Saturday, November 17, 2007

Poverty strikes sarangi player

GANGTOK, Sept 4: Forty-four-year-old Gopal Gainey who has the distinction of playing sarangi for some of the country's major radio stations is now reeling under poverty.

Gainey, a resident of East Pandam in Rangpo, however, has preserved his sarangi, a traditional musical instrument, and still wants to popularise the art in modern world.

"I am a sarangist by profession from the age of 14. I am the third generation of my family in this profession and I won't let it die easily. I have taught seven of my students and hope that they would keep this art alive in the modern era," Gainey, said.

Gainey who has played sarangi in metropolitan cities, such as Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata and in several radio stations in Katmandu, Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Kurseong and Gangtok, is still unknown in his own homeland.

"I played sarangi with Mr Narayan Gopal, an eminent Nepali modern folk singer, and with other eminent singers such as Mr Ram Thapa and Kumar Basnett in Nepal and Mr Ganesh Sharma in Darjeeling. We used to play folk songs and Lok Dhori, a Nepali traditional marriage," he said.

Gainey added that he also played Sarangi with a French team in Mumbai and stayed with them for three years there. "Our people are not conscious in preserving our own tradition and culture. The foreigners, however, still respect our tradition," he said.

Despite playing sarangi for more than two decades and popularising the art countrywide, Gainey is reeling under poverty these days. He has to run from door to door earn his livelihood. "I proudly say that I am not a beggar. I am an artist so I entertain people. In returns, they offer some money or food," a dejected but confident Gainey, said. "I earn Rs 50 to Rs 200 per day," he added.

Gainey had played sarangi for the state-sponsored AIDS awareness programmes also. He had also taken part in the golden jubilee celebrations of the cottage industries here. "I earned Rs 5,000 during a month-long AIDS awareness campaign in the state last year and Rs 4,000 in 10 days during the golden jubilee celebrations of the cottage industries this year," he added.