The Santoor and me…


Its been really long since i have written. U need to be in a certain mood to be able to write.I experience springtides of writing at times and have to sit with my laptop to flush out the outpour of words in me. I almost feel my heart swell when i delay in doing so.. I can feel the same rush today.. Its been so long since i have felt it. I almost accepted that it’s gonna never to return, but now, i’m happy that it’s finally come back.. ๐Ÿ™‚

It was in the year 2007. My HOD, Mr. Venkateshappa, called me to his chamber. I went in asking myself if i had giving anyone a reason to complain :P..

Our college had set a dress code for us. We wern’t supposed to wear jeans.. A notice had once been put up dat said, “Boys are adviced to wear only formal trousers. It has been observed that some girls wear ugly clothes. Girls are adviced to come in decent salwar khameez to college.” We could interpret everything except for the word ‘ugly’.. What on earth was that supposed to mean!! We encircled it, drew an arrow mark and a question mark too when der was nobody to check on us ๐Ÿ˜› ..The notice barely made any difference. We still wore jeans to class..

I was in my blue jeans nd white shirt on dat day..(my favorite white shirt…i luv its cuts) I didn’t want to be dictated what i should wear. I didn’t want to be given a lecture. That was the only possible reason he could have.. couldn’t think of any other..

I entered the chamber and saw another lec hu taught us control systems dat semester.. I wud take his notes only when he wud pass by me.. ๐Ÿ˜› The rest of the tym wud be spent making funny comments nd creating wierd stories on his infamous paunch wid my frns ๐Ÿ˜› I was wondering if he said something to the HOD.. I took a deep breath, smiled and greeted them both. They smiled back. “Come in Ishma. How r u? We just received an invitation from MVIT.. They have a music concert today at their campus. Our college has been invited. Pt. Shivkumar is performing. What do u suggest? Should we go? who is he? Classes will have to be cancelled if we plan to attend it…” By the time he finished speaking a hundred thoughts had crossed my mind. Starting from relief for not having been called to be reprimanded for any reason to exhileration i felt it all.. I had decided that i must attend that concert come what may. I thought, “Should we go?? What a Qn was that?? He’s a maestro damn it!!”

The Santoor is my favorite musical instrument. I just can’t stop falling in love with it.. The first time i heard this magical instrument was while i was recording at a studio for the BGM of a musical. We had taken a break for lunch. I was the youngest artist there.. barely 15 yrs sold.. Everyone else were over 30. They would pamper me all the time and joking call me a manager because i wud do all the little things like make notes for them etc apart from the main job which was to sing…. The instrumentalists had just finished their recording.. mine and the male singers’ aalap was due.. That was post lunch..As i listened, that one sound, the sound of santoor had captured me.. It drew me closer and closer to itself.. I chose not to go for lunch with the others dat day.. I said i’m not hungry and and stayed back at the studio..After everyone left i walked up to that enamouring instrument.. I dunno why but i felt nervous..may be because no artist wud like another lay person touching their instrument(every true musician pays huge respect to his instrument..)and that too in his/her absence..But no.. it was not just that..I still remember dat feeling.. I picked up the mallets.. I was scared to strike the strings.. I had heard such enchanting sound from it.. I didn’t want to break out of that captivity.. I almost felt like i wud disrespect it by trying my hands on it as a novice.. Finally i managed to gently strike the mallets against the random strings.. It still sounded great..

The santoor is such a wonderful creation dat every sound it makes is enthralling…

“Yes sir. We must go. Pt. Shivkumarji is a santoor player.. Moreover, he’s a Padma Shri and a Padma Vibhushan.. We shouldn’t miss it..”,said I. It took me a while to convince him that he must cancel our classes and take us to the concert but i finally managed to do so..

Most of my fellow students were excited only because they wudn’t have to attend boring classes..Who is interested in classical music anyways..? The transport was arranged and in an hour we reached the venue. The huge hall was packed with students and other music lovers..All seats were full. None of my fellow mates were ready to stand thru the entire concert or sit down on the carpets dat had been spread out after all the seats were full..

