I have never really have time to pursue hobbies until recently. Before that, I would be pondering over Electronic Circuits, or wrestle with formulas of mathematical physics. I enjoyed those as much as I hated them.

But some other things were always there in the background. I never classified them as hobbies really, until now when I have to find time to do them !! I guess that is what hobbies really mean - things that you really want to do, but you are too busy doing other things ...

As far back as I can remember, I have been a music fan. They tell me that when I was a baby, I would listen to music quietly for hours. Later, I started taking singing classes for my own pleasure. The mystic of notes coming together to form music enthralled me. The compliments of those surrounding me didn't hurt either ! Even though I think they praised me because they really just wanted to be nice.

I had several teachers over time who gave me a glimpse of what all music could be, and taught me some of its aspects. I have learned vocal and harmonium from Paulomididi, DivyaMashi, Mudrika Jani of Akhil Bhartiya Music Academy, Krishnakant Parikh ( I like pointing out he is a disciple of Pandit Jasraj ), Nayan Pancholi (He has many cassettes out, and they are excellent. Disciple of Anup Jalota), and currently with Manishaji Upadyay.

I was working on my visharad pratham when I came to the US. That was four years back (if you are reading this in 2001). I finished the curriculum until Madyama Purna and was just getting started on Upantya. I hope to finish it soon ...

In addition to Hindustani (north Indian) classical music, I have a passion for Bhajans (I am particularly fond of Krishna Bhajans). As a kid I used to sing in kirtans, which used to happen very often. That removed my fear of singing in front of people. In recent times, I have sang Vaishnava Janato where Arun Gandhi was a guest (that explains the selection!), a couple of sugam sangeet songs with Nayan Pancholi, and at a Dada Vasvani sammelan in NJ.

I enjoy Ghazals very much. Ghazal is a pharsi word, which means 'PremLila'. I love ghazals sung by Jagjit/Chitra Sinh, Manhar Udhas, Gulam Ali, Bhupender Sinh, Pinaz Masani, Talat Aziz. The most I like is Jagji/Chitra's Echoes, The Unforgettables and The Latest. I also enjoy Indian movie songs by Asha Bhonsle, Lata Mangeshkar, Kavita Krishnamurthy, Kishore Kumar, Mannade and Mohd. Rafi.

My mother is a good artist and that is where I got some of my skills. Be it finely interlocked mehndi, colorful decorated aartis (with flowers, grains and pulses), making elaborate flower hangers, exquisite rangolis ... the list goes on. But these are the things that I tried to live up to her standards. I do both oil and water color painting. Right now all my canvasses are in India, but hopefully some day I will get them here. In addition to that, I have also dabbled with ceramic painting, glass painting and knife painting.

Navaratri is one of the best times of the year for me. I remember jumping to the beats of Garbas ever since I was a kid. I love singing them too but they are a second after dancing. I did Bharat Natyam for three years and would like to learn further!



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