Mahendra Music House
20/29 Munshi Ghat, Varanasi
(Bengali Tolas district)
This is a blatant plug but I have to tell you, if there's anybody out there who's looking for an introduction to Indian classical instruments with a young, modern twist, go see these guys. They love to jam, they don't mind mixing new music with classical ragas, and they believe in practice, practice, practice but also in regular breaks for chatting and fun and food. Every so often somebody goes on a tea run and brings back cups of chai or coffee or a pack of biscuits or samosas for everyone. I bought rounds too and this just becomes part of the culture of the shop. It was perfect for me because I'm hardly a serious drummer - lots of instruments in my past but never any percussion. Hopeless at keeping the beat. I needed those breaks and that laid back atmosphere. It felt like such a friendly place I was sorry to leave.
There is a bit more to say before I can quite finish telling you about Varanasi, but it's getting late here so I'll tell you the rest in the morning.