Friday, January 04, 2013

Passing of a legend..

In the passing of Padmabhushan Sangeetha Kalanidhi Sri M.S.Gopalakrishnan, we have lost a legend of carnatic music. Needless to say, he was a virtuoso of playing the western violin for carnatic music. Few musicians inspire like Sri MSG as he is fondly referred to - simple living and rigorous discipline - that makes him truly one-of-a-kind.
I have a deep sense of appreciation and liking for his style of playing like many other music lovers. Specifically, I have a recording that I keep going back to of Sri MSG accompanying Maharajapuram Santhanam and Umayalpuram Sivaraman - both greats in their own ways. The greatness of his music and playing is to be heard to be believed.
I must say, I feel a deep sense of personal loss in his passing. May his soul rest in peace for he has contributed so much for the cause of music.

Friday, August 11, 2006

An evening to remember !

An evening to remember: I had the greatest fortune to get to meet Sangeetha Kalanidhi Padma Vibhushani Dhamal Krishnaswamy Pattammal (a.k.a DK Pattammal) at her residence on a very auspicious day - Avani Avittam day of Aug.9, 2006 at her residence in Chennai. I wish to narrate that blissful encounter:
Sitting composed in a dark green Kanchipuram "pattu podavai", she is all pleasing and smiling as we enter her house in Kotturpuram. On the walls and cupboards are plenty of pictures and awards. Two of them on the wall catch my eye - from the president of India conferring "Padma Sri" and "Padma Vibushan." Her husband, Mr. Isvaran is reclining on his 'easy'chair. Hands together, she greets us with the traditional "namaskaram" and a radiant smile. 87 and quite weak, she expounds a very calm demeanor but sharp in intellect, memory and senses - vision, hearing and speaking - such grace, thank god almighty!
We quickly settle down, I get to sit on the "jamakallam" (akin to a comforter - only thinner) up-close to mami's feet. My cousin and my friends to my right. We give her what we brought her - complan, some digestive biscuits and lots of "malli poo". "Ethannai vangeendu vandhu irukkel?" she retorts and patiently helps Ramani mami (who frequents her house at least 2-3 times a week and plays the chitraveena for DKP mami while she sometimes sings) cut the flowers for each of the ladies gathered around her. Quickly the conversation turns to music..and am asked to sing, I hesitate as to what I may sing before this living legend.
In the midst of all this, my cousin prods me to sing a song. Emboldened, thinking of my guru's wish she expressed that I should sing if I ever I meet DKP mami who taught me the same song DKP mami taught her daughter-in-law and in turn my guru and then to me in Suddha Saveri - "Ekambresha Nayike..", I start to sing. The Pallavi goes without issues, then during Anupallavi, I get a little overwhelmed by the surroundings and finally, in Charanam it all unravels and I forget the words that come in "Madhyama kalam". DKP mami sings the missing words and asks me to repeat the charanam with the complete "sahithyam." I feel blessed.
She treasures the title 'Gana Saraswathi' bestowed on her by the formidable musician Tiger Varadachariar..(see
This was in response to Ramani mami's referring to DKP mami as Saraswathi herself. So truethat Dikshitar's music has sought her and her brother through the likes of (late) Justice T.L.Venkatarama Iyer and Ambi Dikshitar (grand-nephew of Sri Mutthuswami Dikshitar).
Then I suggest to mami that the couple of my friends who accompanied me also sing, and sheasks them to sing. They sing "Kurai onrum illai.." suggestive of their feeling that on meeting DKP mami, there is no more shortcomings in their lives. Very apt, I suppose.
Then we linger with mami talking about music and our families about whom she enquires. Mama asks me about my nativity and when I say Moncompu, he says he knows and has heard of my great-grandfather during his early days and calls out to mami, ""Patta', evan Andi Iyer odu peranam". She says, "Oh, romba sandhosham, naan anga avaatthukku poirukken, parka thaan mudialai."
Mami asks the person who helps them to bring fruits for all of us and to bring plenty of thesame for all of us. We prostrate once again as mami distributes the apples she has got for allof us.
She says, "sangeetham oru sagaram, katthunde irukkalam". Music is the best thing to realise god, she goes on to say.. She appreciates each of us singing and keeps saying "Santhoshama irukkanam" smiling her ever pleasing smile.
We request to take photographs with her. Mami asks for a copy of the same - such humility!She then sees the pictures taken by my cousin on her cell-phone and is very pleased. She remarks to my cousin, "Lakshanama irukkai". Ramani mami says, she learns the veena and has 2boys though she wanted to have a baby girl. DKP mami says she has 3 sons and always wanted agirl child.
By this time, we are so comfortable sitting with mami that we forget the fact that we are in the midst of a true legend and divine personality. It's time to part and bid our adieus. With difficulty we take leave. At the back of my mind, I wish I had sung one more song in front ofher..
Mama comes out and we say our goodbyes and so ends an unforgettable evening with a living legend.
I feel really blessed.


Friday, March 24, 2006

In Search ..

It was sometime in late summer - early fall 0f 2001 that I took my first tentative steps into the world of Amateur astronomy. Soon I realised my high-school dream of owning a telescope, listening to geeks and felt a belonging to an elitilist society. And so the passion grew, slowly but steadily, into an obsession that is yet unrealised to the fullest - Establishing an organization called OASIS - Observational Asteroid Search In Space.
Soon I came to know that finding asteroids and near earth objects isn't really hard, just discovering new ones is! And it was in that pursuit, that I came across and met the only Indian (Asian) to have discovered asteroids - Vishnu Vardhan Reddy. And also during these days that I got involved the Naperville Astronomical Association. All amateur astronomers can relate when I say this requires a lot of dedication, but once hooked on to the hobby, it just sucks one in like a black-hole.
I had some really nice experiences of astronomical observations that I've put in my website. There is a lot more to share but this being my first posting since I started blogging, felt I should start with one of my favorite activities of leisure - amateur astronomy. More when I get my thoughts together again and the patience to put them down.. so long.