Dance

Campus Days - Trading notes

Meeta Pandit in New Delhi. Photo: Shanker Chakravarty   | Photo Credit: Shanker Chakravarty

Students of Delhi University and other educational institutions across India are used to seeing famous artistes perform for them under the banner of Spic Macay, the organisation that has introduced many a youngster to the wonders of the classical arts. It's another thing, though, when your classmate suddenly ups and takes the stage. That is the kind of flutter that took place while Meeta Pandit Mishra, well-known Hindustani vocalist of the Gwalior gharana, was studying at Delhi University's Lady Shri Ram College back in the mid-'90s.

When Meeta joined the college, she was already used to giving concerts both with her father, eminent vocalist Pandit L.K. Pandit, and as a soloist. However, this was the first time she was offered a platform by Spic Macay. The other performer on the occasion was celebrated santoor exponent Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma. “It was at Hindu college. A lot of my friends came to see it,” says Meeta, recalling the excitement generated by having a student's name on the poster.

Other pleasant memories include her very first day at college. “I wouldn't really want to call it ragging,” she begins with a laugh. “It was the first interaction between the seniors and the fucchas. They told our group — I was in B.Com Honours — to go on the road, stand at the traffic light and beg. It was so funny. People just looked at us and smiled.”

Meeta had a full schedule that included participation in the National Service Scheme, under which she spent a certain number of hours every week at the nearby school for the blind, reading to them, singing or otherwise interacting. Another enriching experience was attending the talks by eminent cultural personalities regularly organised by the college.

While Meeta was a good student at school, scoring upwards of 83 per cent in her Board exams, she would have missed the LSR admission cut-off by less than one per cent, if not for the extra-curricular activities (ECA) quota. With LSR's reputation for an interest in cultural activities, did this put an additional burden on her? No, says Meeta: “I was singing anyway, so I sang in college too!” Classical, Bollywood, light music, she was game for it all.

While music was a piece of cake, studies too should have been smooth for a keen academic achiever. But she had a hard reality check right at the beginning. While she had scored “really well” in maths at school, in college, her first maths test yielded eight out of 100. “It took me that to wake up!” she laughs.

Besides studies and performances there were favourite hangouts: the common room, the canteen and the hostel — whenever she and her friends could “sneak in”.


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Printable version | Jan 25, 2022 12:59:09 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/dance/Campus-Days-Trading-notes/article15127553.ece

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