My companion of 45 yrs has been lost, rues Ustad Amjad Ali Khan

Jul 01, 2014, 08:28 IST | Bharti Dubey and Neha LM Tripathi

For 45 years, sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan took care of his instrument as a companion of his. Last Friday, British Airways (BA) managed to lose the invaluable instrument, causing great anguish to the virtuoso.

Also read: Amjad Ali Khan's sarod goes missing on British Airways flight

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan’s sarod had been with him for the last 45 years
Ustad Amjad Ali Khan’s sarod had been with him for the last 45 years

Khan was returning to India from London on June 28, after performing at the Darlington College in the British capital. He had gone there on June 21 to perform in a programme celebrating the life of Rabindranath Tagore. Recounting his return journey on flight BA 143, Khan told mid-day, “It was a well-received concert and we were returning to Delhi on June 28.

At international airports all over the world, there are separate counters for oversized luggage. My wife Subhalakshmi and I went to hand the sarod over to airline officials. The counter looked crowded with instruments, as, apparently, an orchestra was also travelling.”

The Padma Vibhushan awardee allayed his wife’s fears regarding the instrument’s safety and gave it over to officials. “I told her, ‘God will take care of it.’ I am heartbroken! My companion of 45 years has been lost.”

Third time unlucky
When the couple landed at the Delhi airport, they waited for BA authorities to deliver the instrument. However, nearly five hours of waiting later, they were still without their prized possession. When Khan requested officials to trace the instrument, they came back with a golf kit.

They then promised him that they would dutifully deliver the instrument by the next flight. 48 hours later, the musician is still waiting adding to his anguish, BA officials haven’t even sent him any communication or updates on the sarod.

This is the second time Khan has had a harrowing experience with BA the airlines had managed to lose three of his suitcases in the past. The luggage was never recovered. In 2010, Indian Airlines had managed to damage another sarod of Khan’s which was then 25 years old due to which he had to cancel a concert.

“This time, I have to cancel some recordings. I appeal to the authorities, including the Prime Minister’s Office, to help me get my sarod back,” added a dismayed Khan.

The other side
When contacted, the official spokesperson of British Airways said, “Heathrow Airport’s baggage system in Terminal 5 has experienced a number of problems since Thursday. This has resulted in fewer than expected bags being transported each day.

The process of getting the delayed bags onto the next available flight has also been affected. We are working round-the-clock to reunite customers with their bags. We are very sorry that this process is taking longer than anticipated, and we fully understand the frustration that this is causing.”

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