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Saturday, December 22, 2012

AN ODE TO RAVI SHANKAR



Only saw you a-live twice
In KL and you were in full flight
In Wellington and you were frail
I kind of knew you from a long time ago
As a child of the 60s
Got my first sitar in Calcutta
Took lessons in Kathmandu
Never advanced to the ragas
Still my sitar waits for my retirement project
To copy a note or two from you
Ravi Shankar
The year you died I was in Kochi, your India
And we listened to a sitar and tabla recital
Played well by two young unknowns
Attended by only three of us
Will the sitar’s popularity die with you
Ravi Shankar
The icon of a historical episode
All but forgotten in 2012
Resurrected only for silly reviews
Saying you never liked drugs and rock’n’roll and free love
What about your love child Normah Jones
What about the sitar that gently weeps
What about your Californian life-style
Ravi Shankar
You were a great musician and showman
Living in many worlds
A great Indian internationalist – a great contradiction
Like a Jain as head of the German Bank
Like a Pundit as the head of the Sony Music Corporation
As a head (a 60s term) of West meets East
Ravi Shankar the maestro, with Yehudi Menuhin
And a host of musical glitterati
With a love of music
And a love of the high (not a 60s term) life
Staying at the Mandarin Hotel and other presidential suites
But all is forgiven for the ragas you played at miraculous speed
Sa Re Ga ma Pa Dha Ni
Up and down, bending the notes, talking back to the tabla
Now there’s only your Anoushka, a faithful daughter
Playing the sitar like her father
But times have changed
The music has gone
Like my sitar
Ravi Shankar






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