I went to Gujurat last weekend for four days to visit my dad’s brother and mom’s sister. And holy crap, what an overwhelming trip… I spent most of the time at my dad’s brother’s place, Chandrakaka’s a farmer in a small village named Sujnipur. And it’s seriously a freakin VILLAGE. Showers out of buckets, toilets that are holes in the ground. After my dad moved out of his village 35 years ago, he’s NEVER BEEN BACK. He’s been back to India, but not back to his village. So me coming back there was a pretty big deal. I prayed in the temples my father used to pray in, ate on the same floors my father used to eat on. My grandfather, my dad’s father, Chimanlaldada, started the first school in that village, and therefore educated most of the people there that I met. A lot of the older people I met who used to be friends with my dad were educated by my grandfather. The school he started underneath a tree on a hill (literally) was now a full-fledged school building. The big mandir my dad used to pray at used to be a small murti at the top of a hill. Now its a big marble structure with an open sitting area and everything. They’re working on building a gate around the temple right now, too. My cousins were all calling me motabhai, the same nick name my dad used to have when he was living there, cause I was the eldest among my counsins and I.
I spent the first two days going from house to house drinking tea. Talking to my dad after I got back, that used to be the tradition for him too, when he’d return home after he went away to work. So I’d go from house to house, drinking tea, hearing old stories about my dad, how he was such a smart kid, a lot of his peers would go to him for advise, and when he left, some of them didn’t know what they were going to do anymore. How he used to take tutoring classes, but after realizing that the teachers were only teaching what was in the books, he asked his dad to buy him ghee with the money he was spending on the tutoring classes, and he’d study the same way on his own. How my calm nature was very much like my father. No one has ever left that village AND came back to visit… So it was a pretty big deal for me to go back there. For them, and for me. I feel so much more connected with my father now, having seen where he grew up and all.
We took a day trip to Ambaji, a city where the very first Ambaji temple was built. And a place that my dad used to take trips to all the time. I also saw my mom’s eldest sister, Kundanmasi. She’s really, really old right now, and such a cute, warm auntie. I’m so glad I got to see her while I was here, cause I was afraid I wouldn’t get to see her before she passes away. I had cut up apples and tea with her. That was so sweet. We weren’t able to communicate too well, cause one of the times I visited her, my translator cousin, Kashyap, wasn’t around… But being there, and sharing the warmth of her love was awesome enough.
Since then, I’ve been cramming to catch up on my lost practice time. I had the bridge replaced on my sitar, and it was moved back a little bit to correct the intonation. So my hands need to relearn where to bend the notes on the entire thing… Worthless… I’m getting really homesick, too. I miss my girlfriend like I’ve never missed anyone ever before, there’s no way for me to put how I feel right now into words. I miss my family, I miss my friends like CRAZY. I know I need to make the most out of my time here, and I am, but it’ll be nice to be home. And to do ANYTHING out here is such a PAIN IN THE ASS. To use the internet is a twenty minute walk away through traffic, across busy roads where cars take the right of way over pedestrians… I have to leave the hotel to make non-local phone calls. That doesn’t help my situation AT ALL. But I’m halfway through my trip now. And next week I’ll be starting a new raag. By the end of the weekend, I think I’ll be able to play one concise piece in Miyan Ki Todi, with an alap, vilambit and madhya gats, tans, and movements between. That would be SWEEEEEET.
I love you all.