Tuesday, August 19, 2014

From Ujjain you take a train to go to Maksi. From Maksi village you either take a tempo or call and ask to be picked up…a dirt track with tons of potholes and bumps leads to Luniyakhedi, to Padma Shri Prahlad Tippaniya’s home and institute set in the middle of nowhere amongst miles and miles of green fields…

Maksi station has a platform at ground level so you have to climb down the seedi or jump a bit…

This time it has not rained enough… the ponds were not full… but enough rain to give a gentle green cover and get a cool wind blowing…unlike Mumbai, Malwa rain is gentle rain, falling softly on the ground

We were about 18 people at the institute, though a few people left after 1-2 days… about 8 people stayed on for all five days. It was a motley mix—a few people had been there previously as well. Shabnam Virmani joined us for a few days—she’s a documentary movie maker and  was one of the pioneers of the Kabir festival. Linda Hess joined us too—she’s a  Prof at Stanford , now is in her seventies and VERY lively—has done a great deal of scholarly work on Kabir, living in Malwa for 12 years, going from village to village in a jampacked car for performances… Also met a young boy Vivek who is teaching at UCLA—he was living in the institute and documenting the work for his PhD thesis…superb dholak, tabla and harmonium player too…Ankit Chadha, the dastangoi—famous storyteller  in the Persian style was with us too…

Living arrangements were basic—simple poly-fiber matresses , grab a pillow, sheets—though I had taken my own. Many people preferred to sleep on the terrace. The mosquitos were powerful. But what a sky! So many stars… I saw jugnu—fireflies—for the first time ever..magical!

Most people would be up by 6-6.30, go for tea—with milk from the homestead’s buffaloes and cow – they actually bought a new buffalo for the workshop. J Then a bath, the bath water heated on a choolah—a few bathrooms on the first floor and also a row of nicely tiled bathrooms behind the institute…Then breakfast and then the singing lessons would begin about 9.30 AM or so…breaking for lunch around 1, reassembling around 2.30 PM and continuing till about 5 PM.. most people would go for a walk to lake or just roam around …dinner around 8, and then more singing or talking…someone would begin and the rest would just join in…Prahladji spent his entire day with us, and the women from his household cooked for us and looked after us, pampering us.

5 days of no internet, no newspapers , no TV…perfect!

As you can imagine, the goodbyes were quite emotional. The last  session was a feedback session and a few people cried…

Will share more memories as they come to mind. Right now, the music echoes.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Random observations
Almost empty trains rattle and sway, cutting through the night. trains that have passengers plod through, steadily.

At the park: Such a cascade of song from a  delicate bird. Droplets in a line trace a pine branch.

Layers…  what you see is not what is… revelations you had never guessed at. Such sadness. Despair. In sharing, so much of the past comes to life. So much seeps through, shapes the present. And now it’s too late. Life is a privilege.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Now I’d gone to the bank for signature verification… didn't know I’d end up with a lesson in history and Indus valley civilization!

“So you’re from Surat, are you?” I asked the young bank manager out of politeness after we’d established that we were both from the same state. “No, actually from Harappa… you know, Mohenjodaro and all that…”  he said, and sketched the grid of homes on rough paper, narrating where the water and drainage lines were.

And then talked about how his community had fled what must have been Sindh, to settle somewhere in Kutch. And then he recounted the tale of Moomal and Mahendra… His extended family worships Rani Moomal as their deity. Her sacrifice and lifelong penance seemed as real as an event that happened a day ago.


I was familiar with this story from my 2012 visit to Jaisalmer—I’d gone to Lodhruva as well.

All this seems like it has happened yesterday, not centuries ago.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Okay, confession time. Never quite thought I’d begin watching TV serials again. Until Zindagi, that is. Excellent story lines, solid acting, good sets—the poor look poor, the rich look glamorous but not garish. Add to that the curiosity about the “other”… people who are so very similar but not quite. What a relief to watch TV without cringing. 
Everything else has taken a backseat. Looks like I’m not the only one…


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Yesterday I finally finished reading R K Narayan’s The Painter of Signs… what a brilliant story, what pacing and crafting… my copy dog-eared, yellowed pages, circa 1986, cost Rs. 17/ ! The book lives up to the accolades on the back cover. Well worth the trouble of reading in a shaking, moving train hurtling through the country at 100 kmph. Totally unexpected ending, this one. What terrific characterisation...Will track down and read the rest.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

There are so many different kinds of peace. I discovered a different peace during a short trip to Ajmer and Pushkar. At the dargah, we were blessed and had excellent prayers without jostling crowds. The place was serene and somber, minus the crowds on account of their religious month. Pushkar was peaceful too, minus the priest at the lake who wanted to assist, and whom I had to politely tell I didn’t need help. Pushkar—the first temple to Brahmaji that I’ve prayed to…That underground cave where Lord Shiva is prayed to… looked ancient, why is it underground, how old was it, who built the temple there and why? So many questions. Also insisted on visiting the Gorakhnath temple as a mark of respect to the evolved soul.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Rain! Sheets of water hitting the ground. Enveloping the vehicle, drawing a furious water curtain close...like someone marooned on a mist-covered island...that was yesterday...

We desperately need the rain...June was v bad. More, please!