Monthly Archives: September 2017

Durga Puja Celebrated Today

Today, 28th September 2017, India is celebrating the 8th day of Navratri (a multi-day Hindu festival celebrated in the autumn every year that is also known as Durga Ashtami.)  On this day, the Goddess Maha Gauri  – the eighth manifestation of the Goddess Durga – is worshiped. It is believed that her divine light illuminates the entire universe.

She is adorned in a white garb and beautifully seated on her ‘sawari’ (‘ride’) – a bull. She protects and blesses her devotees with her four hands.

As an Old Calcuttan of many years standing in the late 1950’s through the early 1970’s, I can imagine in my mind’s eye that virtually everyone is hitting the streets of Kolkata today, albeit under heavy security arrangements, and each celebrant is undoubtedly spellbound by the festive look of the transformed city itself.

Durga Puja (or prayer ritual honoring Durga) is the biggest festival in this part of the world, and West Bengalese, dressed in traditional Puja attire, are more than just fervent to welcome the high spirits prevalent everywhere. The eastern metropolis welcomes its patron goddess with the beat of drums, amid the aroma of incense and fragrance of the shiuli (night jasmine) flowers.

Typically, revelers – balancing plates of cutlets (fritters) and daab pani (green coconut water) while precariously maneuvering through the crowded alleyways – patiently queue up for a look at the pandals (large open-sided structures with captivating, religious-themed decorations inside. I’m told that the community pujas in the city number over 3,000 this year, while thousands more are observed in towns and villages across the state.

Dear Readers:
You number over 75,000 in over two-and-a-half years ago back in early 2015, when I first began to put “some of my thoughts, written down” and posted them in the blogosphere. Since that time, many of you have urged me to seek support of my site and my writings by way of donations.

 My blog is about my life. It’s about what I’ve learned through the span of my life. It’s about things I love, and things I know and things I have experienced. I am humbled that so many of you want to join with me in my reflections. If you like what you find here, if it inspires or informs or amuses you, then I am content.

It would mean a lot to me if, with the advent of the New Year 2017, you would please consider making a donation of US $1.00, $2.00, $5.00, or whatever amount you deem fit to sustain my work.
And thank you for being a regular reader of the Azim Mayadas Blog!

Copyright © 2017 Azim Lewis Mayadas

Kiwi, Koala, Kangaroo plus

2003 for us was a banner year for travel when Lolita and I embarked on a round-the-world trip by land and air, the highlights of which were New Zealand and Australia.  We were bent on first exploring Kiwi country and we were not disappointed when we flew into
Auckland, North Island, from New York via Los Angeles.

Kiwi
(Also, a colloquial name for a New Zealander!)

Then onto Adelaide, South Australia, via Sydney. The time there was well spent, including a  rewarding trip to Cleland Wildlife Park, which is just 20 minutes away from Adelaide’s City Center: the Park is beautifully laid out and full of fauna, including two other K-named species, namely, Kangaroos galore and the adorable Koalas – the Koala shown below in the middle photo is obviously enjoying being fed his favorite greens. (Photos by yours truly.)
Kangaroos

Koala ‘bear’ – my favorite pic!

Pair of Emus

References:
My Photo Albums; Wikipedia

Dear Readers:
You number over 75,000 in over two-and-a-half years ago back in early 2015, when I first began to put “some of my thoughts, written down” and posted them in the blogosphere. Since that time, many of you have urged me to seek support of my site and my writings by way of donations.

 My blog is about my life. It’s about what I’ve learned through the span of my life. It’s about things I love, and things I know and things I have experienced. I am humbled that so many of you want to join with me in my reflections. If you like what you find here, if it inspires or informs or amuses you, then I am content.

It would mean a lot to me if, with the advent of the New Year 2017, you would please consider making a donation of US $1.00, $2.00, $5.00, or whatever amount you deem fit to sustain my work.
And thank you for being a regular reader of the Azim Mayadas Blog!

Copyright © 2017 Azim Lewis Mayadas

Down Under, Twice Over

Azim Mayadas and Roy Sen
at Azim’s 70th Birthday Bash in NYC (2003)

It helps to have family and friends in far-flung places that you’ve never visited before. And so it was back in the last century – mid 1990’s to be precise – that my wife and I found ourselves, passports in hand, entering Australia via Sydney’s international airport for the very first time. We were delighted to meet up there with cousins from my mother’s side and the following week with close friends of mine in Adelaide.

