Monday, May 21, 2018

Rights That Can Be Wrong (Letters to Parth-21)

When I was born, my parents jointly named me Subharup, partly from their own desire, partly from the suggestions of the many. Subharup in Bengali or Sanskrit means Good Form, or in plain English, a looker. You know that by now; what you do not know yet is how decent wine ages.  Anyway, when I was in school, I encountered the problem with the spelling and the pronunciation of my name. Subha pronounced with an aa at the end is typically a girls name in Bengali, as against Shubho for a boy. When I was 13 or 14, I changed the spelling of my name to read Subhorup. The s is actually sh in Bengali but I retained that to forever remind me of the peculiarity and mystery of the first sounds I heard from my mother's womb. The first language I spoke, though, was Nepali.

When you were named, several days after you were born, suggestions came from far and wide. Nabanitadi liked the name but was worried it would be anglicized to Harry. She suggested HridoyNandan, but none of could get our tongues around it.  Parth, fortunately, was a name given you long before you came to be so there was no discussion on that.

Not liking your given name is a common thing. First off, you feel your parents have been thrust on you, and then your name. Nobody takes you into confidence about what you should be called. A lot of my friends ended up renaming themselves, like folders or files on a computer, some going to extremes. I have a very young friend called Upasana Wordsmith, where she changed her given first name as well as adopted a new surname. She writes under a pseudonym to further distance herself from her name. Another friend uses LNU as her surname on all official documents like her passport, her PAN card, her driving license etc. LNU is turning out to be quite a popular surname the world over now. It stands for Last Name Unknown.

Who you are is not defined by your name or your lineage. Look at Rahul Gandhi for example. He is a descendant of Motilal Nehru and Indira Gandhi. Talk about degenerates. You make who you want to become. It is your right to question, evaluate and reject all that you are asked to accept as long as you are capable of finding a road that you believe in, that you can trust and that you find meaning in. You are not defined by your facebook profile or by your browser cache. You are not defined by your gaming scores or the scars on your soul. You are your only definition. It is a bit hard to take for your loved ones, since most of us would like our loved ones to fit into our expectations, but it is not written in any book that you need to. I would strongly encourage you to read the first few paragraphs of Book 9 of Marcus Aurelius' Meditations.

These days, it would seem that the average Indian is defined by the right to have an opinion. I am forced to watch some amount of television because of your Dadu's love for unnecessary debate over non-existent justice, and I also keep my eyes and ears open when I am out - in the streets, buses, metro, at the lunch room in the office. Thanks to the prevalence and penetration and the illusion of real social interaction generated by digital social media, I realize that having an opinion is now considered an achievement, regardless of what you do or do not do about the opinion. This is my opinion. That is not just enough, it is validation and justification of the importance of my existence.

The other day I was having haleem on the roadside. Being a true blue Hyderabadi, I had parked my car on the street, and it was occasionally causing some trouble to others traveling on the road. A good Hyderabadi usually accepts other Hyderabadi's being Hyderabadi with grace most times of the year. Unfortunately, nature looks for balance in everything, and in the course of time, after many people struggled to work around our car without a complaint, one gentleman had had enough. He raised himself to a half standing position on his scooter and let out his opinion about people like me. Then he sat down, struggled and went his way. I could make out that he was feeling much better by having done that. Like the guys on prime time television news, he had a right to an opinion, a right to express it, and he exercised his right and felt better immediately. Like the guys on prime time television news.
Human beings are unique in many ways. Not only do we believe we sit at the top of the food chain, but we are also the only animal that has codified and enforced rights. These rights or privileges are sometimes implied with no clear communication but universal subscription, and at other times, codified and enforceable by law. We have even created and implemented a structure of rights for other animals. We call them Animal Rights, and every movie has to declare that no animals were hurt during the making of the film. All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than other animals. George Orwell wrote about this four years before the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations in 1949.

Image from NY Post used without asking for permission

'49 was an important year in many other ways. The first vinyl LPs and then 45s were introduced, and people could now buy music and reproduce it on record players at home. The world was devastated, but from the ashes of that devastation of civilization, a new hope was being born. The Paris declaration captured some of that hope. The three decades after that saw a fair amount of violation of what was defined as human rights, but they also saw an equal amount of indignation and resistance to that violation. All of this changed as the sun set on the old world, and the brave new world arose, the world we inherited, the Lucrece we are bequeathing to you.

