July 21, 2014

Kalapini Komkali's concert

20 July 2014 was a pleasant, cloudy Sunday morning at the beautiful Sailing Club. What better could one do than to listen to the music of Kalapini Komkali, daughter of the great Kumar Gandharva? I have always regretted not having heard Kumar Gandharva, so it was a wish being fulfilled when I heard his accomplished daughter. Her powerful voice enveloped the packed hall and enthralled the audience.

The raagas she sang included Bilaskhani Todi, Bhatiyar and Sur Malhar. She also sang the Kabir Bhajan Naiharwa, and ended with the soulful nirguni bhajan Guruji main toh ek niranjan. She was very happy that it was a morning concert and that she could sing morning raagas that she hadn't sung in a long time because most of the concerts were in the evening.  

Malini Rajurkar and her husband Vasantrao Rajurkar had were there too, in the audience, and it was wonderful to see the two great singers together.

The background to this concert is also a touching story. This concert was organised by Hyderabad's Bararia family. They are business people, deeply interested in Hindustani classical music, literature and the arts. Apparently they used to have annual concerts during the seventies and eighties, with stalwarts like Jitendra Abhisheki, Kumar Gandharva, Hariprasad Chaurasia, etc performing, but suddenly within a span of two years around 1985-86, they lost two generations of their family. Shattered, they stopped hosting concerts as it took them time to pick up their lives and move on after the tragedy that struck their family.

They have aptly titled this series, "In continuum", and Kalapini Komkali was their first choice. As they say in their writeup, "She bridges for us a musical and personal abyss left open since the passing away of Kumarji. She had come to Hyderabad as a young girl along with Kumarji and Vasundharaji, when he came to perform at our concert in 1980. Now she is here as a worthy torchbearer of her father's art and a fine vocalist in her own right. This is a wonderful moment for both Kalapini and us, as many strands of time and memory converge here after all these years. We host her with much nostalgia and a lot of pride"

The nostalgia trip took an extra hour, but no one minded. Here's wishing the Bararia family the very best. I eagerly look forward to the next concert.     

July 17, 2014

Just look up...second edition!

And so, I printed the second edition!

In the third week of June, the ever-friendly Lakshmi of the charming store 'Either Or' in Pune called and told me that a customer was interested in buying 150 copies of "Just look up...". I discovered I had only about 50 copies left. Since a second edition had been on my mind, and since Lakshmi wanted them by the end of the month, I began work immediately. I had to carry out some corrections I had marked, I wanted to add a few more trees, and most importantly, I had to make sure that this edition had a spine, the lack of which was pointed out by several people in the earlier edition.

It was difficult to decide which trees to add...there are so many lovely trees! Finally, I narrowed down the selection to six trees: orchid tree, temple tree, crape myrtle, cannon ball tree, sausage tree and baobab. I did not have good photos for two of them and so, got them from my friends Kobita and Karthikeyan. We were lucky with baobab because the two trees we recently spotted on Chapel Road were spectacular in June...they had buds, flowers and fruit...something we hadn't seen earlier in Hyderabad. What's more, our inhouse photographer - Ragini - was in town!

Baobab is also called dead-rat tree and it really looked like a whole lot of dead rats were hanging by their tails! Look at it!

I accompanied Ragini to Pune, and carried the box of 150 copies and handed them over to Either Or. During my visit, I noticed that the store walls had been decorated with collages of various trees with flowers. I was delighted when they told me that the decor was inspired by my book! Either they have very good public relations or they really like "Just look up..."! Whatever, it made me very happy :).

I was curious about this buyer who wanted 150 copies of the book. It turns out she is an NRI passionate about the environment, and wants the copies to gift them to children on the occasion of her daughter's wedding in the US. So this heavy box of books will travel far!

This is indeed a good beginning to the second edition. I have many more boxes sitting in my house...and after being ditched by the Delhi-based distributor (IPDA) for the first edition, I now need to figure out how to distribute them myself. I am optimistic as I usually am...however, suggestions from well wishers are most welcome!