A violinist who plays for the love of his life

Swapan sett violinist mussoorie

Prachi Raturi



It is a crowded weekend in Mussoorie. Most cafes and restaurants are packed. Yet the frail looking 73 year old man makes his way, walking slowly yet confidently. Dressed in a spotless white dhoti and kurta, he puts a white plastic bag on a table nearby, meticulously takes out a violin from its case, closes his eyes and starts playing it .

His eyes open occasionally, only to close again as he plays soulful Rabindra sangeet tunes. One or two songs later, as if now awake from his reverie, he smiles as he moves from table to table, gently probing if he could take a minute or two. If he gets a positive response, he pulls out a CD from the white plastic bag to hand it over and safely puts the money in his pocket.

This has been the life of Swapan Sett for the past 16 years. For it was in 2002 that his wife Poornima was diagnosed with Uterine Cancer. A passionate violinist, artist and sculptor, Sett has been traveling from his home in Kolkata to various parts of India to raise money for his wife’s cancer treatment.

Love, he says, makes one go great distances, in his case several times in a year especially to hill stations in summers when he can sell more CDs.

It is another thing he prefers for people to talk about his work rather than the problem. The 73 year old usually plays from 8.30 am to 9.30 pm, paying at various restaurants and public spaces. He recently met Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat, has played before erstwhile royals and state governors. But the humble man prefers to do what he does best, play his soulful strains.

“We are all going through some troubles aren’t we? I prefer to keep playing my music and passing on the love for it”, says the once visiting professor at MC Birla School.