My Taleem from my Guru- Part 2

My taleem from my Guru was not just confined to the learning sessions at home. It continued everywhere when I was travelling with him for concerts and in the concerts. In taxies ferrying us to concert halls or coming back to hotels or wherever we stayed, he would be teaching something new- all impromptu lessons ( I wonder what the taxi drivers thought! ). He was constantly remembering new bandishes or phrases and teaching them to me. Such occasions were a feast for me whenever he happened to ruminate and consciously remember and teach me. ” Look,Son, this is another bandish in Khokar ( ‘Aajake dina shubha dina,piya ghara aaye ananda…’)  which Manji khansaheb used to sing,this from Burji khansaheb ( ‘ Saaranga Samana laage’) which he would sometimes call ‘ Maargi Bhairav’, and not ‘Ahir Bhairav’,” and I would  gleefuly lap it up all.

I would be transformed into Ali Baba with this ” Khulja sim sim” opening of the wonderous treasures of gold,gems and what not! Getting back home,he would teach me these newfound gems.
I remember one such trip in the taxi when we were returning to Dharwad from Belgaum airport (Dharwad had no airport then). It was then a two and half hour drive or more ( no four lane road then between the two cities and I now feel it was good  that the drive was long,so I could learn in these hours.) He once taught me Bhankar in one such trip and Dhawalashri in another trip and so on. Back home I would practice them on and on. Even when we were travelling by long train journeys to Bombay or some place,he would be teaching one raga or another or discuss the maryada of different ragaswaras in different ragas, how they would behave etc ( much to the amusement of co-passengers in first class compartments, who would ask me who he was and when told his identity some would say ” No wonder,” or ” How lucky we are to be travelling with such a great artist” etc). I can’t quantify how much he has given me on such occasions. And in the hotels we have stayed for a day or more when we went for performances also he would teach me. He would always travel with his German reed harmonium,which was very light ( I still have it with me and handle it with great care and reverence because it was his preferred harmonium). Once it happened that I had to leave two days earlier than him from Delhi ( He had some meeting of selection of awardees in Delhi). He asked me to take the harmonium with me and I had a harrowing time at the airport as security people asked me to dismantle it and show them the insides of the harmonium. Luckily,I knew how to do it. Some security man also asked me to play on it ,which I did for a minute! When I narrated this to my Guru,he laughed his famous laughter ( many of his admirers used to enjoy his bottom-of-the-heart laughter.)
My most rewarding lessons were from the stage when he was performing. He would be mentally prepared what his first raga would be in the hotel and I would be humming it before we went. The later ragas would come from nowhere,unpremeditated! Sometimes they would be totally new for me. Like a magician, he would take a raga out of hat,as it were,unknown to me and to the audience and in the middle when he noticed the bafflement  among the audience, he would say ” Isko hum Laajawanti bolte hai”, (we call it Laajwanti) much everybody’s sigh of relief! I have given him vocal support for nearly thirty years all over the country ( missed a few because of non-availability of any kind of leave from duty. In all my career as English teacher,by the time I retired, I was left with not more than ten days of earned, encashable  leave.No regrets whatsoever for having used them up for his performances.) And in these thirty odd years accompanying him,giving him vocal support,I learned a lot. (As for my vocal support to him, so long as he was satisfied with it, I do not care for what some people have said about it. From a ‘bleating goat’ to a ‘bad clone’, I have been called many things and I am least bothered. Everybody  according to his own taste and understanding). I am incapable of rancour in my heart about what they say!
 They were my best lessons because on the stage it was finished products I was learning from him! On stage he would be improvising a raga in ways that would open my eyes to the Prakriti/nature of the raga, the many and subtle nuances and much more. I would be aghast at the inexhaustible treasures he would be revealing.I would become familiar with the multiple ways of doing badhat/improvisations.
Blessed I am to have been my Guru’s shishya and hope to be learning from him in my next lives!