You will read the Paris declaration, and along with it the history of human rights activism up to this day. Till then, whether you like it or not, there are rights, and some of those rights are protected by law. There are gender rights, minority rights, electoral rights, right to education, right to minimum wages, the list is very long, and varies from social system to social system. Some rights are rights only in the context of the time and society they belonged to, and are very wrong when you try to enforce them in another time and society. I do not know whether that is right or wrong; I was busy when I was supposed to attend those classes.

Then there are parental rights. These are rights that a parent has over his children. Most children hate it, and most parents exercise it with a relish comparable to drinking Ugadi Pachadi. Things like play timings, bedtime, homework, screen time, sleepovers. You know the stuff by now. It is a right royal pain, and to add insult to injury, it is enforced in the name of your welfare. I have never forgiven my parents for this, and though your Thammi died without fully understanding the nature of my gratitude to her, your Dadu lives with us, and I make it a point to remind him everyday of how he tormented me, and I try and torment him as much as I can. Which is not a lot, since he is wheelchair bound, excreting into bags which he still is able to empty himself, lonely and forgetful, returning to grieve the loss of Thammi a few times every day. I wish I had the chance to torment him when he was not in such a helpless state. You should never kick a man when he is down. He taught me that by helping me up countless times. He helped me even the few times he did not help me, but that is another story.

You are now getting to be old enough to understand and process this and other matters, which is why you and I never discussed this earlier. When your mother and I were compelled by my decisions to part ways, there was the question of parental rights. I had my views and Mama had hers. We agreed to disagree, but I made it a point to put in writing what I perceived were my needs as far as my relationship with you was concerned. Your Mama and I thought and felt similarly about many some a few things and this was not one of them. Parental rights include the right to physical custody - physical visitation time and regular contact, and the right to legal custody - the right to participate in decisions about the child's health, education, and religious upbringing. By now, you will have figured out that there was no way that we would have agreed on these matters. I have tried to exercise my right to physical custody in the best way I could. Once I realized it was not going to happen without recourse to unpleasantness, I adopted this method - of writing to you as frequently as possible and necessary.

You might have believed or perhaps been led to believe that I relinquished my parental rights in order to pursue my will. You might have formed your own opinion about me and my decisions, and you might have had some help forming them. Regardless, it cannot have been easy to accept that your father chose your absence and chose to be absent in your life. If you have been reading in the order that I have been writing, you probably have the answer to your questions already. If not, you can always go back and start over again. But that would be like a classroom punishment. You are entitled to feel unjustly punished by me, and nothing I say or do will ever take the edge off that hurt.

I have had the good fortune of encountering several people at different times of my life who have mentored me in different areas, all of them meeting the need that was most required for my existence. Of them all, the one that changed my life the most was someone who was in my life for a less than five years. He died a few years after we met. This was more than thirty years ago. We neither spent a great deal of time together, nor did he teach me much. His absence in my life over the last three decades has been my compass. In more recent years, I encountered the teachings of Buddha and the writings of the Stoics, both thanks to a rabid community of almost missionary propagandists. My father, your Dadu, has been "present" to me all his life, teaching me, picking me up when I fell, sometimes letting me stay fallen but still watching over me.

Our dinner table conversations are what Dali, Warhol, and Rushdie would kill to listen in on. My father and I are able to grudgingly acknowledge our relationship - one of great mentorship and simultaneous physical and ideological abandonment. And since these conversations flow very easily (but not very quickly, by the Dadu finishes a thought, you can buy curd from the kirana store and be back), and segue with other conversations, between Madhavi, Devank and Me, they make for the most hilarious transcripts. These will be made public after Devank is 18, to serve as traffic guidelines.

