The passing of Ravi Shankar this week brought back poignant memories of a brief but very intense encounter I had with him in the mid-1970s.
As a third year student at UBC, I was attending an English class one uneventful mid-winter afternoon. Part-way through the class, someone entered and whispered something to the professor. He quickly asked us to gather our things and follow him to a common room somewhere else in the building.
We joined several other students who were already there and we were told that we were going to be meeting Ravi Shankar, who would be giving us a demonstration and an explanation of the sitar and Indian music.
Shankar and two others sat on cushions and rugs in a fairly small room and proceeded to show us the amazing things that could be done with a sitar and tablas. It was a mesmerising experience that I will never forget.
After a half hour or so of demonstration, Shankar and his associates played a single piece of music for us.
I would describe it as "wailing on the sitar." It lasted for about five minutes and, for me, it was the single most perfect musical moment of my life.
Thank you, Ravi.