Monday, October 05, 2009

Walking through the unfamiliar-- the crowded, twisting and turning lanes of Kalbadevi, Bhuleshwar in inner city Mumbai on Saturday.

Enroute to Mumbadevi temple. Mumbadevi, the patron Goddess of this megacity of Mumbai. The second time in eleven years.

Past the squashed buildings, crunched for space. Tumbledown builidings.Stately is hard to find. New construction dots the skyline here, too.
Ornate building entrances with grand archways, glimpses of dilapidated homes.
Single roo
m homes in crowded apartments that still bear fancy grills, remnants of another age.
Past so many temples. So many.
Raja so- and so- built this temple. These lanes must then have been too narrow for a hansom, did he walk here?

What a strange thought- My forefathers must have walked these very same roads. They must have jostled past these crowds, prayed here too.
Naav nadi sanjog- as the line from the song goes.
Fate- destiny- happenstance.


Maihar band. Baba Ustad Allaudin Khan sahib’s famous Maihar Band (and I touch my ears).
The only orchestra to play classical music in the Hindustani tradition.
The Hindustani system favors individual dexterity and freedom in the exploration of the notes of a raga… but for an orchestra?!
They performed at Bhavan’s Cultural Center, even as dusk fell and a quiet took over the setting. A lake lined by lights. By mango trees decked in green lights. By the palms swaying in lilt. And rain clouds that rumbled overhead…
Swaranjali. Kirwani. Shyam kalyan.
A complete orchestra- from jaltarang, sitar to flute and cello..
What dexterity and co-ordination.
Imagine taking tans and alaaps with every single of the ten performers not missing a beat.
What attention, what restraint and practice must this require! Bravo!
Later, a virtuoso Pandit Basant Kabra performed on the sarod, a lilting desh,
But my mind was trying to recollect and grasp the notes of the desh bandish we had learnt long long ago.
I could not remember, for all my trying—and I never forget words, never…


norrbu said...

You're lucky to walk the same roads as your forefathers austere di. We have been stateless for half a century and our history is erased.

austere said...

Norrbu, you have brought that tragedy home. I feel your rootlessness.

Nimh Sellers said...

By your descriptions it sounds all in all a lovely day.

Take Care,

AmitL said...

That must have been one nice day,Austy-I did visit Bhuleshwar area looong back,maybe in the '90s-and,paranoid as I am about crowds,I couldn't wait to get out from there,historical though the place is.:)

PQ said...

I know of a street in chennai where you have a temple at almost every 5th step and I do namaskar whenever I see one - so while riding the bike through this entire stretch I'd keep only one hand on the handle bar for the other one was busy saluting the Gods :-)

So have you learnt hindustani music. The way you describe raagas, alaap in detail, looks like you did. To sunenge jab milenge :-)

austere said...

PQ- I grinned at the many pranams But I guess I'd do that too. PQ, that was more than 25 years , I guess the taal never leaves your blood stream...

Amit-you know, when I first came here I had gone there to pay respects and seek permission to live in her city. overwhelmed is the word,I was swamped by the crowds... I guess I've changed, not it matters not.

nimh- it was, in parts and I still cannot remember the words to that song...disconcerting.