© Legendary Musicians of Karachi
Category ~ Musician Profile
And now to my darling brother Gerard Vanderlowen
Gerard was a late bloomer, the quiet kind. He started talking when he was about 5. However, that has all changed. Now he can barely stop talking 🙂 He met with a terrible accident when he was a little boy and as a result suffered several set backs. Out of the six of us Gerard was my mum’s favourite and was always protected by all the older cousins and we did have one huge huge close knit family.
No one ever imagined that Gerard would play the guitar. He never showed any inclination towards it but then suddenly one day he picked up Alan’s guitar and played at one of the family sing-a-long parties. There was no stopping Gerard since. No one taught him. No one guided him. He never read or learned from music books. It all came to him rather naturally.
Gerard did anything that he could to help support our family. Worked at Port Qasim, the Igloo Ice-cream place, as a motor–mechanic, a shop sales-man, even going door to door to sell my mum’s delicious pickles. But then he decided to follow his brother Alan’s footsteps and moved to Rawalpindi and Lahore and started his career in live music entertainment. Like Alan, he too played at almost every hotel and restaurant in Karachi, Rawalpindi, Islamabad and Lahore. But as the saying goes ‘home is where the heart is’.
Gerard finally came home to Karachi and has stayed there since. He married the love of his life Agnes and is happy with her and his two handsome sons Joshua and Darren. Both sons play some instrument or the other; though Joshua seems more interested in music.
Musical talent runs in our family. We have some pretty good female musicians as well. My cousins Emerald and Lorriane Besterwitch, Judy D’Souza, Brenda and Debbie D’souza and of course my sister Linda-Mae. All of them self taught. It was somewhat natural to them.
We have some upcoming talent like my nephews William and Julian Marolly. William plays the drums and Julian on the keyboard. Julian is a musical genius. He can easily read and write music and has picked it up on his own. For that matter he now teaches Alan and takes out these complex notes for him to play around with. Brent Maclean, (Linda-Mae’s son) also plays a bit. I just hope that one day my grandsons Otto and Nathan play as well as their grand-uncles.
Back to Gerard… in 2004 Gerard suffered a heart attack and had to have a triple by-bass. I can vividly remember going absolutely crazy as we almost lost him. In 20 years of accident-free driving I met with my first accident that day trying to get to the hospital; thank heavens we were all ok. A day later Gerard’s son Darren met with a crazy accident and had a few broken bones. The doctor wisely told us not to tell Gerard as he was not in a position to take on any further stress.
Darren needed to be operated as well so we had no choice but to put Darren in another hospital. As luck would have it, Darren had his operation scheduled the same time as Gerard. Poor Agnes! she did not know where to go. So it was decided that she stay with Darren and I would stay with Gerard.
Word went round that Gerard needed blood. The hospital administration had to call in the police to get people to form a line as they were just crowding up at the hospital. It was moving to see about a thousand people waiting outside. Gerard is loved so much. All of Mehmoodabad was there to give blood but most astonishing of all, his fishing friends from the village near the beach also got to know and the whole fishing village along with Yaar Mohammad were there. They came in trucks, so in actuality we did have truck loads of people.
Now something that will make you laugh and you will also appreciate just how much my Gerard loves his music and his fishing. Just before his surgery, the doctor told me that he might have to use some veins and arteries from Gerard’s legs to help with the by-pass. At the time I would not agree to anything without first consulting with my dear brother (not related but he is our brother) Dr. Majid Noor Ansari who also arranged for Gerard’s operation and the best heart specialist. Majid for those who don’t know, is a fantastic musician. He can sing and play Simon and Garfunkle and James Taylor like no other… Majid I love you.
Majid came in a jiffy looked over everything and gave his approval to go ahead immediately with the operation. 8 hours of anxiety followed by prayers. I thought those 8 hours would never end and thank God my cousin Marian D’Souza (Colaco) was there to support me.
Finally I was told that I could go in for a minute to see Gerard, he was so groggy but guess what was the first thing he told me “Baby I can still play my guitar, they did not have to cut my hand” and with all his tubes and machines still hooked up to him he was trying to raise his hands to show me.
I was utterly confused as I knew nothing about them having to cut his hands and he was so excited which was causing his heart to race faster so the nurse came and told me I had to go out. So I quickly kissed him and told him to go to sleep, thinking it was just the anesthesia confusing him. But, he insisted that I stay with him and so the nurse gave in. I gently told him that it was not his hands that they would cut but possibly his legs which he knew about before he went in. But he was kicking his legs and making signs with his hands to see his legs. They did not even cut there. He pulled his oxygen mask off and told me again, ‘I can play my guitar’…
Apparently it seemed that just before the surgery, the doctor in the operation theatre told him that they might cut his hand or legs whichever they deemed fit. Gerard made an amazingly fast recovery and even though he was to rest for three months. He went back to teaching music at the school and had already planned his next fishing trip after a month of resting. We often joke with Agnes and tell her if he had to make choices Gerard’s choice would be his Guitar, his fishing and then her.
Gerard is still doing absolutely well. He still plays in the band and is the music teacher at the Beacon House School. He is celebrating his 55th birthday today. My darling brother Gerard Happy Birthday (23rd of November). I love and miss you so much and if I could I would come home tomorrow to be with you again.
Carry on shining your light like a beacon and teaching all those lovely children. The world needs more music and musicians like you make it possible.
Once again I would like to thank all my brothers friends who have been there for them. Especially my brother Gerard’s friend Gordon Saxby who has been with Gerard through everything and is always there whenever. Gordon my pocket size camera, we all love you like our 3rd brother. I am and will always be your W-11 Bus. I also take this opportunity to say a special prayer for Gordon’s Dad. Mr. Saxby was a guiding star in both my brothers lives. He would take out his Hawaiian guitar and play for them and made them practice their vocals. Rest in Peace Mr. Saxby.