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Zubin Mehta honoured

March 21, 2009
Three awards thus showcased the best of the community's present, and its future -- and we were only at the half-way mark of an event that began with India Abroad Publisher and Founder and Chairman Ajit Balakrishnan [Images ] walking the audience through the many different avatars the newspaper has seen in its nearly four-decade history, and setting out the agenda for the future.

Columbia University Professor Sree Srinivasan, who has emceed five of the six annual awards galas in his characteristic style, turned the collective attention towards a plated dinner catered by the award-winning Mint restaurant.

Conversation and food merged as a stellar guest list comprising, to name just a few in no particular order, Infosys CEO Nandan Nilekani; author Salman Rushdie; actress-author Madhur Jaffrey; economists extraordinaire Professor Jagdish Bhagwati and Professor Padma Desai; envoys past and present including T P Sreenivasan and India's Consul General in New York Prabhu Dayal; Mayor of Edison, New Jersey, Jun Choi; celebrity chef Floyd Cardoz; darling of the emerging indie movement in Bollywood actor Abhay Deol.

Emcee Sreenivasan segued into the post-dinner part of the evening by cueing up an emotive video tribute to the spirit of Mumbai -- a segment that connected the audience with one of the most seminal events of last year.

And so to the next award: There are those who achieve within pre-defined, even stereotypical fields, and then there are those who rewrite the geography of achievement by blazing new trails, opening up new vistas.

Zubin Mehta is a rare example of the latter. At a time when India and Western classical music were rarely if ever spoken of in the same sentence, maestro Mehta set out to master the most difficult job in the field: that of the conductor who can take a hundred different talents across a couple of dozen different instruments and, through the magic of his interpretative baton, fuse them all into music that soars, that takes you on a sensuous magic carpet ride into the realm of the divine.

A recitation of the number of 'firsts' Mehta has totted up against his name in course of a storied five-decade long career across over a dozen of the greatest symphonic orchestras in the world would be superfluous -- you admire him, you do not parse accomplishments that, in their collective sweep and scope, seem superhuman.

Symbolising that collective admiration, India Abroad honoured Zubin Mehta with its Lifetime Achievement Award -- presented to the maestro by previous winners Salman Rushdie, Professor Jagdish Bhagwati and Professor Padma Desai.

Image: Zubin Mehta gets the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Video: Maestro Zubin Mehta gets the India Abroad Lifetime Achievement Award 2008
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