Saturday, January 30, 2010

Tara's first concert in Bengaluru!

Tara gave her first Hindustani vocal concert in Bengaluru. She feels very happy about it.

She is learning music from Geetaji. Her husband G S Hegde, while employed in a Bank, is also a well known Tabla player. As a music enthusiast, he has also formed an organisation called Sapthak with a purpose to promote and encourage 'young' artists by giving them a platform to sing. Sapthak arranges a concert every 4 weeks at Hegde's residence. Hegdes' have built a hall on their terrace specially for this purpose and it can accommodate about 150 people. A laudable effort.

They are also parents of Dhananjay Hegde who has made a name for himself as an accomplished singer of classical Vocal Hindustani music. (You can see his website by clicking on his name!)

Tara was invited to sing on Sunday the 24th and I am glad I advanced my flight from Bangkok to specifically attend her concert! She did well and said she felt comfortable singing and feels more confident after this concert. She sang for an hour and that is the longest she has performed so far in a public concert!

Hegdeji while introducing Tara spoke of her enthusiasm for music at an young age of 60 and her significant contribution in bringing classical Hindustani music to Bangkok. Below are some pictures thanks to Sapthak.

A few of our friends and relatives attended. Many heard Tara for the first time and were happy with her performance!

Then today Mr. Hegde called to tell us about the coverage of this concert by a Kannada paper Vijaya Karnataka! That was an unexpected and a pleasant surprise!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Indian diaspora at the Lion's 'Health check camp' in Thailand

When Rikhi invited me to join the 2010 camp I was happy he did! I had really enjoyed my earlier trips! While speaking to others at the camp I told them how easy it is to get addicted, Shanti who is from Brunei, said 'inspired?'. A much better word and that is how we, known to other Lion members as the 'Rikhi Group', truly felt.

Earlier the group was mostly his friends and relatives. This year a group of expats and overseas visitors from Singapore and Brunei joined. I am glad that my blogs of 2008 and 2009 on the camp had motivated a few of my expat friends to volunteer in 2010.
Ramakrishna and Lakshminarayan all eager to start. They helped at the 'Eye care' section.
You see Arun Sethi with his video camera! More of him later! Readers of my blog will know Rikhi!
Chandra and Sujatha, also at the eye care, being briefed!
The volunteers at the Eye Care were kept busy as the number of patients far exceeded the estimate! The doctors carried on without any respite till they had examined them all. It was hard work!
I had wished on my last trip that someone would record this very special event for me on video! It was my desire to show this video to my Indian friends, especially featuring the mobile dental hospital. I knew that India had many projects on eye care, but was not sure if they had one wherein patients were fitted with dentures.

I also wanted to highlight that Rikhi, an Indian, was closely involved and had donated the mobile dental van! My wish was granted when my dear friends Arun and his wife Geeta joined us.

Arun is a freelance professional documentary producer. He is a graduate of FTII Pune; a premier film institute. He was busy shooting a documentary on Saturday and could be at the camp only on Sunday. It was very nice of Rikhi to send his car to fetch my friends!

I was assigned to be with Arun and offer him assistance! I could see he was very tired as he had worked very late on Saturday! But I guess the energy that we perceived in the camp invigorated him and he was in his elements in no time!

Geeta pitched in by interviewing doctors! Geeta, deeply involved with the UN HIV-AIDS program was very impressed and posed some very relevant questions to the doctors! She said she loved the experience of being part of this camp.
One of the Indian donors is seen here distributing clothes and hats, another contributed a Thai sweet, a delicacy and traditionally Rikhi arranges distribution of Ice Cream to all at the camp! I guess 3999 ice creams were given away, it would have been 4000 if I also had one!

Arun called it a celebration while it was also a serious business!

It was estimated that about 4000 patients came. Around 250 needed an operation for cataract and around 200 dentures were fitted. There is a lot of work involved before and after the eventful day. The patients needing dentures are seen earlier by doctors to get the molds ready and they are fitted with dentures on the camp day. Cataract operations are arranged in a nearby hospital later in the week by the club.

Here are the actual numbers of patients given treatment for various conditions:

Dear Srinidhi more info on medical camp patients:

General Practice dept - 842 patients

ENT dept - 304 patients with 11 ear operations

Skin Specialist - 303 patients

Eye dept - 1452 patients with 1340 reading glasses given away

and 259 eyes to be operated. operation will take place on feb 19 - 21.

Dental dept

dentures - full mouth 97 patients

- partial 73 patients

tooth filling - 211 patients

tooth extraction - 198 patients

removing plaque - 236 patients

Hair cut - 315 people

total 4,031 people were given service.

also pharmacist gave medicine to 950 patients and 1008 people visited the pavilion which Dr. Piyawat had set up to show the King's Dental Project.

best regards


The camp is inaugurated by the Governor of the province. The province arranges for the tents, police take care of the extra traffic. Students and Teachers help the Lions club organisers in many ways taking care and guiding the patients. It is a real co-operative effort initiated and organised by the Lion's club!

