Esraj Story part 5

We are two hopeless optimists. To surprise Sri Chinmoy we wanted to send him the esraj two weeks earlier than promised. First we wanted to give the instrument to someone who went to see Sri Chinmoy earlier in New Zealand. But at the very last moment it became clear, ... even to us :) that we could not make it. There were still no strings on, and other small details were missing which are important to the sound. Luckily we found out that three days later a student from Nuremberg would be going to see Sri Chinmoy. Paah.. three days, still plenty of time, we thought. But then it developed into a continuous working session day and night.

In that period we felt such intensity. A constant flow of energy and delight drove us. The esraj became more and more vivid. Since we did not make a complete plan we, had no fixed idea how it would come out in the end. So you may imagine how thrilled we were as a divine instrument took shape in our hands. We no longer could believe that we were in any way connected with this instrument. We just felt ourselves an instrument of some higher force, privileged to play a part in this beautiful game.

Then the great moment came to make a short test! We mounted the four main strings and released the very first sound! It was beyond any description. Inwardly a big celebration was going on. We felt the soul of the instrument had just entered its body. We could not believe our ears. It was so sweet and warm, even with just the four main strings. The twenty-three sympathetic strings were still missing.

We had to take off the main strings, and in the shortest time we completed the bridge and a few other details. Then it was already high time to go to Nuremberg airport. We packed the most needed tools and left. Now we still had to put on all of the twenty-seven strings. This can be easily done in the back seat of the car while driving - we thought.

In the car we still had to decide which bridge to use for the esraj - the traditional bridge out of bone material, or our wooden maple bridge. We could not really hear it, but we both preferred the maple bridge. We had the feeling that the sound would be sweeter.

It was quite a hard job to draw the strings through under the frets, from the dim and shaking back seat of a car. By the time we reached the airport, Pramodan had only managed to install about five strings. There were still twenty-two strings to go, so when we met our friend, we told her we had failed.

But no! She told us that she had a five-hour stopover in Frankfurt. To mount twenty-two strings in a three-hour car ride from Nuremberg to Frankfurt, that should be really easy - we thought. After two hours relaxed driving and Pramodan working in the back of the car, my cell phone rang. Ring, ring...