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Showing posts from July, 2014

Toilet Warrior

In 2012, Australian Mark Balla was on a train in Mumbai when he made two young friends who lived in Dharavi, one of the largest slums in the world. When his new friends Faheem and Tauseef, who were both university students, took Balla to Dharavi, it was an experience that would change his life. “Dharavi was about five times as big as Chadstone Shopping centre, possibly a million people living there. It has industry, shopping precincts, temples, playgrounds and schools,” says Balla. Of course, much has been reported and written about Dharavi, “a neighbourhood smack in the heart of Mumbai, which retains the emotional and historical pull of a subcontinental Harlem—a square-mile (three square km) centre of all things, geographically, psychologically, spiritually,” according to the National Geographic.  Blessed with the usual Indian hospitality in abundance, Balla was visiting people’s homes and looking around when he ended up in a school. “I was walking around and there were lots

Riding the waves

For intrepid western travellers Varanasi is an exotic place high on the tourist map. But for Indians, Banaras, as it is known to many, is the seat-hold of religion and music, home to many ancient temples and the ultimate pilgrimage city. Growing up in one of the oldest living cities of the world, Vinod Prasanna, quite naturally, did not escape the influence of music or even spirituality. At the age of ten, a sadhu (hermit) who read his palm told him that he would settle down in a faraway land. The sadhu’s words came true. Melbourne is now home for Prasanna but he brings with him a legacy of his famous family who have continued the tradition of bansuri and shenai playing for more than two-and-a-half centuries.  Prasanna himself has clocked more than 400,000 hours of riyaz or musical practice and with more than 17 years of performance and teaching experience, he has established an affinity with Australia’s music lovers. Prasanna’s musical inclinations came from his mother’s famil