The Rabbit from under the hat
I saw David Blaine do his street magic few years back on TV. From then on magic meant more than some mere open-the-box-and-disappear tricks, or dragging rabbits, flowers or humans out of a hat for me. Then I came across a 19 year old boy who left me gaping with awe the first time we met. Even the simple card tricks had my jaws drop without any sounds coming out! It's the way he said the words and laid the traps, with his innocent looks and assuring gestures that was different about him. Because it's not just the tricks, but the quality to urge people to let him fool them, that was behind Fahd Kabir's uniqueness.
How did you start? I asked.
Fahd: I started doing magic when I was 8, ever since an uncle showed me a simple magic trick. He made a coin disappear under my nose and instantly I was bitten by the magic bug. I begged him for hours to tell me, but he wouldn't. It just boggled my mind. I begged and begged until he couldn't take another minute of me asking and finally gave in. From that day on I was hooked. Once he shared the secret of the trick, I felt this incredible sense of power that an adult didn't understand how it worked, but I did. It was very enticing. I became extremely fascinated with magic, so much that I spent hours upon hours reading every book on magic that I could get my hands on.
Who were you inspired by?
Fahd: There are so many people who have inspired me. David Blaine (excellent sleight of hand), David Copperfield (exceptional entertainer), Lance Burton (brings magic to a perfection) and many more. I've learned a lot from watching these people perform on television. They show magic as an entertainment, not just as illusions. They have totally devoted their life to this art and have actually transformed it into poetry. When I watch them perform its like listening to classical music…soft, delicate and just perfect. Besides these famous magicians, my parents have always been a constant inspiration. They always encouraged me from a very young age to carry on practicing this art. They were the first people I would show a trick to, to make sure the angles were correct. They would take time out of their busy schedules to look at what I had to show and for this I will be forever grateful to them.
Must be fun to see people's reactions to your acts?
Fahd: The reactions are what make a magician's job worthwhile. In Dhaka, the reactions vary from person to person. Some go crazy and run around thinking their was black magic involved, some enjoy the entertainment, some just sit there looking blank faced and some are just bored. It's fun to see how different people react to different tricks, there is so much to learn from the spectators. I remember this one time I was waiting at a Delhi train station with my parents waiting for the train to Calcutta. Eventually I got bored and pulled out my deck of cards and started showing some magic to the guy at the reception. Within minutes I had the whole place jam packed with people trying to get a glimpse of what I was doing. I did this really strong effect to the owner of the agency where I read his mind, he freaked out and actually thought I could look inside his head. By the time our train came, I had made friends with quite a lot of people without even speaking a word of Hindi. The coolest part is you can get to connect with people despite the social differences.
Personally what I've learned is that people tend to build walls around themselves. The older they get, the more layers they build. Magic shatters those layers. It allows people to recapture their childlike wonder and strip away their defenses. It makes people vulnerable and that's when they are the most beautiful, because they are no longer hiding and no longer afraid.
Would you say that this hobby of yours has moulded you as a person with time?
Fahd: I grew up as an only child and my family moved a lot. Ever since I was 1 month old, we have been traveling from one point of the globe to the other. Quite naturally, I had to change schools a lot and meet a lot of new people. As a child, I was very shy and could hardly talk to anyone. Magic kind of helped me cross those barriers. It was a great ice breaker and helped me communicate with different people. Plus it's a great opener if you want to meet new people. It's a very charming way of fooling people without letting them know that they have just been fooled.
The master magician “Houdini” once said that “A magician is an actor playing the part of a real magician”. I find this very true at times. I've been playing this part for so long it's kind of become a reflex.
How is your social life affected by this?
Fahd: To be honest with you, magic is my social life. On an average, almost everyday I'm showing magic to one person or another. I enjoy it more than anything; it has become a part of me. I never see magic as something effortful; it just flows with me wherever I go. My friends have accepted me as being too much in love with this art, and they accept me just the way I am. Magic has allowed me to meet a lot of people; on an average I meet 3 new people each day.
What plans do you have for this?
Fahd: I have plans on changing the standard image of magic in Bangladesh. Whenever one pictures a magician, it's a guy with a cheap suit pulling a rabbit out of a hat on some really lame show. I hope to bring the magic scene in our country to a standard level and highly encourage young people to devote themselves to this forgotten art. Other than that, I wish to create a street magic video in Dhaka city. Magicians like David Blaine and Criss Angel have already started this in America, but its never been done in our country, new people, new reactions. It's a lot of work and it requires a lot of time, but hopefully one day I'll be able to put something together.
I'm sure our readers by now are more than keen to know more about this art. Would you help them with some of your tricks?
Fahd: Effect-This is a very simple trick yet very powerful if performed correctly. Just follow the steps below:
1) Think of a number between 1 and 10
2) Multiply it by 9
3) If the answer is 2 digits, add the 2 numbers together… for example if the number is 32 then just add 3+2
4) Subtract 5 from the answer
5) Find the letter of the number that corresponds to the number. For example if your number is 1, pick A, if its 2, pick B and so on.
6) Concentrate on that letter
Did you by any chance choose the letter “D”?
The interesting part of this trick is that no matter what number you choose, you will always end up picking the letter “D”. You can bring an additional twist to this trick by adding another step (this is what I personally love to do). I ask the spectator to think of an area in Dhaka which starts with that letter (which in this case is D). Now most people tend to chose dhanmondi for some weird reason, the minute you name “dhanmondi” (and assuming the spectator did chose dhanmondi), you are bound to get an amazing reaction. In case of their being chances that the spectator will not choose dhanmondi, just skip this portion.