Tag Archives: skill

NhAdha Brahmam ~ a tribute to Shri Kadri Gopalnath, the incomparable Saxophone Maestro

12 Oct

NhAdha Brahmam

~ a tribute to Shri Kadri Gopalnath, the incomparable Saxophone Maestro

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Over a decade ago, I’ve left Jr in a tournament hall (he’s a professional Chess player at international level) somewhere in Mangaluru and walked a few kilometres in blazing sun, with the help of the directions on the phone (it’s probably a Nokia – well before it’s android days) to reach an ancient ShivA temple, that’s located on a rocky hillside. The darshan was wonderful and I’ve returned in time for lunch with Jr (sensibly took an autorickshaw this time). The place I’ve visited is Kadri, which has been made world famous by a son of the soil, who gave the darshan of NhAdha Brahmam to even untrained musical lovers such as this writer, whenever he played a classical song on the western wind instrument known as Saxophone. Instrumental music is naturally formed a significant portion of Swamy’s music collection, in cassettes (do ya know what they are Gen X/Y/Zers) and CDs (used to spend a fortune at the annual music sale at Shankara Hall once upon a time, just like the hundreds of books purchased during the annual Chennai Book Fair, year after year), which now await digitization, quietly lying down under the bed (oh don’t worry, they’re pretty safe), though even that effort seems pointless in this digital age, when there are apps aplenty to play any kind of music anyone fancies, in the phone itself!
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The bassy nhAdham emanating out of the instrument was simply out of the world and can easily bring tears of joy flowing from the rasikA’s eyes. Just like RAjarathinam PiLLai, SrinivA, MAli, BAlachander, Kunnakkudi, UmayALpuram & Valayappatti are simply known by the name of the respective instruments they played with absolute mastery, the name Gopalnath is synonymous with Saxophone. The identity of Master (Maestro!) musicians like him is inseparable from the instrument they play. In other words, they’ve attained union with not the instrument, but the music that flows through it / them.

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Their worship of NhAdha Brahmam, i.e. the Divine in the form of sound, is the music we are blessed to listen to. If done with awareness, perhaps the rasikAs too will be blessed with the darshan of the divine, in the formless form of NhAdha Brahmam. And thanks to my maternal grandfather Shri Rengasami Iyer, I was fortunate to listen to Shri Kadri Gopalnath live once, at the NhAradha GAna SabhA, at a much younger age – accompanying him, which will remain etched in the memory (along with the vocal music performance by another legend, Shri KJ Yesudas), forever.

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Legends aren’t born as legends. But they certainly become aware of their real talent (an inherent gift, unlike skill that’s learnt, which comes into play in a given lifetime, based on one’s prArabdha karmA), work diligently to hone it and attain mastery over it, over a period of time. Whether they know it or not, playing music is their sadhana (spiritual practice) and daily offering to the divine. RasikAs – knowledgeable or otherwise – become a part of that offering, by simply being present, with nary a distraction (kinda hard in the present days with the constant notification wink of the omnipresent smartphone), during such performances. In an(y) unexpected moment, the darshan of the Creator can happen, even if it’s just a glimpse, like a momentary lifting of the veil, making that time worthwhile, eventful, purposeful and joyful. And true legends such as Shri Kadri Gopalnath are the chosen instruments of the divine, to offer the rest of us a glimpse of the boundless Grace! Shambho.

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

Serve-ice!

12 Sep

Been forced to do some infrastructure (plumbing + associated civil) work in a residential property, due to the the quality (or the lack of) materials used by the builder a long time ago. One by one, the same activity is being taken up in each of the 400+ apartments in the residential community. Such activities are painful in two ways – cost & time. While the inevitable expense is obviously unplanned, the time taken – at least a week or two – throws day-to-day living, especially for those who live in these apartments, into a tizzy (in 2 bedroom houses, 1 of them would be rendered useless, for example).

While the core activity of breaking the walls, removing the old GI pipes (which are corroded & blocked with calcium deposited from salty ground water), replacing them with PVC pipes, plastering the broken walls & fixing tiles, and replacing any other devices / appliances that are broken or about to break / fail (like taps, commodes, etc), is being done by the maintenance crew in the community itself, we consciously chose to use our own service providers for a few associated fixes. The difference between the two is significant.

The former – service provider within the residential community – offers the service as a package (not based on tasks or time but as a fixed price deal – Rs.xxxxx per bathroom & so on). Property owners don’t have much of a choice, including the replacement tiles fixed by them, which could be quite jarring – especially if you’ve spent a substantial time, effort & amount in hand-picking tiles / designs when the property was constructed. This is no different from a multitude of service providers, whose focus is to sell what they have – products, services, etc – that may meet the imminent needs but not necessarily offer what the customer really wants. These are akin to use-and-throw items that we typically use at the time of an imminent need but may not recall or recommend when a similar or different need arises in future.

The latter are the people with specific skills (carpentry, painting, civil or electrical work, et al) who offer their skills for any kind of need and just charge for the quantum of specialised service offered. These are artisans (not run-of-the-mill fixers) who you seek out time and again and usually offer their service for a generation or two in several families. These are people we trust, consult, discuss ideas with, accept recommendations & let them go about their work knowing fully well they know better about what needs to be done and how. These are the specialists one doesn’t hesitate to recommend to others as well.

One must bargain hard with the former as they’re happy to fleece you, because you’re just one of their many customers. And keep an eye on the progress (& damages, which are collateral). These are providers who serve-ice customers.

Once must pay a bit more than demanded for the latter as they’re keen to satisfy you, because you’re just their only customer, when they work for you. You also save time as there’s no need to oversee what they do. These are solution providers who truly serve customers!

¬@PrakashSwamy

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