Pandit Ravi Shankar : The Sitar Silenced


English: Master of Sitar, Ravi Shankar. Deutsc...

Pandit Ravi Shankar. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           DECEMBER 14 , 2012           11.55 P.M.

Pandit Ravi Shankar , the Sitar maestro and the unofficial ambassador of Indian Classical music , died on December 11 , 2012 in San Diego , California , United States of America at the age of 92 .

I am fortunate that I could attend one of his concerts in Allahabad . My Allahabad days are very important for me because they shaped my life and personality immensely . I could meet literary figures like Firaq Gorakhpuri , Sumitra Nandan Pant , Vijay Dev Narayan Sahi and Amrit Rai . I could interact with politicians like Murli Manihar Joshi , who was a professor in the university in those days . I could attend the concerts of various musicians like ; Pandit Ravi Shankar and Ustad  Alla Rakha Khan and some others .

The year was 1971 / 72 . One evening I was sitting in my room in Sir Ganga Nath Jha Hostel and was studying . My friend Pramod Vajpayee came running and informed me that Pandit Ravi Shankar along with Ustad Allarakha Khan is going to perform in Lakshmi Talkies . Lakshmi Talkies in Katara area of Allahabad was stones throw away from Sir Ganga Nath Jha Hostel . In those days it was our favourite hang out . I don’t know whether it still exists or not . But in those days it was almost a part of our lives .

I refused to believe that a musician of the stature of Pandit Ravi Shankar would be performing live in a small cinema hall like Lakshmi Talkies . But my friend’s excitement forced me to believe that it is really going to happen .

I rushed , almost sprinting , to the talkies along with my friend , bought the ticket and entered into the hall panting for breath and took my seat . I waited with bated breath . After some time hall was reverberating with deafening sound of claps and whistles . Pandit Ravi Shankar along with Ustad Allarakha Khan appeared on stage . He gently took his seat and started playing Sitar . Ustad Allarakha Khan was accompanying him on Tabla .

Ah ! I remember only this much . I am just a connoisseur and not an authority of Indian classical music . So I can’t write about the ragas or other nuances of that concert . But I can still remember the moment when time froze . My body became numb and nothing seemed to exist . There were two magical figures on the stage and the hall was full of etherial sound . I am unable to explain that moment .

I cherished that moment till now . That experience has become a part of my being . On December 11th , when I read about his death , it dawned on me that I won’t be able to see him ever . That fateful evening in Allahabad’s Lakshmi Talkies was my first and now the last occasion when I was so close to the colossus legend .

God ! I can live with pride that I could see the Tansen of my generation performing live in front of my eyes . Pandit Ravi Shankar is gone but my experience of attending his concert will live with me till my last breath .

All the news papers are full of the minutest details of his life . So there are no need to reproduce them . Today I just remembered the early days of Pandit Ravi Shankar . I was telling my acting students how Pandit ji was vehemently criticized by his peers and competitors . A puritan like Ustad Vilayat Khan , a life – long bete noir of Pandit Ravi Shankar , left no stone unturned to decry Pandit ji . According to him , Pandit Ravi Shankar was a fake wannabe Sitar player .Ustad Vilayat Khan’s rivalry turned into open animosity with the passage of time . He refused to accept Padma Shri in 1964 , Padma Bhushan in 1968 and Padma Vibhushan in 2000 because Pandit Ravi Shankar was conferred Padma Bhushan in 1967 , Padma Vibhushan in 1981 and finally Bharat Ratna in 1999 , and according to Ustad Vilayat Khan he would not accept any award that other Sitar players , his juniors and in his opinion less deserving , had been given before him . He even said , ” if there is any award for Sitar in India , I must get it first . ” He also refused Sangeet Natak Akademy Award and even boycotted All India Radio for a while . It is alleged that it all happened because of his jealousy and animosity for Pandit Ravi Shankar . And the end result was that Pandit Ravi Shankar got international fame and ultimately the Bharat Ratna . While Ustad Vilayat Khan had some decrepit awards called ; Bharat Sitar Samrat and Aftab – E – Sitar .

