Studying in India

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sitar
at dashingyankee

Mark: So I am just sitting in an Indian restaurant with my friend, Arthur. Arthur, you have been to India, haven’t you?
Arthur: Yes.
Mark: Tell us about it. When did you first go there?
Arthur: in September 1969…
Mark : September…?
Arthur: 1969.
Mark: Wow, that was a long time ago. Did you fly or did you take a boat?
Arthur: No, I flew…
Mark: You flew.
Arthur: Yeah.
Mark: And where did you fly to first?
Arthur: Tokyo.
Mark: Tokyo….Tokyo, India? Ha ha ha.
Arthur: No, Tokyo Japan.
Mark: And then you flew…to…from…?
Arthur: We stayed in Tokyo for about a week
Mark: Um-hm.
Arthur: We bought all cameras and everything.  Everything was really cheap there…my friends all bought…I was with about eighty or ninety American students, so we all went together…so they all bought really good stereos and had them sent on to India.
Mark: Wow
Arthur: So we had good sound systems there. And then we went to Hong Kong and then Bangkok for like three or four days…and then we went straight to Calcutta.
Mark: This was during the Vietnam War, 1969…wow…and then from Calcutta…you flew to Calcutta?
Arthur: We stayed in Calcutta just I think one night and then we flew down to Bangalore.
Mark: And you went to India to study?
Arthur: Yeah, I was doing my third year of university.
Mark : Uhm-hm..
Arthur: It was a very liberal arts college that sent everyone abroad…a little bit later they went to Japan. When I was going there they were going to India…two or three years everybody went to India and we stayed in a hotel in Bangalore and we studied at Bangalore University.
Mark: And what kind of things did you study?
Arthur: aah Kanada, the language, Indian philosophy, Indian religion. I studied sitar.
Mark: …the musical instrument?
Arthur: Yeah, sitar.
Mark: Do you still play?
Arthur: Well, I haven’t played for a long time. I guess I…I don’t have a sitar any more.
Mark: Do you have a favorite raga?
Arthur: Mmm The first one I learned was Yeman.
Mark: Uh-huh.
Arthur: I liked Bhairavi.
Mark: Bhairavi. I like that one.
Arthur: I like Bhairavi. Yeman was a little bit difficult. It had a lot of notes. We usually start on that. I first started teaching (studying) with a disciple of Ravi Shankar
Mark: Wow!
Arthur: So he would stick us on one raga for a long time and I really enjoyed that and I decided that I wanted to concentrate more…and then I decided to go to Calcutta for three months to do independent study.
Mark: Right.
Arthur: So I asked the head of the school and he said that was ok.
Mark: Uh-huh.
Arthur: So I went to Calcutta and I found another teacher and his name was Balaram Hatta.
Mark: Say that again.
Arthur: Balaram Hatta.
Mark: I wonder if he is still around.
Arthur: His son is. He died.
Mark: Wow.
Arthur: His son is actually teaching in Belgium now.
Mark: Wow.
Arthur: His son’s name is Ashoka.
Mark: Uh-huh.
Arthur: He was my teacher he was the one I spent the most time with and I met…actually I met Ravi Shankar. I went to his house I went to a really rich Indians house and there was a small house and Ravi Shankar played…and I went around to all the…in Calcutta.
Mark: Mm.
Arthur: And I stayed for about five months and then I came back and did a recital, which constituted my grade. I passed.