My first exposure to the sound of the tabla was in high school thanks to Thomas Newman's score of American Beauty and Sweet Sixteen by the Diga Rhythm Band. I became intensely drawn to their melody and clarity. I kept the interest on the back burner for years, occasionally pretending to speak the syllables instead of singing in the shower. Back then there was no known way forward.
Throughout college the dream of playing became much bigger. I began by listening to Zakir Hussain's "Selects" and Ravi Shankar's "The Master Drummers of India". Without being familiar with any of the core concepts of Indian rhythm, I felt a strong mix of excitement and frustration.
Thanks to a chance encounter while at Penn State's main campus in spring of 2008, I was gifted a set of tabla by an astrophysics postdoc named Birjoo Vaishnav. For a few days, I made futile attempts at getting a sound from them. But a week after the gift of these tabla I met Quamar Barkat while sitting in a discrete maths course. He was practicing on his desk and I recognized it for what it was. He and I worked together for some time on tirakitas and theka between State College and Philadelphia.
While at Penn State I became involved with a student group called PSU Geet. We hosted musicians like Samarth Nagarkar, Nitin Mitta and Anupama Bhagwat for Hindustani classical concerts at PSU. And so I became exposed to New York City's indian classical scene.
I returned home to Scranton to meet my next teacher Bhimsen Mudaljikar at the strong encouragement of a good friend here. Bhimsen has been in the United States since the 1970s, keeping up his practice and teaching students in the region.
I am currently studying with Dan Weiss in New York City.