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“Add special spices for George Harrison”

Special Correspondent
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A youthful Ravi Shankar alighting from an aircraft.— Photo: The Ravi Shankar Foundation
A youthful Ravi Shankar alighting from an aircraft.— Photo: The Ravi Shankar Foundation

Pandit Ravi Shankar’s family here, his sister-in-law and his nieces remember him as a warm person who felt comfortable in the presence of his family. They recall that he would pay attention to small details. “I still remember when Ravi Shankarji (Kaka to us) brought George Harrison home for dinner.” says Tanusri Shankar. “He told us to cook and said: ‘Remember to add ‘panch phoron’ (a special five-spice seasoning)... he is a vegetarian and it would lend a nice flavour’.” Ms. Shankar is the widow of Ravi Shankar’s nephew Ananda Shankar.

“It still gives me gooseflesh to recall how the theme song for the 1982 Asian Games was composed in a room in the Ashoka Hotel in New Delhi,” said Ms. Shankar.

“We were in New Delhi for the choreography of the Games’ opening show, when Kaka was there composing the Games score. He called us over and suddenly asked me to sing to check out his composition. I am no singer but I sang along and then he fine-tuned the score and said ‘this is it’.” Ms. Shankar has a dance troupe while her husband was inspired by his uncle to carve out his own niche in the world of fusion music.

Nonagenarian Amala Shankar, widow of Uday Shankar, had a different take on the entire matter, having lost her husband, her son and now her beloved brother-in-law. She said: “The word death does not exist in my dictionary. One only gets into a new world.”

She, however, fondly remembers Panditji as a brother and a friend saying that he used to relish her masoor ki dal and other Bengali delicacies whenever he was in the city.

Panditji, who was here in December 2007 with his two daughters, said he had fond recollections of the city where he spent time with the likes of Sachin Dev Burman. On his listening preferences, he said: “I listen to my two daughters, Norah and Anoushka, and I like listening to classical music – western, northern, and south Indian.”


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