While this blog is about Indian participation, it is great to see the Thai way of organising and dealing with the large numbers of patients who turn up! I feel it is quite unique! One has to actually see to appreciate the gentle and pleasant way the people are treated, however disabled and however poor!

There is much more to write about this camp. It includes the impression of the many volunteers and donors who were at the camp!

Lion Kittipoj was the interpreter here!

I guess they are taking a well deserved break!

A proud moment for us as the Royal sponsored dental clinic pavilion features Rikhi, Seema, family and the Lions club members! They as the donors of the Mobile unit were given an audience by his Majesty the King of Thailand. A very rare honor!
The 'Rikhi' group was treated to some good vegetarian soup and food! The members of the Lions club were extremely hospitable!

Aparna doing her bit!
Proud uncle Rikhi with his niece Aparna and Shanti from Brunei.
I and Aparna distributed snacks on behalf of Balaji. His company URC Thailand donated snacks for the waiting patients.

Jimmy and Pinky have participated in camps for a number of years! This year they were with the ENT section and were really challenged as many of the patients could not hear at all!
We see Singh from Singapore. He and Shanti called the experience awesome! They were very generous donors. While Rikhi is modest about his efforts, donations by Indians constituted a substantial part of the total collection by the club!

While there were many old people many children also came! Being aware of the need for good health right at an early age is wonderful.
The children also learnt a lot about their King and his contribution to the well being of his people in many varied ways in this pavilion.
The children were also kept entertained while they waited!

It is the eye drops that make them look so serious! Normally Thais have lovely smiles!

The patient is being taught how to use the dentures! It is the first time for her and she was very nervous!

Ever smiling Thai girls posed for a picture. I did not realise that arranging their hair was part of the pose and waited for them to bring their hands down! You live and learn!

This was the best smile of all. She has new dentures and is thrilled to see what it has done to her face! These are the moments we wait for!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Shubhadaji's concert in Aurangabad and a pleasant surprise.

This will surely delight lovers of Hindustani classical music and especially Viji and Khalid, Gayathri and Mukund. We missed them!

We were to be in Aurangabad on the 21st Dec with Nandini and the rest. Ajanta and Ellora were on our agenda as well as meeting Tara's guru Shubhadaji. (You can watch a recital by her!) When we learnt that she had a concert on 19th, we went ahead of others to attend the concert. We were lucky to get train bookings.

We were received by Satishji at the station in the middle of the night of the 18th and after a pleasant chat reminiscing, went to bed. I woke up only to the sound of an electronic tanpura in the morning. She had already completed her riyaz early in the morning! In a way it was fine that we did not hear her practice and heard her only at the concert!

While Tara had a good time chatting with Shubhadaji, I had even a better time eating a very maharastrian breakfast and lunch! Throughout our stay I had variety of maha food: poha, sabudhana kichdi, vada, amti and kosumbeer. I could not ask for more!

Shubhadaji's home. The abode of 'Swara'.
Shubhadaji left early to check out the sound system. The concert was at the school grounds. We were kindly given a ride to the place by one of her students. As I walked in I was very impressed by the arrangements, the auditorium could easily accommodate over a thousand people! It was a third full when we arrived but filled up by the time the concert began! As I waited I sauntered into the canteen and ate batata vada with bread, absolutely perfect in that weather!

The concert began soon after a brief introduction. I felt that Shubhadaji was a little introspective in the begining. But as she warmed up to the audience her music captivated them. It turned out to be a memorable performance. Reminded me of the many great concerts I had heard in Pune in the past. The ambiance, the weather made it perfect. The organisers could justifiably be proud.

Later I asked how she herself rated this concert. She said 'It is one of my best!' I think we were very fortunate to be part of the experience! In fact, she recently was on the AIR national program which went very well. She is performing at the prestigious Doverlane festival in kolkatta on the 24th of Jan
It was a pleasure to see Vibhav Nageshkar on the tabla and Milind Raikar on the violin combine so well with Shubhadaji to make the concert truly memorable. Shubhadaji is well known for her 'laykari' and the rapport between the tabla and Shubhadaji's singing was precesion par excellence. Singing in taals like Jhumra,Tilwada and Pushto are complex, however, Shubhadaji made it sound so easy, melodious and rhythmic. We could also see that she drew a lot of inspiration from her husband, who accompanied her on the Harmonium.

The many moods of Shubhadaji!

The day after the concert:
Next day was memorable in a very different way. Mukti, Anvi and Shrinivas Rao drove in all the way from Ahmadnagar to meet Shubhadaji and us! Anvi is such a delight. She is so expressive and affectionate.

We had so much to talk about. Shrinivas supported Tara in her efforts to bring music into Bangkok and was a main contributor to the improved music scene in Bangkok. Mukti is a very talented Kathak dancer. They have moved to UK. More about them later!
At home. Satish Paradkar and his sister Nalini Sadhale and
in the forefront is Shrinivas Rao's mother!