What Am I Doing Tomorrow for India Music Week?

12 10 2013

ganeshB. George here – Saturday I’m heading out to flushing Queens to the Ganesh Hindu Temple Canteen for a quick dosa in the basement, then a FREE concert across the street @ Saraswati Hall.  Take the # 7 train to 45-57 Bowne St., Murray Hill, Flushing, Queens. (718) 460-8484).

Concert starts @ 2:30 pm.  Smt. M. Bala Raidu, Sri A.R. Balaskandan – violin and Sri Yazhpanam T. Shenthuraan on mridangam.

After the concert it spicy lamb burgers @ Xi’an, or lamb something, from this downstairs eatery featuring Chinese cooking from the Shanxi province.

Back on the the Flushing line for my 6 o’clock – a FREE talk on the Ins-and-Outs of Classical Indian Music @ the Chhandayan Center for Indian Music (4 West 43rd Street, Bet 5th & 6th Ave., Suite 618) in Manhattan.  This pre-concert lecture is by Dibyarka Chatterjee – tabla and runs  from 6 to 7 pm.
At 7:30 there’s a concert by Ruchira Panda – vocal,  Sri. Anirban Chakrabarty – harmonium, and our lecturer, Dibyarka Chatterjee on tabla.  Admission for this one.  Ms. Panda is of the Kotali gharana Hindustani Classical music school who studied under Pandit Manas Chakraborty.

PLENTY of other events throughout NYC this Saturday.  Hava look!  All the info and so much more about Indian culture and music on our site @ www.IndiaMusisWeek.org   Have fun!

More India Every Day!

8 10 2013
robotEvery day more and more data and info and fun things to do are pouring into the India Music Week, Oct 6-13 webthing.  Just last night  •  a discography of Tibetan music from in India • links to the audio for a massive 78 collection  •  Indian music programs from the 80s on WNYC radio  •  THREE new concerts  • and even more on the curious relationship between India and ROBOTS!

The site is a sight – www.IndiaMusicWeek.org

Blue Lotus Festival in Rajasthan

29 01 2013

My trip to India was a wonderful experience and has led to a host of new friends and musical information. One stellar event that’s coming right up is The Blue Lotus Festival in Rajasthan.

This is a massive, well-organized event, featuring more than 300 talented artists from nearly every state and representing the widest range of traditional, semi-classical and Sufi musicians presented anywhere. Definitely not a tourist-hype event, but striving for authenticity. A quick look at the short video above tells you this is exciting stuff!

This event is organized by De Kulture Music. They make it pretty darn easy to have a great musical experience – a long trip to an unfamiliar place, made safe and comfortable. Click here to view the Blue Lotus Package travel package they offer .


De Kulture’s mission is to develop an Indian network of audio archives and an entertainment resource that delivers the India’s diverse cultural expressions in an entertaining and informative way via all mediums and formats possible. They represent 2000 artists from various parts of India, and have released more than 50 albums over the past seven years.

It’s worth lingering a bit in Rajasthan, a desert region with beautiful cities, sites and music. This is where they have a lot of “j”s – Jaipur, Jodhpur Jaisalmer – as well as Pushkar, most famous for it’s camel fair (Nov), and now, the Blue Lotus Festival.

Learn everyting here:



Need even more info? You can always e-mail them: info@bluelotusfestival.com

You Light Up My Life

16 11 2012

It’s festival Time in India.  I was in Varanasi (Benares) during Durga Puja and took a breakneck bicycle rickshaw drive trough the streets – highly recommended in a city offering hash and opium on every corner.

Festivals are pretty darn festive.  Here’s a shot from “Outer Space” (you know, about 62 miles away) of India during Diwali, the Festival of Lights, from www.punjabiportal.com.  May be fake; may not matter.

Cardboard 78 Player from India

13 11 2012

While in India I had the great pleasure of meeting Suresh Chandvankar, a scholar and one of the catalysts behind the Society of Indian Record Collectors (SIRC).  He also spoke at the IASA conference in New Delhi, is an author and has helped Dust to Digital to release material from the Young India Label.  His true love is Indian Classical music on 78s.  He was also my guide to the record haunts in Chor Bazaar (Thieves Market), Mumbai.

