Teach for India Diaires 15: Did you ever look for your long lost passions?

I know this is my third diary entry in the month of August, where as I had decided to do only one a month. But honestly there is so much happening and so much to share! So here goes…

I don’t clearly remember the first time I fell in love with music. Perhaps it was when I could listen to melodious tunes on the cassette player as a child for hours or when I could lose myself in saving up for the first CD of the latest pop artist or it was perhaps when I could drive two hours a day to work and back with lesser depressive nervous break downs caused by the traffic when my iPod was plugged in.

Laurie Anderson, an American musician once said, “Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” Even at the risk of sounding like a lost cause trying to describe how I felt when last evening I witnessed the Indian classical singer Bombay Jayshree (we best know her for her song Zara Zara, RHTDM) in concert, I wanted to describe how even just listening to her music took me back 18 years to a time where I used to travel 6 kilometers on the bicycle as a child in a remote town called Dharangdhara in Gujarat where my dad was posted to learn Classical Karnatic music from the only lady who could teach it. It was a delight to listen to her and practice along side. My parents were particularly glad because whenever they would crave for some entertainment I would be more than glad to sing for them. Years of singing in the school choir and taking part in numerous singing competitions later, I have found myself at a place where I rarely sing now. A sore throat and a constantly dead pitch are some of the occupational hazards of my profession today.

But as they say you can always live our dream through someone else’s eyes. In the same attempt I got a fabulous opportunity to take 11 of my weakest students to the Bombay Jayshree concert, thanks to Hariharan Sankaran who was such an angel, taking us through all gatekeepers to the coveted backstage to meet the singer herself who was so gracious to interact with the children and tell them about all the instruments they were playing. Her fellow musicians were so welcoming of our kids even right before the show when they are usually pressed for time to tune and set up. Hari bhayya sponsored amazing balcony tickets for the show and had a surprise snack party organized for the kids. The kids were quick to ask why the singer’s name wasn’t “Mumbai” Jayshree now that “Bombay” was no longer used. As their Social studies teacher I was beaming with pride. The kids were immersed in the Indian classical music for almost an hour and fifteen minutes. I don’t ever remember having the same patience when I was a child. When asked later about what they liked at the concert, some said that the “Mridamgam”, a percussion instrument, was fabulous and some said that the didi who sang had a voice like a nightingale. This was a great opportunity for them to interact with people who are passionate about what they do. Why did I take the weakest students? There isn’t just one reason. I felt that they needed the most attention and love from me now. I wanted to show them how if they could immerse themselves in their passion, great things can happen. It could be studies, art, a cause or anything really. The only thing they had to do was to lose themselves in it and find that it has a beautiful way of finding the “you” back.

As for me, when I still listen to Karnatic classical music I go back to days when I could sing melodiously. I still do sing occasionally to find the same melody; but it feels amiss. However, I know if I lose myself in it, someday I hope it will find me back.

PS:This is for all of you who have let go of a long lost passion for whatever the reason might be, and hoping that you make an attempt to find it and reconnect with it.

Leaving you with some images of the pre and post-concert J

Thanks to Mr. Hariharan Sankaran, who is forever a constant source of encouragement. We need more angels like you to celebrate life and all its moments!

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