Rendezvous at Delhi
A few weeks ago, on a cold day, I visited Shri Ashok Bhandari ji’s office at Delhi. It was a planned trip from Jaipur. This was our first meeting; nevertheless we felt that we knew each other quite well. I asked Ashok ji to give some tips on playing the Harmonica. He asked me to play and I played the popular Hindi aarti “Om Jai Jagdish Hare” on my harmonica. Bhandari ji took his 16 hole Hering and played this aarti with ease. This was the first time he was playing this tune. He picked it up pretty fast. He mimicked my style at first and later played this very same aarti in his style with “feelings”.
He has developed his “Bellow blowing technique” wherein he ensures that his lungs are filled with a lot of air. He then controls the air pressure while playing the notes. He also demonstrated how to control breathing while blowing and drawing notes. A balance is maintained between how much air is drawn through the holes and through the nose in case of breathing in. Extra air is blown out through a passage created by slightly opening the lips while blowing only the required quantity of air through the holes for the reeds .I also got an opportunity to witness his favourite “stunts” on the harmonica. Well, I’m talking about those strange peculiar sounds he creates on the harmonica. This was followed by demonstration of harmonization, octave playing, different kinds of vibrato etc. There was a drastic improvement in my playing within half an hour of his demonstration.
We were waiting for one more harmonica lover: Harish Nayyar from Amritsar (Punjab) who arrived there directly from New Delhi railway station. When Harish entered the room, he was amazed to see lots of harmonicas scattered on the table. He played the popular Sindhi number “Dama dam mast kalandar” sung by Runa Laila on his Swan 1248 professional. After some harmonica session, we had lunch. We were impressed by his hospitality. Being a learner with no extraordinary harmonica skills, I still felt at ease in his company. It was time to bid adieu after spending 5 hours at Ashok ji’s place. Harish and I really enjoyed ourselves. It was a memorable day.
Harmonica Our Passion!