Spain has some of the most beautiful places on earth, says the Bollywood star
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OT: Where did you travel to last for a holiday?
Hariprasad Chaurasia: I have never travelled on holidays. My music takes me around the globe and I am happy to travel like that. I feel blessed that my music gives me the opportunity to see new places, meet new people, experience different lifestyles and enjoy every moment of it.
OT: Where did you grow up?
Hariprasad Chaurasia: My childhood was spent in Allahabad. And I have very fond memories of the early morning dips in the Ganga, the sumptuous desi khana and the carefree life I led there. Bansuri Guru, a documentary film on my life, released last month, revisits those early years in Allahabad and Orissa.
When I was a musician at All India Radio, Cuttack, in the 1950s and 60s, I used to travel with Odissi dance troupes to every corner of the state — in small towns and villages. Back then travel was not so comfortable but I still miss the fun-filled trips in crowded trains and buses. Today, when I have the good fortune of flying in jumbo jets across the world, I remember those days and thank God for giving me that opportunity; otherwise, I might have never realized the worth of what I have now.
OT: Where was your first concert abroad?
Hariprasad Chaurasia: It was in London in the late 1960s with a big group of musicians from India. We were on a cultural exchange programme. I jumped straight out of a well into not a pond, river or lake, but a vast ocean. I was completely awestruck. The concert was at the Royal Albert Hall and I was performing for the first time in front of foreigners, and among the audience were Ravi Shankar, George Harrison and Mr and Mrs Yehudi Menuhin. I was so nervous. I can’t recall what or how I played.
OT: Your favourite city in the world?
Hariprasad Chaurasia: Rotterdam, Holland. It has been my second home for twenty-five years. I spend a few months teaching Indian music at the Rotterdam Conservatory every year. It’s a very nice and vibrant place with cordial, music-loving and culturally active pupils. That’s the only city where I go cycling. Sometimes I used to cycle in Orissa and Allahabad but I really miss being able to do that today.
OT: Is there a place where you’ve been longing to go?
Hariprasad Chaurasia: No. I’m at peace in Vrindavan Gurukul in Mumbai. There is no better place on earth for me. I have two gurukuls in Mumbai and Bhubaneswar, where I stay with my students and staff. We stay busy with our musical activities, riyaaz and puja. Of course, now I read a lot about these plans to go to space. If I ever get a chance, I’d love to perform in space or on the moon!
OT: What are the three things you always pack?
Hariprasad Chaurasia: I am a light traveller. I never check my baggage in. Even when I go for long tours, I try to manage with just one suitcase. Of course, I am lucky that my instrument doesn’t require much space. Three things that I always carry are my instrument, Indian clothes and betel nuts.
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