I had just finished playing my piece “Tarang” with the Silk Road Ensemble and got back to my green room when I saw Cristin, Yo-Yo Ma’s General Manager, looking for me.
She said, “Yo-Yo’s looking for you, he wants you to come meet this friend of his.” I followed her to the back of the auditorium, where I saw Yo-Yo talking with a small family. On seeing me, he very excitedly tells the woman, “Here is the guy who composed the piece you liked!” And to me he said, “Sandeep meet my very good friend Steve, his wife Laurene and the children.” The gentleman and his wife talked very warmly to me for some time.
As I was turning to leave, my dear friend Johnny, who was standing nearby, nudged me gently with his elbow. He said, “ Did you recognize who that is?” I innocently said, “No, but he seems to be a very close friend of Yo-Yo’s for sure!”
Johnny smiled and said, “ Well does the name Apple ring a bell?” And this is when I realized that I had just been introduced to the Mr. Steve Jobs!
This was the first of many other future meetings with this man. The first thing that always struck me was the simplicity of the clothes of this man, in reality the simplicity of the man. He would hang out with us, the ensemble members, with almost the capacity to be invisible. You almost were not even aware that he was there. Yet he would come and appreciate any piece that he liked each and every time.
I still remember the first time he was kind enough to pull out the then not-yet-seen or known to the world “iPhone” and give us a demo.
I must say that, to this day, I feel proud that I was amongst the lucky few who probably got to see this gadget, which went on to change how the world connects with one another, much before anybody else had even heard of it. And a demo from none other than Steve himself!
I remember Yo-Yo discussing this with me one day, when we were talking about pollution and cars etc… that Steve is also very passionate about this and he might already be on his way to do something unique about solving this problem.
Whether or not this was to be…I don’t know yet. But when I had just finished recording in NYC that day and was about to start packing my Tabla’s, John Hadfield, the fabulous percussionist friend of mine, gasped and said, “Oh, Steve Jobs is no more!”
The words ripped through my heart…not that we did not know it was coming. Still, my heart was not ready to hear it that soon. I looked at him and couldn’t help saying, “John this is a fake news, right?“ He looked at me and said, “No… Apple has put it on its web site and it’s true!”
I was surprised at myself when I realized that I really felt empty from inside. As if I had just lost someone very close to me. I realize now that this feeling was shared by millions across the world.
“Sarakti Jaye hai rukh se naqab…aahista, aahista”. Who had not grown up with these lines in India till the late 80’s?
That voice, which just with the mere tonal quality to it , could kill you whenever it wanted to. The last time I bumped into him was in Cochin. I had just finished playing and was on my way back to my green room when I heard this deep sonorous voice calling out to me.
I looked towards him and said “ Namaskar”. He smiled and said, “ You reminded me of your Guruji again, today! Shabash, Sandeep! I will tell him what a wonderful disciple he has produced, as I am headed to Varanasi from here.” I just smiled back and thanked him for his compliment. Alas! I did not realize that this would be the last time I saw him again.
No sooner had I landed back in Delhi, I heard of this other loss to the world. “Jagjit Singh is no more”!
Who in India can deny that this was the voice which single-handedly reigned as the foremost Ghazal singer that this country has produced in the current generation. And probably, the most popular, after the legendary Begum Akhtar?
He made Ghazals simple and accessible to the masses of India. And the sheer fact that there was a time when anybody and everybody started pulling a harmonium close and start singing Ghazals, that his was the only voice which continued to touch the hearts and souls of the millions that would listen to him proves his greatness. The others, falling by the way side and long forgotten.
One wonders when you see all the other people without whom the world would actually be a better place not only continue to live but being happy and fine, whereas souls like these being taken away so early, that whether there is any justice up there at all??? Anyway, who am I to decide what is right and and not right or really be able to understand what life and death is all about…
One thing though that I am sure about is that God does need better communication devices to communicate with his own creations. At times HE must be wondering whether it is HE who really created some of these monsters that we come across every day of our lives.
So who knows, maybe that is why HE had to ask Steve to come to his aid faster than actually planned… and what better than by listening to Jagjit Singh singing while Steve is at work to get HIM a better device???