Thanks for educating your readers by presenting an article that covers many decades of Karnatik music education in the United States (Kalpana Mohan’s “Karnatik Revival,” India Currents, May 2008). It’s truly invigorating to read such an interesting piece!
Ishwari Rao, online
MORE ON THE KARNATIK REVIVAL
Kalpana Mohan’s feature article, “Karnatik Revival” (India Currents, May 2008) covered the topic of Karnatik music in the United States in the last four decades well, and it was timely. I would like to point out one omission: the famed Karnatik musicologist, Professor S. Ramanathan, arrived in the United States with percussionist Renganathan in 1964 for a two-year assignment on the east coast. His stature drew many enthusiasts to his circle including Dr. Frank Bennett, a graduate of Yale in western musical composition. Bennett fell for the intricacies of the art form, especially the mridangam and also the learned professor’s daughter, Geetha. I am glad to say that Geetha and Frank are long-term residents of the Los Angeles metropolitan area. They are both professionals: she, an accomplished Vainika, and he a master of the western and eastern percussion instruments. The fall-out from the revival has benefited the Indian diaspora in the United States and, through them, the American uninitiated segment of music lovers immensely.
The communities in the major metropolitan areas of the United States such as the tri-state area surrounding New York, Chicago, the San Francisco Bay Area, and metropolitan Los Angeles are examples. Mohan suspects that the water in the Bay Area may be the agent provocateur that groomed the ABKD (American Born Karnatik Desis) of the area. We in southern Calif. also boast at least a dozen accomplished artists who can sing and play various instruments with ease. They are all younger than 25 years of age, which is also the age of our organization, the South Indian Music Academy of Los Angeles. We have a registered membership of over 350 families, and feature about 20 concerts from visiting vidwans every year.
I look forward to similar feature stories on the prominent dance forms of South India, namely bharatanatyam and kuchipudi.
P. Mahadevan, Fullerton, Calif.
OBAMA IS NO NEHRU
I am sorry to deflate Sarita Sarvate’s illusion that Barack Obama is Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru, and Martin Luther King all rolled into one (“The Ultimate Global Villager,” India Currents, May 2008). As his own pastor Rev. Wright said recently, Obama is just another Chicago politician and one with a remarkable absence of any professional achievement in his short career. If all that Sarvate seeks in the leader of the free world is mixed heritage, then that is a bar that all biracial children can easily meet.
In his own book, Dreams from My Father, Senator Obama reveals a youth spent in seeking an identity, and unfortunately he found his with a hate-filled pastor and his church. While Obama has finally disowned his pastor now, it was not because of the pastor’s venom that he heard patiently for 20 years but rather only when Rev. Wright called his bluff and opined that Obama was just another politician on national television.
While the fringe left of the Democratic party may yet hand him the party’s nomination, I believe that the general electorate will be very skeptical in taking a leap of faith with just rhetoric and dreams.
For this passionate Democrat and proud American, Senator Obama does not cut it as presidential material. Further, to compare him to stalwarts and intellectual giants such as Nehru and Gandhi is beyond belief.
Rameysh Ramdas, San Jose, Calif.
OBAMA IS THE WEAKER CANDIDATE
Sarita Sarvate has a right to her opinion about Senators Obama and Clinton, but in “The Ultimate Global Villager” (India Currents, May 2008) she ignores the consequence of choosing Obama as the Democratic nominee. The Republican party will use its strategists like Karl Rove to make Obama look like a extreme left-leaning candidate without the maturity and experience needed to be president of a world power in the middle of two wars and facing terrorism, illegal immigration, and a weakened economy. And, he also faces the racist bias of many voters in the general election.
Senator Hillary Clinton also faces attacks, primarily because of her gender; Americans are not yet used to seeing women in positions of high power. But with the experience of her husband, who was a president for 8 years and responsible for a booming economy with a surplus budget, to guide her when needed, she would be a much more formidable opponent for the Republican strategists. If we want a Democratic president in office, we better vote for Senator Clinton.
Maneck Bhujwala, Huntington Beach, Calif.
MOVED BY “BRIDGES”
Lakshmi Palecanda’s “Bridges” (India Currents, April 2008) was very nicely done. The narrative was taut yet fluid, the language excellent, and the pacing just right. Most importantly, the story moved me with its subtly controlled emotion.
Raju Chebium, online