An Evening Of Indian Classical music with Paul Livingstone and Shashanka Bakshi.


The evening was great. The museum looked like an ancient court of a king where the king’s throne comprised of two pairs of muslin covered cushions kept on top of an adorned mattress, the borders of which were decorated with small candles kept in glass tumblers. Knowingly or unknowingly, the small statue of lord Ganesha made its present felt to everyone, even though it was kept in the left corner on a small table behind the mattress. There were some chairs arranged on both the sides of the stage. The number of chairs present made it evident that the organizers had not expected a large audience for this concert. The most probable reason may have been that the concert was of a music that was very strange to this region. After all, how many people would you find in a metropolitan city of Mexico that would yearn for Indian Classical music ?

The performers of the evening were Paul Livingston on Sitar and Shashanka Bakshi on the tabla and it was crowded by the time concert began. The performance was to be of three parts. First the alaap in Raaga Yaman Kalyan, the Jaijaiwanti was to follow and the performance was to end with a Raaga Mala of Kafi and Khamaj. The audience waited patiently as the performers tuned their instruments…

The first part began. The notes from the Sitar swung in the air.and the music that fell on our ears was a combined effect of what originated from the instrument and what was resonating from the meniscus of the shallow pool of water behind the audience. The silence among the audience increased. The notes were resonating and causing most of the admirers to have a smile on their face and close their eyes. After all, Yaman Kalyan is a night raga and when played with such love as Paul played it on the Sitar, it was every evident that all of us – irrespective of the fact whether they understood Indian Classical Music or not – were able to feel the Raaga touching their senses. Each note hypnotised. Each note got embedded into the heart as each taan stood out distinctly from the other. After 20 mins of the solo Sitar there was a beat on the tabla and to everyone’s awe it was in sync with the notes being played on the sitar. The tempo went up and down with the sequence of the taans and ended at just the right moment when the taan ended. I just had one question in mind “How much effort must have gone into creating some thing so simply beautiful, so natural, and so original?”

The second composition was a deviation from the plan. Instead of Jaijaiwanti, it was Charukeshi that took the stage. A small 15 minute performance and what a beauty!! Moreover, beauty looks more beautiful when it takes you by surprise. I was waiting to meet Jaijaiwanti and much to my awe I found the most beautiful Charukeshi presented to me… I had no other option left but to fall in love.

The Raga Mala was an abrupt collection of too many taans and beats. Quick, stubborn, perfect, like your smiling muse who is adamant on being held in your arms making you long for her more and more.

And guess what! it ended when the admiration was at its peak and the heart was full of love for Indian Classical Music… Once again I said as I stood up to give a standing ovation to the performers… I loved it like I never did before!!

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