Guidance is all around us. Nature is continuously guiding us. Just as my right to free speech supposedly ends where your sensitive ego begins, right and wrong, ethics and morality are not matters for deep speculation, they flow naturally. Everything has a reason and is part of a greater whole. Nothing is in isolation. Hate cannot exist without an equally powerful love. Abandonment is possible only upon acknowledgment of ownership. You are fortunate in your own way, Devank in his. He knows that he can claim only half the love he gets as his own. The other half is for you, and he knows he must find you and pass that on to you, a caretaking cardiologist till that time comes.

Devank cannot wait to start going to school, and we are dreading that day. He has not been "parented" in the sense that parenting is commonly understood. Both of us have tried our best to stay out of his way, stepping in only when he is at risk of being hurt, and sometimes not even then. This evening, he shortcircuited one phase of the apartment because he wanted to know what happens when you connect the positive and the negative directly. We know now that the only way anyone truly understands anything is by putting things together. He bites, kicks, scratches, throws things, spits, pisses, digs his nose and eats his boogie, and if you ask him to do something, he responds with "you do it." School will be fun.

We have tried not to instill any sense of rights in him (we have also tried to stay away from suggesting that some things are wrong) but he has developed his own royal code of entitlement and justice. You must have too. You will also want to review the concept of rights and liberties with the actual practices across societies. What we say is almost never what we do. Look around and choose your own ground. Enough for this hot summer's day. Trust you are hydrating yourself and your loved ones greatly.

Much love,


Friday, February 9, 2018

To Measure Off Another Day (Letters to Parth - 20)

Dear Hardyk, my pixel, my frames per second,

You are a big boy now, reading big books, thinking big thoughts, and asking big questions. These years are very important since you go from being a big boy to being a man. That comes with a lot of troubling changes. I used to hate it when I was your age and people would tell me oh how you have grown, what a big boy you have become. You start seeing yourself and your place in the scheme of things differently, and realize that school and studies, picnics and festivals, pride and prejudice are not what real life is made of. Like a wart that will not go away, they are part of life, and you will be gasping for the air that you know is out there, the air of being an adult, free to do what you want. Being treated like the big boy you are will sometimes feel suffocating. You will sometimes wonder how anyone can survive the hypocrisy of society. You will want to change everything, save the world, put sense into the heads of everyone. All of us have had to go through this time of coming to terms with the way things work. Growing up can be full of surprises, surprises that you don't see coming, sometimes surprises that you don't see till you are past them.

I have never been very fond of surprises, and usually get very uncomfortable even with the nicest of surprises. Life has its own courier service to deliver the packages we need the most. Even when you are not ready for a package, it is assuring to remember that life knows us better than we do our selves. At home, we keep reminding ourselves how fortunate we are to be at the mercy of the law of cause and effect. If we had a say in things, or if we were in charge, we can only imagine how big a mess life would have been.

When we get to unwrap the package, sometimes, we do not like what we see. Some of us experience anger and bitterness, while others view it as fate or destiny or a curse by the powers that be. Some others believe that we actually choose our packages, living out promises made in unfathomably distant past, many incarnations ago. What we choose to believe too is not always in our control. Sometimes, our choices are dictated by our environment, other times by the degree of pain the different choices promise. I cannot imagine what you might have chosen to believe to process my absence in your life, but it must have cost you a package. Or three. 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Sin To Covet Honor (Letters to Parth - 19)

My Dear Parth, My Borobabu,

There was a time when I would struggle to watch each day pass without you. Days went to weeks, weeks to months, and months to years, but the challenge of living with your absence, not knowing what you do, think and feel, did not diminish in any way. Some say time heals everything. I know from my being that that is not true. What I do know is that time proves everything that is in need of being proven. Like dough waiting to become bread. You are my son, and I love you, and nothing anyone has to say about it can change that. Sadly, that does not make the pain of the present any less. This applies to most things in life that one cherishes.

How did you celebrate your birthday this year?  What gifts did you get? What do you read? What do you listen to? What are your hobbies? What do you enjoy doing? Do you know I exist? What do you think of me? My questions are endless, and I listen hard each day for the answers. I do not know when you will read these letters, and I do not know when we will be together, but I know that everything in life is circular, that no power can prevent that which is to be. How I wait for the day that we will be together, when all of us will be done with this seemingly bitter dessert of our own making.

