Une Nuit de Musique sur la Lune
Trip Start Jun 14, 2010
148Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
Jagdish joined us, bleary-eyed after a siesta sleep, but very quickly warmed to conversation and began fingering the ravanhattha, eighteen-stringed instrument
While all of this was going on we slowly met each of Jagdish and Samda’s five children from ages eight to eighteen. Photography albums were passed around of other Western visitors they had entertained, including some of our friend, Mike Unrau, five years younger than he is today. We sipped chai as the music continued–another musician joined who sang an upbeat duet with Samda. Jagdish talked about his pleasure of having visitors from other cultures join him in his home, insisting that music fosters cross-cultural understanding and blurs the boundaries between differences.
In preparation for the visit, we had done some investigation of what to take as a gift for the visit and meal to a family who has little. We were advised by our hotel owner that it is would be appropriate to gift a little money for the children in envelopes. We searched around for envelopes in the town and ended up having some donated by a camera shop proprietor once we explained our use for them. We then went to the pharmacy where Nancy had befriended the owner with her recent purchases of medicines and made some money changes to smaller bills, explaining our purpose to him. We were delighted that he was extremely supportive of the idea and even helped to stuff the money into the envelopes
As the sun began to set, Jagdish excused himself as he went off to a night time venue at which he plays his music. He invited us to go with a neighbour who escorted us to sunset point at the top of the hill on which they live where we watched the sun dip beyond the horizon, colouring the sky above with the pastels of a desert sunset with the full moon rising. We made our way slowly back down to Jagdish and Samda’s house where Samda was preparing the evening meal. I insisted on helping and Samda relented by allowing me to peel the vegetables; but that was all I was permitted to do. Samda’s eldest daughter (who is to be married in April) joined her mother in the food preparation, grinding red chillies on a flat stone. A small fire was started in the corner of the yard fuelled by dried cow dung and contained within three bricks used to support a cooking pan.
While the food was being prepared, Jagdish’s younger brother entertained us with drumming and conversation until the food was ready. One of the children put on recorded music inside the house that began a dance show involving the children. Later Terence and Jagdish’s brother danced up some high energy. Jagdish and Samda’s youngest son was obviously enthralled with dancing and was particularly fascinated when Terence joined in. The music attracted other neighbourhood children who were all standing around watching the strange foreigner groove to the Bollywood tunes. The last performance was a delightful treat from Jagdish’s brother who was very loose and flexible in his movements. He later challenged Terence to do a headstand and other yoga positions
The food was served–simple fare: curried potato and lentils (aloo and dal), along with chapattis (a simple wheat flatbread). It was simply delicious. Samda and her children waited for Nancy and I, and the other guests, to finish eating before they would eat anything—cultural decorum for entertaining guests.
When it was time to leave, Samda instructed her brother-in-law to escort us down the hill and into the street approaching our hotel. It was a very warm and delightful evening in this simple and humble setting with a true sense of family and community--an example of a family opening their hearts and their hearth to give us all that they had without expecting anything in return. Nancy and I had a lesson of seeing beyond the poverty, the rats, and the ragged children to the warmth and acceptance beneath all this. This was an evening we will never ever forget.