Saturday, November 24, 2007

Temple and morchang acid raves for the religiously impaired

From wednesday onto saturday.....
The mela has since been in full swing, filling the town with floods of foreigners and Rajasthani villagers alike.
The foreigners, mostly old and some young, are being driven in by charter buses day by day from their safe and plush safari tent camps outside of the town. The 1km road to the mela ground surely is too dangerous for them to walk. As if. Security folks circle their fenced compound, making them locked into their own luxury cage. Smirk. At least they get breakfast served on bed, or so a dutch tourist told Maarten. Inmates with a good catering to boot, all according to their own prepaid package of desired exposure. Each to their own liking of experiencing the fair. It must be said, it's funny to see the older tourists in typical safari or leisure dress getting besieged by gypsies adults and kids when they enter the camel grounds. Funny because they do get terrified way too easily, helplessly, so that their guide has to come to the rescue. Mind you though, this doesn't work with the elderly Israelian tourists who are better at being fierce to the gyspy ways, without a blink or chuckle.

Last night, there was live music all night long in many of the Pushkar temples.
The temple next to our hotel was still playing religious hindu chants when I slumbered out of my sleep early this morning and likewise still going steady when I really woke up. During the evening we had passed a few temples and entered barefeet to soak up the atmosphere and recording some sounds and scenes. In nearly every temple we were the only foreigners which prompted a lot of heads to turn to our direction and with the obvious cluster of Indian men herding around us to see what we were doing with our recording devices. The people here don't mind at all if foreign folks enter a temple during such sessions, but they are all too curious to find out who you are, where you come from and so on. Especially we with our devices at hand are an easy target for attention. Perhaps more so because we smile more at them, opening ourselves up on the go. Perhaps we should become sour faced instead like many tourists here.

Besides some occassional temple recordings, we have finally started recording helluva lot of live music at the mela stage, since we had been lacklustre at doing anything useful there the days before. On one night there was a diverse array of Rajasthani music from a cassette label. Cassettes still go strong over here, though they face more and more competition from vcd's. Veena Cassettes showcase so it was! Some of the artists were utter crooners singing slow and epic songs about whatever soft subject to do with love. The dances were more fun along with the folkier performances.
On another night we catched some amazing folk dances from the states Madya Pradesh, Haryana, Maharashtra, Orissa and Gujarat. Especially a Gujarati dance was amazing as it completely took you into Africa through similar moves, pounding drum rhythms and screeched animal sounds. Ten or so guys dressed up in peacock feathers and suits with faces painted white n black as the bird were dancing around in a strutting manner and throwing coconuts high up in to the air to crack them with their heads. Splashing photographers and filming crews with coco juice in the process. Great fun! The dance was a 750 year old tradition and belonged to a tribal community that moved from inland to the coast of Gujarat. So that kinda ruled out it being an African community that once came by sea. Yesterday evening the musical programme was all Rajasthani folk under the presentation title Desert Symphony. It was a varied performance of artists from allover the state, bringing many different styles in sound and dance. At the end of the evening the Desert Symphony orchestra was created out of different folk artists coming from many instrumental disciplines. On morchang (mouth harp), kamaycha (bass violin), algoza (2 flutes at once) and dhak hourglass drums and many other instruments, 2 improvisations were spread over 25 minutes. Fantastic stuff as it sounded not like anything Indian or worldlike. The morchang players sounded as it they were playing acid techno while the drums gave it a bizarre echo. Full on Rajasthani acoustic rave music so it was!

Tonight is the last night of the mela so we hope to catch and fetch some more good music. Maybe even have a long sit in one of the temples if there are other all-nighter sessions going on. Enough to do.

No luck with recording the snake charmer songs yet. There are enough of them sitting on the streets with flaky and tame cobra's. but it's too busy and noisy for now during the mela. Perhaps in the coming days or otherwise in Jaisalmer in a few weeks.

post scriptum:
I've started reading Vonnegut's Hocus Pocus, -truly excellent if not whimsical gloomy stuff-. Which proves why these dance moves of selfwit and sarcasm here come somewhat inspired. Only time will tell how I'll stay in this momentum.

Below some new viddy's, yay!

Cut from the first session with the Dewara family. The sau ran raga of father D.C.

How to go down off a dusty mountain by motorbike

munching away....

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