I personally was so impressed with the country and its friendly people that, on my own, I made another trip to satisfy my curiosity in experiencing more aspects of that vast country. Also, the fact that my best friend from schooldays in New Delhi who was later on a business executive in Calcutta, working at the same British firm as I was, drew me to South Australia.

Roy Kumar Sen had preceded me in emigrating abroad – he with Philomena and their family to Down Under. and I with Lolita and our family to the United States: Roy stuck to his engineering profession by signing up with a large industrial mining company in its export division; I swung away from my commercial background in India’s coal industry, and in pursuit of my lifelong interest in classical music was hired as the Assistant Manager of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) in Upstate New York.

During my first three years with RPO, and as part of my job, I took the orchestra on concert tours up and down the Eastern seaboard. During one such ‘run-out’ and in the midst of an actual concert, I was summoned to take a phone call backstage: A familiar British-accented voice said cheerily: “Roy, he-a-h!” He was visiting the Americas on a sales trip, and my Rochester office had given him my itinerary, so that he could get in touch with me before he returned home. That’s Roy for you. He kept ‘in touch’ one way or another throughout the times we were so geographically apart. His highly legible cursive-scripted airmail letters arrived regularly with news of his rapidly growing family of the younger generation to the point that I lost count.

A date the Sens and Mayadases remembered later on with affection was when by way of careful coordination between  Rochester and Adelaide we flew -East and West respectively – for a blissful few days to a tucked-away countryside resort north of Bombay and chewed the fat about this and that until the cows came home – literally!

Three-Scores-and-Ten Birthday Bash
Yup, 2003! That was my banner year, my 70th Year Birthday Bash!! My youngest daughter, Priya, and son-in-law, David Sable, went all out to convert their duplex on Riverside into a virtual fairyland to celebrate the big day with a long list of invitees, some of whom I’d not seen for ages. Of note was Roy, who had flown in especially from Adelaide for the occasion. It’s no surprise, then, that the following photos feature us at various stages of the party, beginning with Roy’s surprise appearance – Priya had kept it a secret! – and ending with his toasting me:

The Big Bro Hug after Years Apart

 

The Toaster-in-Chief

Philomena Sen and Lolita (1989 Winter)

Azim and Philomena

Postscript:
Unfortunately, our paths didn’t cross again face-to-face, and I was mortified to learn from Philomena that Roy had died on a vacation abroad with her while he was taking his routine morning swim in a hotel pool in November 2009. Apparently, he had suffered from a heart attack.

Goodbye, Dear Friend!

Dear Readers:
You number over 75,000 in over two-and-a-half years ago back in early 2015, when I first began to put “some of my thoughts, written down” and posted them in the blogosphere. Since that time, many of you have urged me to seek support of my site and my writings by way of donations.

 My blog is about my life. It’s about what I’ve learned through the span of my life. It’s about things I love, and things I know and things I have experienced. I am humbled that so many of you want to join with me in my reflections. If you like what you find here, if it inspires or informs or amuses you, then I am content.

It would mean a lot to me if, with the advent of the New Year 2017, you would please consider making a donation of US $1.00, $2.00, $5.00, or whatever amount you deem fit to sustain my work.
And thank you for being a regular reader of the Azim Mayadas Blog!

Copyright © 2017 Azim Lewis Mayadas

 

Carnatic Classical Violin Virtuoso

[Born in the lineage of a disciple of the sainted musician Thyagaraja, Lalgudi Gopala Iyer Jayaraman inherited the essence of Carnatic music from his versatile father, V. R. Gopala Iyer, who trained him. Iyer, a martinet, enforced traits of intense focus and discipline in the young Jayaraman through rigorous lessons. Though a harsh father and guru, Gopala Iyer would not allow the young Jayaraman to even sharpen pencils, believing that his tender fingers were too precious.]

At the age of 12, Lalgudi started his musical career as an accompanying violinist to Carnatic musicians              before rising in fame as a prominent soloist.                                                                                                                                                   Lalgudi Jayaraman
(b. 9/17/1930 d. 4/22/2013)

Lalgudi expanded his style of violin playing by inventing a whole new technique that is designed to best suit the needs of Indian Classical Music and establishing a unique style that came to be known as Lalgudi Bani. He composed several ‘kritis‘, ‘tillanas‘ and ‘varnams‘ and dance compositions, which are a blend of raga, bhava, rhythm and lyrical beauty.

