'One Pound Fish’ singer returns to a hero’s welcome in Pakistan

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Updated 28 December 2012
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'One Pound Fish’ singer returns to a hero’s welcome in Pakistan

LAHORE: Internet sensation One Pound Fish Man returned to a hero’s welcome in Pakistan yesterday, vowing to take his signature tune in honor of cut-price produce to France and the United States.
Hundreds showed up at Lahore airport in eastern Pakistan to honor Muhammad Shahid Nazir, who scaled the British music charts with “One Pound Fish,” which he originally composed to entice shoppers at the east London market where he worked.
The song became a YouTube hit after someone filmed Nazir singing it at the market and Warner Music signed him up for a record deal in the hope of getting the coveted Christmas number one spot in the charts.
Nazir said he spent no time writing the song — it came to him in a flash after his boss urged him to do something to encourage customers to cough up a pound ($ 1.60) for a fish.
“This song is gift of God to me, I just sang it on the spot,” the father-of-four told reporters at the airport.
“The owner of my fish stall asked me to sing to attract the customers and I started singing. On the first day I started slowly and on the second day more loudly.”
Around 250 people including local politicians met him at the airport, showering him with rose petals and chanting “Long live One Pound Fish,” while TV networks interrupted coverage of the fifth anniversary of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s assassination to show his return live.
The song’s lyrics are deceptively simple: “Come on ladies, come on ladies, one pound fish. Very very good, one pound fish, very very cheap, one pound fish.”
The original video has been viewed more than 6.5 million times on YouTube and the “o-fish-al” Warner video featuring Nazir shimmying and strutting Bollywood-style in a natty suit has recorded more than eight million hits.
The Christmas number one was not to be, with a single released in tribute to the victims of the Hillsborough football disaster claimed the top spot, but “One Pound Fish” managed a respectable 29 in the chart.
Nazir, from the small Punjab town of Pattoki, said he was confident of a bright future in the music industry.
“I will go to France in two weeks to release this song and then will go back to London,” he said, adding that he also planned to release the track in the United States.
British media reports suggested Nazir was deported from Britain for overstaying or breaching the terms of his visa, but he insisted he had returned to Pakistan simply to apply for a French visa.
And he promised not to abandon the unlikely source of his stardom.
“I will adopt music as a profession now, but I can never forget my fish stall,” he said.


Rickshaw pullers fade from India’s streets

Updated 27 April 2018
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Rickshaw pullers fade from India’s streets

KOLKATA: Mohammad Maqbool Ansari puffs and sweats as he pulls his rickshaw through Kolkata’s teeming streets, a veteran of a gruelling trade long outlawed in most parts of the world and slowly fading from India too.
Kolkata is one of the last places on earth where pulled rickshaws still feature in daily life, but Ansari is among a dying breed still eking a living from this back-breaking labor.
The 62-year-old has been pulling rickshaws for nearly four decades, hauling cargo and passengers by hand in drenching monsoon rains and stifling heat that envelops India’s heaving eastern metropolis.
Their numbers are declining as pulled rickshaws are relegated to history, usurped by tuk tuks, Kolkata’s signature yellow taxis and modern conveniences like Uber.
Ansari cannot imagine life for Kolkata’s thousands of rickshaw-wallahs if the job ceased to exist.
“If we don’t do it, how will we survive? We can’t read or write. We can’t do any other work. Once you start, that’s it. This is our life,” he tells AFP.
Sweating profusely on a searing hot day, his singlet soaked and face dripping, Ansari skilfully weaves his rickshaw through crowded markets and bumper-to-bumper traffic.
Wearing simple shoes and a chequered sarong, the only real giveaway of his age is his long beard, snow white and frizzy, and a face weathered from a lifetime plying this disappearing trade.
Twenty minutes later, he stops, wiping his face on a rag. The passenger offers him a glass of water — a rare blessing — and hands a note over.
“When it’s hot, for a trip that costs 50 rupees ($0.75) I’ll ask for an extra 10 rupees. Some will give, some don’t,” he said.
“But I’m happy with being a rickshaw puller. I’m able to feed myself and my family.”