Growing up in Ludhiana, my first lessons in music were with the neighbourhood teacher Jaiswal Aunty. Smt Usha Jaiswal was the Head of the music department in Government College for Women and I would go to her home twice a week for my lessons. Every once in a while, her husband, Shri Balwant Rai Jaiswal, would visit from Jalandhar where he was stationed in Akashvani and would teach me some of his compositions, which he had written and composed under the pen-name ‘Paras’. Jaiswal Uncle was the disciple of Pandit Vinayakrao Patwardhan, who in turn was the disciple of the legendary Pt Vishnu Digambar Paluskar. I was in such exalted company. Only I didn’t realise it then.
I vividly recall an occasion in my childhood where I was sent on stage to sing a song in the presence of the guest artiste, the legendary Gurdas Maan at a family friend’s marriage function. I was a bundle of nerves on stage next to the stalwart.
While I performed in music functions in school, my first television appearance was as a child artiste on Jalandhar Doordarshan