Summer in India's Silicon Valley was enjoyed this weekend playing chess by candle-light munching on chocolate, interspersed with carnatic renditions learnt this weekend...thanks to Bescom/KEB.

My obsession with music over the last few weeks is the classic case of when you dont have something (in this case my voice thanks to a nasty cold for 2 weeks) and sitting in class whilst hearing others prepare for the May exams, while being unable to even croak is not much fun. Here is an analysis of the situation as i see it :

0] syllabi :

While our guruji has been (literally) rushing with syllabi, since there is very less time to complete the portion ~ ugh, how i hate that word "portion" and the crappy marks-oriented attitude parents bring and push their wards into ~which kills all the fun. Learning art should be a pleasure, not a competition to score more marks. *sigh*

Well, we have a syllabi of *just* around 50 ragas to be concluded within the next 11 months. *BIGGER sigh*. I have started the process of tracking and listing all the ones I have learnt over the years, but the worrisome part is not how much you know but how well you know... the classic, quality vs quantity.

[1] voice health:This is the most important aspect that i have been very careless about. Need to follow some of the tips from the doctors, especially voice rest. If the last few days condition were any indication i am in big trouble. Besides these restrictions, of which only #1 is a -wee bit of a- real challenge.

To recap, i have to say NO to :

~ imli, lime, juices, in short anything sour,
~ caffeine or lemon tea (warm milky tea is ok)
~ spicy or hot foods,
~ fried foods,
~ cold foods - kulfis, icecreams, cold coffee,
~ anything that can irritate the larynx.
which I know I am not gonna follow... bleh :-P

[2] examination :
Now, assuming i have 300 days to learn all 50 ragams, which gives me 6 days per raga for learning neravals, swara kalpanas, ... Gosh, what an impossible target... At the outset its tough to keep perfect health (no cold, cough, sick, etc...) for a whole year and life has a way of throwing a spanner in the wheel. Secondly, learning the theory part is fine (four 3hr papers over a week), but the execution matters the most because the practical examination is the toughest. The practical is by appointments with just 3 or 4 students per day so the panel of judges has hours at his/her disposal to grill students for all they are worth...and GRILL they do, to the point of being sadistic.

The usual method (I am told) is : Given a raga, do aalap, which can (and will) be cut short by one of the five panelists who will ask you to start a swara kalpana from the charanam of the raga and weave it into the next raga, cite similarities and demonstrate them with neravals, only for another panelist to verbalize few swaras and ask you to turn it into a bhashanga raga or something equally impossible. Sigh, i am so not looking forward to that and tbh, why do i need to go through the hassle when i dont need the formal certification, dont intend turning into a professional performing artiste, and certainly can do without the above rigorous torture regime.