President Obama arrived in Mumbai today…..locally they are calling it “O” Day! The Colaba area of Mumbai feels a bit weird today. Colaba Causeway is usually a hectic main road that runs parallel with the Arabian Sea which is lined with shops on both sides and covered stalls along the pavements. The roads are normally thick with traffic and each and every corner has a snack stall, paan walher, cow, dog or street person. Today, however, all the streets were cleared, the pavements dusted down and the traffic kept at bay while Obama did the rounds. Anyone in town just for today would get a very warped idea of Mumbai life I’m sure! We managed to see Marine 1 (Obama’s helicopter) come into land from our hotel but that’s as close as we got choosing to watch the rest on the TV.
Yesterday was the main day of Diwali in India(above are some pictures taken at the hotel), before my lesson my wife and I took a trip up to Chowpatty Beach for a early evening stroll. I was hoping to see lots of light and colour for Diwali….there was some although it was a bit noisy as Indians seem to like fireworks along with the rest of the world……funny how Diwali fell on our bonfire night this year! I was told later by guruji that there is a scientific reason behind letting off fireworks as the sulphur kills off all the bugs in the air that have bred during the monsoon period. We didn’t hang around too long as the idea of fireworks and safety don’t really go hand in hand over here, so rather than get hit by a stray rocket we retreated to a nearby restaurant!
My lessons are going well. The other night we covered Rag Yaman. There was myself and another sitar student there and we played alap, taking it in turns to develop whole phrases and subjects. This is quite a new method in the teaching as previously students have copied phrase by phrase. By playing and developing things for longer it certainly makes you concentrate more and gets you developing a number of phrases to create a longer overall phrase or sense of subject/section. Last night I looked at Rag Mian Malhar, we did some alap and a vilambit (slow) gat a few days ago so last night I learnt a drut (fast) gat. Below is a photo of me receiving talam last night.
More updates soon!