  • Here is an example on YouTube of his Tillana performed by him with his chamber group – it’s a rhythmic piece in Carnatic music that is generally performed at the end of a concert and widely used in Classical Indian dance performances.
  • After inviting him to play the Edinburgh Festival in 1965, Yehudi Menuhin, the renowned violinist, impressed by Lalgudi’s technique and performance, presented him with his precious Italian violin. Lalgudi in return presented Menuhin with an ivory dancing Nataraja when Menuhin visited India.

The Government of India chose Lalgudi to represent India at the Festival of India in USA, London and he gave solo and ‘Jugalbandi’ concerts in London and also in Germany and Italy that received rave reviews.

He was awarded the presitigious Padma Bhushan by the Government of India in 2001. He is commonly grouped with M.S. Gopalakrishnan and T.N.Krishnan as part of the violin-trinity of Carnatic Music.

Afterword: Carnatic music, Karnāṭaka saṃgīta or Karnāṭaka saṅgītam is a system of music commonly associated with southern India, including the modern Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu, as well as Sri Lanka. It is one of two main sub-genres of Indian classical music that evolved from ancient Hindu traditions, the other sub-genre being Hindustani music, which emerged as a distinct form because of Persian and Islamic influences in northern India.

The main emphasis in Carnatic music is on vocal music; most compositions are written to be sung, and even when played on instruments, they are meant to be performed in gāyaki (singing) style.

Carnatic music is usually performed by a small ensemble of musicians, consisting of a principal performer (usually a vocalist), a melodic accompaniment (usually a violin), a rhythm accompaniment (usually a mridangam), and a tambura, which acts as a drone throughout the performance. Other typical instruments used in performances may include the ghatam, kanjira, morsing, venu flute, veena, and chitraveena. The most outstanding performances, and the greatest concentration of Carnatic musicians, are to be found in the city of Chennai. Various festivals are held throughout India and abroad which mainly consist of Carnatic music performances, such as the 6-week long Madras Music Season, which has been considered to be one of the world’s largest cultural events.

The Music Season was started in 1927, to mark the opening of the Madras Music Academy. It used to be a traditional month-long Carnatic music festival, but since then it has also diversified into dance and drama, as well as non-Carnatic art forms. Some concert organizers also feature their own Carnatic music festivals during the season. Thousands of performances are held by hundreds of musicians across various venues in the city.

His biography, An Incurable Romantic, by Lakshmi Devnath, was released posthumously in 2013. It contains a foreword by sitarist Ravi Shankar, and charts his 70 years in music.

Personal life: Lalgudi Jayaraman was married to Smt Rajalakshmi and had two children: his son G.J.R.Krishnan and his daughter Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi. Both follow the footsteps of their father and are famous in their own right. He had three sisters Padmavathy, a vainika, Rajalakshmi and Srimathi, both violinists. Srimathi learned violin from him as well. The renowned veena player Jayanthi Kumaresh is Smt Rajalakshmi’s daughter.

Jayaraman died on 22 April 2013 after suffering a cardiac arrest in Chennai. He is survived by his son and daughter.

Most famous for his thillanas and varnams, Lalgudi is considered to be one of the most prolific composers of modern times. His compositions span four languages (Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Sanskrit), as well as a whole range of ragas not conventionally used for varnams or thillanas. Characteristic of his style, the melody of his compositions camouflages subtle rhythmic intricacies. His compositions are very popular with Bharathanatyam dancers, even as they have become a standard highlight of every leading Carnatic musician’s repertoire.

Reference: Wikipedia

Dear Readers:
You number over 75,000 in over two-and-a-half years ago back in early 2015, when I first began to put “some of my thoughts, written down” and posted them in the blogosphere. Since that time, many of you have urged me to seek support of my site and my writings by way of donations.

 My blog is about my life. It’s about what I’ve learned through the span of my life. It’s about things I love, and things I know and things I have experienced. I am humbled that so many of you want to join with me in my reflections. If you like what you find here, if it inspires or informs or amuses you, then I am content.

It would mean a lot to me if, with the advent of the New Year 2017, you would please consider making a donation of US $1.00, $2.00, $5.00, or whatever amount you deem fit to sustain my work.
And thank you for being a regular reader of the Azim Mayadas Blog!

