How I found my groove in Canada through music
By SHIPRA CHAUDHURY
It is said about singers that they make music with the instruments they were born with – their voices.
This is what I felt when I first heard Molly Das singing at a program, way back in 2002. She had a melodious voice and everyone in the auditorium was amazed at the sweetness of her music.
“Music to me, gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything,” says Das, a 40-something home-maker, who came to Toronto with her husband in June 2000 to start a new life.
Das grew up in Guwahati, Assam, India, where her father was posted at North-West Frontier Railways headquarters. “We grew up in a multi-cultural environment where music and studies were a major part of our daily routine. I studied Economics along with Mathematics and Statistics at Guwahati University, but music was a part and parcel of my life. Since I enjoyed singing from a very young age, I started my formal training for classical music under Pandit Shiben Banerjee and later from Madhabi Bhattacharya. Light music was always my favourite and I loved to sing songs of the old Indian legends like Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle. Soon I started performing at musical concerts in various parts of Assam, and for Guwahati Doordarshan.
“Our life back in India was pretty stable, but we decided to move to Canada for a better future. Our life here initially was full of struggles, and we had our fair share of ups-and-downs, but Himadri, my husband, with his dedication and devotedness, worked very hard to reach this stage, working as a divisional manager in an American company.
“But even during those days of struggle, we took lots of pleasure in all the small things of life like riding the TTC, visiting the malls or getting to know more people here. We have been blessed to know quite a few elderly people who have made us feel wanted and loved. I also began singing at various community events and social gatherings.”
The birth of their two children made Das even more busy. “I loved to stay at home and take care of my children, attending to their studies and various after-school activities. In fact, I loved to cook and couldn’t wait to see the joy in their eyes when I made their favourite dish!”
Aware that it is hard for a single-income family to maintain this blessed lifestyle, she credits her husband for the choice she was able to make. “Besides cooking and cleaning to keep a tidy home, I am a homemaker in the true sense of the word. My children and husband are my first priorities in life, besides singing and music. Occasionally I do go shopping and we love to travel, given a chance!”
How does she look at music in a land far away from her roots?
“Culture and music are an inseparable twosome – like the two sides of a coin. True classical music speaks a lot about our rich Indian culture. And it is this music that stirs the soul, no matter where we are, East or West, that takes us beyond the horizon of mundane living to blend with the unknown, into infinity.
“Life here can be tough, especially during the harsh, cold winters. And when we have a family to take care of, with no outside help, it becomes next to impossible to sit for riyaz every day. It is at times like these that I find refuge in music, listening to famous vocalists.
“Everybody around me is very supportive and wanted me to continue singing. I always wanted to become a playback singer, but when I was a young girl, opportunities were few and far between. When we came to Canada, I performed at a talent show called Saat Suron Ka Sangam and won the first prize, and people started inviting me to perform at various functions and ceremonies. I never plan anything as I believe in destiny. I love to live my life in the present moment and enjoy every second of it with my family. But I do strongly believe in giving back to the community by promoting Indian culture and teaching our next generation so they remain connected to their roots, while thriving in Canadian soil.”
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