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-by Himani Kumar
Ustad Amjad Ali Khan was recently denied the visa for the United Kingdom to play the Sarod London, but his passion for the instrument never dies and he has the strength, humility, and enthusiasm to spread his message of music.
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“I am grateful to British High Commission for finally granting me a visa. However, I understand that a country is not obligated to give a work visa to any individual. Seeing the response at Royal Festival Hall in September, it was obvious that they sincerely wanted me to perform in London. It was one of my most memorable concerts in London. I was equally honored to perform at La Villette Grand Hall, Paris,” Khan said.
Since he did not meet visa requirements as it did not meet the requirements of Britain’s immigration rules, Khan said that he wanted to call PM Narendra Modi at the time of crisis, but did not have his phone number.
The 70-year-old Khan said on Friday he was “shocked and appalled” that his application for the visa to perform at a festival in London had been rejected.
Khan was to perform on Sept 17 in London.
According to media reports, Indian-origin lawyer Keith Vaz argued Khan’s case saying that it could damage Indo-UK relations. Vaz is the longest-serving Indian-origin MP and Chairman of the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee. Vaz said that he had written to the Home Office and asked for an explanation and reversal of the decision and was astonished that Amjad Ali Khan, one of India’s greatest living artist’s visa had been refused.
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“Relations between the UK and India can be severely damaged by this kind of action., Vaz said. According to media reports, securing a visa has become more complex. Asking for ease in visa seeking and cheaper visa facilities for Indians, the Royal Commonwealth Society recently called for Britain extending a visa pilot project underway in China to India.
Ustad’s major influences in life have been none other than his father.
Khan’s inspiration for the music was triggered early on. “I cannot remember a particular day that I was initiated into the world of music. It was a part of me from as early as I can remember,” Khan said. “ Indeed, I cannot think of a moment when music has been separated from my life. For my father Haafiz Ali Khan, though, there was no question of a life outside of music. Life itself was music and Music was Life. And so I came to inherit from him the legacy of five generations of musicians as naturally as a bird taking to the air,” he added.
“Music is the greatest wealth that I inherited from my forefathers. One that I am constantly sharing with my disciples. I believe in blessings and hard work. We can only do our best and leave the rest to the power up there. Music for me is a way of life. It’s not a profession but a passion. The love and the pull were inbuilt. I really didn’t have to work on that bit. In a traditional musical family, most of the kids become responsible very early in life and they have the highest order of family pride. I was very fortunate that I was the youngest child of my father and guru Ustad Haafiz Ali Khan Saheb. I got the opportunity to be my guru and along with music, realize the importance he gave to humanity values of life and complete surrender to God. It is said, I could not enjoy the freedom of my childhood,” the maestro added.
On the Sept. 15, the trio performed Sarod in India Festival of France and on Sept. 18, at Royal Festival Hall London and at Festival of Chants of India at Washington organized by Hare Krishna Hare Rama. “By the grace of God, Almighty Amaan and Ayaan have been accepted by the people and the organizers of the music world. They are dedicated and committed to Indian Classical Music and also to the collaboration of World Music,” Amjad Ali Khan said.
Ustad Khan along with his sons did residency at the Jacob School of Music in Indiana till Oct. 15. Khan also hopes to play in Chicago and get a concert in Chicago Symphony Hall.
“Jacob’s School of Music invited me this semester as an artist-in-residence. This was a partnership between the Jacobs School of Music and Indiana University’s School of Global and International Studies,” he said. “The course was called “Fundamentals of Indian Classical Music,” which was open to graduate students and upper-level undergraduate students in the Jacobs School. It was highly interactive, and students learned the fundamental concepts of Indian classical music through time-honored traditional methods,” he added.
Audiences react well to Sarod in India and abroad.
“I am very glad that Sarod today has become a universally known Indian instrument, Khan said. “Even in the west, Sarod is a very loved instrument. My family is on a collective mission to make this beautiful instrument as popular as the Guitar! Since my childhood, I always wanted my instrument, the Sarod to be able to express the entire range of human emotions…to sing, shout, whisper and cry. All the emotions! It has been a long journey so far and by the benevolence of the heavens, the Sarod has become far more expressive than it was 40 years ago,” he added.
On youngsters taking up Sarod, Khan said youngsters was optimistic.
“Our mind is like any living organism. It must be nurtured and needs stimulation to develop and grow.” Ustad Khan said. “Music is one of the most important ‘food’ for the intellect. Each musical note is connected to this most important part of our minds. Music has many faces. Conversation, recitation, chanting and singing are all part of music. Music can be either vocal or instrumental. Vocal music appeals to most of us because of its poetical or lyrical content. Instrumental music on the other hand, such as what I play on the Sarod, is pure sound. It needs to experience and felt. Since there are no lyrics, there is no language barrier between the performer and the listener, and that is why instrumental music transcends all barriers,” he added.
