LAHORE Inspired by the powerful sound of the Qawwali-Tabla, I embraced Islam and later joined a group of Qawwals in order to learn classical music of the sub-continent. I have studied the basic techniques of classical Tabla but desire to learn more is growing by the day, says a US national and Qawwal Aminah Chishti. The 34-year-old Westerner, Qawwal Chishti wears eastern dresses and beats Tabla to enjoy life. In an exclusive chat with this scribe at the residence of her teacher, Ustad Dildar Hussain, she said it was the Qawwali which inspired her to convert. So, I became Aminah Chishti from Jessica Ripper. When she first visited Pakistan in 2003, she says, she was encouraged by the sound of the Qawwali-Tabla. It was sitting with Ustad Dildar Hussain, she still remembers. It brought a greater feeling that she had not experienced before, she happily adds. The driving rhythm and continual improvisation bring a feeling that I have been looking for whole my life. Now here in Pakistan where everyone expresses love for me, the freshness of the Pakistani culture, I have never witnessed before, touches me all the time, she further said. Despite all sorts of turmoil around her, she feels protected by the etiquettes of the people of Pakistan. She said due to such a respect and encouragement, she was here just to let the world know the true essence of Pakistans love. I am an ambassador of cultural exchange and I have plans to open schools to teach the Sufi Qawwali music around the world, she pledged. The Qawwal said: Performing in the US for people who have not even heard of Sufis or Qawwalis, has brought a great encouragement for me to continue my work. Americans feel greatly touched by the Qawwali music and Sufism, and the universal worship, and I hope that acceptance of the self will bring about a greater peace world wide. Asked which category of Tabla art she liked, Aminah said she loved the feelings that come out of the Atawala category. There is no other sound produced in this way. This art was created some 1,000 years ago by the Great Amir Khusuro and its still available but only in Pakistan. Talking about Pakistani food and clothes, she said she cooks the same (food) in her California home which she uses in Pakistan. I eat 'Aloo Mette, 'Aloo Porotha, and 'Aloo Gosht. She termed fresh Halal meat available in Pakistan such a wonderful gift. I love Shalwar Qameez and I have a huge collection of these dresses. About her craze to learn new languages, she said the Urdu language was on top of her list. It is a beautiful poetic language. Jessica said she came to Pakistan just for a deeper connection to Almighty Allah. Here, I found a great acceptance and love, which I did not know before. She said Sufism had enlightened her life, adding that she has been attending the Urs of Baba Farid Shakar Ganj and Data Ganj Baksh for the last 8 years. Aminah Chishti Qawwal said she had studied under the Indian classical maestros since 2003. Devoted reverently I encompass the ability to simultaneously sing Raga and hold down the Tabla science of Fanna-fi-Alllah Sufi Qawwali Party, she said. She said Ustad Dildar Hussain had been the foundation of her education, adding living six months of the year abroad and focused on studying this art, she has been able to begin teaching in the West. She said: I teach in the wide spectrum of ages from 6 to 35 years. The artist said she has a deep sense of gratitude to her teachers, especially Ustad Dildar Hussain. Admiring the first woman and American Qawwali Tabla player, Ustad Dildar said Chishti had proven her devotion to receiving new techniques. He said in 2006, Aminah Chisti Qawwal was given permission to perform as the first ever woman Qawwal at the 663rd year of the worlds largest Qawwali ceremony for the Sufi saint Baba Farid in Pakpattan with over 5,000 spectators.