January 18, 2020
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The Legend's Collage

The Legend's Collage

THE legend possibly had a heart of a child. His greatest passion outside music seemed to have been framing pictures, ads, posters of anything that caught his child-like fancy. So the green walls of the two small 100 sq-ft ground floor rooms in Baba Allaudin Khan's home in Maihar are crammed with over 100 framed pictures—Vivekananda, Tagore, Yehudi Menuhin, Beethoven, Queen Elizabeth, Nehru, his children, a young Ravi Shankar, a Ponds Dreamflower poster, a Binaca baby powder ad.

The tables are stacked with his books—mostly Bengali detective journals and Satyajit Ray whodunits. Carefully preserved on a side-table are his ear buds, inkpots, ashtray, a pack of cigars and chappals on the jute carpet. In these rooms, the maestro gave Ravi Shankar, Annapoorna Devi and his son, Ali Akbar Khan their first lessons in music. In the drawing room crowded by rosewood sofas and cabinets stacked with his instruments, he welcomed visitors.

Baba Allaudin Khan lived in this quaint brick-red and green two-storey colonial house spread over 1.5 acres of gardens from 1909 till his death in 1972, aged 110. He had become the court musician to the maharajah of Maihar, after running away from his Eat Bengal home to learn music. His well-preserved home brings the best tidings in gloomy Maihar, thanks largely to his celebrated son and US-based sarod virtuoso, Ali Akbar Khan, who maintains it personally. He spent Rs 10 lakh making a tidy mausoleum containing the graves of his father and mother inside the compound. Family retainers like Danka Kole and Haradhan Purkayastha look after the property.

"Time seems to have stopped in this home," says Purakayastha, a family retainer from Calcutta for the past 25 years. That is the best thing about the legend's home—the most well preserved part of his legacy.

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