Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Power of Sadhna

An experience from a few months back:

There are places where you go and can feel something different. Often these places become points of pilgrimage. They are places that have become charged with the intensity and heat of someone(s)' penance. Karl Marx' chair in the library when he would sit for hours and hours is such a place or places of pilgrimage, be it Mecca or Kailash are other examples.

There is such a place in Ahmedabad, a room that I have spent time in many times, but recently I got a chance to really experience the magic of the room first hand. I had some time to kill and instead of coming back later, Guruji told me to practice in the room. It was the first time I was alone with tabla in the room. Time flew by without me even realizing, one hour became two. Two came close to three when Guruji told me that I would be needed in 20 minutes. This was was perfect because I would finish three hours then. Three hours passed and was not called. Practice was going really well and even though it had been 3 continuous hours, I was not tired. In fact, at this point, my mind was getting tired, but my body and hands were still in form. So I decided to stay put and another 45 minutes later, I was called out. If I had not been called, I could have continued to practice! For the first time, I had spent nearly 4 hours in continuous solo practice without getting up, without breaks, and without having my hands compelling me to stop. It was amazing.

When I came out and shared my experiences, the others just smiled. Its the magic room they said as they have said many times before. Its the room where Guruji and Latifbhai would have long and intense practice sessions, its the room where ustads who came to visit Guruji would teach and interact with Guruji's students when he used to run tabla classes from home and most important of all - it was the room that had become charged by Guruji's sadhana as its the place where Guruji himself conducted the majority of his practice over the course of many many years. It is the magic room.

Countdown to Guru Purnima 2009

So the countdown has begun. Guests from abroad start arriving in a few days. Daily rehearsals have started. I had my FIRST rehearsal with a lehra player a few days back and it went quite well, which was very encouraging. There is a long list of things to do before it all begins, but it will surely get done and I know that next week is just going to go by in a flash.

The year has flown by, I can't believe that its already been a year since I played my first tabla solo. Every year the program has something special about it. Of course this year its the fact that we are celebrating Guruji's 30th year of teaching tabla. It's been an incredible journey for him so far and its great to be apart of it all as we pay tribute to all the work that he has done. Really, you can't find a better tabla guru. Guruji is completely dedicated to providing the best taalim (training) possible to create a new generation of highly trained and skilled tabla players. The fact that he gave up his own performing career for his students stands as a testament to his commitment. Everyone from his own gurus to fellow maestros and society as a whole has witnessed the exceptional quality of his teaching. He has not had it easy and has made his life on his own terms with his determination and passion for music and knowledge. This year's Guru Purnima is another milestone of what are to be many more milestones and I am so honoured that Guruji has chosen me to be apart of it all and given me a chance to play a solo on that special day.