I wish life was not so short.
'I wish life was not so short,' he thought. 'Languages take such a time, and so do all the things one wants to know about.'
~ J. R. R. Tolkien
I've picked up a few words since coming to Mumbai, and not just in Hindi. In Australia, "Mozzies" are mosquitos, a "brickie" lays bricks, and a "rick" is a rickshaw. In Hindi ,"Hauh" means yes. "Naihe" means no. An "Indian head bob" means everything. And most things are game for adding in an Indian head bob, to which I have dutifully submitted. I have discovered that if I speak in English with an "Indian accent," cab drivers will better understand what I am asking them, which feels ridiculous at times, but really works well. Living here has been about learning and adapting to languages. I've learned bits of dialect and Australian slang and Hindi and Marathi terms, in addition to the tabla "language" I have been working on.* So much of my adaptation depends on language - both basic and complex communication.
*A large part of learning tabla is learning recitation, which is literally saying each syllable for the sounds you are making out loud. Example: "Ta" means a high, sharp sound, "Ge," means the low bass sound, and together they create "Dha," which is the most used bol (syllable). Example Phrase: Dhe ti Dha ge Tin na Ke na.
I had mentioned in an earlier post that I met a fellow musician who ended up being an awesome travel partner. We were interested in the same activities (concerts and concerts and concerts...), but I also found her level of perception very striking. It was really interesting to have someone else vocalize thoughts about things that I have noticed. Her musical perception about a musician's thoughts and feelings were also interesting, and it was really nice to just feel like we were on the same page, and speaking the same language. That feeling is a huge relief after the adjustment period of being here. Most people often have to ask you a few times and use a variety of different synonyms to try to figure out what either of you are trying to say.
These hours of concert-going have also done incredible things for my ear training. Being able to witness stylistic differences and watch interactions between musicians has been really incredible. There is very little actual rehearsal in Indian classical music, which makes the interaction during a concert even more intense. Communication plays an especially huge role in classical Indian music. Not surprisingly, so do moods and temperaments. Seeing these concerts and knowing how little rehearsal time goes into them is really incredible, and reaffirms the insane musicianship of these artists. Visual communication also plays a huge role in the experience. For a lot of musicians, playing music is a performance, and it is about entertainment. Musicians who play to entertain seem to show the music to the audience and administer entertainment visually to the audience. They are playing music for you to listen to, but they are also very visibly atuned to the fact that you are there to see the music, which is really interesting.
All this made me reconsider how fortunate I am to be learning under my guruji. As much as I appreciate efforts to perform both visually and audibly, it's an entirely different game when a musician's reactions are truly utterly genuine. My teacher's performances have been so deeply rooted in a sense of tradition and authenticity, both to himself and the art form and style, and that feeling is palpable from the moment he gets on stage. It's unlike anything I have seen before. It is about the music, and the knowledge that the music is enough. and that it's perfect. That element of truth, both visible and audible, changes everything.
My guruji, Pandit Yogesh Samsi, at Janfest 2016.