Saturday, February 23, 2008

Madrid, Juan and Chaurasia

Juan Del Amo
In the summer of 2006, I had been to Spain and visited Madrid. While at the Holiday Inn Hotel, I asked the front office manager if he could let me know of any programme for a bull fight which I could watch. Also, I asked him about some good book shops from where I could pick up an anthology of the renowned Spanish poet, Federico Garcia Lorca.
After an hour when we met again Juan was very curious. He asked me as to why I wanted to watch the macabre act of a bull fight, I being a “Hindoo”. He was also amused to know of my interest about Lorca. Thereupon, he mentioned about his visit to India for the Pushkar Mela, about his reading “Manimekhalay”, about Hariprasad Chaurasia and about the Indian classical music. It was my turn to be surprised because I never thought that a Spaniard could tell me about a second century Tamil classic which our own intelligentsia may not have given much attention to.

Juan and I were to become good friends and our correspondence has been going on ever since. I have saved all these in my laptop and this should be good enough for a book on various subjects of our common interest. The subjects vary from Religion, Spanish conquests of the Americas, Spanish civil war, life in the monasteries, music, and Indology. Juan has presently taken up the translation of “Jahangir memoirs” (originally written in Persian) from English to Spanish.

The truth about good music is that it transcends all barriers geography, language, race and time. It also takes us to another realm of existence. When I said this, Juan agreed with me. He told me of a waiter boy in the hotel who had a liking for music and musical instruments. On hearing Chaurasia’s flute from a CD, he was enchanted and told Juan that the music was “terrific and was out of the world”. Coming from a Spanish youth with no exposure to Indian music, this comment was quite surprising and it showed the power of great music irrespective of the instrument or the language.

The next day, as suggested by Juan, I went to some good book shops by travelling through the metro. I also visited the Prado museum, where I could watch some excellent paintings of Goya, Velasquez, Titian and Picasso.

I could pick up some books of Lorca, which included “The Poet in New York”. A write up on the redoubtable great poet Lorca, and his lament on the death of Ignacio Sanchez Mejias, his friend, the bull fighter, I reserve for another post.

Dubai, 22nd February 2008

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