On Friday evening, Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel apologised to Ustad Amjad Ali Khan for the damage caused to the maestro's 32-year-old teakwood sarod in transit on an Air India flight.
Khan accepted the apology but is still in grief about the possibly irreparable damage to the instrument that he calls his “life partner.” The sarod, weighing 15 kg, travelled from Ahmedabad to Mumbai, in the belly of an Air India plane on January 14, and was damaged in transit.
While Patel has apologised to Khan, Air India spokesperson Jeetendra Bhargava maintained: “An inquiry into the incident has found that both the stations, Ahmedabad and Mumbai, took due care in moving the box carrying the musical instrument.”
“Praful Patel has assured me that airlines in our country will treat fragile items more carefully, and I appreciate his concern,” said Khan. “It surprises me that there are so many airports coming up in our country but they do not have separate counters to collect fragile items.”
Khan, who was to perform in Mumbai on Thursday night at a tribute to Pandit C R Vyas, went on stage to show the audience his broken sarod and swapped his performance date with Pandit Satish Vyas. His wife carried another sarod from their New Delhi home and he played at the concert on Friday night.
“The sarod was made by Hemendra Sen, who has also made sarods for my sons, Ayaan and Amaan. He could have repaired it, but he passed away two weeks ago. I don’t think I’ll ever get that quality anywhere else,” Khan said.