Since the earthquake that closed central Christchurch in February, the managers of Gandharva Loka Christchurch, Vajin and Prasasta Armstrong, have taken the opportunity to travel and find more sources for interesting and unique world instruments. They also attended the opening of the latest Gandharva Loka store on Granville Island in Vancouver and, for the first time, participated in the annual Gandharva Loka conference that brings together all of the members of the global Gandharva Loka family of stores. This years conference was held in Berlin and by all reports, it was a memorable occasion for all with workshops, concerts and plenty of joy!
Keen athletes both, Vajin and Prasasta have maintained their training schedules throughout their travels and have some wonderful news regarding Vajin’s running career. Prasasta reports from a running camp high in the Italian Alps…
Those who have visited Gandharva Loka over the past few days may have noticed a new face behind the counter. That would be me – Shardul, a keen flute player and music lover. While I do not have a great knowledge of the many wonderful instruments that are available in the store, I have been learning on the job and it has been an inspiring opportunity and challenge. A lovely aspect about working at Gandharva Loka is that the people who come into the store generally derive and express great joy at the wide variety of instruments which represent so many of the world’s cultures. It is a happy space to be in.
The reason I was fronting Gandharva Loka is that the managers of the store, Vajin and Prasasta Armstrong, were away following up opportunities and challenges of their own. As is mentioned on this website’s meet the team page, both Vajin and Prasasta are athletes. This past Saturday Vajin competed in New Zealand’s premier off-road mountain race, the Kepler Challenge – with Prasasta playing the all important role of support crew. Not only did Vajin finish the tough 60 km mountain race, he also won it with a very respectable time of 5.03.27. (Tramping the Kepler track with a pack takes most people three days or more!) I think Vajin’s win surprised a few people because first-timers do not usually win the Kepler Challenge. The course record is 4.37.41 which was set by Phil Costley in 2005.
The race begins with a steep 15 km climb that often takes its toll on the runners. Following that, the downhill and switchback nature of the trail demands great concentration, stamina and technical prowess – mistakes can cause disaster. Reflecting the nature of the race, Vajin’s path to the Kepler Challenge was not all straight lines and tail winds. It all began when he failed to obtain online entry into the race due to the website being overwhelmed with applicants. Entry to this very popular race is limited as it is held on Department of Conservation land and it is a case of first in, first served. This from The Southland Times:
Award winning radio correspondent Katy Gosset interviews Gandharva Loka’s co-manager Vajin Armstrong for her Christchurch Story show on Radio New Zealand. The interview went to air during the Afternoons programme on the 17th of September, 2009 and was introduced by the Afternoons host Jim Mora with these words:
Christchurch locals get to enjoy sounds from around the globe thanks to a unique music store. Gandhava Loka aims to promote peace and harmony through the universal language of music. And, as correspondent Katy Gosset discovered, stock includes everything from thumb pianos to kazoos.
The interview can be heard here: Gandharva Loka Interview on Radio New Zealand.