We took a trip to Guru Soundz last week with the intention of picking up a sarod for my daughter. She's doing so well with her guitar practice that my inner Indian was keen to see her pick up an ethnic string instrument too. No pressure, just for fun and something to play along on when we meet with friends for kirtan.
So we headed off for beautiful Barking and, one slightly stressful drive later, found ourselves sitting with Rani the store's manager trying out an exotic looking sarod. We both tried to play it but, beautiful though it sounds in the hands of a master, we were finding it hard to make a good sound. The sarod is a surprisingly heavy instrument and it requires sliding your nail along the string to make the evocative sound I've come to love. We both found it tricky and that the string quickly cut into our nails; Rani suggested my daughter try a sitar, and with the first gentle strum of those resonant strings my husband declared "now that's a sound I love" Rati was beaming and tentatively twanging away, so I left her to experiment while I rummaged through a box of bansuri flutes.
Two hours later we left with a gorgeous sitar, a tuition DVD and an armful of flutes that I could not leave behind.
A week on I am surprised to find myself playing the sitar as much as the flutes. I love it, despite the humiliation of living with an 11 year old who can run through a series of alankaras (ornaments based on a scale) in 10 minutes that took me over an hour to learn!