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) 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, 7 August 2012

Back in India and learning bhajans with a pandit

I have been back in India for over a month now. I didn't need the "usual" 2-day re-adaptation time at all this time. It is getting shorter every year. It seemed as normal to be in the Indian noisy-smelly-mess, as though I had never been back in Europe. I have a switch in my brain for languages, with a French option, an English option, and a Hindi option. In the same way I have a Europe-to-India switch in my brain.

And so everything is good. Monsoon came a little later this year, and when I arrived in Benares last month the Ganges water were very low, but after 16 days in Khajuraho I am back and the river is a lot higher, which is lovely. India is just so lovely when it is damp and green, it's like I can breathe better than when it is scorching dry and yellow. A breath of relief.

And I'm registered for the second year of violin diploma, and my student visa is renewed until the July 2013.

In July in Varanasi, I had a few good violin classes with Guruji, before he went to Europe for the whole month of August.

In Khajuraho, I started music classes with the pandit, who seems totally dedicated to teaching me bhajans (devotional songs). I went to meet him in the music school, and he gave me daily classes from the following day in his home. In the space of a week he made me play in two temple-houses at the beginning of the "Sundarkand", reading of the most beautiful part of the Ramayana in which Hanuman (the monkey god) rescues Sita (Rama's wife) from demon Ravana. The readings, in Sanskrit, last over an hour and religiously take place every Tuesdays and Saturdays (Hanuman's days) in temples or dedicated houses. There is no audience as such, just a gathering of the temple people and their families, and the music and the readings are amplified with loudspeakers for the neighbourhood to hear. The pieces I play are very simple, but most Indian people can identify and relate to them unlike with Indian classical music, which is totally inaccessible to the untrained ear of most Indians. And so playing popular music makes people happy; especially on a beautiful violin, which is a completely new instrument for most Indians. The temple's gathering was clearly thrilled with my contribution, and so was I - to see them happy.

I always feel somewhat shy to go to Hindu temples. I never really know what to do and how to behave and I sort of feel uncomfortable to stay in a temple for a long time, so music is a good medium to get me into a temple and feel and observe. It is wonderful to learn popular Hindu pieces not only because they make people happy, but because it gives me great insight into this huge aspect of Hindu culture and life which is religion. I learn it in Hindi medium obviously, and with the notes I learn the words and the meanings of the songs. The pieces are played accompanied with tabla or dholak (percussion), which is a great opportunity for me to familiarise myself with different types of rhythms (my weakness exactly). And as I feel it and as the pandit also told me, for Indians, a foreigner to be playing bhajans is amazing, so it seems I am winning a lot of respect from Indians in small Khajuraho... Finally, classes with the pandit are delightful, as he is a wholehearted, pure soul and highly respected as such. Although our relation is very shy and reserved I am enjoying getting to know him slowly and it seems to go both ways.

In exchange for the music classes, I have also started teaching violin to the pandit's children. They are responsive, especially his son who is very comfortable with the violin...

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