Thursday, December 6, 2007

Bundi'ed into Hadoti lands, monkey squatters ahoy!

I took a bus to here by myself, as Maarten had to edit some more in Pushkar. 4,5 ride over bumpy roads. I had a seat way in the back on the furthest 5 seater. I sat in the middle, so I lost count of times that I got elevated and airborn by an unexpected pothole. I had a gentle travel companion next to me, Kishu, who studied mobile engineering and was on his was to Kota. He wanted to hear the music on my korg recorder, so I let him hear the Rajasthani folk songs I recorded live and asked him for translations which he quickly decoded for me. Quick, because he rather wanted to hear music from my cultural surroundings. While driving through the deep dark on shrubby roads and forestlike vegatation we listened to Tom Waits, John Fahey, James Blackshaw, Six Organs of Admittance, Sandro Perri, Dirty Three and the birdsong voice of my girl.

When I arrived in Bundi, it was already past 23.00 and most hostels could be closed. Taxi rishka's were asking me exhuberant fares reserved for tourists, so I prefered to walk the 1km to the old town gates, heavily packed as I was. The town was completely deserted and I found an older man with his younger relative pushing a food cart up to the old town. Chickpeas in tomato onion gravy, battura bread, cumin and potato filled samosa's..all cooled down, but as I hadn't eaten I was happy to get it half priced. Some yonug folks wanted to get me into a hotel. Ofcourse at commission prices. A young streetwise boy ran from hotel to hotel, banging on their doors to get me a room. No matter what I said of him being quiet and stopping the banging on dark and shut hotel fronts, it didn't stop him either way. Someone from a rooftop restaurant called and invited me to come up. I could sleep in the entrance on matrasses at a cheap price so I happily accepted. Plus I got some nice cinnamon-ginger kir (rice pudding). Deepak, the smiley 10 year old servant boy slept on one side while Ringo, the kind reggae and dub loving owner, slept on the other matrass.

In the morning, a girl came a-knocking to eat in the restaurant above and I recognized her from Pushkar the day before as we had had breakfast in the same place. After breakfast I got a cheap room at the same hotel as her. Cassienne from New Zealand has been teaching around in Asia and travelling it inbetween for the past 3 years. As we were both on our own in Bundi we spent the day together, walking up to the huge maharadja forts of Bundi. It gave spectacular views of the whole valley and on one side you could see the Jait lake inbetween the gap of 2 green mountain peaks. It closely resembled the famous views of the Rhine Lorelei Valley. Going up to the highest point in the fort proved to be a test with monkeys, as they were everywhere around us. There even was a huge fight between 2 large monkey families on the hill, which was moving closer and closer to us. The screeching was terrible, so we made our way up inbetween monkey families who were also trying to get safely away from the big fight. Up in the largest compound of the fort, we found that all was overgrown with trees, shrubs and any plant possible and nobody seemed to maintain this. Jhan, a 16 year old boy in trendy western clothes, guided us around as he knew the fort by heart. He took us to the swimming pools of the maharadja and those of his wives. Which were now the private baths of the monkeys, who also controlled this whole fort. Jhan had a very good way of walking right through big groups of monkeys without using stones or a stick. After all, we were intruding their territory so he told us to be at ease and don't show the monkeys any weapons, because that would only agitate them. The monkeys left us alone and just looked at us, we only had to beware the few scruffy ones who were more aggressed by our presence. We got to see wall art, some in better state, some in vandalised state. Jhan told us that in certain overgrown area's, snakes lived aplenty. We didn't even see one, pity. All rooms were neglected and Jhan explained us the use for them. It felt like having a whole maharadja house to ourselves. wow.

Yesterday we rented motorbikes and drove to the waterfalls 35 kms south of Bundi, through flat yellowish farmers lands, ricefields, little villages and lava formed mountains. Later in the evening we sat in a shop of a wedding band, who were off duty. They played some Rajasthani and local Hadoti tunes on the glamorous keyboard.
(Hadoti is the name of the Bundi-Kota region, with it's own dialect)

Tonight we'll *try* to take a bus to Kota, 35 km's more southwards. We first would like to record a violin player from a Bundi wedding band,if all goes well.

In Kota we hope to find the Kanjar people and record their dance and music. Among the Indians, Kanjars are regarded with a criminal reputation which more has to do with their low caste position that makes them the gypsies of Kota. The Kanjars perform a certain dance in the streets of Kota, with a Kanjar female being the key figure, dancing on hollow sounds of metal drums while she moves around in near erotic moves.
From the top of my head I qoute Kothal Komari, research figure on Rajasthani
culture, out of the elaborate Rajasthani folk culture book: 'Kanjar women are notorious and dance seductively. To ever touch a Kanjar woman while she's performing her dance, will make one very sorry for ever doing so. They are very foul mouthed and one has to be very cautious in their company.'
Let's see if we can find them and see with our own eyes.

At a vcd and cassette music stand (or rather cart) last night, searching for local tunes, I asked the guys if he had Kanjar music on tape. At first they didn't understand, but when they did they just laughed. 'Why you want that? We don't have it, nobody does'. Bollywood, Rajasthani disco never misses though. I did find some Hadoti music on cassette, yay.

Photo's of Bundi coming up later this week in this post.
Cassienne, have fun in Korea! -even when it's freezing.......

1 comment:

sushilsingh said...

Bundi is a small town near Kota. Bundi was the capital of Hadoti

region. Bundi is 36 km from Kota is and is one of the unexplored

cities with a rich historical wealth. Once a part of Kota, it was ruled

by the Had Chauhans- an offshoots of the famous Chauhan clan who

ruled Delhi and Ajmer.
Please visit for more deatil