A note on my three blogs

A note on my blogs

(1) vio; in love with india - this one is the main blog about my Indian adventures, which started in 2005. I don't write much on this blog these days because I prefer to write privately in the confidential blog. But check out the categories and the index to figure out your way. I have kept some older posts not about India but which I still find interesting or relevant in Old words. Also check out my new, fun category Only in India in which I post photos of funny, unique, Indian situations...

(2) vio; sounds of india - this is my blog of sounds, because India wouldn't be as incredible if it was not so vibrant and just so full of incredible sounds!

(3) vio; confidential - this an extension of my main blog in which I post entries I do not want to reveal to the entire webspace for privacy or sensitivity reasons. You must receive an invitation from me and then accept the invitation to be able to read it. You may email me if you are interested in receiving an invitation.


Tuesday, 14 December 2010

(Yoga &) first concerts

I am very happy. I still go to the new yoga teacher and I have had no difficulty motivating myself to cycle across the city early morning twice a week. I do love the ride, I do love the practice which is very different from all I had known before, and I love the company of this 76-year-old, fun yogi. Going to class I forget everything and for the time being let go of my violin/Hindi routine. I broaden my world and I feel it grounds me in some sort of timeless reality, reminding me of what is important (the heart, the present, love!) More practically, the pranayama cleanses my entire bronchial area and it seems to have been helping my chronically morning runny/blocked nose. I am very very happy with that. And of course, going to regular yoga class is refreshing my daily practice for the rest of the week. Thus is my yogic journey resumed, and I am very much looking forward to it...

And now on the violin... I was due to play for my first concert on 18th December here in Varanasi, but I have played two concerts already, in Rishikesh. I went there last week with my violin teacher, Jerome my “guru-bhai” (i.e. my violin brother, who studies from the same teacher) and his wife. Through their association, the French couple supports the C.J. Maa Music School for which I created a website, so for the school's benefit they wanted to organise two concerts by our teacher, as well as two workshops for the school's children. Predictably, Sukhdev asked Jerome and I to play with him on both concerts. I was very happy because I feel at home in Rishikesh, and playing for a reasonable audience including the children I know and love would indeed feel less intimidating for me. It was definitely a good idea before playing a concert on a big stage in Varanasi!

Both days before the concerts we enjoyed some great practice sessions with Sukhdev, Jerome, and Shivananda (our friend and the school's teacher) on tablas. All three are great musicians and incredibly supportive of me!! I am so grateful! The concerts were OK. Mostly I was nervous before, more than during, the concert, so I fell more shy than nervous. Of course I played a lot less than I play in class, but it doesn't matter; it's part of the practice and confidence will come in time. I love this Indian way: the teacher introduces his/her students on stage, who join in when possible. That way the teacher is responsible for the concert and the students don't have to worry about playing all the time. They can join in when they feel comfortable, and the more they'll play in concert and get used to it, the more they'll be able to play until they're fully “grown”. I love to say it thus: the teacher takes you by the hand and doesn't let you go until you're ready. S/he provides a kind of safety net. I think that's exactly what I need because the fear has been buried in me since childhood... I know I'm good, but I need reassurance.

And so we had a lovely time in Rishikesh. Boy, it was cold, nowhere near European temperatures but cold for bodies that have been more accustomed to heat! I bought a very warm fleece and wool jacket though; I'm very happy because it will keep me warm during the month of January, which was very cold in Varanasi last year. (Remember there is no heating inside houses, so it's as cold inside as outside...) That said I am enjoying cool temperatures. And of course wearing jeans and generally warmer clothes. Sensibilities seem to change in India. I enjoy simple things immensely, a lot more than I do in the west. I rejoice at brooming my room, eating a papaya, and going for chai in the street after yoga class. Change becomes shear delight. I think I'm even more childish in India because I love life even more; I laugh at it like a silly girl.

Back from Rishikesh. I am taking a one-month holiday from Hindi, although officially I don't think I'm on holiday. My progress on the Hindi syllabus allows for a holiday though, and I have decided to prioritise violin this month, with all these concerts. It started with the forthcoming concert on Saturday 18th, but like I said I have already played two, and two more are coming after that, on 20th and 31st. My teacher is pleased that I am motivated, and he wants to “kick my butt” and get me to play on a stage as much as possible to boost my confidence. Even if I don't want to play violin, he said, I can also sit on stage with him and play tanpura (one just has to pluck the four strings one by one to create the accompanying drone), just so I get used to being on stage, and be part of the music. I love the idea of playing tanpura...

So this month will be full on violin. This week Jerome and I are going to class morning and afternoon: morning is normal class; afternoon we will rehearse with the other musicians for Saturday. My main issue really is following the 16-beat (teen taal). Improvising and coming back to the composition on the right beat. I can improvise now, and pretty well. My fingers and my heart have freed up. Fear has dissipated. Yet I block when I have to focus on rhythm, because it is difficult to focus both on playing and hearing the beat at the same time. I need to practise, practise, practise, until I have internalised the beat cycle, so that I can do both at the same time. For this I also have to go beyond the tabla machine and play more and more with real tablas, which seems to be starting slowly now...

And I haven't seen Vijay for over a month now; he is coming Saturday and will stay with me for two weeks... at last.