I managed to cram myself up somewhere in between…anything for music.. how does the place matter when u have a legend performing before u? ๐Ÿ˜‰

In d next 30 mins my college mates left. So did the lecturers. I told dem i’ll manage my way back home and stayed back.

He played. He conquered.

He also understood that a lot of the young college goers might not be able to relate to pure classical and played quite a bit of contemporary too.. He floored every person in the hall.. It takes a great talent to make hundreds of rock loving youth not only to applaud classical music but also ask for more..

The santoor basically is of persian origin but Shivkumarji gave it completely new dimension. His playing is consummate, never below par. The whole combo is flawless- Santoor, Shivkumarji, persia, Kashmir(dat’s where was born and he got his taleem from).. I was in a state of trance by the end of the concert.. I wished even Rahul Sharma wud have been there to perform. It wud be great to see the father-son duo on stage together…Also, he was the new rage among the youth during that tym for both his music nd his looks ๐Ÿ˜›

It happens everytime.. even to this day.. everytime i listen to the santoor, i feel some sort of fullness in side me.. I dunno if i can explain it the rite way..but something creeps upwards starting from my gut till it reaches my heart till it swells and then my mind..and my soul.. I feel tranquilized..elevated to another state of being.. How could something so great nd Godly be created by man? How could something be so magical.. The only word that could describe it aptly is ‘divine’. I deliberately pull myself thru everytime i listen to it bcoz it entraps me in way dat is almost scary..almost hypnotising…I go thru similar feelings when i listen to Chinese music.. But nothing like the santoor in Shivkumarji’s hands..My eyes turn moist by the tym i finish listening.. I listened to Shivkumarji’s hamsadhwani once and it took me a while before i cud shake myself out of its bewitching charm..

Here’s a link to the d same..—Alap,-Jod–Gat

We had a question answer session post performance and he obliged kindly to every Qns from the audience.. I waited for him to come out of the hall.. I just wanted to be around him for a while.. There is a certain aura exuded by such great artists.. U gotta be around them to understand what i’m trying to say.. U can actually feel the positivity nd Godliness around them..

It was almost 8 in the evening and i was 35 Kms away frm my house.. I managed to catch hold of a bus driver of another college and requested him to take me along..He offered me a ride till my house along with many other students ๐Ÿ™‚



  1. krishna · November 16, 2009

    oh my goddddddddddd!!! ishma u know lot of thinks abt music…i dint even know that u are so much interseted towards the classical music(dont mind, i dont know any other types of music), as u know i love to hear ur songs, but i dint know u r a master in the musical field… & one more ting, how does the santoor looks like??( 1st i thought u were talking abt santoor soap!!) . As always wish u great career in music field too…& lastly, dont it look odd to make fun of HOD in ur blog??? i never saw him telling his stories, did he?? Regards krishna

  2. amrita · November 16, 2009

    Hey thats a lovely piece of writing. reading it infact reminds me of myself ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. neelam · November 16, 2009

    its really good ish:)I was ready to blast our HOD 4 d dress code before u mentionded that it was 4 music that he had called u for..after reading your blog,i feel like writing too..all d best.n d poem is superb..

  4. Ishma.. · November 16, 2009

    @NEElAM>> Thanks darlin.. luv ya ;)Jaldi likhna shuru kariyo.. I just luv ur writing..Its way better dan mine..And tu toh chup hi reh saali.. u were the first one to stop wearing jeans.. U didnt wear them fr 2 full yrs.. Nd u knw how much maine tujhe sunaya hai is baat ke liye..Poem is my fav too ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thanks..

  5. Ishma.. · November 16, 2009

    @ Amy>> Thanks yaar.. I'm sure u understood that feeling perfectly ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. Ishma.. · November 16, 2009

    @ Krishna>> Thanks man..The soap thing was really funny. Yup,i'm a music lover. I wasn't making fun of our HOD.. I guess no line suggests dat. He was my project internal guide nd gave such good marks..Why wud i make fun of him :PI have uploaded a picture of the santoor at the top..And the most important thing is dat i am no master.. plssss don't call me dat.. I knw nothing.. I'm trying to learn my dear.

