Thursday, April 21, 2005

Rajistani Fair, Sai Babba School, Playing Tabla


It has been such a whirlwind adventure here that it is hard to know where to begin. First of all, I am getting closer to posting some pictures. There has just been a few technical glitches with the hotel computer system. Anyway... Last night we visited a Rajistani Fair. It was on the outskirts of town. Camel rides, music, a high wire act, dancers, henna painters, performances of all kinds, and a wonderful open-air resteraunt that served our meal on plates made of bananna leaves. It is an ongoing fair that goes on every night. Last night their were not many people, but the performers were very excited to perform for all the Americans. Actually, everywhere we go the people become very excited. I have felt like their has been a spotlight on us since we arrived. Our trip leader Sapna told us it would be like this because Indore is not a tourist town, so the locals are not used to seeing Americans.

After breakfast today we went to a school based on the teachings of Sai Babba, (I hope I am spelling that correctly!). Scott and I got a chance to observe and interview the music teacher. She was so sweet. We went into the room as a group of girls were singing. They stopped and everyone was in shock a bit to see us. We asked them to please keep singing. When they started up again it was like someone turned the volume up 5 notches. They were very excited. They finished their song, we clapped, and asked them if they could sing another. The teacher said it is time for class to be over, but the girls asked if they could sing one more. I was so great to see. The teacher played a harmonium and sang. There was also a tabla player. When the girls finished they all went up to the teacher and touched her hands and feet before they rushed out of the room for lunch, I think. The room was cool. It was on the second floor of a clay building. The only light came from the outside. Their were no doors, and everyone took off their shoes before entering. In our interview, the teacher told us about her philosophy of teaching music. She said that she has been singing and playing for a very long time, and she has experienced a blissful state while performing music. It is her only desire to share that experience with her students. All she wants them to be able to do is enjoy music for the rest of their lives. It was so simple and beautiful that I sat their speechless. The rest of the time at the school, (about a half hour), Scott and I went into a 12th grade general ed class and had a little Q & A. I was surprised to hear about all the western artists that they were familiar with. They told us that they liked Eminem, Hoobastank, Britany Spears, Linken Park,(sp?), etc. It was very interesting to hear all those names as we sit 7000+ miles away from the center of it all. They also told us about the school discipline system. They do not have detention, or any kind of punishment, only counseling. The teacher chimed in and said simply, "We hold no grudge towards them, and they hold no grudge against us." The director of the school also echoed this sentiment and said their success rate with that philosophy has been 99%. I thought that was wonderful.

The day ended with a visit to a local tabla players house. He lived on the opposite side of town from our hotel, which is about a 15 minute auto-rickshaw ride. When we got their he invited us in and did not stop smiling until we left. He asked me to play for him and set down some tablas. I played a bit and he said, "now I play the same thing!" It was awesome, he played all the compositions I just played for him, only he did them all double speed. We made an appointment to go back and play some more on Tuesday. This time there will be an Indian classical Mandolin player coming as well. I will be sure to record.

That is all for now. Tomorrow morning we fly out early on our way to see the Taj Mahal in Agra. On the way back Scott and I will be spending an extra day in Delhi, away from the group, so we can visit some instrument factories and stores. I am looking forwad to it. I am not sure if I will be able to get on a computer, so hold tight until Tuesday.

Thanks for reading,



meeta said...

Make sure you see about getting a new tabla set dude. I'm glad you're having a great time out there! Stay safe :)

Aniket said...

Hey John!!!

I am very happy to know that you are having a super time in India! Its great to read your account and it is making me all nostalgic.

Indians are known for their hospitality; so enjoy enjoy every bit of it.

Can't wait to read your account of the Agra trip. Keep posting!

- Aniket