India, Letters to self, rajasthan
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Songs of the playground

It is hot in Barmer. My right cheek has swelled. Ulcers recognize heat. I am staying with amma here, a Bhopa. Last night we decided to attend Pabu ki phad. Happens rarely now. A local god. Reincarnation of Laksman. Bhopas sing and dance for Pabu. For two nights Bhopas from all across the region had come to sing and dance reciting Pabu’s story. Anada Ram was the most prolific Ravanhatta musician. He died 33 years ago. His wife, Amma never sang after that.

I am here to document her son. He never learnt Ravanhatta. He wanted to be an actor. He dances for tourists coming to Jaisalmer in winter season. I have known him for eight months now. There were many other dancers from the community yesterday. Veer was going to show me one of his acts dancing on the mirror glass with fire in his mouth. He does not dance in the community. He is ashamed.

I was awed last night. So were six hundred people. He got cut but still kept dancing. His blood leaked like water from a tanker on road. A long night ride to Barmer medical hospital on Hero Splender. Beautiful ride. Many stars. Inside: Two men had jumped from the roof together, as they told. I cant see one- others are talking about him. Second one is quiet, looking into distance. His chest crushed, Veeru told me he will cry tomorrow. Other four arrive. Car – truck accident. I came out. I dropped Veer back home. Amma and I decide to ride back ten kilometers to the village where music was still playing. It got cold. Thanu Ram jee started singing. Amma told me it is Khel gana. The song from the playground, in which gods play. Then she left. I slept soon there afterwards.

Jaisalmer dance

As the sun went down, every evening in Jaisalmer’s Registan guest house, Manganiyar’s got together with two beautiful dancers webbing a performance each night filled with stories and humour, folk songs, jugalbandi of Khartaal and Tabla and a show presented by Virendra who turned phoolmati each night to dance, to give a performance one doesn’t see anymore even in villages and across many tribes.

This entry was posted in: India, Letters to self, rajasthan

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Hi, I am Narayan Kaudinya. And i welcome you on this journey, the Road to Nara ! I am an Ethnographer and a practicing Indologist. I did my masters in History and further learnt Sanskrit, Yoga and Nerve-therapy. At 24, pushing most academic sounding, office sitting works away, i felt compelled to know and understand the world and my country, Bharat/India. I travelled, and as it happened i took up teaching in Kashmir and further up in the remote villages of Baltistan in the foothills of Karakoram Ranges. For around three years and many states later there came a time when i felt that it was only while teaching i learnt how to laugh, to see, feel, breathe, love and cry -with children, and mostly resource-less parents in the harshest-freezing border conditions. I write, and work as a documentary photographer and Filmmaker, with numerous published, exhibited and some awarded stories. In my travels and life i have let nature lead me, the divine mother, and as a Yogin, my resolve here is to share my experiences and thoughts as honestly, and through them to blossom in everyone the power and possibility in pursuing your dreams, that you seek your true nature with courage and curiosity. Here, on this road i will share my spirit, my love for nature, the elements of life that are us. And in doing so, i'll be happy to see you along.

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