One of the treasures that he showed me was this attempt to create a portable record player for the masses, for pennies (film below). He remembers finding this simple, ingenious device while hiking in the Himalayas forty years ago.  At first he thought the cardboard was there just to separate the two discs until the seller told him that he could only buy the records if he bought the gramaphone also.  “What gramaphone?” was his bewildered response.  And to his amazement the cardboard was unfolded and the player revealed.  To his amazement the two discs and player was six rupees (11¢).  Here’s how it works;

The corrugated cardboard is divided into three folded sections.  On one end is a revolving metal disc with a spindle, on the other a metal stylus (needle).  The 78 rpm record has a spindle hole, and a small hole on the outer edge of the label to insert a pen, pencil or stick.  The cardboard is folded to make a triangular shape, the stylus placed on the record, the triangular fold acting as a resonator.  The user insets the pen and handcranks the disc, and voila, an early walkman.

It’s an iffy sounding system, but then again, it does indeed create a gramophone for practically nothing. The designers were proselytizing Christians, hell-bent on bringing “The Good News” to, in their minds, the heathen Hindus.  The disc containing sermons, Bible stories and quotations.  The only info I could glean from a partially obscured label states that this is a “Cardtalk Record Player” manufactured in Bangalore.

So feel free to make one of these at home, a great add to our DIY plastic cup cylinder disc player @ https://arcmusic.wordpress.com/2007/07/29/anti-iphone-contest-all-systems-go/

For fine academic work on early Indian sound recordings see back issues of Record Collectors News published by the SIRC that Suresh has made available online, downloadable as PDFs – http://hindi-movies-songs.com/sirc/index-sirc.html

How I Got to Where I Am Today

19 10 2012

   OK.  Everything was set for my trip to India except  for the leg from Delhi to Agra to Varanasi.  This would involve trains.  Now trains cannot be booked direct by internet via the US, unless you have an Indian Tel #.  There is a work around, but it didn’t work.  The travel agent who booked the conference I was attending said no tickets avail to Varanasi on the date I wanted to go.

So I waited until in India, and every agent said not possible, and one said yes,  Reassurances abounded, skepticism remained.  I reserved a car and driver to Agra to see the Taj Mahal.  You do NOT want to drive here by yourself – they drive on the left, lanes are only a suggestion, and every trip is a game of chicken.  Agra was swell, driver great, only one flat tire, and so off to the train station at end of day for the leg to Varanasi.

I was prepared for something fishy, as one yes to 100 no’s has meaning.  It turned out that the train station was outside of Agra, 21 km.  OK. Bad, but not so bad.  We get to the station and the train has been delayed .  NINE HOURS.  To me that’s not a delay, that’s a cancellation.  That means the night train, that I paid for a sleeping berth, would become an all day train ride.   Plus I would have to stay up all night at the station (a dismal place it be, with no A/C or security) in the middle of nowhere.  So my driver, Ashesh, rhymes with hashish, who is a saint by the way, asks if there is another train that night.  Yes, but booked. What to do? Back to Delhi and take a plane?  Pay $200 to drive to Varanasi?  Wait for a train that may never come? Then I become my old self.

I ask a porter if he can get us on the train that is running tonight, that is completely booked.  He makes some calls.  A guy shows up.  He makes some calls.  We make a deal.  The train is to be here at 8:30.  The guy making the deal at 8.  Both are 45 minutes late.  I pay the $40 for the ticket I have already paid for once, only when I am in my sleeper car, in my seat on the train.  We pay small monies to the porter.  They bribe the conductor.  My driver has stuck with me the whole time, and did I mention he was a saint?

I am now amongst a herd of innocent Danish people, younger than my beard.  The Indian tour leader loves Led Zep and is a hoot.  No one ever asks to see a ticket.  A very fat Indian man on the bunk next to me bought 4 dinners with him and gave them to everyone in our compartment and some things for the porters and conductor.  Fresh sheets and towels, I had a nice sleep, the train was only 1-1/2 hrs. late, and the Danish Tour people drove me to my hotel.  I may have actually saved money in the long run.

I think India is getting to me.  I never got mad, and I didn’t stop trying to work out the problem.  I am now the balcony of the beautiful Ganapati Hotel, sipping lemon tea overlooking the Ganges.


All this by the way has given me an idea. Richard, from the British Library, one of my friends here at the conference, related a story of how once, when out collecting sounds in the Amazon, his travel connection by boat never arrived.  He took the only avail transport he could find, and that turned out to be a boatload of brigands, who raided villages along the coast, putting him in great danger.  Now anyone who has ever gone after music has had a similar, if not as impossible, experience.

Soooo… a book entitled; “The Boat’s Not There – Harrowing Tales of Music, Musicology and the Search for Sound.”

I’m keen to relate my trip deep into Colombia under the protection of a drug cartel to attend a festival, or my days at Fela Kuti’s compound in Nigeria.  I think the hills are alive with such tales, and I welcome contributions!

And had not all of this happened I might never have seen this super amped wedding soundblaster truck!


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