Saturday, January 8, 2011

Music, Dance, and Song

As Asiana put it, today was a day of cultural attunement. We have only a couple days left in India and since we are taking a backwater boat tour all day tomorrow we spent today getting our performing art fix.

While Asiana took a morning yoga class I sat in a circle with maybe a dozen people for the morning raga meditation with sitar and tabla. It was one full song that lasted the whole hour. I have written songs on my 12 string guitar tuning the low string down to D that fit perfectly well with this mornings raga. It was as if they were playing a tune I had written. It was explained that these ragas where written by yogis that had taken to the forests and mountains and used the instruments to mimic nature and the frequency of the earth. It is not about a religion or a particular story, it is everything that just exists. I was happy to listen to it and even happier to be a part of it, even if nobody but I knew it.

Midday we went and saw a classical ceremonial dancer famous in all of south India. This adorable girl moved with an amazing amount of expression telling us a complete story each dance. In the evening we went to see a performance by Kathakali dance troop where they spend hours perfecting their makeup and adornments. It's a combination of hand and body gestures (mudras), facial movement, and costuming used to tell the mythology of the gods. We really only got a demonstrative performance since these dances tend to last 7-9 hours. We got just part of the story in the two hour version.

I went to the barbershop to get a trim and a shave. It was mostly for a shave. I knew it would be easy to buy razors in Asia. What I didn't know was that you could not get a sharp one. I could scrape this one across my face four times to give myself a three o'clock shadow or I could pay someone 40 rupees to do it in once swipe.

I have never had someone else shave my face. It seems like such a personal thing or at least something that I felt had always been my personal responsibility. I see and feel this face more that any other face in the world. I was willing to put that face, where I knew all the creases and angles, into the hands of a kid, that looking at him, shaving himself was still a few years in his future. The boy did a meticulous job taking care of the hair on my face, neck, ears, and the ones peaking out of my nose as well as snipping out some of the thick undergrowth that over heats me from the back and side of my head. I feel so sharp now. I guess there is something to having one monkey groom another.

Asiana didn't look like she we due for a shave yet so she treated herself to an Ayurvedic massage with some deep rubbing and lots of special oils. We also treated ourselves to pedicures partially because we cannot bring nail clippers on planes and the claws on my feet needed a little retraction. They were quite amused Asiana was not the only one who chose toenail polish. I figure I'm wearing my sandals the whole time I might as well have some nice foot bling going on. Its not like I've been the least bit inconspicuous so purple toenails now makes the eyes starring on the ground come to meet my face.


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