Gourmet magazine Music

Healing music

Today, a Hindustani musician came home and sang for us from 5 to 7. He is a student of the late great Bhimsen Joshi, originally from Pune and belongs to the Kirana Garana. His first rendition was in Raag Basant and he sang a beautiful Khayal on Lord Shiva. He voice was deep and loud– “Mann Kholke gaana,” he said. “Open your heart and sing.”

This is the power of chamber music. To sit in a confined space and listen to a musician is a powerful experience. A CD, however loudly you play it, can never offer the same experience.

What struck me was the casual way in which our Indian singers present their music. They sit on the floor, hum a bit and start singing. Music heals. Today’s singing session was dreamed up by a wise and insightful friend of my in-laws. They are home with me now and suddenly this friend, Leela, who knows their love of music said, “You know, I am going to have my music class in your house.”

So, the ustad came with his harmonium. Leela aunty came in her silk sari. And their English friend came just to listen. The Ustad sang Raag Basant, Raag Kalavathi and then we all sang as well. After the mehfil, I served them some upma, chutney and maddur vada, along with chai. We spoke only about Hindustani music. My in-laws were rejuvenated after this experience.

What is a gift? Sometimes it is an object; sometimes it is an experience. But sometimes, it is a music class dreamed up by a friend as a low-maintanence way of spending an evening. Here is Ustad, singing at home.



      1. Thanks, Shoba. Everytime I see your website, I feel so inspired to be like you. I get a lift! I have added some Raag renditions by Arijit Mahanalabis, the founder of The Seattle Indian Music Academy (SIMA).

        He was in Chennai recently, and I had the opportunity to listen to him. It was simply mind-blowing. I have put up his video’s on my FB page. My favorite one is Raag Basant Bihar.



  1. Dear Shoba,
    Have you learned Hindustani Classical music? Yes, Raag Bhoop is a lovely one. I have not heard of Pandit Gurjar. Will look up YouTube. Yes, my instructor Suparna always says you must sing with a lot of confidence. She is quite a strict teacher, but we also have a whale of a time hanging out with her. Her advice to us is to keep our mouth open like a fish, and bring out the Aalap from the navel until the vibrations take over!

    I believe when Ustad Rashid Khan sings, sometimes, it starts raining. I love Ustad Rashid Khan’s style of singing. I have put up a lot of my favorite music on my FB page.

    Yes, I am very impressed by your domain, and want to set up my website similar to your’s, down the road! I am not a computer techie, so I have to think about it, given your arduous experience in maintaining it!

    I find your book to be very inspiring. You really do have a way with words, Shoba. Would love to have you as my mentor.

    Kind regards


  2. Dear Shoba,

    Thanks for this posting of Hindustani Classical music. I was just thinking of you today. I am passionate about this genre of music, and sometimes wish that I had started young. I am currently learning Hindustani Classical music, in Chennai, from Suparna Sankaran – a disciple of Meera Savoor of the Agra Rangila Gharana. Meera Savoor is on the Faculty of KMMC – the music conservatory of A.R. Rahman.

    It is my ardent desire to engage in writing about Hindustani Classical music. Both of you and I seem to have a lot in common. Like you, I returned to India after 21 years of the US. In my previous life, on this planet, I earned a PhD in Finance from Syracuse University, and held the position of Assistant Professor of Finance at Hofstra University, Long Island. After this, I moved to Banking in Manhattan.

    I shifted tracks after the global financial crisis, and relocated to Chennai in December 2007. I earned my Diploma in Freelance Writing from the London School of Journalism. Two of my Travelogues got published in an online Travel website called Gumakkar (www.ghumakkar.com). Both of these are based on my Trip to Cambodia.

    My father and I have attended a lot of Hindustani Musical concerts – the most recent held by Arijit Mahalanabis, the founder of the Seattle Indian Music Academy (SIMA) – in a mehfil setting.

    What is the name of this disciple of Pandit Bhimsen Joshi? I have currently finished learning Raag Miya Ki Todi, Raag Bhimpalasi and Raag Bhoop. I am still a novice and have a very very long way to go!

    I loved your book ‘Return to India’ – your style of writing is very engaging and enchanting. I identified with it, very closely. Did you create your shobanarayan.com website from WordPress?

    Would love to keep in touch!

    Kind regards
    Jayanthi Sankaran


    1. Dear Jayanthi:
      Nice to hear from you. I love all the three raags you are studying. But raag Bhoop is my favorite amongst the three. The singer’s name is Sharan Vasudev Gurjar. From Pune. He says that you must sing so that the doors rattle in your house!!! Thanks for telling me a little of your history.

      Yes, my website is from WordPress. Originally, it was just a wordpress blog. But my friend, Manish, converted it into a domain name. And now, because he took the trouble to set it up, I take the trouble to update it. Are you thinking of setting up a website? I must warn you that on many days, I think it is just too much work to maintain!! 🙂 Someday, I may just stop doing this.

      Thanks for your kind words about the book


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