Jewels before the train for Hubli chugged away

Bhimsen Joshi has been awarded the Bharat Ratna.

Eight years younger than Gangubai Hanagal, the duo were disciples of Sawai Gandharva in Kundagol, a association that blossomed into a lifelong friendship.

Deepa Ganesh of The Hindu recounts a lovely anecdote involving the two:

“In dry Kundagol, it was Bhimsen Joshi’s duty to fetch unending pitchers of water for his guru’s house from a distant water tank. ‘Poor fellow, in the scorching heat, he would carry water on his shoulders… but as he walked he would constantly sing. How many times I’ve heard him practising the taans of Multani, Shankara…!’ recalls Gangubai.

“After class as Gangubai would get ready to return to her home in Hubli, Bhimsen Joshi would accompany her to the railway station. ‘It would have got dark and I being a young lady, my guru would never say no to Bhima.

“We would have barely got to the street, and Bhima would ask: ‘Akka, what did you learn today?’ I had to give him all the details. And then he would say, ‘Haadi torsala (‘shall I sing it for you…’).’ And in this way they would exchange notes till they reached the station, till the train chugged away.”

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News