I told acting students of my acting institute , Vidur’s Kreating Charakters , that in the beginning of one’s life’s journey one can be called a fake , a wannabe , a cheat or a person of lesser knowledge by his jealous and less successful competitors . One should not get disheartened or affected . Time settles everything . Time has given a final and decisive verdict in the case of Pandit Ravi Shankar and Ustad Vilayat Khan . It will and it can happen to any one . Only time can tell . Only time will decide .

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I bow my head in reverence and pay my respect to the Tansen of my generation . With the demise of Pandit Ravi Shankar , Sitar will never be the same again . The world of music is orphaned .

VIDUR

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA

www.vidur.co.in

www.kreatingcharakters.net

www.vidurfilms.com

www.youtube.com/ividur

www.twitter.com/VidurChaturvedi

www.jaibhojpuri.com/profile/VidurChaturvedi

50 Years of Cuban Missile Crisis


MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           OCTOBER 30, 2012           00.45 A.M.

Year 1962 in general and October 1962 in particular is permanently etched and engraved in my memory for two historical events . First is Chinese invasion of India and the second one is Cuban Missile Crisis .

I was 10 years old boy living in Deoria , Uttar Pradesh . My adolescent mind was getting awakened to the happenings of the world . I was curious . I was eager to gather knowledge . I was fascinated by the twists and turns of history . And these two epoch – making chapters of history opened in front of my eyes . I will write a separate blog about Chinese Invasion of India . Let me concentrate here on Cuban Missile Crisis .

 

U.S. reconnaissance photograph of soviet missi...

U.S. reconnaissance photograph of soviet missile sites on Cuba, taken from a Lockheed U-2 spy plane following the Cuban missile crisis. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

English: CIA reference photograph of Soviet me...

CIA reference photograph of Soviet medium-range ballistic missile (SS-4 in U.S. documents, R-12 in Soviet documents) in Red Square, Moscow. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Two main protagonists of the drama are now gone . J. F. Kennedy , the then President of U.S.A. got assassinated and Nikita Khrushchev , the then Premier of U.S.S.R. was deposed and subsequently died a natural death . But Comrade Fidel Castro , the then President of Cuba is still alive . His brother Raul Castro , who held parley with Nikita Khrushchev , is now President of Cuba . Let me unveil the incidents of the crisis , which might have escalated into World War III .

 

English: John F. Kennedy meeting with Nikita K...

John F. Kennedy meeting with Nikita Khrushchev in Vienna. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

EXCOMM meeting at the White House Cabinet Room...

EXCOMM meeting at the White House Cabinet Room during the Cuban Missile Crisis on October 29, 1962. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

The Soviet Union sending nuclear warheads to Cuba followed the 1958 deployment by the United States of Thor IRBMs in the UK (Project Emily) and Jupiter IRBMs to Italy and Turkey in 1961 – more than 100 US-built missiles having the capability to strike Moscow with nuclear warheads. After provocative political moves and the failed US attempts to overthrow the Cuban regime (Bay of Pigs, Operation Mongoose), in May 1962 Nikita Khrushchev proposed the idea of placing Soviet nuclear missiles on Cuba to deter any future invasion attempt. During a meeting between Khrushchev and Raúl Castro that July, a secret agreement was reached and construction of several missile sites began in the late summer. These preparations were noticed, and on 14 October an US U-2 aircraft took several pictures clearly showing sites for medium-range and intermediate-range ballistic nuclear missiles (MRBMs and IRBMs) under construction. These images were processed and presented on October 15, which marks the beginning of the 13-day crisis from the US perspective.

The United States considered attacking Cuba via air and sea, but decided on a military blockade instead, calling it a “quarantine” for legal and other reasons. The US announced that it would not permit offensive weapons to be delivered to Cuba, demanded that the Soviets dismantle the missile bases already under construction or completed, and return all offensive weapons to the USSR. The Kennedy administration held only a slim hope that the Kremlin would agree to their demands, and expected a military confrontation.

