Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Musical Travels: India

I’m an anthropology major with minors in music and media, which should help reveal as to why I took this trip in the first place. I declared my music minor while I was taking a World Music (although it really was ethnomusicology) class that I enjoyed much. During this class, we had a chapter on Indian music and the students erupted with delight commenting that a certain professor of the department was currently there learning Indian music. I remember thinking to myself how cool that was. About a year or so later, I was scrolling through Instragram and I come across a flyer posted by my school’s music department. It advertised a study abroad opportunity to India, and then I remembered the conversation held in that World Music class. I figured it was the same professor. I looked at the ad in front of me and said to myself, “An opportunity to study music in a foreign country and travel to India with a group?” I knew that it was something that I needed to be a part of. I rushed to reach out to the professor listed on the post expressing my interest in joining the group. I simply explained my academic interests and how I found out about the program. Leading up to the trip, I was tense, nervous, and worried. We had rehearsals, meetings, paper work to fill out. Being a non-music major had me on edge. I was nervous to be up to par with my group mates, worried that I wouldn’t be enough. Fortunately, the group of students and my professor helped me feel welcome, and before we knew it it was time for us to leave!

India was so awesome that I’m still astonished as to how well the trip went. We went to study a classical Hindustani (North Indian) music called dhrupad with two world renowned master performers of the genre, the Gundecha Brothers. They’ve opened a school, Gurukul Dhrupad Sansthan, to teach dhrupad to a new generation. We stayed at the school’s hostel for a month, taking daily classes under the guru-shishya tradition. Musically, this trip was wonderful for my development. I learned how to practice, worked on my ear, and was always surrounded by musicians and lovers of music and art. Plus, I attended an insane amount of concerts. I loved only having to wake up and worry about being a better singer than I was the day before. If it could be like that here in America, wouldn’t that be grand?

In other aspects, as in socially and culturally, the trip was a blast. I never declined any invitation, so I was open to everything the trip had to offer. My excursions included seeing the Buddhist monuments at Sanchi, late night dining at a hotel that was formerly a palace, a weekend trip to the city of temples known as Ujjain; essentially whatever it was I was up and ready for it all. It just so happened that the people showing us all the best places to check out were the Gundecha kids, the sons and daughter of our teachers. These three (and some other friends included!) helped make our trip so invaluable because of the good times we shared exploring!

Living at the hostel was a challenge but incredibly enchanting. The Gods were smiling down on me as I was set up with awesome travel mates and especially great roommates. It was harmonious living. The local students and other foreigners were welcoming and friendly, always up for conversation. We threw a kitty party for the ladies of the gurukul, essentially a slumber party without the sleeping part. As a true air child, the roof of the hostel was the magical spot for me. Plenty of reflective moments happening there and even some yoga action.

So without a doubt, it was hard to leave India. I knew from the second week in that it would be hard for me. I had called it, “When we leave I am just going to be so ugly with tears.” And when the day came, I did cry many tears. As everyone shared to console me, “Just keep thinking about your ten year visa.” Until next time India!

Musically yours,

originally posted on 28 sep 15 at 10pm

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