Friday, October 23, 2009

Rhythm Riders - world of tabla, indian music and dance

As Rhythm Riders continues to grow, there have been lots of changes happening, including a makeover of our electronic presence. We've launched our newly-designed website. Please check it out at It'll give you more information about the wonderful people I work with and the amazing environment of music that I am blessed to be apart of.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tabla Ecstasy and Jindidi chale Canada

In October, I returned back to Canada to welcome the Rhythm Riders family to my birthplace. The leaves had started to change colours in preparation for their arrival, ready to display the beauty of autumn and the wind had picked up to give them a cold Canadian welcome I suppose.

It was a busy, super successful and fun-filled trip. I got to show everyone the place I called home for so many years. Most members of Tabla Ecstasy were in Toronto for the first time. In the months before the trip, I, along with those who had been to Toronto, had been preparing a list of things that we had to do. We crammed in as much as possible in the limited time between rehearsals and shows. The reactions were exactly as anticipated. It was a joy to share so much in those few days. Watching them take everything in made me appreciate the common sights and sounds I often take for granted.

On the music side, the trip was a HUGE success. All the audiences were left spellbound and appreciated the artists with standing ovations. We had a great mix in the audiences we performed for - from true listeners of Indian classical music/dance to completely untrained ears, who had come to show out of intrigue - and the response was overwhelming. New connections were forged and the concert organizers all offered their support for future tours. On the personal front, people from my community got an even better idea of what I am aiming for as they heard Tabla Ecstasy and began to understand the level of tabla playing that I am striving for in order to turn professional (and of course through Guruji they see what is possible even beyond that). Jindidi impressed as always with her wonderful Kathak performances.

The tour had been planned for months, but it went by in a flash. There were many lessons, great fun, tons of memories and of course, lots of pictures. I got a new DSLR right before the tour and managed to get some great shots of the concerts. The tour would not have been possible without the support of a lot of people and I especially have to give a huge thank you to my family and family friends for going out of their way to make this trip special for everyone. When seeing everyone in action, particularly my parents, I am reminded time and time again that my own drive to help others was instilled in me through their example.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Colours of Light

As I prepare to make a rangoli outside my apartment to welcome in the New Year tomorrow, I remember a Diwali from three years ago that I will never forget.

Happy Diwali and Saal Mubarakh!


It was Diwali. During the five days, women draw beautiful images outside their homes with coloured sand, rice and grains (called rangolis) to decorate their homes and welcome the new year and visitors.

Over the few months that I had spent volunteering, I continually was awed from the wonderful rangolis that a colleague of mine created for various occasions. His work always brighten the space they are in and the people that see them. Inspired by their beauty, I decided try my hand at rangolis. These beautiful works of art would be a wonderful way to express my gratitude to the many people who have showered me with their love and affection. As is the experience of many NRI volunteers in India, I felt humbled and immensely indebted to the many caring souls that went out of their way to make me feel at home in Ahmedabad, a place miles away from my birthplace in North America.

Arming myself with bags of coloured sand, I first practiced outside the volunteer home where I was staying. After a few tries, I felt confident in my work. As I made my way from home to home, I could not contain my cheer. As I spread the sand, I silently gave my thanks to each individual and prayed that the new year brought new hope and prosperity to each. At every home, the children would crowd around welcoming me with their smiles and watching intently as each rangoli unfolded. Each then added their own touch to the final piece and we created a colourful display full of love and good wishes.

Such a simple thing brought so much joy to all. The small grains of sand became colours of light and were the perfect way to celebrate Diwali and welcome the new year.