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Devidayal is a "reluctant ten-year-old" when she shows up for her first lesson in classical Indian singing, but the occasion marks the beginning of her musical lifetime, as chronicled in her new memoir. As a student at an Anglican school in Bombay, Devidayal is more at home speaking English and playing badminton than practicing the tanpura, an Indian stringed instrument. But as she progresses from one-note lessons to real ragas, she begins to realize that her mentor, the much-revered but never-quite-famous Dhondutai Kulkarni, offers life lessons as well as music lessons. Through the many stories Dhondutai relays to Devidayal (which range from factual to mythic), the reader is treated to a detailed history of Hindustani classical music and many intimate anecdotes regarding Dhondutai's own gurus, the legendary Bhurji Khan and Kesarbai Kerkar. Devidayal, who graduated from Princeton and now works as a journalist with the Times of India, was a gifted young singer, but lacked the passion to pursue the art professionally. This graceful memoir is a provocative illustration of music's unifying force in a religiously and socially stratified country. (Feb.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.