Kalildas Festival – Girija Devi

It was absolutely divine listening to this 76 year old lady sing and make audience crave for more. “I am learning for the past seventy years, I can sing at least for 70 hours” (sattar saal ka riaz hai, sattar ghante to ga hi sakti hoon) she replies to the shouts of “aur sunaiye” “aur sunaiye” from audience.

Ably accompanied by Anuradha pal, the lady tabla player who accompanied Ustad Shahid Parvez, Gaan-tapswini Girija Devi ji started the concert with Rag Jog, going into aalap’s that floored the audience. In between the performance she shared her knowledge and belief’s with the audience – Laya maya hai jo har kalakar ko uksati hai aur main bhee is se baach nahi paati hoon, main bhee taan leti hoon aur tab main solah saal ki bacchi ban jaati hoon“.

She enthralled the audience by rendition of tappa ”miyan nazar nahi aanda way“ followed by a thumri set in mishra Desh ”more saiyan bulawe aadhi raat.

Girija Devi has spent many years in researching Thumri and it shows every time she performs one. Coupled with good lyrics Thumari sounds more interesting and it is like a dream come true when swar gets suitable words she told the eager audience.

Thumri followed kajri which discribed purush birah in sawan instead of the traditional stree birah – Ghir aaye kaari badriya, radhe bin laage na mora jiya“

On audience requests she sung a chaiti , a jhoola and a hori and ended her performance with a thumari bhajan composed in Bhairwi

Earlier back stage, when i took her photo, she said, ”kheench rahi ho to bhejna zaroor“ and she autographed on one of her CDs which I was carrying. One of her deciples gave me her calcutta address to which I am sending the prints of the concert photographs.

Kalidas Festival – Amjad Ali Khan and his two sons

How often does one get a chance to listen to Sarod Mastero Ustad Amjad Ali Khan playing “vaishnav Jan” and “Raghupati Raghav” on Sarod – once and if very lucky more than once in a life time.

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan’s two sons, the good looking Aman and handsome Ayan came on stage first and played Rag puria Kalyan and were given accompaniment by two tabla players.

Ustadji came next and elevated the level of performance to a different height by explaining how different and difficult it is to play “meend” on sarod -unlike instruments like sitar, sarod does not have parda. “ agar aapne galti ki to aap beparda ho jaate hain”

The two tabla players Sandip Das from Banares Gharana and Satyajit Talwalkar from Farrukhabad gharana added colour to the performance by their jugalbandi and the competition between the gharana’s was very evident.

Experimentation is must fro every learner, said Ustad Amjad Ali khan while giving the last solo performance of the evening, ever performer has to keep thinking about newer ideas so does he. The Mastero presented his own composition set in Maru Bihag originally set in 25 matras. Paucity of time made him play in 12.5 matra’s making it enthralling for the audience and challenging for the two young tabla players and both of them excelled making everyone present ecstatic.

His two sons joined him for the last performance of the evening to play Mishra Kirwani and a medly of dhuns set in Mishra kirwani itself making the picture absolutely perfect for everyone present. It was a concert that was not only a delight for the ears of connoisseurs but also for the eyes

Kalidas Festival Sitar- Ustad Shahid Parvez accompanied by Anuradha Pal on Tabla

I get goose pimples whenever i see Sitar being performed on stage by the maestro. This was my second time – fifteen years back I heard Pandit Ravi Shankar and yesterday it was Ustad Shahid Parvej.

Ustad ji can make a string instrument sing. My ears are still ringing with the musical notes of the aalap he played in Rag Bageshree teasing the second string with the nail of his little finger he made sitar sound more musical than itself.

The Jod and jhala was accompanied by the wondrous tabla player Anurdha Pal – India’s only woman performing tabla artist and disciple of Ustad Alla Rakha and Ustad Zakir Husain. Her playfulness with the accompanying sitarist was very reminiscent of Ustad Alla Rakha’s and Ustad Zakir husain’s, rising above the role of just an accompanying tabla player she struck balance between the accompaniment and showed her mastery with ease.

The surprise package of the concert was when Ustad ji took break from traditional rag playing and started striking the stings of sitar to “mohe panghat pe nandlal ched gayo re”. It took audience a while to realise it and then everyone gasped when he made the sitar sing the song.

Kalidas Festival – Bharatnatyam by Priyadarshini Govind

One of the most enthralling moments of my life was to see the noted Bharatnatyam danseuse Priyadarshini Govind perform so naturally to vatsalya rasa, playing mother kaushalya on Tulsidas’s “Thumak Chalt Ram Chandra”. This was one of the best rendition of the piece I have seen.

Her traditional varnam was based on Natraja Vandanam in which she performed portraying Goddess Parvati appeasing her lord and her love, Lord Shiva. She longs to meet him and unite with him in love. Shiv is Moksha for her. So beautiful was the performance that the danseuse herself was in a trance like state transporting the audience to a surreal state.

She is simply fabulous while perofming abhinaya. In another piece based on the marathi poetry “Rusli Radha Rusla Madhav Rusle Gokil sare” Her precision in footwork and poise in the first piece were as striking as her abhinaya, or dramatizations, in the Marathi composition, which was based on an encounter between Radha and Krishna. The piece shows Radha’s anger at finding her lover, Krishna, in the company of other women — and his attempts to reach out and pacify her. The opening, she said, in her introduction, is fixed but the end of the performance is always spontaneous, a surprise for the audience, musicians and the dancer herself as she decides at the last moment what the ending of the performance will be. The ending is different each evening the dance is performed. Accompanied by sour stirring vocals, voilin, natavangam and mridangam the audience reacted with her every bhav – the happiness of love, the sorrow of radha, the pain of gokul on seeing both the lovers angry with each other and finally the joyous union of the two love lorn.

She also performed on a piece from Kalidas’s Kumarsambhavam where manmath, the lord of love (Kamdev), enters forest with Rati and performs his duty, shoots his love arrow towards a meditating shiva fully knowing that will be his end.

Her last piece were traditional Tillana and the performance ended with Vande Mataram – a tribute not only to our beautiful and bountiful country but to the mother earth herself.

Bagla Mating

Aasim: “Mama I saw two Baglas (pond herons) mating today”
I: “How do you know they were mating?”
Aasim: “I know I have seen it on Nat Geo”
He then went on to describe – they mate for a very little time -few seconds and then they scream.

And we thought he does not know these things!!! Boy is growing up real fast.

Thai Basil fried rice

Another lovely recipe from Madhu of Shiok.

I never knew Basil adds such heavenly flavor to the dish. , if you are reading this head over to http://shiokfood.com/notes and you will make your son very happy 🙂

Certain things that I added to the basic recipe carrots, french beans and peas (yes fresh green peas 🙂 I also added thinly cut crisp fried salami along with tiny prawns (could not get fresh so used frozen again – fried them in butter for 10 seconds and dabbed on tissue to drain excess water before adding them to the wok just before adding rice)

Earlier my fried rice was never made without dark soy sauce and MSG – no wonder it tasted the same no matter how different the ingredients were -this time i neither used MSG nor dark soy sauce and the results were pleasing to say the least.

Fried rice is another quick one that really sets the Sunday mood rolling at Sani household