Yesterday, i listened to Pandit Shivkumar Sharma on his Santoor at the Sawai Gandharva Festival. While i am passionate about music, you wouldn't exactly call me an Indian Classical Music afficianado. Not however because of any feelings of dislike, rather because i've never really been exposed to it in the right way. A while ago, I decided to change that.
I think the Sawai is the ideal opportunity for anyone interested in Indian Classical Music to take advantage of - whether that interest elevates itself to fanaticism or remains mere curiosity. These four december days offer a once-in-a-year treat of vocal, instrumental and dance performances by some of the biggest guys in the field of Indian Classical Music - Jasraj, Bhimsen Joshi, Amjad Ali Khan, Shiv Kumar Sharma, Birju Maharaj and others. And with tickets priced at 350 rupees for all the four days, it's probably also the cheapest. Years ago (the festival has been running to packed audiences for 54 years now) , when there weren't any restrictions on loudspeakers playing late into the night, performances would go on right through and beyond midnight hours, winding up finally in the early hours of the morning. It must have been beautiful listening to jugalbandi of the tabla and santoor while the sun rose.
There i sat on the ground ( referred to as 'Bharatiya Baithak' - Indian-style seating) among thousands of others with blankets, sweaters and sleeping children and listened under a star-studded sky to the sounds of magic and mountains. A cold, smooth draught of wind blew as Pt. Sharma started playing ragaa Rasikpriya.
I drew my shawl in tighter around me and smiled - i felt like he had just looked straight at me and called me beautiful.