Yesterday, the ISI receptionist Michael offered me the use of his motorcycle. At first I was a bit hesitant, should I really take his bike out? And what about the traffic and crazy driving? Well I have been studying the driving patterns and strategies of the auto-rickshaw drivers and this is what I’ve concluded. Driving in Delhi is a lot like playing Tetris, that video game where your control odd shaped pieces to fall down into slots. The only difference is that the whole screen and everything else is moving at the same time. Really simple actually. And they pass on the inside, just like we do in the West, so I took Michael’s key and helmet and went for a ride. The first thing I had to contend with is that his type of motorcycle does not use the gear shifter in the normal fashion. Instead of one gear up above neutral and the rest down, his bike had all the gears down. Fortunately for me the traffic was light and I soon got the hang of the bike and could then pay attention to the other Tetris pieces around me. I just went around a very large city block, staying on the left side of course. The next time Michael is on duty I will borrow his bike again will do a longer ride (and will most likely get lost).
Also yesterday, a group from Orissa moved into the room next door. I keep my door open and they saw and heard me playing my dulcimer and stood at the opening to listen, so I invited them in for a mini concert. One of them fortunately spoke English and told me they were a troop of musicians and theatre people who were going to put on a play tomorrow. I asked one of them if he wanted to play my dulcimer and he declined indicating that he played the flute. Ah ha, an opening, so I pulled out my three recorders and two new wooden flutes I received for my birthday and gave him one. He tried for a bit but couldn’t get the recorder fingering. That was ok because he opened a large black cylinder and poured out about twenty wooden flutes, the side blowing kind. I couldn’t play his either. So we each played each other a tune on our own instruments and tried to jam but our styles and tunings didn’t help us. So we departed with a smile and a Namaste.
Today the room next door was loud with music. I knocked and was let in to about 8 people, a harmonium, flutes, drums and singers, including a very young boy who was receiving instruction around a song he was singing. I listened for a while then left but came back later to be shown how to play one of the drums called a Nissan. And while I was there they took every opportunity to take pictures of me on the drums with the drum owner. I was invited to go see their performance tonight at the Muslim center, which I intend to do.
Today, like every other day, we wake up empty and frightened.
Don't open the door to the study and begin reading.
Take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.