Mumbai: When music-loving Mumbaikars gathered for what they thought would be an evening of soulful music by acclaimed sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, they were in for a surprise. The maestro was there, but his delicate teakwood instrument was damaged, courtesy flight handlers at Air India.
Amjad Ali Khan turned up for the show at the Chembur Fine Arts Society in north-east Mumbai and displayed the sarod, which he claimed was damaged during a flight from Ahmedabad to Mumbai Thursday morning.
"The sarod, weighing around 15 kg, is a very delicate instrument. It was packed in a tough box. I had booked it as a check-in baggage on the Air India flight, IC-614 which left Ahmedabad this morning at 7.20 a.m.," Amjad Ali Khan told IANS.
A visibly upset Amjad Ali Khan said he had decided to show his fans and music lovers the broken and damaged sarod, which happened to be his favourite one.
Before leaving for the airport in the morning, he had taken a look to ensure the instrument was packed safely - and it was.
But to his shock, when he reached his place of residence in south Mumbai and opened the box, he found the precious instrument badly damaged.
"My heart is bleeding. I don`t want to make any claims since Air India is our national carrier, but I do wish they had taken more care of the delicate baggage," he told IANS.
Though made of teakwood, it is a very delicate instrument. It was made 25 years ago by renowned sarod maker Hemendra Chandra Sen, who passed away last week, Amjad Ali Khan said.
Amjad Ali Khan sent an SOS to his wife Subbulakshmi in New Delhi and asked her to rush to Mumbai with a spare sarod for his two more concerts over the next two days in the city.
"She will reach here by tomorrow morning and that will enable me to keep up my commitments - one at CFAS tomorrow followed by the NCPA Saturday," he said.
Though he did not lodge any formal complaint with the AI authorities at Mumbai Airport, he urged them to ensure that such delicate instruments are attended to more gently.
"They can also consider setting up a special counter for oversized baggage, as is common in all foreign countries," Amjad Ali Khan suggested to AI.
When contacted by IANS, an AI spokesperson, though not aware of the incident, enquired with the concerned officials at the airport, but drew a blank.