Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Mysore: Scooters & Bhajans

I don't know that there's a traffic law beyond stop at red lights in India. Merging with little more than inches between skin and bus, honking at every intersection approach, loading four, maybe five-people to a scooter, are par for the course. I don't drive in India (a bike at 5mph is about my speed) but I've ridden three to a motorcycle, jumped on the scooters of relative stranger and kind of prayed my way through several cross-town car rides thus far. But then, praying in traffic is hardly surprising in a country where invoking gods before most actions is customary. Today, I took my first Carnatic singing lesson, one-on-one sessions where I sit cross-legged in front of my teacher, and am led through my paces. First, though, before my actual exercises commence, I'm led through a bhajan, a devotional song, followed by a chant to Ganesha to remove obstacles. It's all performed somewhat like kirtan, in that the teacher calls and I respond, (hopefully on pitch!). While I have no pretense of mastering Indian vocals during my relatively short stay, I can say I'm enjoying the challenge. And with lessons every other day, the motivation to do my homework is strong. Likewise, I'm dedicating my next Ganesha chant to Obama. Cross fingers, cross fingers, the U.S. comes to its senses.
*note I didn't take this photo, it's Creative Commons, but it's a typical scene on Mysore roads

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