Sukanya Shankar: ‘What probably touches me most about George is the sincerity of his relationship to Raviji. He is familiar with all of Raviji’s records and songs and knows how each raga develops. He knows them so well. They have a unique relationship. They are so close.’
It’s a deep and strong friendship that George and I have. Sometimes I am like a father to him, and sometimes he takes that role with me, while at the same time we are teacher and student, and along with that close friends. He puts me into a bubbly mood and provokes me into being funny and ‘punny’, by which I can justify my title of ‘Pun-dit’ to him!
He has some pronounced characteristics. He is so loving and magnanimous, going out of his way to help those whom he cares for. He also has something of a child in him, and likes to joke and pun too - he has that glint in his eyes, like a naughty boy. He always remembers the jokes I have told him and he repeats them all over, saying that he ‘heard it from Ravi’!
Another quality he has is that of a wise old man who likes to advise and teach. He talks about what he’s been reading and what he has imbibed from Indian philosophy - especially from Vivekananda’s Raja Yoga and anything by Yogananda and his guru, Shri Yukteshwar. George is so serious and keen to teach people about this. He always says how much he likes everything Indian: our religion, philosophy, music, culture and food. I tease him sometimes when he becomes very serious talking about Indian philosophy, and bring him down to earth, full of fun and frolic. But I know he genuinely means what he says, and he swears by Indian classical music and all his favourite Indian artists.
He also has his black moods, as we all do - and God help anyone who at that time incites his wrath! He can be very hard, but he’s frank like that; he doesn’t hide his feelings. He can also completely shut himself off, and be quite indifferent and distrustful. Of course this is understandable, because he has been exploited so much by people he has trusted. It is a wonder that he is not like that all the time, that he still can have such feelings for others, especially fellow musicians.
He has been good to me. It is wonderful to have his regard, respect and love, as I too feel such deep love for him in my heart.” - Ravi Shankar, Raga Mala