“ Music is one of the most important ‘food’ for the intellect,” Ustad explained. “Each musical note is connected to this most important part of our minds. Music is the greatest wealth that I inherited from my forefathers; one that I am constantly sharing. Musicians and listeners of music have been communicating with each other across all barriers through this ‘language’ from time immemorial. As we use flowers in worship, welcoming, honoring, departure, and celebration no matter what our race, origin, religion or language, we similarly arrange musical notes into ‘bouquets’ or compositions which display all our human feelings and emotions. There isn’t an instant coffee culture that I can follow! Only practice can work; not any kind of digital correction can!,” he added.
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Aman and Ayaan have been well received by the audiences and carry on the legacy of their father well.
“For a lot of young people of India, Amaan and Ayaan have become role models,” Ustad Amjad Ali Khan said. “In fact, I have learned a lot while teaching them. Today Amaan is also the Khalifah (The older son of a guru who holds the same place next to the Guru or father) of our Gharana. Fortunately from the very beginning their way and approach to music were very different. Ayaan has had his own way of expression whereas Amaan has all the ingredients and qualities of being the elder brother. I never wanted to create another two Amjad Ali Khans! That was never my intention. I feel blessed that as soloists or as a duo, they have both carved out a niche for themselves in a rather deep-rooted fashion,” he added.
Ustad Khan also said that technology should be used in the proper way.
‘My guru often told me that he did what he felt was right and I should do what I felt was right. Generally, a classical musician’s guru imposes all the do’s and don’ts on the shishyas. That’s one reason why there are so many copy masters who sing and play identical like their gurus,” he said. “I still remember the love and warmth I received from revered Jaddu Krishnamoorthy, the great philosopher, and guide. I was very happy to see the guru-shishya parampara being upheld in these schools as well as others that I have visited across our country. It is this legacy that will facilitate the growth of knowledge and wisdom in harmony with well-deserved Indian traditions, in current times. I am really proud of the achievements of mankind but technology must be cultivated in harmony with peace and tradition. What worries me is that the future children of this world should not behave or look like robots. To ensure thus, it is vital that modernization must be accompanied by a reverence for India academic traditions which have been valued through times,” the maestro added.
Great historic events that have shaped the world and changed the outlines of countries are often not recorded in memory, or so we think. Wars made sure to destroy evidence and heritage, and the ones who survived told the tale of what really happened. Folklore, albeit through oral tradition kept alive many such stories, hidden in verse, limericks, and rhymes.
Ringa-ringa-roses, a common playtime rhyme among children across the world, is an example of folklore that has survived for many centuries. It tells the story of the The Great Plague of London which ravaged the city between 1665-1666.
The Plague broke out from improper disposal of garbage and poor sewage conditions. Fleas from the rats that lived in the sewers spread the disease that killed more than half of London's population. Many people fled from their homes as there was no medicine available for those who were infected.
Beak-shaped masks worn during the Great Plague of London Image source: wikimedia commons
It was around this time that masks began to be invented. The first masks were shaped like beaks, and were worn not to protect the wearer from the disease, but to the prevent them from being able to smell the decay and death around them, which they called 'miasma'. The beaks were filled with floral herbs that allowed doctors and nurses to tend to the sick without being reviled from the smell.
Children are often seen forming circles by holding hands and reciting loudly,
Pockets full of posies
We all fall down"
An illustration of the Great Plague of London, 1665 Image source: wikimedia commons
When the last line is sung, they break the circle and fall down. The roses and posies are believed to be the preferred fragrances inside the masks, and a single sneeze (a-tishoo) was enough to infect the one who was exposed to the disease. Consequently, they fell down, ill, and later died.
An alternative version of this rhyme is sung about the fall of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the aftermath of World War II. The roses and posies are interchanged with geranium and uranium, to symbolise what was used in the atomic bomb. But this version is not as famous the original.
Keywords: Rhymes, Ringa-ringa-roses, Great Plague of London, WWII, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Folklore
In modern times, many social movements aim to bring reform to the society we live in, on the basis of certain existing patterns. Patriarchy is something that many aim to cleanse our cultures of, to usher in the era of social and gender equality. Despite all these so-called movements, in southern India, certain societies that patronise matriarchy have existed since before India's independence. The Nairs and Ezhavas of Kerala, and Bunts and Billavas of Karnataka are matrilineal societies that continue to thrive in a patriarchal country.
Kerala remains separate from the rest of India in many ways. Be it literacy policy, form of government, or cultural practices, this state does not always conform to the ideal that India is known for. Even so with their social structure. Certain tribes have remained matrilineal, where the decision-making power rests with the eldest female of the family.
The Nairs and Ezhavas of Kerala, and Bunts and Billavas of Karnataka are matrilineal societies that continue to thrive in a patriarchal country. Image source: wikimedia commons
A male member, who is the close confidante of the matriarch is chosen. He plays a crucial role in representing the male members of his family, and his opinion is highly valued. He is called karavanan. The men reside in separate rooms or in separate houses, and do not interfere in the upbringing of children. Property is also passed down along the lineage of the eldest female. Among the Nairs, matriarchy is more prominently adhered to than the Ezhavas, who have some patrilocal connections.
