Deepak’s Tabla Lessons

I met Deepak in January this year while attending, as an exchange student, the Central University for Tibetan Studies in Sarnath, India. The Buddha’s Smile School is just across the road, and it is an ongoing tradition that the exchange students from both Australia and the 5 colleges from the USA who attend each year, help support this school which was founded in 2003 by Rajan Kaur Saini and her husband Sukhdev and operates from the lower two stories of their home.

Briefly, about the school, non-denominational, BSS offers a comprehensive education up to the end primary school for some of the world’s most disadvantaged and poorest children. The school also provides the children with a good meal each day.

Rajan tries to find funds for scholarships for children with ability to continue their education or to be apprenticed to a trade to help them move beyond the life of a ragpicker around rubbish dumps or begging, which are the main occupations of many of the untouchables in this area.

Deepak is estimated to be approx 17 years old and quite small for his age. Some years back, Rajan found him, suffering badly from malnutrition and deafness. He has now finished his education at BSS and, thanks to a donation from UTas lecturer, Dr Leila Toiviainen, has had his hearing problem assessed and is now the proud owner of a hearing aid.

Deepak has shown promise as a percussionist, and it is Rajan’s dream to provide Deepak with the training as a tabla player, so that he can then either make his own way as a musician and/or be employed by the school to encourage music as part of the curriculum*.

Deepak commenced lessons early this year. The latest report from Rajan says he is doing very well, with his first performance at the school’s India Independence Day celebrations on 15 August this year. His lessons are continuing with the help of many kind donations.

Lyn Spence

*for those who question deafness as an impediment to becoming a musician/percussionist there is a wonderful example – Evelyn Glennie, a world renowned percussionist who has been profoundly deaf since she was 12 years old – see many Internet and youtube sites. One particularly interesting one is Evelyn talking about hearing: