Tag Archives: India

A very happy holiday to everyone.

25 Dec

These guys are great:

Ravi Shankar’s 96th birthday

7 Apr

Today’s Google Doodle reminds me that today is the birthday of the  incomparable Indian sitar master Ravi Shankar:

‘Today we celebrate Pandit Ravi Shankar, who was born 96 years ago today. Shankar evangelized the use of Indian instruments in Western music, introducing the atmospheric hum of the sitar to audiences worldwide. He performed frequently with the violinist Yehudi Menuhin, and composed a concerto with sitar for the London Symphony Orchestra. Shankar also taught George Harrison of the Beatles how to play the sitar, and widely influenced popular music in the 1960s and 70s.

Shankar’s music popularized the fundamentals of Indian music, including raga, a melodic form. Raga, as Shankar explained, has “its own peculiar ascending and descending movement consisting of either a full seven-note octave, or a series of six or five notes in a rising or falling structure.” The distinctive character of Shankar’s compositions attracted the attention of composer Philip Glass, with whom Shankar wrote the 1990 album Passages.’

Here is some amazing footage of his performance at Woodstock.

Travel Tip: Pick Pocket Proof Pants

20 Jan

On my recent trip to India, I tried to travel as light as possible. I was able to pack everything I needed into two carry on bags. One item that I highly recommend are the picket pocket proof pants sold by Clothing Arts. Not only do these pants allow you to carry your passport and money securely, they are also very light and are fast drying, making them easy to wash and dry them in your hotel room.



The 800 sounds of human language

4 Nov

This article (behind a paywall) in the latest issue of Scientific American notes that all human languages combined have about 800 sounds, while individual languages have about only about 40 sounds. During our sensitive period of language development we master the sounds of our own language, but often lose the ability to make, or even, in some cases, to distinguish between, the sounds of other languages.

Recently, I have been trying to pick up some phrase book Hindi in preparation for a trip to India and I am surprised by how difficult it is master some of the sounds of this Indo-European language. Sam Miller in his great book Delhi: Adventures in a Megacity writes about his difficulty ordering toast in India. The word toast has been incorporated into the Hindi language, however Hindi has four different ways to pronounce T, none of them corresponding exactly to the way English speakers pronounce it. Thus, if not for the help of his Indian wife he would  be unable to order this important staple.

A great excuse for Monty Python:

Jain monk credits meditation for spectacular memory feats

20 Nov

From The New York Times:

“MUMBAI, India — The young man sat cross-legged atop a cushioned divan on an ornately decorated stage, surrounded by other Jain monks draped in white cloth. His lip occasionally twitched, his hands lay limp in his lap, and for the most part his eyes were closed. An announcer repeatedly chastised the crowd for making even the slightest noise.

From daybreak until midafternoon, members of the audience approached the stage, one at a time, to show the young monk a random object, pose a math problem, or speak a word or phrase in one of at least six different languages. He absorbed the miscellany silently, letting it slide into his mind, as onlookers in their seats jotted everything down on paper.

After six hours, the 500th and last item was uttered — it was the number 100,008. An anxious hush descended over the crowd.”

The man is Munishri Ajitchandrasagarji, his Facebook page is here.


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Sanskrit taught in British schools

21 Mar

An interesting video from a few years ago about a program to teach Sanskrit in British schools:

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