“Take in what you get from all your teachers and put it in different bags… When you want to recollect or transmit what you have learned, take it out from the bags and it is yours to use…” – Mamady Keita, Grandmaster Djembefola, Balandugu, Guinea.
… Over the past two years, I have realized, on a very real and tangible level, the importance of a Guru in my life. Throughout school, we were bombarded with this, on Gurupoornima and Teacher’s Day but since I’d rather let my experience guide me, I feel it more genuinely now…So, here’s a detailed report of all the teachers in my life…
I studied in Loyola High School, Pashan, Pune. It is because of the tireless efforts of all my teachers in school that I have a strong knowledge and value base. Mrs. Fernandez, Mrs. Nazereth, Mrs. Awati, Mrs. Samant, Mrs. Dini, Mrs. Venkit, Mrs. Pande, Mrs. Apte, Mrs. Potdar, Mr. Kshirsagar, Mr. Momin, Mr. Matthew, Mrs. Matthews, Mrs. Baidhani, Mrs. Pocheco, Mrs. shrivastav, Mrs. Sarfare, Mrs. Joseph; my life would not be the same without your kind and patient guidance. I am eternally grateful to each and every one of you.
Mr. Zubin Balsara was my first Drum-kit teacher. I owe a majority of my present sensibilities to this brilliant and charismatic man. He is not one of the most well known drummers in the city but he has inspired many a percussionist directly and indirectly with his soulful and holistic approach towards rhythm. He has dedicated his life towards popularizing Arts Based Therapy for special populations and its use in our day to day lives. Zubin, I salute you…
Thereafter, I had the pleasure of learning from Sanjeev Pandkar, the drummer  of legendary Pune based rock act, Strange Brew. Sanjeev has been the most encouraging teachers in my life by lending me his personal equipment for gigs that my then band ‘Moonstruck’ had landed and always supporting live music.
In my quest to understand my culture better I met the humble and the extremely talented Mridangist, Mr. Chandrashekhar. I had honour of studying with him for three years. In this time my journey of the pursuit of excellence began. I learned that there’s no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow but little drops of heaven along the way. Thank you Chandrashekhar Sir; my journey with the Mridangam is not over. I will do you proud…
Next, I met one of the most versatile drummers /percussionists and studied with him closely as he studied with his guru. His name is Joshua Banks from Brisbane, Australia. He is an extremely well travelled percussionist who has  graduated from  the Berklee College of Music, Boston; lived in Morocco and India studying percussion there extensively. We’ve spent many an afternoon working on everything from practice pads, Taar, Jazz Drumming, Funk, Listening Sessions and everything in between… It was through Josh that I reconnected with linguist and Tabla Maestro, Mr. Rajeev Deosthali (Josh’s tabla guru). Using his amazing language skills in combination with this expertise on the tabla, Rajeev has embarked on a ground-breaking method of teaching the tabla. I am blessed to know these two gentlemen.
I was then introduced to Iqbal Azad, a powerhouse Punjabi Dhol player (from the Kutchh Gharana) by friend and guitarist extraordinaire Mr. Sanjay Joseph. I would travel to Mumbai whenever possible and make time for a master class as often as I could. Iqbal, not being one of the most articulate people in the world, led by demonstration and example. Watching his prowess over many an Indian rhythm played on this Kutchhy Dhol gave me enough material to work on for many years. Mr. Azad has played for all the major bollywood recordings and plays currently with Vishal & Shekhar.
I was first introduced to my strongest and current influence, Grandmaster Djembefola Mamady Keita, by Josh, as he gifted me his instructional DVD and I was instantly hooked. He has a magnetic personality; which is evident in the sheer number of students from all over the globe flocking to learn from this master. Following this globe-trotting teacher as much as possible I met him first in Singapore in 2010, in San Diego in 2011 and in Bali in 2012. My journey with him continues and I am excited and curious to see where this takes me.
By gradually being a part of the global djembe community I am grateful to many an individual; master djembefola Famoudou Konate, the charming Monette Marino, TTM Cairns Tara Tucker, TTM Utah Quinn Reesor, TTM Singapore Kelvin Kew, TTM Portland Sekou Soumah, TTM Hong Kong James Kwan, TTM Japan Hiroki Murai, TTM Japan Ken Tokuda for guiding me in their own way.

Last but not the least I must mention the contribution of guitarist Jayant Sankrityayana, Anoop Kumar, Agnee Axeman Koco and front-man Mohan Kannan for nurturing me as a drummer and sharing their experience  with me on stage and off. It is through the  inspiration of these individuals and contemporaries like Sivamani and Amit Kilam that I feel a sense of purpose in this world.

To sum it up, I use the great words of saint KabirGuru Govind dou khade, kaake laagoon paye. Balihari guru aapki, Govind diyo milaye. (Translation: If the Lord and my teacher were standing in front of me; faced with the dilemma of whose feet to fall at, I’d pay tribute to my teacher; for it is he who has shown me the path the God.)
Come. Drum. Be One.
Taal Inc.