Posts Tagged ‘Culture’

Pandit Ravi Shankar

March 8, 2013

Many stalwarts of Indian music have contributed immensely to the cultural landscape of India. But perhaps none more so than the late Pandit Ravi Shankar; who transformed not just the way an entire country listened to the Sitar, but also forged life-long bonds with some iconic foreign musicians, bringing them to India, and in turn, taking India to many global shores and giving people the world over, a taste of this country. A true musician, a true artist, and a true champion of global art & culture. Someone who understood that music has no language, no barriers and is in fact, the strongest force of worldwide unity!

Pandit Ravi Shankar was in Varanasi in 1920. Sitar came to him per chance. While he was touring with already-established brother Uday Shankar’s dance group; he switched to Sitar and received training from none other than Allaudin Khan sahab. Since that time, Panditji and his music, only grew in stature and respect. From composing the music to Satyajit Ray’s acclaimed Apu trilogy to holding the coveted position of Director of All India Radio; Ravi Shankar was propagating Indian classical music not only to a musical intellectual elite, but bringing it to the common man of India. He demystified and made Indian classical music friendly, captivating, and attractive to the entire nation.

But perhaps he realized that his calling, his purpose, was even larger. So he embarked on a worldwide mission through the 50’s and 60’s; touring the far reaches of Europe and the Americas; playing to packed houses of foreign nationals that were eager for this uniquely beautiful & exotic sound. It was in this period that he came in contact with other legendary musicians such as violinist Yehudi Menuhin & Beatle rock-God George Harrison; the latter becoming rather intrigued, and later obsessed with both Panditji and Indian music. That the world’s greatest living popular rock-band member George had taken a fancy to Indian music, that too classical, served as the single biggest contributor in the global proliferation of our culture; a feat credited to Ravi Shankar.

Ravi Shankar became a champion for our music’s cause. He excelled by winning at the holy grail of international music awards, the Grammys. He became a globally recognized face, and a musical genius par excellence. But, humble as he always was, he served his true calling, by taking India, to the world!

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Observing Indian culture abroad

February 4, 2013

We move out of our own country, searching for a better life. We get jobs that pay us more, we get a lifestyle that is something we could never have dreamed of back in India. But India remains in our hearts and minds. Its the country that has made us who we are and taught us our values and traditions. And that’s exactly what becomes a daunting task when bringing up children in a culture, so different from the one we grew up in.
We were brought up in an environment where family took priority. Our parent’s word was always the final word. We ran back home from school to mother’s cooking. Played under the watchful eye of the neighborhood aunties as they caught up on the day’s gossip. In fact, everyone was our uncle, aunt, brother or sister!
But here everyone is independent and not interdependent as we used to be. The children look at their friends from school and their lifestyles and want to be treated exactly the same. Its not that being brought up as an American child is a bad thing, but we want our kids to go through the same life experiences that we did. We try and create a little India at home. But its not always that the kids respond well to that. In fact, they shun it because they feel they’ll be shunned if they are not a part of the crowd. If they don’t act like their counterparts in school, they feel left out. Its a huge dilemma.
They don’t want to be answerable to us or stick to our deadlines. They want to move out of the house at 18 just like their friends would. Back home in India, our home remains our home forever, unless you move to another city or country for work!
The question on everyone’s mind is whether to bring up their children in America in the American way or to create a little India at home for them to experience the culture. Some have even debated moving back to India!
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We can’t really judge who is right or wrong, but its a personal choice. One that we all have to make as NRIs!


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