Don't avoid extremes...
"Don't avoid extremes, and don't choose any one extreme. Remain available to both the polarities - that is the art, the secret of balancing."
India is an intense juxtapositions of extremes. The most expensive house in the world is located in Mumbai, and I've driven past it a few times. You have to slump down and crank your head up to see it while in a cab from about a block away. Three people live there. This is in the same city as one of the earth's biggest slums - Dharavi slum, where almost 1 million people live. The dirt and dust and exhaust and pollution is everywhere, but then you see people of all classes and backgrounds wearing the most vibrant, beautiful colors and fabrics, next to massive fruit and goods stands. Crumbling buildings and hole-in-the-wall shops are wedged next to massive, ornate architectural monoliths. The volume of humans and people and activity is broken every once in awhile while I am riding in a cab, watching the hazy beach fly past - but only in those very rare instances when no one is using a car horn on the road - which is very rare. I love this place because it is real, and to me it is such an accurate reflection of life in it's rawness and intensity. You have to take in the good with the bad - in fact, it isn't a choice. You are confronted with it daily. The smells, the sounds, the sights - it is all good and bad, alternating and mixed and blended into this vibrant, chaotic, beautiful mess.
This week passed by so quickly, and was filled (almost completely) with concerts - I've logged hours upon hours of counting tal, clapping, and absorbing the tiny moments of perfection that manage to bloom between a musician and audience. It is such a special thing, when a tehaai lands perfectly, or someone reaches for a note and finds it so elegantly - and you get to bear witness to that as an audience member. I think that is why music can be so addictive. When you take hold of those moments, whether you are an audience member or performer, you are present in the one-ness of that moment. You are all appreciating the same thing together for that moment in time, and it is so simple.
After my weekend alone (which I embraced whole-heartedly and felt great about in the end!), I have had a week of socializing. I met a new friend here that I have been hanging out with and going to concerts with, who is also a musician. It has been a blast to have someone to hang out with who is on the same page, has the same energy level, and is down to go to concerts every night. We've had such a great time together. She is very perceptive and sensitive to other people, both musically and interpersonally, which is a really wonderful thing. It's been really interesting to debreif after a concert with her when we pick up on the moods of the artists, or something that happened musically that was unusual.
Me on the train - my friend and I traveled to Pune for more concerts.
Lessons have been hard in the best ways. This week I was challenged by a simple stroke (always back to basics), and felt hugely victorious when I was able to improve and push forward. I've gotten some great practice time in, and it's been really rewarding to be able to see evidence of my progress, especially after having to slow down and work on basics again.
In many ways, this week has been a week of extremes: being alone, and then suddenly being with friends almost 24 hours a day; feeling like my playing had to be slow and basic, and then feeling accomplished; relaxing in the mornings, and then traveling and finding our way around a hectic, chaotic city to find concert locations. It's been intense in all the best ways - the balance is key.
Truck full of goats - viewed from a rickshaw