I was fortunate to have been the guest of Shirish Swami for 4 days at his lovely home in Langley, London from April 17 to 20. My stay with him was unforgettable.
Shirishbhai has immersed himself in music after retiring from his job as an electrical engineer. He is very meticulous in whatever he does - gardening, cooking, house-keeping, repairing and maintaining tools, equipment and gadgets. He shows the same meticulous approach to learning and practicing harmonica.
Shirishbhai was kind to offer me his hospitality when I informed him over e-mail that I was coming to London. I had also informed Nitin Patel, also an electrical and mechanical engineer like Shirishbhai, who is a practicing industrial photographer. Both have been settled in London for more than 30 years now. Both have child-like enthusiasm for playing harmonica. Though both live in London, they met for the first time in India through the Harmonica Club of Gujarat during their recent visit.
Shirishbhai and Nitinbhai drove long distance to Harrow to meet me and pick me up from the hotel I was staying in. I shifted to Shirishbhai's home and stayed there till my departure for India. Nitinbhai spent the whole day with us, regaling us with his humor-sprinkled tales about his tryst with harmonica. Both had discovered harmonica from their respective uncles. I too was inspired by my maternal uncles who never allowed me to touch their harmonicas when I was a kid.
Shirishbhai, who used to play harmonica during his college days, picked up the instrument just a little over three years ago when his college mate, Prafulla Patel, gifted him a Chromonica 64 on learning that Shirishbhai had no mouth organ.
Thereafter, Shirishbhai started buying harmonicas. "If only I had revived my interest in harmonica while I was still employed, I would have bought many instruments without pinching my pocket," he said. However, retirement has not dissuaded him from collecting harmonicas.
Shirishbhai has made a wish list of songs he would like to play on the harmonica and is working hard to find the scales of these songs. During my stay with him, both listened to the original tracks of some of the songs and could place the scales of 3-4 songs.
The way Shirishbhai has organized himself and the manner in which he is learning and practicing mouth organ, I will not be surprised if one day soon he comes out with his own audio compact disc.
After retirement, Shirishbhai has found an engagement worth living for.
I requested Shirishbhai to become the co-author of this blog and he was kind enough to have accepted my request.