Devank, your little brother, had his first "birthday" birthday this year just a week before yours as he completed three years. Last year, your Thammi died just before she could come to Hyderabad in August. The year before that, we were struggling to redefine our beliefs and were in no position or state of mind to have much of a celebration. He was quite thrilled this year to be blowing out candles on his own cake instead of being a spectator.

The desert of our own making has also surgically dissected our national colors into saffron and green, and during festivals like Moharram or Ganesh Chaturthi, we proclaim our identity by waving flags and wearing headbands. The fact that we all bleed the same blood, that our fears and hopes hurt and uplift us just the same, that we all depend on forces greater than religion or politics to awaken, ablute and actualize eludes us all. The strength of this illusion is amazing.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Thammi (Letters to Parth - 18)

My Dear Hardyk,

I tell myself that you would have clicked through on your birthday, and not finding a post, been miffed a little. Which is fine, since miffed is many times better than, for example, custard apples. Good for many reasons. That is why the posts on this blog at least have dates. Belated birthday wishes!!

Your Thammi, my mother, because of whom I have a birthday and because of which you have a birthday, spent all her Augusts in Hyderabad. It was her way of being with you on your birthday. This year too, she and Dadu had planned to be here. She was a rock star if there ever was one. She died in the early hours of July 28 after a brief illness. Even though she was so sick that she needed to be taken out on a stretcher, she made sure she was dressed in her best, and even asked the ambulance attendants to take a picture on their phone so we could see later how she went.

You can find out more about how she journeyed on in Tipu kaka's post here. She made sure to write about her life so you can learn about her when you are older. Her first book is called When Your Granny Was A Little Girl and her second book, about Dadu's mother, is called Mother-In-Love. She was 79 when she died, she started writing when she was 76, and she still had a couple of works in the pipeline.In the days to follow, we slowly began to see how her absence had meaning on so many different levels.We had a very nice send off party for Thammi, with people remembering her through song.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Ones and Zeroes (Letters to Parth - 17)

My Dear Parth, my Flying Circus,

In a few days you step into 10. Devank turns one today. I wished him for you last night itself.

(He’s dev’ing fast and learning about sleep and hunger, heights and blows, Mia and you. Dadu and Thammi enjoy his company as does he theirs. Of course, none of them can help missing you. We wake up each day believing it to be the day we all meet. Seven indescribably strange years have passed since we last saw you. Meaning or joy cannot change the strangeness or the pain of the years, nor can the knowledge that greater joys lie ahead. Matter of time. Rejoice.)

I have a few daddy blogger friends – they write blogs about their experiences as fathers. I have been too busy playing with Dev to get down to that, but a lot of the stuff they think and write about is very interesting. I really wish I had the dedication or the opportunity to write about these experiences without putting myself into the writing. Since I can’t, I rarely try. Communication is one such real cool thing. How do we learn how to speak? It obviously means we have all the words and their meanings stashed away somewhere in our head. When we grow up as babies in a multilingual environment, we learn to stash them away in separate spaces. We possibly identify one language as our primary language, or the most important one, and I wonder how that gets decided. We link languages to the people who speak them and switch unconsciously to using their language with them. We event invent our own secret groups and languages that only insiders will understand.

Brodsky's Child, Oil on Canvas, 16" x 12" unmounted

People who study brains and computation say all of this stashing away of information happens in ones and zeroes. The basic functional units of our neurological system can create data patterns out of ones and zeroes by using chemical on-off switches. With the help of the body, the mind can also extrapolate this idea of representation in verbal and visual ways – like speaking and writing. The branch of science that deals with these complex but fun things is linguistics and is in many ways related to mathematics.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Baby Brother (Letters to Parth - 16)

My dear Parth, my Sunshine!

You must have wondered how come there wasn’t a post for your birthday. Well, Madhavi and I had been putting the final touches to the nicest gift we could ever give you. It is a baby brother, someone to love and hold and look out for. Yes, you are now Dada to a little brother who is still mewling and struggling with nutrition and growth. His name is Devank and we call him Kuttush now because he is very small. In a few years time or sooner, you will be able to play with him and show him how you do your thing. I know you will love him like nobody's business. Hope you had a super, super birthday.