On the Soviet side, Premier Nikita Khrushchev wrote in a letter from October 24, 1962 to President John F. Kennedy that his blockade of “navigation in international waters and air space” constituted “an act of aggression propelling humankind into the abyss of a world nuclear-missile war”.However, in secret back-channel communications the President and Premier initiated a proposal to resolve the crisis. While this was taking place, several Soviet ships attempted to run the blockade, increasing tensions to the point that orders to US Navy ships to fire warning shots and then open fire were sent out. On 27 October a U-2 was shot down by a Soviet missile crew, an action that could have resulted in immediate retaliation from the Kennedy crisis cabinet, according to Secretary of Defense McNamara‘s later testimony. However, in the event itself, Kennedy stayed his hand and the negotiations continued.

 

English: The engine of Lockheed U-2 which has ...

The engine of Lockheed U-2 which has been brought down above Cuba in Museum of the Revolution in Havana (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

English: Nikita Kruschev letter to President K...

Nikita Kruschev letter to President Kennedy stating that the Cuban Missile Crisis quarantine “constitute[s] an act of aggression propelling humankind into the abyss of a world nuclear-missile war.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The confrontation ended on October 28, 1962,when Kennedy and United Nations Secretary-General U Thant reached an agreement with Khrushchev. Publicly, the Soviets would dismantle their offensive weapons in Cuba and return them to the Soviet Union, subject to United Nations verification, in exchange for an US public declaration and agreement never to invade Cuba. Secretly, the US agreed that it would dismantle all US-built Jupiter IRBMs deployed in Turkey and Italy.

 

English: Adlai Stevenson II shows aerial photo...

Adlai Stevenson II shows aerial photos of Russian missiles in Cuba to the United Nations Security Council in the presence of USSR ambassador Valerian Zorin. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I am quoting the events of the crisis from Wikipedia . Because , though I vividly remember the crisis but day-to-day events in chronological order have been almost obfuscated from my memory .

While I was sitting in the office of my acting institute Vidur’s Kreating Charakters , I suddenly remembered those fateful days and decided to write a blog on the topic in the night .

I still wonder , what would have been fate of the world in general and India in particular , had the crisis been not diffused in 1962 ?

VIDUR

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA

www.vidur.co.in

www.kreatingcharakters.net

www.vidurfilms.com

www.twitter.com/VidurChaturvedi

www.jaibhojpuri.com/profile/VidurChaturvedi

An Internet Bloomer : 2011


MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           January 07 , 2012            01.50 A.M.

My last year’s article about my forays into internet was an impromptu effort . Since the activities are escalating by each passing year , I decided to give it a proper shape and post an account of my internet activities every year in the first week of January .

FACEBOOK : www.facebook.com / Vidur Chaturvedi

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Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

As I have stated last year , Facebook was my first foray into internet  . In 2010 , I had 517 friends , which jumped to 1468 friends in 2011 . In one year 951 new friends joined me in my journey . In 2010 ,  I had created 16 albums and up – loaded 1163 photos .  In 2011 ,  it jumped to 24 albums and 2078 photos . In one year , a jump of , 6 more albums and 915 new photos .

I started posting THOUGHT of the DAY every night post 12.00 A.M. from August 2010 . Tonight when I posted my thought , I was surprised to notice that its number is 510 . Uninterrupted run of 510 days is quite a long journey indeed .

BLOG : www.mevidur.wordpress.com

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English: The logo of the blogging software Wor...

Image via Wikipedia

I started blogging in March 2009 . My first blog was posted on March 30 , 2009 . I created my account on WordPress on that day and started blogging .

Till the end of 2010 , I had posted 150 blogs . At the end of 2011 , its number is 227 . This blog will be 228th in the series . A leap of 78 blogs in one year .

Till the end of 2010 , I used to write in 28 categories . At the end of 2011 , I am using all the 32 categories . In 2010 I had 566 tags and in 2011 they have jumped to 1,963 . It is a big leap of 1,397 tags .

