Ravi Shankar wore oxygen mask for last performance

Sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar

Sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar wore an oxygen mask for his last public performance at the California State University at Long Beach in the US on November four as he was suffering from respiratory problem.

"Panditji had his last public performance with an oxygen mask on before a select audience at the Performing Art Centre of the University on November 4 with daughter Anoushka," his one-time secretary and close associate Rabin Pal said.

The legendary sitar artiste died today at a hospital in San Diego in the US.

"Despite his serious respiratory problem, Panditji hardly refused request for performance. So he had to put on an oxygen mask before the performance," Pal said, adding the California programme had been cancelled thrice earlier due to his poor health condition.

Recollecting his last conversation with the Bharat Ratna awardee in November, Pal, who came in contact with him in the city in 1974 and became his close associate, said Panditji had a desire to come to India, particularly Kolkata, this winter to meet his close acquaintances.

"He called me expressing his desire to come to India to meet his friends and acquaintances in Kolkata," Pal said.

According to Pal, Shankar endorsed his proposal to organise a programme here with artistes who came in close touch with him like noted classical singer Samaresh Chowdhury and eminent sitarist Kartik Seshadri.

"Panditji asked me to organise such a programme in which he would be present. But he was not sure whether he would be able to perform there," said Pal.

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