Never miss a story

Get subscribed to our newsletter

“We play new music for the New World, we call it. It's our signature music and it is composed by Masood. It's for two tabla players,” Greenway explains. VOA

An Eastern man and a Western woman make up one of the most unusual musical groups in Washington, D.C.

Masood Omari and Abigail Adams Greenway both play tabla, an Eastern percussion instrument, every day in Greenway’s basement outside Washington. They call this colorfully decorated studio, Tablasphere. And they call themselves Tabla for Two.

Omari introduces the instrument: “This is a goat skin and the middle part, the black here, is burnt steel, coming from the steel powder and pasted with a strong glue and put in the center. It makes a cosmic sound, you can see?”

To Greenway, every note that emerges from the tabla is a “prayer.” “It’s mathematically perfect and very meditative,” she adds. What is unusual is that she and Omari both play the tabla together, giving them a modern sound.

The duo plays three different kinds of music, much of which can be heard on YouTube. The first two are classical music and traditional music of Afghanistan and India. The third:

“We play new music for the New World, we call it. It’s our signature music and it is composed by Masood. It’s for two tabla players,” Greenway explains.


Greenway grew up in Erie, Pennsylvania, a manufacturing city steeped in U.S. history. Her first two names hark back to the wife of America’s second president, Abigail Adams.

“I grew up listening to classical music and American Jazz,” Greenway says. “My father was a classical violinist.” A visual artist, Greenway moved a long way from all that when she embraced Afghan music and musical instruments.

She first became intrigued when she was introduced to the music of India. “I heard the music and I just said this is the most amazing instrument I’ve ever heard, the tabla,” she said, adding, “They say that when the student is ready, the teacher appears.”

The pair met eight years ago in an Afghan antique and textile shop in Washington. “I realized that he was this amazing tabla player and I asked for lessons. I didn’t know at the time where this was going. All I knew is that I had a huge desire and a force pushing me to learn to play the instrument.”

“When I saw her first time Abigail, she doesn’t (didn’t) understand the language of Afghanistan. (But) she understand (understood) the beat and melody, and she was very exciting (excited) to learn. She learned quickly.”

Abigail Adams Greenway plays harmonium in her basement, they call Tablasphere, outside Washington. VOA


Omari fled Afghanistan when he was 15 and resettled in Islamabad. There, he studied tabla for 10 years and received his mastership before coming to the U.S. in 2002.

“What’s really extraordinary is that Masood is singing and playing tabla at the same time,” Greenway says about her teacher. “That is exciting.” Greenway has learned to play harmonium, also known as a pump organ, from Omari.

And here, she earns his praise: “Abigail is playing harmonium in a style no one can play like her. She is playing with her fingers. She is playing very soft, graceful and gentle.” After devoting years to intense study and practice, the duo formed Tabla for Two. They play at embassies, museums, universities and at the Tablasphere for special invited guests.

ALSO READ: Ukraine Fears Mariupol City would be Next to Fall to Russian-Backed Rebel Forces


If Greenway worried about acceptance as a woman playing Afghan music, she discovered differently. “I am clearly an American female and I am playing their music. It’s a coming together of cultures,” she says. “When I play this music they are accepting me, the Afghan people are accepting me.”

“It’s just the beginning. I’ve just started learning about a place that I knew nothing about that has been so ravaged,” Greenway enthuses. “And I’m thrilled to show Afghanistan in a positive, beautiful light.” (VOA)



Narakasura's death is celebrated as 'Naraka Chaturdashi' popularly known as Choti Diwali

Diwali is arguably one of the most auspicious and celebrated holidays in South Asia. It is celebrated over the span of five days, where the third is considered most important and known as Diwali. During Diwali people come together to light, lamps, and diyas, savour sweet delicacies and pray to the lord. The day has various origin stories with the main them being the victory of good over evil. While the North celebrates the return of Lord Rama and Devi Sita to Ayodhya, the South rejoices in the victory of Lord Krishna and his consort Satyabhama over evil Narakasura.

Narakasura- The great mythical demon King

Naraka or Narakasur was the son of Bhudevi (Goddess Earth) and fathered either by the Varaha incarnation of Vishnu or Hiranyaksha. He grew to be a powerful demon king and became the legendary progenitor of all three dynasties of Pragjyotisha-Kamarupa, and the founding ruler of the legendary Bhauma dynasty of Pragjyotisha.

Keep Reading Show less
Wikimedia Commons

Safety-pins with charms

For all the great inventions that we have at hand, it is amazing how we keep going back to the safety pin every single time to fix everything. Be it tears in our clothes, to fix our broken things, to clean our teeth and nails when toothpicks are unavailable, to accessorize our clothes, and of course, as an integral part of the Indian saree. Safety pins are a must-have in our homes. But how did they come about at all?

The safety pin was invented at a time when brooches existed. They were used by the Greeks and Romans quite extensively. A man named Walter Hunt picked up a piece of brass and coiled it into the safety pin we know today. He did it just to pay off his debt. He even sold the patent rights of this seemingly insignificant invention just so that his debtors would leave him alone.

Keep Reading Show less

Sesame oil bath is also called ennai kuliyal in Tamil

In South India, Deepavali marks the end of the monsoon and heralds the start of winter. The festival is usually observed in the weeks following heavy rain, and just before the first cold spell in the peninsula. The light and laughter that comes with the almost week-long celebration are certainly warm to the bones, but there is still a tradition that the South Indians follow to ease their transition from humidity to the cold.

Just before the main festival, the family bathes in sesame oil. This tradition is called 'yellu yennai snaana' in Kannada, or 'ennai kuliyal' in Tamil, which translates to 'sesame oil bath'. The eldest member of the family applies three drops of heated oil on each member's head. They must massage this oil into their hair and body. The oil is allowed to soak in for a while, anywhere between twenty minutes to an hour. After this, they must wash with warm water before sunrise.

Keep reading... Show less