This is a #throwback to the Taal Inc. Drum Circle with none other than the ex first lady of USA Michelle Obama that took place in 2010 when the Obamas visited India. Read more as Varun relives his memorable group drumming experience
This is by far my most memorable drum circle in my career of working with groups using rhythm. I still remember the phone call that I received from Debalina Chaudhuri who then worked with #MAD (Make a Difference). She called me asking me whether I would be willing and interested in working with a group of children who hailed from difficult backgrounds. I agreed saying yes, I could surely work with such a group. She then took a very knowing pause and said that there would be a VERY special guest at the session. Having heard this from many clients before, I did not think much of it and said, yes and that it did not matter who the special guest would be. I started explaining that a drum circle brings everyone together, breaks hierarchies and will help everyone connect in a very real way. Debalina very patiently heard me out and agreed with me. It was a couple of phone calls later (after the other details were ironed out) that I got to know who the ‘special guest’ would be. I must admit that I had to put in a lot of effort to contain the excitement in my voice. I took a pause, (and some deep breaths) and finally understood why everyone was being so deliberate about the specialness of this guest.
This changes everything, I thought to myself. What ensued from that moment on till the day of the session was all a blur. I do remember having to submit a whole lot of documents for security purposes (just like I would have to during a visa application); so basically, nothing I wasn’t used to. Then came the day of the session. I got a good idea of the work that the amazingly talented and motivated team of MAD does. They work in the field of education, literacy and focussed on the holistic development of the child. That’s where music and drum circles fit in. The atmosphere was electric. Everybody knew that they would be graced by the presence of one of the most intelligent and charming world leaders. Everything was planned to the T. The then first lady would go visit all the other activities and then it would all end with the drum circle, or shall I say semi-circle. We had to accommodate the press and journalists. So they took up one quarter of the circle. I remembered my valuable training of being like water and looking for the path of least resistance to get the job done! The sheer energy of the kids made everything alright. Never did the rhythm falter. After a point, I didn;t even have to count or keep time. The group would just start drumming on their own.
I distinctly remember a man looking like an agent from the movie ‘Men in Black’ coming up to me, addressing me as Mr. Varun Venkit and asking me where I would stand as the first lady would approach the drum circle area. Keeping as straight a face as I could, I replied saying that I would stand wherever I was expected to. And then it happened, Michelle Obama came, drummed and spread her charm as usual. Her words oozed with authenticity and inspiration. I remember thinking that she really had a strong sense of rhythm. Unfortunately she was only allowed to play a tambourine. I could see that she wanted to get her hands on a djembe. And with the blink of an eye, it was time to pack up with her words of, “Thank you for the work you do Varun, keep it up,” still ringing in my ears…
It all happened at such an opportune time. Little did I know how instrumental this session would be in providing the TaalInc Rhythm Revolution more momentum to then kick start its Juggernaut phase.
Today, I reminisce. I feel grateful for the amazing sessions, the highlights, the learning moments and all the challenges faced (& overcome).
Are we closer to our vision of ‘A drum in every home’? I feel so, YES… All thanks to YOU…
You, that came out to our drum circles every time they happened
You, that walked in following the sound of a group drumming…
You, that called Taal Inc. for a Corporate Drum Circle, a College Drum Circle, a Wedding Drum Circle or a Drum Circle for a Private Gathering
You, that recommended Taal Inc. to a friend for their event after having experienced the bliss of a Taal Inc. session yourself first hand.
You, that called Taal Inc. back (again and again) for your Corporate Training Session after having experienced our work once before
You, who did not merely look for cheap imitations and put quality above convenience
You, that shared the work that we do through social media and took a friend along with you for a djembe workshop to learn the Djembe, the authentic way…
You, who spoke about Taal Inc in your social gatherings talking about the work we do through word of mouth.
I look forward to drumming with you all very soon…
Until then, stay safe and stay positive.
Come. Drum. Be One.
Founder / Director – Taal Inc.