based Cape town
Naresh was born in Cape Town, South Africa and grew up during the apartheid era when India had imposed sanctions, including cultural ones, on South Africa in a bid to pressure the regime for changes. Today we enjoy the fruits of this in the form of freedom, but during that time, they where culturally isolated and had very limited exposure to cultural material, performances and artists.
Naresh was fortunate to have a dad, Jamnadas Chauhan, who studied music in India when he was young and who taught them (my sister, Madhu, my younger brother, Yogesh and my
cousin, Bharat) the basics of Indian music and to play the harmonium and tabla in 1968.
His dad and his brothers, Raman and Babu, had an Indian music band and they grew up with a variety of musical instruments, such as harmoniums, tabla, violins, bul-bul tarangs, dilruba, etc., around the house. They had lots of opportunity to meddle with these instruments. But, a sitar was lacking.
In 1970, his dad took them on a trip to Durban to purchase a sitar. Unlike Cape Town, Durban had a few Indian musical instrument shops mainly because of the much larger Indian population there. They eventually purchased a sitar and an introductory book on sitar. Naresh interest in learning the sitar grew stronger. Just armed with the sitar and the book, he had to fathom out the technique, as there were no other sitar players in Cape Town. Although he could play a few melodies in a short space of time, even ending up live on Bulawayo TV within six months, revising my technique was an ongoing process, even to this day.
The uncertainty and the process of re-learning was a frustrating experience, but his passion to master the instrument and the inspiring music of great musicians like Pundit
Ravi Shankar kept me going. Refining the technique was like working in the dark, with only recorded sounds to work from. It was only much later in my life that I managed to get some visual material such as video recordings of live shows and broadcasts, which helped him to get a long way with my technique. From my experience, Naresh would recommend that one should learn the technique from an expert, rather than re-inventing the wheel, and save countless years.