Monday, July 6, 2009

Binjrad Music

Our monthly staff meeting is at a campus in the small hamlet of Binjrad.  Several buildings on 5 acres of land about 70 kilometres outside of Barmer, close to the Pakistan border. When there I must register with the local military police as this is a restricted zone for foreigners.  But I did get permission from the Barmer authorities (the Collector) and so it’s a small formality at the station and then I’m cleared to be in the area.  The staff meeting was attended by an assortment of SURE people, all working on different projects. Seven of the 35 in attendance were women. Getting more women on staff is a problem in this area and culture.  At the beginning of the meeting there was some singing and I also played a short tune on my dulcimer. Last month I played Gershwin’s Summertime on my recorder for them.  They’ve never heard the blues here before, or even knew was it was, so it must have been quite an odd sound I played out.  After the main meeting, at about 5:30pm, Jamal came over and started singing and encouraged me to pick up my dulcimer.  Amazingly I discovered he was singing in my key of D and I was able to pick up on the beat and melody as we played and sang together with others joining in for about twenty minutes. No I didn’t sing. Then we figured out another song and another. Jamal took the dulcimer and began to experiment with it, holding it like a Vina (upright like a cello). I ran to my room and got my recorder and soon I was playing along as he began another song, which he tried to teach me to copy and we jammed again for another five minutes before everyone set off for some more meetings.  But what fun to be able to catch on to this new Indian music for me and just enjoy the rhythms of the hot afternoon.


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.

- Rumi



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