Copyright © 2017 Azim Lewis Mayadas

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hull House Heroine

Jane Addams (b. September 6, 1860 d May 21, 1935)

Hull House was a settlement house in the United States that was co-founded in 1889 by Jane Addams (pictured above) and Ellen Gates Starr. Located in the Near West Side of Chicago, Illinois, Hull House (named after the home’s first owner) opened to recently arrived European immigrants. My interest in Ms. Addams stemmed from my delving deep into the history of the National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts, which in its latest title  of National Guild of Community Arts Education, is celebrating its 80th Anniversary this year.

By 1911, Hull House had grown to 13 buildings. In 1912 the Hull House complex was completed with the addition of a summer camp, the Bowen Country Club. With its innovative social, educational, and artistic programs, Hull House became the standard bearer for the movement that had grown, by 1920, to almost 500 settlement houses nationally.

Most of the Hull House buildings were demolished for the construction of the University of Illinois-Circle Campus in the mid 1960s. The Hull mansion and several subsequent acquisitions were continuously renovated to accommodate the changing demands of the association. The original building and one additional building, which has been moved 200 yards, survive today.

On June 12, 1974, the Hull House building was designated a Chicago Landmark. On June 23, 1965, it was designated as a U.S. National Historic Landmark. On October 15, 1966, which is the day that the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 was enacted, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Hull House was one of the four original members to be listed on both the Chicago Registered Historic Places and the National Register of Historic Places list (along with Chicago Pile-1, Robie House & Lorado Taft Midway Studios). The Hull House Association ceased operations in January 2012, but the Hull mansion and a related dining hall remain open as a museum.

When Jane’s father died, the inheritance left her with enough money to live on. Addams traveled to Europe. During one of these trips, she decided what she wanted to do with her life.  In 1888, she visited Toynbee Hall in London, England. Operated by Oxford University students, Toynbee Hall served one of London’s poorest neighborhoods. It offered recreation and educational programs to the poor. Addams left England determined to set up a similar “settlement house” (community center) in the United States.

Jane Addams supported other causes, including trade unions and winning suffrage (the vote) for women. Not all of her efforts won public support. During World War I (1914-18) she organized the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, which worked to end the war. Many called her an enemy of the people because of her antiwar stance.
In the end, though, Addams was lauded for her life’s work. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931 for her work with the peace organization. When she died in 1935, Hull House filled an entire city block. It had inspired the creation of hundreds of similar houses across the U.S. Many Hull House residents went on to pursue other important social reforms. Through Jane Addams’ efforts, women had blazed a pioneering role in improving the lives of others. But Addams always insisted that Hull House served her own needs as much as others. “I should at least know something of life firsthand,” she said.

Afterword:
My own history of the National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts covering the period 1981-2001 includes a background note that reads:
Janet D. Schenck wrote in Chapter V of her monograph Music Schools and Settlement Music Departments (National Federation of Settlements, Boston, 1923):
“The decade and a half between 1893 and 1911 constituted the period of pioneering in settlement music instruction. By 1910 the idea had thoroughly proved its worth under the restricted conditions imposed upon it in the settlement house. Well-established departments of music with groups of people more interested in the spread of music than in any other field of culture had been brought into being. The movement to establish
schools and departments gathered fresh momentum.
“An important off-shoot of the establishment of a number of new schools in 1910 was the desire on the part of founders to meet and discuss problems having to do with organization and administration. The first national conference of music school representatives was held in New York in 1911. The meeting formed itself into the
National Association of Music School Societies, which met again in 1912. The reports of these two conferences were most helpful and stimulating.”

Reference: Wikipedia

Dear Readers:
You number over 75,000 in over two-and-a-half years ago back in early 2015, when I first began to put “some of my thoughts, written down” and posted them in the blogosphere. Since that time, many of you have urged me to seek support of my site and my writings by way of donations.

 My blog is about my life. It’s about what I’ve learned through the span of my life. It’s about things I love, and things I know and things I have experienced. I am humbled that so many of you want to join with me in my reflections. If you like what you find here, if it inspires or informs or amuses you, then I am content.

It would mean a lot to me if, with the advent of the New Year 2017, you would please consider making a donation of US $1.00, $2.00, $5.00, or whatever amount you deem fit to sustain my work.
And thank you for being a regular reader of the Azim Mayadas Blog!

Copyright © 2017 Azim Lewis Mayadas