September 18, 2006

Indian Classical music in the Katamonim

Surreal is how the man sitting behind us described it .The venue was Chanchal and Sigal's courtyard (see below) in the Katamonim neighbourhood in Jerusalem and the occassion was a classical Indian concert featuring Ustad Bahauddin Dagar on the Rudra Veena . To put things in perpective , Katamonim undeniably the cultural backwaters in Jerusalem , home to the Black Panther movement , doesn't exactly scream it's candidature for a cultural event featuring the Rudra Veena one of the more esoteric instruments from India .Sitting next to a playground and abutting a road , the venue isn't exactly built for performances . To have arguably the finest exponent of this instrument completed the surreal picture . For the uninitiated the Rudra Veena is kind of sitar with a fretboard and two sound boxes but in reality it's miles apart with a much deeper and resonant sound .

The performance began with gratification of the culinary senses , food , excellent samosas ,chai ,gajjar ka halwa and thali . And after a mandatory delay the music began . The first piece was Raga Yaman , a beautiful simple raga ,one of the first ragas that is taught . More description about the raga here . The music took some time to build up and one could see the audience getting a bit restless including my two boys but then the music picked up it's tempo and you could see heads swaying keeping pace with the music . Barring an insistent scooter with a noisy exhaust , some cats in the background and an overenthusiatic student, the venue held up well . The high point of the evening was Raga Chandrakaus, a late night raga, performed flawlessly by the maestro . It was a pity when the show ended and I cycled back home . But I went home with the assurance that there were more shows in the offing . It's unlikely that there would be an artist of such a stature in the near future but it doesn't harm hoping .

Listen to Ustad Bahauddin Dagar here.

Sigal and Chanchal have a nice little corner where they host guests on thursdays with Indian food and will soon host Chanchal's art gallery. For thursday evenings the places can be reserved at 02-6784172 052-8620251 .

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