Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Indian Birthday surprise

While looking online for something totally unrelated to the Beatles, I stumbled upon this little story about when it was Pattie Boyd's birthday in India in 1968.   It was written by the daughter of one of the men in the photo.   I have seen this photo (or one similar) before and I wondered who the English looking men were.  I assumed that they were fellow students at the Ashram, but now I know the truth.   Of course the story itself has some errors.   Of course the Beatles were working on "The White" album and not "Abbey Road."   I do not think there was a "official Beatles photographer"  with them in India.   I would guess that the photo was taken by Mal Evans.  

This is a picture of my father, Stephen Browne (far right), taken in Rishikesh in northern India with John Lennon, George Harrison and Pattie Boyd in 1968. He was on a gap year, teaching at two schools, before going to university.

The Beatles were in Rishikesh for much of that year, learning Transcendental Meditation with their guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and experimenting for their next album, which by my calculations might have been Abbey Road.

My father took up the dilruba (half sarangi, half sitar) while he was in India. On the day this was taken, his dilruba teacher had asked my father and his friend, Nick Nugent, whether they would like to come along to present an instrument to Pattie Boyd for her birthday. The picture was probably taken by the Beatles' official photographer.

This photograph is a prized family possession and is tinged with bittersweet emotion. A few years ago, when we lived in New York, my parents, siblings and I trudged through the snow to Kinko's copy shop on Christmas Eve to photocopy and scan the picture for safekeeping, and so that we could each have a copy.

Nobody remembers who was responsible for removing the original from the photocopying machine – but whoever it was forgot.

We returned to Kinko's on 78th Street many times over the next few days in the vain hope that somebody would hand it in, as they might have in the snowy, Christmassy New York of the movies, but they never did.

At least we're left with this facsimile. The dilruba is still in the attic. Malika Browne


  1. This photo was published in UK DISC in 1968 with an article written by Nicholas Nugent. There isn't a photo credit mentioned on the clipping I have. It's at the March 17, 1968 joint birthday celebration for Pattie Harrison (her 24th) and jazz flutist Paul Horn at the Rishikesh ashram. (L to R) George, Pattie, John Lennon, Nicholas Nugent (an English teacher who wrote the birthday article for DISC), Ajit Singh, and Stephen Browne (an American) holding Pattie's dilruba.

    1. Lynn, I was searching for that clipping all over the Web - is there any chance you could share a scan? Thanks in advance! :)

  2. Tragic story on the photo! No doubt hanging framed on the wall of an ex-Kinko employee.

  3. Talk about one of the coolest chance meetings of all time!

  4. I must acknowledge We admired your ex fortitude.

  5. I wrote the article for New Musical Express. The photographer was a friend, Ram Panjabi. The photo has been published several times including in two Indian newspapers the Indian Express and The Hindu with articles written by me in 2018, the fiftieth anniversary of the encounter. It also features in a forthcoming film of Ajoy Bose's book Across the Universe. Nicholas Nugent

  6. Met with Ram's daughter and son-in-law today. We talked nicely about you as well, Nick. Best regards from Delhi, Peter