Today, the 3nd Janurary 2012 marks 9 years since i left the UK, traveled to India to live and study with the legendary Maestro Ravi Shankar in New Delhi.
So much has happened in the past 9 years and the time spent with my Guru (Guru-ji is the term we use to address the teacher) has taught me so much, and continues to have an impact on my daily life.
Thinking back it was a very exiting but terrifying journey. Id never really traveled before apart from one trip to the USA and one family holiday when i was about 12. To make matters worse my fight from Newcastle to New Delhi via Amsterdam was delayed for 12 hours! I was stuck in Schiphol Airport with not much to do apart from think about what was ahead of me. When i finally arrived in New Delhi i was stunned, the first thing that hit me, just as i stepped out the plane was the smell. When i got my luggage and made my way to the exit i was shocked yet again by the several hundred people outside, many of whom came over to me in a very forceful manner, taking my bags, trying to get me into their taxi etc. It was complete madness! I was picked up by Guruji's driver and taken to The Ravi Shankar Centre, the title given to The Shankars home where i would be living for the next 4 months. It was early afternoon, sun shining and upon arrival i met Guruji for the first time. I was taken to my room which was very basic compared to the rest of the house. I had a single bed, three shelves and a bathroom with a shower and a bucket. The walls were bare apart from one framed photograph of Guruji. It was clear this was a place made for serious practice and study of music, nothing else. I smiled to myself when i went into the bathroom to put out my personal items and found some plastic toy bugs, spiders and cockroaches in the sink! The Shankars has placed them there to try to scare me as id shown a big fear of big bugs and was worried id see a lot of them in India! I was told to rest as id had a long journey and i spent the evening settling in.
The next morning i was told to come to the music room at 11am, where id meet with Guruji for my first lesson. I was loaned a sitar as mine was being made and would take some time. I went into the music room very nervous, Guruji was sat on the carpet along with Kenji Ota, another student from Japan, and Gaurav Mazumdar, a senior student of Guruji who would be coaching me in the first few weeks.
Guruji's first words to me, once i sat on the floor opposite him with the sitar on my lap were
'Ok lets see what you can do'
My jaw dropped.
Stay tuned for more soon...