Ravi Shankar’s Westport Connection

News of the death of Ravi Shankar stirred memories of the Indian musician’s long-ago Westport visit.

He played at Love and Serve, a cafe/boutique near Mario’s at the train station.

Greg Katz recalls hearing the sitar master there as a junior in high school, in the early 1970s. That was a few years after George Harrison brought him to the attention of his fellow Beatles, and then the world.

Kathy Stewart says Love and Serve was where she bought her “1st pair of Indian sandals, incense, ceramic owl incense burner, sandalwood box for incense holder, Indian blanket, sari, earrings, and food.”

Do any other “06880” readers remember Ravi Shankar playing at Love and Serve — or the place itself?

Ravi Shankar

Ravi Shankar

13 responses to “Ravi Shankar’s Westport Connection

  1. Denny Davidoff

    I remember hearing Shankar for the first time. First time for a sitar. Jerry’s Eurocentrism challenged. Love & Serve was wondrous.

  2. Ravi was Nora Jones Dad!

  3. I wonder if Love and Serve morphed into Raja of India on Main Street?

  4. Ruth Steinkraus Cohen, who booked musical programs for Friends of Music, chamber music series back in the 60s, booked Ravi Shankar for one of our concerts, which were held at Gonzaga Auditorium at Fairfield University. Ruth was always ahead of the curve in music. Shankar was magnificent–our subscribers thoroughly enjoyed his concert.
    Sarah K. Herz (former member of board of Friends of Music)

  5. Jill Ross Beres

    Yes, I remember Love and Serve, but so sorry not seeing RS

  6. I saw him at Tanglewood in the summer of ’68. I have zero recollection of Love and Serve.

  7. Sank T. Monious

    So who was it that really screwed up the Beatles? Was it Yoko or Ravi? Indian food at Love & Serve or Mexican food at Viva Zapata, what’s the difference?!!! When Montezuma’s revenge is coming for you it’ll get you in Westport or anyplace else even your own kitchen.

  8. I think Greg might be thinking of Mahavishnu John McLaughlin who was a follower of Sri Chinmoy who owned Love and Serve.

  9. I moved here in 1983, so I don’t think Love and Serve was still here.

    But — I saw Ravi Shankar at the Bangladesh Concert in Madison Square Garden in 1971.

  10. I was 10 or 11, and my piano teacher was the above mentioned Ruth. My mother had just dropped me off at her house for my piano lesson, and Ravi Shankar was there at her house. Ruth said, “How’d you like to take a little ride?” to me. So I rode in the back of her car with Ravi Shankar in the front as she drove him to and dropped him off at the League of Woman’s Voters, and then drove back for my lesson. I didn’t get to attend his concert the next evening, but I would have loved to have.

    I did get to attend plenty of the Friends of Music concerts though. I have very special memories of them, and they really fostered my appreciation for classical music.

    I used to go to Love and Serve often, and I knew of Sri Chimnoy, but I didn’t know he owned the restaurant. Viva Zapata too, but never memories of Montezuma’s revenge. Maybe Pina Colada revenge.

  11. Well I am a little young for his performance at that venue, but he’s a personal friend of our extended family overseas. My Uncle performed with him when I was a young adult and it was probably one of the most mind-blowing experiences I can remember witnessing, barely understanding the language but feeling the depth of the most ancient rare forms of Indian Classical music. He was quirky and modern in his sensibilities, as well.

    He was generous, a Pandit/Guru, and gave us one of his favorite Sitars as a gesture of thanks, we still have it — a generous and beautiful man. He’ll be missed among many especially in India, though he bridged many cultures, even against some strict “traditions.” A legend, experimentalist, and an iconoclast.

    Much respect deserved to Pandit Shankar, (For me, “Uncle Gee.”). RIP.

  12. Dan,
    Wasn’t “Love ‘n Serve” the successor to the “Fool’s Mate” coffee house which caused quite a stirr in the 60’s? You should see the letters to the editor from the Town Crier at that time.
    Tor Sporre’

  13. Ah, Love and Serve… named after the husband/wife team that was owned and managed by Premananda (née, Eversley Childs III) and his wife Pujarni (sp?), they were disciples of Sri Chimnoy, who held weekly meetings in a house in Norwalk, just off of the Merritt Pkwy.

    I worked there for a time as a dishwasher, a job my brother turned me on to. I think a good number of people had the job over time… the main cook was an East Indian fellow named “Prakash” (sp?), he told me his name meant ‘Lightning.’ He was a great guy and a hard worker.

    I don’t recall Ravi Shankar ever being at the restaurant, but McLaughlin and his band did come in for dinner one time, and after their meal they invited us all to Staples High School to watch them perform. We closed the place quickly and caravanned to the school. It was cool, hanging out backstage… great music…

    After Westport’s restaurant closed, Love and Serve opened a Larchmont location. I’m not sure how many years it operated, but it was good food and people.