifles legally for the first time in decades.
After the toppling of Saddam Hussein in 2003, illegal weapons trade flourished across the country. Looted guns from ransacked police stations and military bases were sold in streets and public areas to residents seeking to protect themselves in a state that was largely lawless.
The authorities have since been battling to curb illegal weapon sales and the government has stepped up efforts to control gun ownership through regulation.
The latest initiative came into force this summer and allows citizens to own and carry handguns, semi-automatic rifles and other assault weapons after obtaining official authorization and an identity card that also details the individual’s weapons.
Previously, gun sales were restricted to firearms for hunting and sport.
Hamza Maher opened his new gun shop in Karrada after receiving official approval from the Interior Ministry and says there has been growing demand for his wares.
“Customers are mainly men, but the number of women buyers is growing,” said Maher inside his shop, where a variety of pistols and assault rifles are on display.
“The reason for buying is self-defense, and it’s safer for citizens to buy a weapon from an authorized store instead of from an unknown source.”
Pistol prices in Maher’s shop range from $1,000 to $4,000, while Kalashnikov assault rifles can be had from as little as $400 up to $2,000, depending on the brand and manufacturing origin, he said.
Haider Al-Suhail, a tribal sheikh from Baghdad, welcomed the legalization of gun stores.
“Yes, it will decrease crime,” he said on a visit to Maher’s shop to buy assault rifles for his ranch guards. “The criminal who plans to attack others will understand that he will pay heavy price.”