In the process, I also got to see how grandparents and grandchildren bond. Your Dadu and Thammi, my Bapi and Mom are here to live with us and have been on their own as we were in the hospital for nearly a week. During this time, they only saw pics of your brother - kind of like how they see your pics and miss you. Here is one from the first time they held your brother. (They tried but couldn’t get through when they called on your birthday. They cry whenever we speak about you.) I do so wish you were able to spend more time with them.

We have so much to catch up on, some of which you will find on my other blog, and so much more that will turn into remote memories of even more remote memories. You are now a big kid and surely rule your roost well. For me, it is an enjoyable struggle to create order out of time and needs. I so look forward to when all of us will be together.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

How Did We Get Here? (Letters to Parth - 15)

My dear Parth, my leading man,

We are at that time of the year when the coolness of Hyderabad winter has given way to the heat and dryness of summer, and just as one must take care when it turns cool at the end of the year, one must take care now. Stay out of the sun as much as you can, and drink water frequently. I know you wonder why I have not written you for so long. I trust you looked up my other blog to see what was going on with me. The good thing is that I know that you will figure things out, and correctly, and that our intent to be whole and happy will manifest no matter what chooses to stand in its way.

One of the struggles that I had in writing you in these recent months was the fact that you are growing older, and that your questions are changing, and you need honest answers. Truth, love, attachment – these are funny things. While on one hand truth is beautiful and eternal, on the other, it is like a river that washes you clean, perhaps more brusquely than you would like. That washing clean can sometimes compel you to rethink and review what you believe. This rebuilding of one’s worldview, liberating and exhilarating as it is, often comes with a lot of pain and disillusionment. Love makes you long for the growth and happiness of the person or thing you love yet it hesitates when that growth implies pain. Attachment, like love, can sometimes stop you from doing the right thing, because doing the right thing might result in temporary suffering for the person (or thing) you cling to. It takes a lot of conviction, courage and strength to do the right thing especially when it causes pain in the immediate future. I am grateful for the blessings of that strength, and I am certain you will find it too.

That is not the only reason I did not get to write you on this blog. Like many good daddy bloggers, I too have often set out but have not got far, and a lot of what I wrote went into the never-neverland that is the drafts folder. The time is gone when we could do the babysaurus moos and the hand jive and come away feeling fulfilled. You have started learning that neither the finger nor what it points at are the real thing. The signs are everywhere. By the time you become a grown man, these things will be forgotten, but these are truly times of manifesting change. There will be mistakes along the way and we will have to learn to acknowledge our humanness, but we will also see how man is capable of redeeming himself and that he is worthy of the gift of evolution. We will take pride in our civilization. These are not easy things to believe in when you look around you, but faith is never easy. It is tested and abused repeatedly, and with good reason, since it is through this battering that it gains its power and magnificence.

The last four decades saw the world redefining itself a few times over, but almost entirely in the context of economics and trade. Technology grew at a rapid pace, and there were cycles of what we call boom periods when the economy brisked up. Every boom is typically accompanied by a bust, so we saw a few of those too. Along with this, there was the end of communism as we knew it. Our education system teaches us to think in binaries, in pairs, in opposites. We were taught to believe that the opposite of communism was capitalism. Capitalism (like Hinduism and Buddhism) is faith in the principle of capital. If you had capital (which commonly means money and property), you were valuable. If you didn’t, you were still of value, in the potential you had to earn capital. Communism, very broadly, is about being comme une, or like one, and treating resources and mankind as if we were one big family. Big families have their own problems, so it wasn’t too long before it fell through. It tried a little to fit in with the times, and you had various shades of socialism and euro-communism, but none of it stood a chance when compared to the glamorous, all-lit-up allure of capital.