In Karnataka, the Bunts and Billavas belong to the Tuluva ethnic group. They are also a predominantly matriarchal society, founded on the belief in a legend. Their matrilineal descent is known as Aliyasantana.
The story is told of a demon who threatened to destroy a kingdom if the king did not sacrifice his sons, but the king's sister comes forward to offer her children in sacrifice for the sake of the kingdom. The demon is touched and does not destroy the city. Since then, the kingdom, or the property is inherited through female lineage.
In Karnataka, the Bunts and Billavas belong to the Tuluva ethnic group. They are also a predominantly matriarchal society, founded on the belief in a legend. Image source: wikimedia commons
In the recent past, many of these matriarchal societies have been reduced to matrilineal societies by certain governmental laws. They fall under the patriarchal scheme of the rest of the state but have reserved the right to pass on property and heritage through the female line. In the North east of India, matriarchal dominance is far more resilient than the south.
Keywords: Bunts, Billava, Nair, Ezhava, Aliyasantana, Matrilineal, South India, Karnataka, Kerala
Apple inc. Is an American multinational tech firm specialized in consumer electronics, computer programs, and internet services founded by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne in 1976 to manufacture Wozniak's Apple iComputer. It is the world's top tech company in turnover (totaling $274.5 billion in 2020) and its most valuable corporation. Apple is the fourth-largest PC seller by unit sales and the fourth-largest smartphone manufacturer in the world.
Apple has revealed a slew of new products at a special launch event that has been long-awaited. On the day of the live event, Apple announced the iPad mini, Apple Watch Series 7, iPhone 13 mini, and iPhone 13, as well as the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max.
Apple has revealed a slew of new products at a special launch event that has been long-awaited. | Photo by Daniel Romero on Unsplash
In the first major product announcement during the event, Apple introduced the newest edition of the iPad and a 5G-capable iPad Mini.
iPad: The 10.2-inch iPad is equipped with a solid A13 processor that delivers 20 percent quicker performance than the preceding version. According to Apple, it is now three times faster than a Chromebook. A new 12MP ultra-wide camera with Center Stage, which utilizes machine learning to optimize the front-facing camera during FaceTime video chats, as well as more incredible accessory support, including compatibility with the first-generation Apple Pencil, are among the new features. For 64GB of storage, the iPad costs $329.
iPad Mini: In addition to reduced borders and more rounded edges, the 8.3-inch iPad mini also has improved front and back cameras. A liquid retina display, USB-C compatibility, magnetic support for the Apple Pencil, an enhanced speaker system, and new hues such as pink and purple are all features of the new Apple iPad Mini. The starting price is $499.
In the first major product announcement during the event, Apple introduced the newest edition of the iPad and a 5G-capable iPad Mini. | Photo by Leone Venter on Unsplash
The other major unveiled products include:
iPhone 13 and other variants: The iPhone 13 range is almost identical to the iPhone 12 lineup, with a 5.4-inch iPhone 13 Mini, a 6.1-inch iPhone 13, a 6.1-inch iPhone 13 Pro, and a 6.7-inch iPhone 13 Pro Max. It was also revealed that the Watch Series 7 has a smaller "S7" processor, which may allow for a bigger battery or other components to be housed in a smaller footprint. The gadgets have a revolutionary design that includes a dual-camera system, placed diagonally. Apple's iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini have longer-lasting batteries than the previous generation of devices. In addition, Apple claims that the iPhone 13 will have a battery life that is 2.5 hours longer than the iPhone 12, and the iPhone 13 mini will have a battery life that is 1.5 hours longer. A more energy-efficient display, an upgraded 5G chip, and functionality called "Cinematic Mode," similar to the famous Portrait mode function but is only available for movies, are among the other enhancements. The A15 Bionic chip present in the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini is also used in the 6.1-inch iPhone 13 Pro and 6.7-inch iPhone 13 Pro Max, also 6.1-inch devices. However, it also has a five-core CPU, which promises graphics that are 50% quicker than previous models. Other notable features of the Pro devices include a brilliant Super Retna XDR display with a higher refresh rate and long-lasting battery life. Now, for the price, it will start at $699 for the iPhone 13 mini with 128 GB of storage, $799 for the iPhone 13 with 128 GB of storage, and the Pro and Pro Max have starting prices of $999 $1,099, respectively.
Apple Watch Series 7: The new Apple Watch Series 7, which is smaller and has a larger screen than its previous model, was introduced by Apple on Wednesday. There is a 20% increase in screen size over Series 6 on the new watch. A complete keyboard that you can touch or slide to write out text messages can show 50% more text. It starts at $399.
Keywords: Apple, iPad, iPad Mini, iPhone 13, iPhone 13 pro, iPhone 13 Pro Max, iPhone Mini, Apple event 2021