Saturday, December 29, 2012

81. The Dabbler

If you haven’t known enough Tam-Brahms or Bengalis in your life, then you ought to know that both cultures almost make it an unsaid mandate to give their children some form of classical vocational training – be it dance, music, painting – where the normal kids were getting to sleep an extra hour or play video games in their spare time, we TamBrahms were making sure our kids went to Paattu(Carnatic Music) class or Dance class. When I say Dance class, I am somehow, with no scope of a doubt, assuming that you, in full cognizance, understand the fact that I am referring to some form of classical dance, lest you are painting pictures of our kids going to Shiamak Dawar school in your head. 

As if what was in place was not enough, we TamBrahms created our own Mini-rat race.

The choice of vocation decided for the child largely depends on what is available in your zip code, proficiency of the teacher, and to a miniscule portion, the aptitude of the child. Some kids are found to have shown early signs of innate talent. I remember this 70-year old neighbor of mine proudly explaining why she decided to send her grand-daughter to Bharatanatyam classes. Turns out the little baby was moving her eyeballs left and right when she was 2 days old and still, very much in the hospital. Clearly much more talented than some of us who lay there mute in our cribs, staring at the wall? Alas, my parents were not blessed with such a gifted child, and had to decide themselves as to what I was to learn. The closest we got to Carnatic music in Delhi was that we found a Kannadiga flute teacher. It was settled, then and there, that I would learn flute.

Here’s the catch about being trained in these arts – you are expected to climb the ladder. What starts with singing in front of random ladies and performing in temples, paves way to a much more ambitious path of performing in concerts. Anyway, I was never the disciplined kid who would sit and meticulously practice flute for two hours daily. Whenever it is that I played, it was nice to see some appreciation come my way, but I would never sweat blood for it. I started training when I was 7 and trained for a period of about 8-9 years, never really realizing the importance of practice. The few times that I was asked to play in front of enthusiastic relatives and friends, I would strategize my way by maintaining a fairly better hold of certain Krithis than the others in my repertoire, using a Round Robin algorithm to select between the krithis. It was only after I moved to Chennai that the magnitude of what I had missed struck me – people my age (a lot of times, the ones even younger to me) were singing/playing so well – they were giving concerts, performing on the All India Radio, winning laurels – THIS was competition. SO knowledgeable. SO hardworking. And they had all started roughly about the time I did. There was one thing that clearly set us apart – Practice. What I had lost could not be won back, but I could look further ahead down the road and repair whatever I can. I could try finding a good teacher and resume practice. For starters, being married to an accomplished Carnatic violinist helps in ways more than one. :)

Here’s a recording of a recent performance of mine – A happier interpretation of Kaadhal Rojaave/Roja Jaaneman from the movie Roja (Would love to know what you think about it. Please leave your feedback in the comments section).


  1. I love the sound of flute and violin too! Good to know you, Bhargavi!

    Last evening I went to Narada Gana Sabha mini hall to attend Swamy Haridas sammelan's inaugural funtion. My grand niece compered and I went to see that! I never thought that the evening was going to be in my memory forever...a new singer whom I have never heard of, Smt.Lalitha Sharma, a Tamilian, but Pt.Jasraj's student sang Hindustani music so well. Though it was a small hall, people stayed to hear the music and everybody was overwhelmed! I think I will go on writing about her! I think she lived and lives in Kolkata. Riyaaz was visible in her singing.

    My grand niece is learning Hindustani music from Lakshmi Shriram. Will attend to her singing on Sunday.

    Until now Bombay Jayashree's was the best this season. Do you go to concerts?

    1. Good to see you here, Sandhya aunty! I haven't heard of this singer, Mrs. Lalitha Sharma, but will make it a point to listen whenever I get a chance. I used to frequent concerts when I was in Chennai. Here in the US, most of the concerts that I go to, are the ones where my husband performs :) Can't wait to visit Madras sometime during the Dec season, atleast this time!

      All the best to your grand-niece!

  2. Heard the flute recital! It is quite good and it is one of my favourite song! Let me send your link to Ashwini, my grand niece!

  3. Nice rendition, but you could have used the BG music from the original song-track? Also, when you finish the concert, don't leave immediately. Acknowledge the audience applause (at least for a few seconds) and then leave the stage.

    Flute is one of my favorite instruments. I tried to learn one musical instrument, but I started too late and it became a tragedy. Then I consoled myself that some people are born to be good rasikas :)

    Destination Infinity

    1. The shruthi in the original BGM is much higher than that of my flute(s) - which is why using the original soundtrack was out of question. Initially, I was planning to play all alone, but then, we tried it with a guitar and a djembe, and thought it might work out and decided to go ahead with it.

      As for your advice on acknowledging the audience - completely agree :) I must also mention that you are not the only one to have said this. I was probably just nervous :)

      If you like playing, you must play :) Being a rasika has its own privileges though :)

  4. Good post...Thanks for sharing this:)

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  5. ada..kuruvi nenacha..kuyilu!! :D:D:D kalakarel pongo :D

  6. Good one bhargavi!! you should keep performing when you get a chance

  7. Nice performance. Flute has always been my favourite instrument. I was made to learn Veena and also Carnatic vocal but never mastered either of them..

  8. I know a Tam-Brahm who was brought up in Calcutta. Can't play shit, probably not the right stereotype to model after. Anyway... good job, solo performance next time!

  9. Love your blog! I'm happy to follow you, you can visit my blog when you find time :)


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