The scariest moment...
"The scariest moment is always just before you start." ~ Stephen King
Finding a way to get back to Mumbai has been a passion and a goal for me, and I can hardly believe it is about to happen again.
My first experience traveling to Mumbai in 2009 was equal parts terrifying, wonderful, lonesome, and beautiful, and it sent me head over heels for this city, it's culture, and playing tabla. Few places can tear you out of your comfort zone while showing you the depth of humanity quite like this city, and I can't wait to find my place again among its wonderful chaos.
I'll confess - I am a little more afraid this time! Adulthood has a way of smushing your nose up to the glass of reality, and I'm there right now. The world is changing all the time, and today brings a new and more vibrant set of fears. There are dark realities that we are all forced to confront, and my hope is that I won't have to face those fears as a woman, as a traveler, or whatever other boxes put me at risk in the world. I know that I am experiencing this fear from a place of great privilege, and that my quality of life and place in this world is vastly fortunate, but these fears still leak into my mind. They are still real.
There are also some more immediate and personal fears. I'll be leaving my incredible husband, my CATS! - and a whole life I have worked hard to create - behind for two months. I'll miss my incredible and unique students, their performances, lessons, and lots of progress made by all my ensembles and students. I'll miss Matra rehearsals and sitting on my comfy couch at home. I'll miss my tiny house and driving my red van all over the Twin Cities. I'll miss my family. There's a lot that will happen without me, and I am already starting to feel some of that alone-ness.
Then there is, of course, the flip side. As a musician and composer, you can't ask for much more than going to a city that utterly inspires you, with your only charge being to improve and hone your skills and to create new music. As I sit here at night writing this post, my half-packed suitcase and its contents dispersed in a half-organized mess across my living room floor, I am almost disbelieving that in less than 48 hours, I will be headed back to Mumbai again. To be independent, to be making things, to be working on art, is going to be my reality. My teacher Greg Beyer once told me that practicing is like a prayer, and that every time you sit down to practice, it's not just about working technique, or a skill, or a passage. It's about improving yourself as a human being. Each day, you come face to face with your inadequacies, and you challenge them. It is raw, and it is real. It is life. It's hard for me to put into words the impact that Mumbai has on me, but I am simultaneously on edge about leaving, and yet completely aching for the reality and rawness of life that is Mumbai.
I am also lucky to have a guide in all this, and to be able to study under my teacher Pandit Yogesh Samsi again. His unparalleled artistry, patience, and sincerity are rare things in this world, and I hope to be able to keep up even a little with what he'll have to teach me.
I am also incredibly thankful to my husband Mat Solace, and my family, friends and colleagues who have supported me in making this work. I am especially thankful for my tabla teacher here in the Twin Cities, A. Pavan, who has continuously provided me with education, opportunities, and the beacon-of-a-phrase, "just keep applying." I know that it has taken time and energy, hustle, and accommodation from many people that I am close to in order to make this happen, and I am so lucky to have such a supportive network of friends, family, and colleagues.
Of course, this would not be possible without the Travel and Study grant from the Jerome Foundation. I'd like to thank them for everything they do to support artists from all disciplines.
I'll be posting thoughts and bits about my trip in an effort to stay connected with you all, and to lend some insight into what I find exciting about music and life in Mumbai. I hope you'll follow along and keep in touch!