'I didn't know who Pandit Jasraj was'

A Rhythm House staffer traces his journey from music novice to advisor to listeners

Ateek Khan is a staffer in charge of the Indian Classical section at Rhythm House. Like his colleagues, he is trying to come to terms with the disappointment following the news that the store he has been working at for 18 years will soon shut down. “We don’t have an official confirmation from the management yet, but we did anticipate that this was coming soon,” he says.

Pandit Jasraj
Pandit Jasraj

He calls his time here “really good”, and terms himself fortunate to have roamed the store’s aisles, advising listeners along the way. “You know what would keep me peppy while I worked? It was the music playing on the store’s sound system. It kept everyone going. The rhythm, like they say, got us,” he says.

The first indication of the business in trouble was the dip in footfall. “Around five years ago, we’d have 800 visiting daily. The download or digital revolution, call it what you will, was affecting us,” he adds, suddenly putting a question to us, “Why would someone buy music if they can download a track for Rs 12?”

He isn’t sure of the road ahead but when he looks back, he is thankful for the experience. “When I began here, I did not know who Pandit Jasraj was. Today, I can identify the raag, the gharana, everything. When we finally down shutters, I hope to take my experience some place else,” he said.

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