Four days after keeping his date with the Ehsas-e-Kashmir concert in Srinagar, where he began his speech with a few words in Hindi, internationally renowned orchestra conductor Zubin Mehta said that to this day, he regrets not studying the national language in school.
The maestro, who grew up in Mumbai, visited his alma mater, St Mary's School ICSE in Mazagaon, on Wednesday, on the occasion of the school entering its 150th year.
"I feel growing up in Mumbai is an advantage, as we grow up speaking so many languages that when we go abroad, it becomes easier to learn new languages," said the maestro.
After studying in the school from 1946 to 1951, Mehta left Mumbai to study at the Vienna Academy of Music in 1954. However, he feels sorry that his Hindi is not up to the mark.
"In those days, we had three optional languages, Hindi, French and Latin. Now, I feel I should have chosen Hindi because I could have always learnt French later," he said. Mehta said the little Hindi he knows is because of his childhood in the city.
Addressing an auditorium packed with boys in school uniforms, Mehta became emotional as he related his school days. "We had the same uniform and we, too, never buttoned the top of the shirt and had the tie on even when we played cricket."
Though the school did not teach him music (he learnt it under the tutelage of his violinist father), it taught him 15 other subjects that shaped his personality, Mehta said, while urging students to decide what they want to do in life.
"My parents had chosen the medical profession for me, I even studied a few semesters at St Xavier's College, but at the back of my mind, I always wanted to be a musician like my father," he said. His wife Nancy, who accompanied him urged students to help out the lesser-privileged."
"We feel proud that one of our students has become the most recogonised global citizen," said Father Kenneth Misquitta, school principal.