Jewel Aich An avid collector
Jewel Aich is a world renowned magician. His hat of tricks also includes a surprise: he is a refined flutist. An avid collector of flutes and books, Jewel Aich recently shared his interests with The Daily Star.
“I started collecting flutes at an early age. It's unfortunate that I don't have my earliest collection as they were all burnt by the Pakistan army during 1971. When I was a kid, another boy in our neighborhood knew how to play the instrument. The secret of playing a flute, he told me was simply in the Sa-Re-Ga-Ma. I already knew the basic musical scales as my sisters used to sing.
“A couple of days later, I approached the boy again and this time he offered me his only flute. Although I refused his gift at first, he insisted that I take it. I eventually accepted, and that was the beginning of my flute collection. Since then, I've collected countless flutes.
“There was a man named Ledu Miah in Pirojpur who played and sold flutes. Back then, I used to get four annas (quarter of a taka) as tiffin money from my father. I would save up enough over time, to buy flutes from Ledu Miah. That's how my collection grew a little bigger.
“After I came to Dhaka, I was amazed at the skillful flutework of Ustad Abdur Rahman Shaheb. It was hard to find someone in those days, but I was determined to locate him and eventually sought him out in Mohammadpur's Baash Bari.
“I was doubtful whether he would accept me as a pupil, or how much he would charge for lessons. When he agreed to give me regular lessons, I asked him about the cost. He replied that this was a mentorship so there was no charge. The Ustad added that in deference for my respect of him I should learn the skills, and always remember him through my flute playing.
“It was tough to find quality bamboo to make flutes. But Ustad Abdur Rahman Shaheb collected the bamboos himself, heated up the iron to make personalised flutes, and gifted some to me. Those flutes also strengthened my collection.
“Later, I started traveling around the globe and collecting flutes from all around. I'm very proud of a specific item -- a bamboo shaped like the number 7. The sky blue coloured flute was a discovery of mine.
“In my collection, I have flutes from Germany, USA, France, Pakistan, Thailand etc. I once travelled to a music conference in Germany, which opened my eyes to the true range and variety of music. I bought a flute there, and when it was being packed I realised that it was inscribed “Made in Pakistan”. I felt divided. I didn't want to buy a product made in a country which had ravaged Bangladesh in '71. But I told myself that music is music, it is not connected to rifles. So I eventually bought the flute.
“I also collect books as a hobby. As well as buying books from Bangladesh, my first task when I travel abroad is to head to the book store. When I land at an airport, I start looking for books. I have more than 1,000 books in my collection.