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Kanniks Kannikeswaran introduces readers (India Currents, November 2012, The Western Music of Muthuswami Dikshitar) to Indo-colonial music reportedly composed by  Muthuswami Dikshitar, one of the famed trinity of composers (1775-1835) who lived and worked in southern India. These compositions, collectively known as nottuswara sahityas are not known well to patrons of Karnatik music nor are they sung during concerts, even infrequently.

The subject intrigued me enough to consult with Karnatik performing artist, T.S.R. Krishnan and to examine the book titled Sangeetha Sampradaya Pradarshini, written by Subbarama Dikshithar, a grand nephew of the famous composer. It looks very possible that Muthuswami Dikshitar’s sishyas (disciples), may have composed many songs in the original style of the master very skillfully and added them on to the Dikshithar repertoire. They could be called true chips of the block. It is obviously difficult to be definitive about inclusions and exclusions in and from a master list of events that occurred two centuries ago. However, the absence of evidence is not synonymous with the evidence of absence.

Furthermore, the reference manual Sri Kirti Mani Malai, (3rd edition, 1983) indicates that Baluswami Dikshitar, the brother of Muthuswami Dikshitar, apparently was a gifted scholar, a vocalist and an instrumentalist, too. He learned to play the European violin with the help of a visiting European scholar. It is not far fetched to link Baluswami Dikshithar to the Indo colonial compositions. Kannikeswaran must be commended for bringing this set to public attention.

P. Mahadevan, Fullerton, CA

A Courageous Account

I’m moved by this brave essay written by Lakshmi Mani (India Currents, November 2012, Finding Youth in a Retirement Home). Right now as I tend to my 90-year-old father in Chennai, this is so meaningful to me (and to him). More courage to you! One message has rung clear and strong as I delve deeper into the world of writing. And you have summarized that so perfectly in your column: “I am finding out that though I am culturally different from all the other residents—I am the only Indian—we all have the same life experiences. Each one of us has lost loved ones, and we all rejoice that we are blessed with children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren. At least two residents have died since I came here. Mortality reinforces the necessity to cherish every moment of our lives.” For this and this reason alone, I will continue to write the story of my life.

Kalpana Mohan, online

Amongst Indians, both here and in India, there is a certain stigma attached to having to live on your own when you have children. But you and others like you have shown that what matters is your spirit and approach to life. Being happy is truly a state of mind.
Lakshmi, online

It’s a wonderful article, Lakshmi—clear, focused, and sensitive. Your literary talents and virtues remain intact!

Mark Price Rochester, online

My heartfelt gratitude to you, Lakshmi Mani, for writing so poignantly about your life experiences and highlighting the role of attitude in the quality of our lives. My wife and I, along with like minded friends visit a local convalescent hospital once a month, sing a set of love songs to God to them, and spend some time talking to the assembled residents. I have never felt and simultaneously received so much selfless love in any other place. I hope and pray that I too shall one day be such a positive influence on others around me. Thank you and may God’s blessings and Grace be always with you!

Ranga Jayaraman, online

Reinventing Ourselves

Kudos! Very well written editorial (India Currents, November 2012, “Sweet Are the Uses of Adversity”). “Reinventing ourselves” as you put it is what we have to do, every step of the way, whether as immigrants or even in one’s own country, I might add. As there is always a dominant other, a partisan that we are pitched against, making one out to be a beatnik. Analyzing one’s self worth is an internal journey—one worth making in order to strengthen the broken places.

Anjana, online

Fraudulent Travel Agency

India Currents carried an advertisement from Bombay Tours and Travels, operated by Vijay Bakshi. I called Bombay Travels to assist in booking tickets for my family on Emirates Airlines for travel from San Francisco to Delhi. On September 24, 2012, I wrote a check for $5,325 to Bombay Tours, Inc. and deposited the check into the agency account. However, on the day of the travel I was stopped at the airport for not having a reservation. The merchant in question had bought the tickets for me using stolen credit cards. The e-tickets he had sent me were canceled due to non-payment. I had to buy new tickets.

On my return to the United States, I plan to file a police complaint against this business. In the meantime I am alerting India Currents readers to be careful and to caution anyone who conducts business with Bombay Travels and Tours or with Vijay Bakshi.

Rajeev Sumbly, currently in India

I am writing to inform you that a travel agency, Bombay Travels also known as Bombay Tours, has defrauded me to the extent of $8,000. They promised to acquire two business class tickets for me and my wife for travel from SFO-BLR recently. I decided to use their services since they offered a reasonable deal. I sent them a check so they could make a quick booking. Bombay Tours booked my tickets with British Airways by using a bogus credit card and, adding insult to injury, using my name as the card holder. Predictably British Air did not issue tickets and flagged the transaction. The end result was that I was unable to visit my aged parents and family who were keenly expecting us.

I called Bombay Tours and demanded my money back. They deposited a check into my account but the check was returned due to insufficient funds. Subsequent attempts to recover my money has also failed. I have notified authorities and hired a private investigator who informed me that the name given for the owner, Vijay Bakshi, is probably a bogus one. The address given was just a private mail box.

You will appreciate that this is much more than a matter of money; amongst Indian families the emotional after effects of missed reunions are quite strong. I have setup a blog to facilitate information sharing. Please point any inquiries to this website. Hopefully we can succeed in bringing this criminal to justice.

D. Krishna Murthy,  CA

Tulip Season

As the author, I’d like to clarify that the character of the actor Jay Prasun Bahadur in Tulip Season: A Mitra Basu Mystery, written by Bharti Kirchner in no way resembles the highly respected veteran actress Jaya Bhaduri, as the reviewer, Geetika Pathania Jain (self-described as a Bollywood outsider) suggests (India Currents, November 2012, The Bloom of Romystery). This comparison is misleading and should be corrected.

The article omitted to mention that the book, Tulip Season: A Mitra Basu Mystery, is also available on and in print via and at book stores.

Bharti Kirchner, CA