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 was immediately pulled in by their melody and clarity. I kept my interest on the back burner for years, pretending to speak the syllables instead of singing in the shower. Back then there was no known way forward.
Throughout my twenties 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", but without being familiar with any of the core concepts of Indian rhythm it was a 50/50 split between excitement and frustration.
Thanks to a chance encounter while studying (not yet music) at Penn State University Park in spring of 2008, I was gifted a set of tabla by an astrophysics postdoc named Birjoo Vaishnav. For a few long days, I made futile attempts at getting sound from them. But a week after the gift of these tabla I met friend Quamar Barkat as we entered a logic/discrete math course. He was practicing on the desk and I recognized it for what it was. He and I worked together for some time on fundamentals between State College and Philadelphia.
While at Penn State I became involved with a student group called PSU Geet. Back then 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 Dr. Lakshmi Mizin. 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 where I live sometimes.