Grant Muller

Christmas Time is Tabla Time

tabla-5I’ve had Christmas surprises in the past, but my wife pulled a fast one this year that is particularly noteworthy. As many of you know, I’ve been taking tabla lessons for the last few months, and having a lot of fun at it. I had been borrowing a pair of my teacher’s to practice on, all the while looking at getting a pair for myself.

If you’re in the market for a tabla set in the U.S., your options are limited. There is a college in California called Ali Akbar that sells them, but they can get pretty pricey. Getting them from India is much cheaper, the downside of course being that shipping can get dicey, and of course I would have to go through someone to get them. A month ago I found out that a Ganesh, a co-worker of mine, was going to be coming in from India and asked if he’d kindly bring a set back for me. My teacher Amit offered a while ago to broker something for me, and was able to get the name of a shop to Ganesh. Little did I know that I was throwing a wrench into Cary’s plans.

As far back as October Cary had started working with Amit to get me a set for Christmas. If she were to tell me that she already got a set that would ruin the surprise, so when she was informed that I was trying to acquire a set, she had to get everyone to play along with a little ruse. Amit gave a fake shop name to my Ganesh, who in turn claimed to visit the shop and let me know that that the set would be ready in time. I was really looking forward to getting the set, but was a little disappointed when Ganesh arrived and convincingly told me that “the set wasn’t quite finished in time, but it should be done my the beginning of January, and he could send it out with someone else”. I could wait a few more weeks I guess, but I was really looking forward the them.

Christmas arrived and a great big box was put in front of me, which I didn’t expect. I usually have some idea of what I might get for Christmas, so when I unwrapped the box (a toilet paper box), and saw the same round hard case that Amit brings his tabla over in, I was completely shocked. Here is the shipping label, which I thought was very cool:

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Notice the “new Zaibaba Temple”, I wish mail addressed to me was labeled “near something-or-other”. I’ve played the new set a few times, but I’m going to hold off until I can show the set to Amit and make sure everything is kosher with them. not to mention I still don’t really know how to tune them. Here is the baya, and detail of the copper which is pitted really nicely:

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Here is a detail of the stabilizer ring that the drums sit on, and the wooden pegs for the tabla:

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