Unable to make the mainstage concert because I’d be out of town, I was truly honoured by Ganesh Nanda’s invitation to his beautiful home. Ganesh's lovely wife Anita welcomed me with samosas and chai. I was lavished with Indo Canadian hospitality, the ethereal refinement of the evening to follow was in sharp contrast to the earthy hilarity of the Indo Canadian Russel Peters Almost Famous concert I’d just attended days before. Sharing my love of Peters with other early arrivers I was regaled with impromptu skits of Russell’s best by East Indian men, obviously fans. The men organized the sound system and seating while the women chatted and served food, Their colourful safaris and distinctive gold jewelry fit well with the elegance of the Nanda home . Everyone pitched in to make the evening unforgettable.
The Tabla players were Ustad Hashmat Ali Khan & Akram Khan. All bowed to them as they came in, young and beautiful women bowing down and touching the foot of the elder with sincere respect. The Sarod Players were Pandit Aloke Lahiri and Abhisek Lahiri. These father and son artists reminded me of Ravi Shankar and his talented daughters. So much greatness of music was a combination of genes and breeding. Watching the speed of hands and fingers of these players that night I thought of thoroughbred stallions whose physical gifts combined with spirit to make them all time world winders. The dexterity and physical skills of these world renowned performers made them akin to Olympic athletes but the heart and soul of their performance raised them to the blessed and divine. Listening to the music that evening I was transported out of myself, transcended to a loftier place, thrilled by the joy of the experience of man and God uniting. It was all of that and more. I was not alone. Glancing around I saw all around faces filled with rapture and bodies dancing seated. It was so moving yet still in the silences. Perfect refrains of music thousands of years old performed by the finest in this modern Vancouver home. I thought of Tagore. The heart and soul of this evening was truly divine. I felt changed at my core, closer to something elusive but true. What a privilege and honour to be a part of something so extraordinary.
Of course the performances ended all too soon. There were short breaks but time stopped while they played and we all crossed dimensions. Returning sometime near midnight we all found Anita and the other ladies, had ensured a feast was waiting for the end of our enchanted journey. I indulged my palate on fine Indian food, sitting with my friend Anil enjoying also the family photographs on one wall. There was a very young and dashing Ganesh with his most lovely young Anita, babies in arm, babies that now have grown making children of their own.
The tabla music of Khan and stringed sarod music of Lahiri is such a gift. The Virasat Foundation is to be truly thanked for bringing the greatest of India’s artists to Vancouver, Canada.