Sunday, September 29, 2013


These are lines (by Max Ehrmann) that have stood me in good stead; I trust they will you too.
Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and
listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your
career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be critical about
love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Mummy, What is Rape? (Letters to Parth - 14)

My dear Parth, my big boy,

Over the last few months, everyone has been very caught up with the incident that happened in our capital city, New Delhi on December 16, 2012. A group of men hurt a young girl and her friend very badly in a dark, empty bus and then threw them out of the moving bus. The friend survived but the girl died after struggling in the intensive care unit (where patients who are very unwell are treated and intensively cared for 24 hours a day) in India and Singapore for thirteen days till her liver, kidney, brain and then finally her heart collapsed. Across India, people were very angry and upset about the lack of safety for women in our cities. I usually write about such things on my other blog, because I believe it is our responsibility to be good human beings and leave the world a better place than we found it. But writing about this incident was very difficult for me. I wanted to write but could not. I kept avoiding it.

But I realized the most important person I needed to share this with is you, since you are the future, and while you have a right to understand things your own way, sometimes the world around us can distort untruths and present them to us as THE TRUTH. I am still struggling to write this, but what better way to make a start than by writing them down for you. I will write as I think, since I know that you are clever enough to piece them together in the way that makes most sense for you.

Though we are in most ways no different from all other animals, there is one thing that sets us apart from them. We have the power to choose our actions based on our sense of what is right and what is wrong. For most animals, staying alive, creating new young ones, making their families big, their homes large and keeping themselves strong is way by which they measure what is right and wrong. In the process of evolution and by learning to live as a community, we have acquired what is known as an ethical structure, a moral code that is different from that of other animals. Do you know what ethics means? It means responsibility to those who are not you, it means responsibility to others. And morals is a way society decides what is responsible and not. As you study, you will learn more about the dynamics of ethics, but for the time being, this will serve as a starting point.

Nature made males and females differently. I do not know why, but I do see that it is a fairly efficient system. Tasks of providing and securing the welfare of the family unit and of giving birth and nurturing young ones have been divided between men and women. In the process of this differentiation, nature has made sure that the system works. Each of the sexes have been given qualities that are attractive to the other, so that they feel drawn to each other and form a bond that will lead to the creation of a family unit. This has been achieved by engineering biological differences that are controlled by chemicals called hormones. Hormones are those things in your body that makes you feel equally repulsed and attracted by the opposite sex, much like a blanket in early spring, where you feel itchy if you pull it on and cold if you don’t. This is the bond that makes it possible for us to give rise to a new generation of human beings, little babies like how you (and all of us) once were.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

IPTA's Robuda (Letters To Parth - 13)

Dear Hardyk,

Christmas is here again. How time flies. It seems yesterday that I was writing to you last Christmas. I hope you are keeping well, studying well and playing well. I dream of you often and in my dreams, you have grown, with long arms and legs and ears. I have grown a little too. It will be so much fun when we do meet up.

The best part of writing to you is that perhaps this is one of the few places where I can be myself in all my madness. Thanks to all the people who follow my writing in other places, I often have to pretend to be very sane and wise. One should always try and be what one really is, no matter how impossible it might appear. At least some of the time, don’t you think?

All of this week, people have been demanding stronger sentences. While some like short sentences, others prefer longer ones. Many have been demanding the death sentence. The death sentence is actually quite simple. For example. Ravi Shankar died. Sheila Dixit promised stern action. Narendra Modi won. Sentences can be difficult but none are unbearable. None. Though you might be looking forward to a game, I would much rather listen to some music with you. Come with me. Santa Claus is for real.

I heard Ravi Shankar first on an album called West Meets East with the violinist Yehudi Menuhin, and to this day the enchanting experience is fresh in my memory. This was when I was very young, maybe 7 or 8, and I had no context for what I was hearing. I remember thinking of the sitar as a complex and large instrument compared to the sound of the violin. The picture of the two men on the LP cover is also still fresh in my mind. Both of them were lost in the intensity of their playing. I thought to myself that music was indeed a very strange thing. On one hand you had the temporality of rhythm which on the other you had the spatiality of melody and harmony. In 1967, West Meets East won the first of three Grammies that Ravi Shankar would eventually be awarded. I do not know if it happens to you, but I have a big problem of association as far as memories go, so at the cost of being called crazy (it is a valid psychological thingummy called synesthesia), I will also add that the Menuhin-Shankar music was purple, somewhat Friday and curly.


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