Well folks, I never even made it out the front door of the hotel today, so I missed out on learning my Tamil word of the day from the doorman. I could occasionally see him from the other side of the glass, waving and chuckling to himself. You see, it amuses everyone greatly that I’m making an attempt to learn Tamil, and as you probably know, it amuses my old stage personality to know that I amuse them all. Keep ’em smiling, as they say in the performing arts.
The show began right after breakfast in the foyer. Just at the moment everybody was watching to see if “Vanakkam” would emerge from my vocabulary, my pants pocket gave way to a hole and a stream of quarters came streaming down my pant leg and splashed across the floor. The encore that really brought the house down was when we discovered that my left Birkenstock had filled with change. I probably should have done the old dance with the hat and cane, too, but it might have fallen flat compared to the main show…
Back to the room just in time to begin receiving a flow of guests, all of whom are so giving of their time and effort to help make this program a success. I feel that all of India is rallying in support of our humble little repair school. First came S. Shivkumar and his assistant Bharati Raja, engineers who can shake power tools out of their fingertips like magicians pulling rabbits out of a hat. And of course, they were mightily amused that I knew that Bharati Raja’s name in Hindi means “King of India.” These gentlemen soberly look at the weirdest of violin maker tools and then set about reproducing them in unbelievably short order. No problem. Then came Krishna and the engineers posed with us for a photo op. Then Saravanapriyan’s father Sriraman arrived just in time to witness me in near nutritional collapse and ordered me to take lunch immediately. I guess the power to observe that I have bad eating habits and don’t eat enough runs in the family. Over lunch we had a discussion with Ray from Massachusetts, a firefighting equipment specialist who consults all through Asia. The conversation soon turned from his famous Vietnamese pop singer wife and her career to topics of world religion and how we are all one big happy family. Ray, a born and raised Catholic, couldn’t for the life of him figure out what the deal was with worshipping shivlingams and yonis in India and Sriraman eloquently tried to convince him that Catholicism was certainly of one mind with all of these ideas. I’m afraid you’ll have to research for yourselves what shivlingams and yonis are if you are not in the know already. We don’t normally have these sort of conversations in America with strangers over lunch.
After the late lunch, I was blogging like a freak because the pressure is already on to keep it alive, and was sought out in the computer center by Anantha, a very sweet young student, 43 going on 20, who is a violin student of Krishna’s. He regaled me
with tales of his time studying under the gurukulam system, where he came to live in home with Krishna like a family member, and the instruction in violin and life skills is ongoing daily. He is very fortunate to have spent so much time with Krishna and his father, the legendary Lalgudi G. Jayaraman and seems quite excited to spend the full three weeks living there again to study violin repair with me. I am deeply moved by the devotion shown me and my skills in luthierie which I’ve honed over a lifetime practicing this art in Santa Barbara.
The computer is starting to freak out now, so we shall continue when it’s in a better mood. Thank you to all!