Saturday, April 1


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Virtual association is emerging as the new way of life in times of social distancing.

Two events were scheduled for Sunday in two parts of the country. A group of Calcutta-based music lovers from various walks of life were supposed to meet at a member’s house for the customary monthly session of singing and poetry and allied arts. The friends of a cancer survivor in Delhi were supposed to gather in the national capital to celebrate her 49th birthday.

Both programmes happened, but virtually.

The members of Sound of Music, a three-year-old group, downloaded an app that enables videoconferencing on the web. More than 25 members were glued to their computer screens for over two hours on Sunday evening.

“These are times of stress. But we went ahead with the programme because music is a great stress reliever. The lockdown is not going to be a blink-and-miss affair. We should start getting adjusted to this new way of life,” Shaleen Khemani, 53, a businessman who lives in Loudon Street, said.

Khemani, whose passion is playing the sitar, founded the group in 2017.

Members, aged from early 30s to late 60s, sang several songs during Sunday’s session — what they termed “e-music adda”. The songs ranged from thumris and ghazals to popular Hindi film songs of yesteryears. Some were topical, like a Mirza Ghalib ghazal: “Guzar jayega yeh daur bhi Ghalib, zara itminan to rakh; Khushi hi na thehri toh gham ki kya aukat hai (This, too, shall pass Ghalib; have some patience. When happiness did not last, what stature does sorrow have)”. Gaurav Gupta, a Ballygunge resident who owns a tea garden in Assam and is a trained classical singer, sang Mukesh’s “Jaane kahaan gaye woh din (Where have those days gone)”.

“The session was so lively. We plan to conduct similar sessions regularly if the lockdown continuesAround the same time on Sunday, another Calcuttan was busy in a videoconference with 20 other people from across the world — from Mumbai to Delhi to New York. The glue — all were close friends of a Delhibased woman who turned 49 on Sunday. A year ago, she fought cancer. “We had almost lost her. But she showed an indomitable spirit,” the caller from Calcutta, a woman in her 50s from Ballygunge, said.

The friends created a WhatsApp group and did a trial run the night before to ensure everything went according to plan. “She was so surprised and happy. She could not believe we could pull her friends from all over the world,” she said.


Source: The Telegraph

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