It was on 4th of November 2005–i was getting a chance to meet Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma for the third time within a span of 12 months. I met him on 26th of December in Puttaparthi (which was my first meeting with him), and i also talked with him there. His son, Rahul, was also with him, but i could not talk to him. On August 8, 2005, Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma was to present a concert in Chandigarh–it was my first chance to listen to his enchanting music. And now, he was coming to the very town where i lived–it was almost a dream that we could not even dream!
I forgot the name of Tabla player who accompanied Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma in our town, though i do remember that it was Akram Khan with him in Chandigarh. I remember Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma mentioning that Ustad Shahfat Ali Khan was to accompany him during his concert in Chandigarh, but very unfortunately, Ustad Shahfat Ali Khan died few days back–it was a very shocking news to me, as i liked the Tabla of Ustad Shahfat Ali Khan. But anyway, Akram Khan played it beautifully to match the master. The concert was to be held among the walls of old fort that we have at our town. Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma came on stage and tuned the things. Then he started in Punjabi–he greeted the people and started with Raga Bhoopali. I again forgot what Tala the Tabla player picked. But anyway, it was a very good piece of music–i need to mention that Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma avoided the usual routine of Indian Classical Raga presentation and started his concert directly with Gat, avoiding Alaap, Jod, and Jhaala part.
After the concert finished, i went to meet him. I touched his feet and asked him if he recoganizes me–though i knew that it won’t happen, but due to the frequency and some incidents that happened in Chandigarh concert, i thought he might have a faint memory of me. But it was not the case–i told him some incidents and then he was able to relate them somewhat. Anyway, it was a thoroughly enjoying time, and we were expecting that next time, we will have Pt. Hari Prasad Chaurasia with us–which did happened!
After the concert of Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma, there was another concert of vocalists. It was from the famous brothers, known as Rajan Sajan Mishra. They presented beautiful songs in Ragas and spellbound us through their mastery over their voice–it was very exhilarating to listen to their voice. Their control of voice and stamina were somewhat very attractive and appreciable. It was indeed a time that one can long to spend again and again!
Now i would like to mention something about the concert that we attended in Chandigarh. It was my first of its kind. I never attended any music concert before it. So, i was very excited about it and almost carried away by the feeling that would arise when i would be able to listen to the Santoor of Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma in person.
It so happened that we were asked to do our bits in getting the stage prepared for him–and without almost my noticing him, i found him standing on the stage. The curtain was still drawn and i was witnessing the things that so beautifully go behind the curtain. He checked his seating arrangement and then wanted to set the microphones. This is where i first conveyed my voice to him. He was having problem in getting one microphone, as the curtain was drawn and if we remove the curtain, the audience would have thought that concert has begun. So, i suggested that 2-3 people just push up the curtain with their backs while he tune the Santoor for that microphone. He agreed and we were able to do this–i sat immediately before him and greeted him with “Sai Ram”. His eyes glittered and i could notice that he liked to hear those words.
He had come a bit earlier and therefore, he went to his green room again–we followed him there and talked to him. It was almost unbelieveable–at one point, i was all alone with him in the room. It was very hot in the auditorium, and he was repeatedly complaining about it–it was hot indeed! He told us that he has performed in this auditorium once before, and he did not like it. The problem was that the air conditioners were malfunctioning or perhaps not functioning at all. This problem made him to close him concert early complaining about the oxygen and heat.
Anyway, when we were in the green room, we talked on number of things–i even showed him my poetry book. I talked about Swami also. When we asked him if he would like to eat or drink something, he said that he would like to take a cup of tea along with some biscuits. It was pleasantly surprising to listen to him asking for a cup of tea, as no one would prefer to take tea during that heat. However, as i like tea myself, so it was a bit personal touch–it so happened that i was to offer him tea and biscuits, as i was sitting near him (we had moved on the stage, as the heat inside the green room was unbearable, though the curtain was still drawn.)
I was not able to believe that we would share the stage when he would be playing–Indian concert tradition has it that some people or children sit on the stage with the performers. And it was our fortune to share the stage on that day–i do not remember the Raga that he played, but it was almost mesmerizing. It was indeed one of best days that you can imagine in your life!
We again had a vocal concert after his Santoor–it was Mukul Shivputra, the son of Kumar Gandharva. It was my first concert of vocal music, and i liked it very much. We again shared the stage with the artist–the Tabla was giving problem, and it was getting very difficult to tune it. However, they somehow manage it and the concert went on. Mukul Shivputra asked for some hot water or a cup of tea during the concert, which again feel in my hands–i had to give him the cup when the concert was on!
Overall, the day was full of unexpected but pleasing surprises, and i can very easily say that it was one of the best days that one can long for and look forward to!