Saturday, January 29, 2011

Si, si, Indio!

On that hot summer day in Strasbourg (Aug 1997), you are unable to walk anymore with the group, your asthma is acting up. Pollution levels are high, the TV had warned the previous night. In front of the ancient Strasbourg cathedral, many things are happening to attract tourists.

Among them a small group of short South American native Indian men are dancing in a circle, in their colorful ponchos and long braided hair. One of them is playing a flute with many reeds. You are captivated by the music, there is something primordial and familiar about it apart from its haunting notes. You sit in the circle of people standing around them. You tell your friends to go ahead, you are staying here the rest of the afternoon.

So people come and go, but you are still sitting, watching the dance, entranced. The dancers have noticed you, and are now smiling at you as they pass you in the circle. Their faces are deep brown, their skin is polished and taut, their smiles are very warm.

There is a break in the dance. They all come around to you, you are taken aback. They start speaking in Spanish addressing you as Senorita, they thought you were South American. Had to do the No speaka Espagnola bit. They are disappointed. Then the leader of the group comes over, he speaks French and German. Voilà! You tell them that you are Indian. They are excited, they are also Indians. You clarify that you are a different kind of Indian. It didn’t matter, their smiles are just as warm. Through the interpreter, we converse a bit.

They are from Ecuador, they are part of this group traveling across Europe, playing their native music at different tourist spots. [You wonder how much of the earnings they actually get in hand]. They are terribly homesick, wandering around in places where they cannot talk to anyone. They feel that you are from their place, though you aren’t, they feel a certain connection to you. You understand what they mean. You’ve always had this doubt that in a previous birth, you were from a tribe that was very closely connected to nature, spoke to trees, understood the language of the wind.

When you finally have to leave, you buy a cassette of their recordings. [Proyeccion Inka’s Musica Tradicional] They insist that you take it at half the price. All of them turn to you in the middle of the dance and wave to you, smiling from ear to ear and bidding Adios, Senorita!

In the midst of strange cities, the strangest of people sometimes connect, in the most curious of fashions. For we are, in the end, human, and so vulnerably so?



kabir said...

beautifully written- it is critical that we stop viewing ourselves as atomistic entities and understand ourselves as nodes or knots in a web of relations. We are not insular but relational beings.

Asha said...

Thank you :) Yes, you're so right - recognizing that we are all connected totally changes the way we experience the world.

kabir said...

Thought you would like this:

“Utopia is on the horizon: when I walk two steps, it takes two steps back … I walk ten steps, and it is ten steps further away. What is utopia for? It is for this, for walking.”
– Eduardo Galeano

"Anthem" - Leonard Cohen (one of my favorite poet singers)

The birds they sang
at the break of day
Start again
I heard them say
Don't dwell on what
has passed away
or what is yet to be.
Ah the wars they will
be fought again
The holy dove
She will be caught again
bought and sold
and bought again
the dove is never free.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

We asked for signs
the signs were sent:
the birth betrayed
the marriage spent
Yeah the widowhood
of every government --
signs for all to see.

I can't run no more
with that lawless crowd
while the killers in high places
say their prayers out loud.
But they've summoned, they've summoned up
a thundercloud
and they're going to hear from me.

Ring the bells that still can ring ...

You can add up the parts
but you won't have the sum
You can strike up the march,
there is no drum
Every heart, every heart
to love will come
but like a refugee.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.
That's how the light gets in.
That's how the light gets in.

Asha said...

THANK YOU!! That was beautiful!

Speaking of light, I guess you must've read R.D.Laing: ".....the cracked mind of the schizophrenic may let in light which does not enter the intact minds of many sane people whose minds are closed. Ezekiel, in Jasper's opinion, was a schizophrenic."

And of course, Spike Milligan: "Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light."


Shared Cohen's poem with all my friends (you are probably one of the two people who read my blog, the rest only read my mails - or so I think, maybe they don't read those either!)

Your beautiful collection of reading/poetry amazes me, I am so curious to know what other treasures you have in your huge storehouse :) Do you post them anywhere?

Please do not wait for me to post something to send me stuff, pardon the greed :) :) - do mail me at jamming dot marley at gmail dot com.

If you don't want to, no issues at all - will continue to wait for your comments :)

kabir said...

And then the sufis speak of fana, or the burning away- with images of the moth inexorably pulled to the flame. The cracked are drawn to the light ;-)

I saw your postings of Idris Shah...see if you can get a copy of the late Annamarie Schimmel's classic work 'Mystical Dimensions of Islam' is a beautiful work on sufi history...and no I don't blog, I derive my joy vicariously through ravenously consuming blogs like yours. And yes, the next time, I will send you an email ;-) thanks for the invitation, I appreciate it

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