Bluesing along on Wine Glasses

I was on holiday recently, and was lamenting the lack of a piano - Why don't all hotels have pianos in the rooms, dammit? I mean, it's like a basic commodity!

Anyway, I decided to improvise, called room service, and asked for twelve wine glasses. The lady at the other end meekly replied - "but you already have two in your kitchenette, sir!" Hmmph. 

"Ok," I replied, "get me ten, then".

I sat and made a xylophone thingy out of them by filling them with different amounts of water. Then I started playing the blues! Yay!

Thanks to Dad and his handy-dandy camera we got it on film.
Thanks for watching!

© 2008 Advait Sarkar

Lessons learnt from a Mango Seller

I was on holiday in Coorg recently.

On the long six-hour trip to our resort, we saw a whole bunch of fruit sellers in a line on the highway:
As we slowed down to take a picture, a very young-looking boy (whom we later figured out was still in high school) ran up to us to sell us some mangoes.

We took four kilos of some arcane variety of mango. Then, as is the custom, we began haggling to get the price down from Rs.500 to Rs.400 (a difference of approximately $2.50). At this point, the mango boy said - "Please don't haggle. If you people don't give, then who else will?". 

It touched us somewhere inside. It didn't even matter that the mangoes were of poor quality. He was right: who else would pay for his food and education? If we could shell out a couple of bucks for a lousy coffee at some hip restaurant, why were we so stingy with the same cash even when it came to helping somebody out?

We paid. We even stopped on the way back and paid some more. And it felt good.

~ Advait

My brush with fame (literally)

A week ago, I flew to Calcutta to meet the one-and-only Pt. Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, one of the two Indian musicians to have ever received a Grammy Award.

As luck would have it, there were as few as seven other people with me as I sat in during a recording session he was doing with Maestro Tarun Bhattacharya, who has been nominated for the Grammy twice. I had a whole lot of fun with them. Here are a few pictures of the session.

1. Tarun Ji at the Santur

2. The Maestros Tuning Up

3. A close up of the "Mohan Veena" ( for more info)

4. Ramkumar Mishra at the Tablas

5. Me with Pt. Vishwa Mohan Bhatt and Mrs. Bhatt.

Since we offered to accompany Mr. Bhatt around Calcutta (now Kolkata) for the weekend that we were there, I had private, one-on-one talk time with a Grammy winning musician! How cool is that? No, I'll tell you - it was REALLY cool. He's a very down-to-earth person, and listened patiently for me to say what I wanted before countering with his opinions.

On the second night of my stay he had a fantastic concert for Tarun Ji's santur ashram (school), and it was electrifying. There was magic in the music. I'm serious. My friends may make fun of me for liking classical music, but it's my opinion and I've never been prouder of having such an opinion. We even met a very nice man named Mr. Singhania, to whom I mentioned that I'd been playing piano for nearly twelve years, upon which he became very excited and offered to arrange a 2-hour solo piano concert for me! Well, we'll have to see how that pans out.

After that, Mr. Bhatt invited us to dinner! We stayed there until like 3:00 AM (no jokes) talking about the concert and about my future, at which point Pt. Tarun Bhattacharya gifted him a demo copy of SoulPepper. I really, really hope he likes it!

It was a blast. I have never been exposed to much Hindustani music, but this time I had a complete overdose of it, and it left me on high.

~ Advait