Monday, July 21, 2008

Soul Symphony

Now let’s suppose there was no music in this world. One thing that would really depress me is that we would not know how to react when we would find no words to express what we feel. I am sure, man (or woman ) would then try to do something with his/her hands. Take to painting, try to travel to some place else, switch on the TV, talk to a friend, feel like smoking. Or probably write a poem, which would probably be the closest he (from here onwards, for convenience purposes ‘he’ would mean ‘he/she’) would get to his real emotions by using Metaphors and Similes. But no music..???? 
I wonder who discovered Music. Or was it as natural as walking on the road, eating when you feel hungry, drinking when thirsty and likewise. Which must have been the first tune that was hummed on this earth? (I am sure it would be something like the wind whistling in the pine forests.)
I actually wanted to write about the opportunity I got to meet the great Ustad Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan, but then could not help wondering where it all must have started.
I have a great urge to decorate my experiences. But then I have to remind myself that I am not a journalist who is trying to sell his stuff. Ok, let me confess, I don’t have a great vocab, otherwise I would have surely surely tried to be fancier. Ha ha!
There are too many angles to what I want to write about and I am trying to get them all in this one page.
My primary concern is about how Hindustani Classical Music is losing its way. But we forget to ask the question ‘why’? Why is it losing its way? What makes Bollywood music click with the crowd but not Hindustani Classical? Its not an effort to save Hindustani Classical because it’s such a great heritage that we are blessed with, but because I think its just brilliant and wonder why not many people listen to it. (I had to ask people around why they don’t listen to Hindustani Classical, because I really got stuck on this point) The general reason that I could get is that it’s too slow for today’s pace of life. One needs to be really peaceful to be able to appreciate this. One major think that I feel is that, the image Hindustani classical has in minds of the people. There are not enough people talking about it, Media hardly discusses such artists except in special issues. People just tend to think its not cool enough..! And people also do feel, that one needs to understand Hindustani Classical to appreciate it, which is I think is not at all correct. It’s as simple as one doesn’t need to understand Photography to appreciate good photographs.
Hmmm.. This is just a new Paragraph, but then no one would ever know what I did after the ending of the earlier paragraph and the starting of this one. I shall tell you. I thought a lot, and I could not come to any conclusion, hence started with this new Paragraph. This just gives me a clue. (Though it’s not related to what I just wrote.) The reason why we appreciate some things but find that others cannot, has something to do with the short attention span and lots of prejudice which get in the way of seeing the thing directly. Hmm… and nobody can help anyone clear it. So.. For now.. Lets just end this discussion here, because I know if somebody is going to give me the same explanation for listening to ‘Metal’, I would not be agreeing. 
On the evening of 7th of July, 2008, I got the opportunity to meet Ustad Abdul Halim Jaffer Khan. The Sitar maestro! It was just really really very fortunate for some one like me to have got the chance to meet a legend. That says a lot of things about the humble personality. The most exceptional thing about the whole experience was that, he did not seem like a person who was living with the aura of a legend or a person who has been honored with a ‘Padmabhushan’ by the Indian Government. He seemed like a person with a lot of curiosity for life and appreciation and gratitude for everything around him.
Me and my friend, students of his son Zunain Khan (A wonderful Sitar player and a Teacher, on whom I would like to write more too) spent very absorbing two hours with Guruji (Ustad Jaffer Khan). I got the privilege of playing the Sitar in front of him, as he gave the ‘Taalis’ in ‘Teental’ to check the timing. Being quizzed by him on the various Sitar notes and what they stand for.
“I am , what I am”! He asked us to remember this, whenever we would play the Sitar.(I guess, true for life too..) This really helped us to be comfortable, and the interaction was very spontaneous there on. The way it all happened, It was almost like I was with my grand dad.
Plus , who would have seen him playing the tabla? We did! The way I was playing the tabla while accompanying Kotwal Aunty who was playing Raag Pilu on the Sitar, he had to take the Tabla from me and play it! I was alomost robotic playing the table with no expressions on my face. Such things can really take take the soul out from Music. ‘Yeh toh kuch gadbad mamla hai!’,referring to my style. He he!! He did not seem 82 years at all! I feel there is a reason for a person not looking his age. If you love what you do, and keep on doing what you love, you lose the sense of time and hence stop ageing. Fair and Lovely!! :-)