Week before Goa

Before I get into a post about Goa and how amazing a weekend it was, I have to talk about the prior week, which was interesting and noteworthy in its own right. The interesting parts started, or at least the parts that I can remember, with two Indian classical/fusion concerts. I went on both Friday and Saturday as a part of a concert series. I can’t say that I loved Friday night’s concert. The fusion part was cool, the instruments were interesting, but I couldn’t get on board with the vocalist. I’m not sure how to describe his voice other than a man wavering on the same note over and over again for long periods of time. The fusion part was due to a tenor saxophone player. I was impressed with the playing; I didn’t like the music. It was also the same night that Manoj and I picked up the car.
We have a car; at least for a few months. It’s exciting. Sometimes I even get to drive. Anyway, we went to his brother-in-law’s father’s house to pick it up. Originally it was his car, sold to his brother-in-law, and now it’s ours for a few months. It took us a little over an hour in a rickshaw to get to the father of the brother-in-law’s house. They were such sweet old people. We promised we would come back and hang out with them. I want to; I know I probably won’t. We drove to the concert, or at least to where we thought it was and ended up walking another half hour just to find it. I did get to fulfill a wish at the concert though; I bought a shirt with writing in Marathi. I figure if I live in a country with a different alphabet, I should have something that says it. It’s silly; I know.
That Saturday was the first Saturday that I had at home in a long time. I actually had my bags packed on Friday to go to Bombay directly from work. Work has been so busy lately and I hadn’t had any time at home, so I came home, kind of begrudgingly, on Friday to realize that I needed a day off. Additionally, I was invited to a mini house/birthday party on Saturday afternoon. I traveled out of my area with my friend Yuri, making him and his other friend Vipul stop at Cotton World (one of the only stores I can say I love here) to shop. After a successful 15 minutes in the store, we headed up to the party where everyone was on the balcony on mini mattresses eating Indian hors d’oeuvres. We played games.
When I was home for Christmas, I was looking through things that we have in the house in New Jersey. I found an old notebook of my grandmother’s that she used to write down recipes, notes, and games for parties. I spoke to my mom after I saw it and she said that she loved doing things like that. At parties she would organize small games. One of them was a scavenger hunt. I remember reading on the typewritten piece of paper something like, have everyone in the room find items such as, and then a numbered list of items like paperclip, scissors, etc. I think my thoughts at the time were that I wish things were like that now. I also got a really bad pang of sadness that I never knew my grandmother, but that’s another story. Anyway, back to India and my friend’s party; we played games. It reminded me of the piece of paper. Many times I’ve discussed with people that India in some ways is still in the 1950s and 60s of the US; they play the duck song at parties and people dance to it, women are still expected to give up their lives to take care of their husbands, and they play games like folding a piece of paper on the floor and standing on it with a partner while music plays. It made me smile.
Post party I went to the second day of the concert. I left my bike at home so that Ritesh could come pick it up, pick me up, and we could go to the concert. This also seems like something I wouldn’t be able to do at home. I left my key in a hiding spot so he could get it, and he picked me up. The second day was much better. There were classical dancers, some of the music sounded like drum and bass music, they had a sitar, and towards the end there was even a violinist. It was beautiful.
I can’t remember what else I did on Sunday other than walk to go grocery shopping and do household stuff. I really like doing household things. I’m not sure that’s because it’s my own house or what, but it’s a new development. I like cleaning, I like when things are clean. I even sat down to read for a while. It’s a part of my new year’s resolution to take better care of myself.
We saw Hoover. It was a good movie, a little overemphasized on the homosexuality I think, but it had a lot of great historical context that I’m not sure carried over into the Indian audience. The other thing that didn’t bode well with the audience was the homosexuality. Every time there was an innuendo, there was sometimes more than a quiet murmur in the audience. India’s not ready for that yet.
On Monday we had a special class for capoeira. My friend Vipin from Mumbai came to give a Kalari class. I waited for him at the train station after work. In order to attract minimal attention, I tried to keep my helmet on while waiting. The waiting lasted longer than expected so when I took it off I endured some of the stares and strange looks. I was at the back entrance which is much less crowded. There was a stoop right next to me and within a few minutes I was joined by a father and son. I try not to be judgmental but I wasn’t thrilled that they were there. The father kind of sketched me out. Soon they started talking and looking at me, and the father, with a big smile, was trying to make the son talk to me in English. We spoke for a while. His son was 12, he speaks a little English according to his father, even though he goes to a Marathi school that doesn’t teach English. They wanted to know how many hours it took to travel here from America. Here, if you say the US or United States, people don’t often know where you’re talking about, you have to say America. It was a surprisingly pleasant conversation.
Vipin came and he taught an amazing class. Part of me wants to spend a few months in Kerela training Kalari before I leave. It’s so precise, it’s just amazing.

Next up: Goa…

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