Friday, September 26, 2014

Varanasi Feb 2014

Microblogging on Facebook has led me to neglect my regular old blog. Here we are in September and I'm writing about our family trip to Varanasi in February...

Yuki, baby Saraswati and I were in Varanasi for all of February, via brief stops in Kuala Lumpur and Kolkata each way. Yuki was having Dhrupad vocal lessons with her guru-ji Pt Ritwik Sanyal, and I was mostly supporting her by looking after our lovely baby Saraswati, who had a fantastic time in India. Saraswati took her first steps, spoke several words and turned one all in Varanasi. She loved all the action, animals, music and company and transformed from a very shy 11 month old into an outgoing 1 year old in just a month. We stayed in a nice apartment room with kitchen which allowed us to keep floor and food pretty clean, and she kept in very good health except for a runny nose.

Shortly after our arrival I took part in the Saraswati Puja home concert at my first Guru-ji Late Pt Ashutosh Bhattacharya's house.

Pt Kumar Bose gave a tabla solo performance on Assi Ghat for the Pt Anokhelal Mishra Memorial Concert. I'd badly sprained my ankle on the ghats a few days earlier, and been stuck in bed until I dragged myself out for this.

My personal highlight of the trip was taking a 4 day workshop with tabla master Taalyogi Pt Suresh Talwalkar. His student Praveen Uddhav is professor at BHU so there is a bunch of ready and willing students for Pandit-ji to come and teach every few months. We covered a range of kaydas, tihais and tukaras in a whole range of interesting chands, with a lot of offbeat accents developed in a systematic way. I really enjoyed and benefited from this introduction to his style of tabla and look forward to the next opportunity.

On the weekend of Shivaratri as usual there were many concerts, including the annual Dhrupad Mela, where Yuki and I became known as Saraswati's mother and father. She turned one on the first day of Dhrupad Mela.

Pt Hari Prasad Chaurasia (bansuri) with Bhavani Shankar (pakhawaj) and the awesome accompaniment of Subhanker Banerjee (tabla). Unseasonal rain played havoc with the marquees over the small audience, so everyone crammed onto the stage area. We managed to snag a deserted VIP couch.

Final item of Dhrupad Mela - U. Bahauddin Dagar (rudra veena) - sublime.

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