  7. Puli Sowbhagya · November 16, 2009

    Arey yaar toh to bahut he acche writter hai,ithna aachi thara liki hain :)meine socha ki mein he pagaal jese sab kuch explain karti hon lakin toh to kamal ki hai dear ๐Ÿ˜‰ :P…but really yaar u ll be a good writter as well a vry best singer 1 day (abbi bhi hai lekin future me aur acchi banegi :)sweets tera expressing way is really great means great yaar ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Shubham Agarwal · November 16, 2009

    nice descripto of the scene and your internal connection with it. I cud visualize it ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Deepak · November 16, 2009

    Hey ishma thats quite and impressive piece of writing.. I am not a very good at the technicalities of music but i just love listening to lots of music… Half my time i am just plugged to the ear fones listening to something.. That hansadhwani performance was simply brilliant… I have myself attended lots of these spic macay concerts and all of them have been simply spell bounding… :)Keep up the great work would love to hear you sing some day… ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. vidya · November 17, 2009

    hey ishma,….feel so happy for you. i was so engrossed in your writing that, it reminded me of my childhood. I was learning classical music n my teacher used to teach with VEENA. I had a similar attraction towards Veena as you have for Santoor.I stopped going for classes after my tenth..after that studies,job,marriage,baby….today after reading ur blog i feel i've missed out something in my life.I still hav that burning desire to learn Veena n m so inspired today to go back n hold on to my dreams…seriously:-)i wish you all the best for your career in music:-)music is the best means to praise and please the Lord.n u r gifted with it. My best wishes with you.

  11. lovelornme · November 17, 2009

    aheem…..ahemmmm…look at this manager with white shirt on…(and which has "cuts" also… :P)gud one i must say…though i hve zero knowledge about music…but after reading ur post it seems even i wanna hear that… ๐Ÿ˜‰

  12. Ishma.. · November 17, 2009

    @Sowbee>> super long Description ke liye toh hum dono famous hain! Humare marks bhi kahaani likh ke pages bharne se hi toh aate the ๐Ÿ˜› Cheers to us ;)@Shubham>> U finally managed to make tym read!! Thanks :)@Deepak>> Thanks man.. Where ver u lost all these days?? U in b'lore? nd r dese spic macay concerts fr free?? How often do dey happen here in b'lore? @Vidya>> Thanks dahling ๐Ÿ™‚ And why do u think u can't continue learning music now?? U must take up classes.. Will give u sm contact numbers if u want.@gappu>> I'm talking about is 'dat' cut nd not 'daaaaat' cut :P..!! U want to listen to the santoor piece?? I have given the link in the blog itself..

  13. Deepak · November 18, 2009

    Hey ishma ya ya i have been in Bagalore only i dint get lost anywhere… ๐Ÿ˜€ I am glad that u even remember me… ๐Ÿ™‚ Spic macay is a foundation that promotes music in the youth of today.. I think we ourselves had a spic macay concert in our school as far as i remember.. :)Most of these concerts are free as they happen in schools and colleges most of the time… For more details you can check out

  14. Kovid · November 19, 2009

    Oh my God, this was truly the best piece of writing i've ever read by a classical music lover. and believe me, i've read quite a few of them. truly amazing. i could actually relate to every incident, except reading the notice for wearing a salwaar kameez. you rockn i was an idiot

  15. Ishma.. · November 19, 2009

    @kovid>>he he.. :Pthanks :)idiot??kyn??

  16. Kovid · November 19, 2009

    abhi tak padha nahin tha !!!

  17. Ishma.. · November 19, 2009

    @kovid>> Haan haan.. Woh toh tum ho hi!! Bahut ud rahe the na bacchu..bahut bhaav kha rahe the!! i brought u down!!

  18. Kovid · November 19, 2009


  19. Thanks for shating this wonderful story…

    SANTOOR is a magic instrument by any means….
    Best Regards

    • Ishma Siddiqi · September 3, 2014

      Thank you very much for reading Ram. Santoor is magical indeed.

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