The Pune Guitar Society
by Veda Aggarwal
You know you’ve got something good even before it begins when guitarists from Bombay promise to drive down for the first Pune Guitar Society meeting. They called from Lonavala at half past nine, with a McDonald’s breakfast on the way and instructions for me to send them the location pin. I phoned Kuldeep and asked him to send his across.
Like most things that are just about to begin, there was an excited, almost nervous energy leading up to it: fingers crossed, hoping for things to go well, for people to show up, for us to get along, and for whatever we start to have the momentum to continue. But people who signed up for it, started dropping out. From about 15 people we were down to a little more than half that number. On that morning, I was late.
Just as I was turning into the lane, Rahel called. She was in the area with her mother and sister looking for the place. We were to meet in Kuldeep’s house. I picked her up. It was a few minutes before 11. And within the next 20 minutes the rest arrived: Rohan Aiman, Mahesh Kochar and Cliffy D’Souza from Bombay. Jacob, Jayant Sankrityayana from Pune. And Rahoul Waghmare – a luthier based in Nigdi Pradhikaran. Some knew each other. But for most us, introductions were required.
Classical guitarists are isolated musicians. For us, meeting someone who has the same interests, who holds the guitar in a similar way, knows the same composers is exciting in itself. A large part of Saturday morning was just that: getting to know each other, other classical guitarists, supported by a joyful energy that said there are others like us, who are looking for the same sort of exposure and learning, that we’re not in this alone.
It began with people talking about their own background and moved on to a conversation of what to do with a group like ours. What do we want from a society? How do we form one? What do we do once we’re registered?
There was no debate as to whether we should go ahead with registration. Everyone agreed that this is the way forward. There was talk of being more inclusive, inviting guitarists of other genres, musicians who play other instruments to join and conduct events. Rohan suggested opening membership to non-classical guitarists, an idea that was greeted with enthusiasm. But keep the focus on classical guitar, Rahoul said and repeated in course of the conversation. There is a lot of opportunity for guitarists who want to play other styles. Classical guitar needs more outlets.
We decided on monthly concerts. Kuldeep spoke about the benefits of performing once a month, even if it is only for each other we all have the opportunity to gain from playing in public and additional reasons to practise.
And then the guitars came out. Rahoul had brought two with him. Aqualib Guitars – named for him and his brother, an Aquarius and a Libra. One was brand new, will be up for sale in a month. In the urgency of getting it ready for the meeting, Rahoul stayed up nights till 3am working on it, and the day before the gear on the tuning peg of the D string broke.
The other guitar was two years old. We tried it out. Resonant, loud, said Mahesh. Everyone performed a little and Rahoul took small videos on his phone camera. That was how it ended. With small pieces of classical guitar music ringing in our ears, and a decision to meet again on the 14 of June.