In 2010 , September 27 was the busiest day . I got 108 hits in a single day . It seems to be norm now in 2011 . 124 hits on April 14 ; 114 on September 07 ; 142 on September 20 ; 105 on December 28 , 124 on December 29 and 113 on January 06 , 2012 . April 18 , 2011 was the busiest day for my blog space . I got 219 hits . In 2011 , on 06 occasions , I got more than 90 hits per day . Total number of hits in 2010 were 8,107 . 2011 took a gigantic leap . Total number of hits are 25,549 . 17,442 hits in one year . It comes to 1453 hits per month and almost 50 hits per day . It is a far cry from 4 / 5 hits per day in the beginning of blogging .

In 2011 ,  I added flag counter to my blog space . To my amazement , I found that people of 84 countries have visited my blog space . In 2010 Flag Counter was not there . So comparative data is not available . But I am ecstatic .  Apart from India , name of other nations , whose nationals visited my blog space , are ; U.S.A. ; UNITED KINGDOM ; TAIWAN ; PAKISTAN ; NETHERLANDS ; CANADA ; U.A.E. ; SAUDI ARABIA ; BELGIUM ; BANGLADESH ; FRANCE ; AUSTRALIA ; GERMANY ; MALAYSIA ; QATAR ; ITALY ; NEPAL ; SINGAPORE ; BAHRAIN ; HONG KONG ; OMAN ; SERBIA ; SWEDEN ; SWITZERLAND ; SRI LANKA ; THAILAND ; POLAND ; INDONESIA ; SOUTH AFRICA ; MALDIVES ; PORTUGAL ; SOUTH KOREA ; BRAZIL ; JAPAN ; UKRAINE ; NEW ZEALAND ; GREECE ; RUSSIA ; TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO ; TUNISIA ; ROMANIA ; MONTENEGRO ; MAURITIUS ; ISRAEL ; FINLAND ; ECUADOR ; ALGERIA ; PHILIPPINES ; ICELAND ; HUNGARY ; MEXICO ; URUGUAY ; BULGARI ; AUSTRIA ; MOROCCO ; AZERBAIJAN ; MOLDOVA ; LEBANON ; KUWAIT ; MOZAMBIQUE ; TURKEY ; BELARUS ; BHUTAN ; ALBANIA ; GHANA ; KENYA ; VENEZUELA ; SLOVAKIA ; CZECH REPUBLIC ; COLOMBIA ; VIETNAM ; HONDURAS ; EGYPT ; NORWAY ; LUXEMBOUR ; GLATVIA ; BOLIVIA ; DENMARK ; CROATIA  and  IRELAND . Apart from above mentioned 84 countries , there were 19 other visits from unknown destinations . It makes the number of visiting country 103 . It is very encouraging for a non – entity like me .

List of my most – read blogs are also increasing . In 2010 , only 10 blogs had got more than 100 visits . In 2011 Home Page had got 7,016 hits . One blog post got more than 1,081 hits . Another one got 6,21 ; one got more than 430 ; 4 blog posts got more than 3,00 ; 2 got more than 2,00 and 19 posts got more than 100 hits .

I am in real ecstasy . I am numb . I am humbled .

TWITTER : www.twitter.com/VidurChaturvedi

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Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

I started twitter account on June 17 , 2009 . Till the end of 2010 , I had posted 2,740 tweets and had got 142 followers . Till the end of 2011 , I had posted 4,977 tweets and had got 392 followers . A jump of 2,237 tweets and 250 followers .

LINKED IN : http://www.linkedin.com/in/mevidur

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Image representing LinkedIn as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

Till the end of 2010 , I had just 11 Linked In connections . It jumped to 48 connections in 2011 .

Apart from above mentioned activities , I have Wikipedia Profile , YouTube Channel , Google Account and few others . All these accounts , for convenience , are assembled in Gravator Profile .

It is now 32 month – old passion . I would like to call it A Dream of Passion on Internet .

VIDUR

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA

www.vidur.co.in

www.vidurfilms.com

www.twitter.com/VidurChaturvedi

www.jaibhojpuri.com/profile/VidurChaturvedi

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