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.


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