Vijay came for two weeks; it was lovely to have him with me for so "long". I played the concert on Assi Ghat on the big stage on 18 December. It had scared me so much but I enjoyed the 25 minutes and wanted to play more. True, my microphone was pretty low so I didn't have to worry much about making mistakes! We played fusion music, "east meets west", eight musicians altogether, including a fantastic didgeridoo player from Holland/France whose instruments and skills fascinated the Indians so much that we could almost see their mouths drop from the big stage. As soon as he played a sound they clapped. Because of him, we featured in three local newspapers the next day!
We played with this band twice more, including on New Year Eve. That night wasn't so pleasant for me as I had to learn a (simple) piece of Irish music in two days; yet that part was definitely what I enjoyed playing most. My teacher is really kicking my arse hard, if I may put it that way. He'll tell us exactly what to play at short notice and with little practice so we play more spontaneously on stage. It is very challenging for my "shy little girl" side who wants to be prepared and perfect and who feels inferior compared to the other, professional, musicians. But the Indian way is different, like I said in a previous post. It doesn't matter if you play two notes out of a concerto; you're joining in, you're learning, and that's what matters. No Indian will look at you thinking you look crap for not playing. It's OK, and who cares!??! I am learning. Violin and also shedding the self-consciousness issues I've had for years when it comes to "playing music in front of people". It's moving. It's difficult and it has got me to shed tears, but mostly it's fun, I feel better every concert, and my teacher is happy with my performance. So it's all good.
Christmas was lovely too. We celebrated Christmas properly for the first time in perhaps five years. With Marie-Christine and Jerome, some French and Indian friends, Vijay of course (who was celebrating his first Christmas), Marie-Christine's wonderful cuisine, some music from my computer, a Christmas tree, a cake, and some presents. It felt like I was in my Varanasi family.
Vijay is gone now, and the cold has seriously arrived in Varanasi. My computer says it's 9 degrees, and yesterday's newspaper indicated peak temperatures of 18 degrees, and 4 degrees at night. I am a lot better equipped than last year though so I'm not suffering as much. This year I have my sleeping bag, in which I sleep under three blankets (head away from the window!) I have a hot-water bottle in case, although I haven't used it and I don't think I will have to. I am blessing my thermos for the hot water I drink all day, and I am very happy that I brought thick tights because I can wear them under my jeans/trousers. Oh, and this super-warm fleecy-woolly jacket I bought in Rishikesh is wonderful; of all "pieces of equipment" it's probably that which makes this winter bearable/pleasant. I wear it all the time. Of course no heating in badly isolated Indian houses means I wear 5 layers and feel like a bloated chamallow at all times, but I'm well-warmed up and this is what matters. No-one seems to care about looks in India and I love it!
I am still going to my new yoga teacher twice a week, despite the cold. It's hard to get up in the morning because the outside world is a lot colder than the cosy world of blankets and sleeping bag, but it does me a lot of good; that and the cycling. Hindi has started again now, which I'm enjoying after the break... 2011 will be a deciding year of change for me... I shall strive to welcome it with love and faith...
I have decided to apply for another degree in Banaras Hindu University (BHU) so I can carry on extending my student visa. I feel guilty for not working but I love this Indian life, and shall let it last whilst it can... I no longer want to study Hindi formally as I have reached a level now that allows to carry on learning on my own, reading, speaking, and generally speaking living in India. So I will apply for a degree in violin/Indian music! I have to start from first year which means I will start at beginner's level. It's OK, it's mainly for visa reasons, and the fact that it should be too easy for me means it should allow me to be to spend more time with Vijay/away from Varanasi. The theory part taught in Hindi does sound exciting though... We will see...
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.