It’s been another chill few days that have also been wonderfully filled with music! Abhishek (Prabhash’s brother) picked me up as arranged Thursday on his way home from school again around 5:30pm. I rode on the back of his motorcycle through the crazy packed rush hour Varanasi streets to their house (about 30 minutes) and met their famous musician father. We got to catch up a bit with Prabhash over chai. The walls of the living room were covered with prestigious awards and amazing photos. It truly felt like an honor to be in the presence of such talented, humble and welcoming men.
My first lesson was approximately an honor where I learned my first real raga with words and even played the harmonium! It felt like an incredible continuation from my studies with my singing teacher in the States, Silvia Nakkach, since I had learned and practiced this particular scale with her but had never actually sung any ragas before with words. I rode back home on two bicycle rickshaws negotiating the price down half-way, my go to move in India by now figuring they jack it up twice as much for my pale tourist face. The ride home was fun, enjoying the wind in my hair and feeling much more safe and laid-back than on the motorcycle. We postponed our next lesson until Sun because India’s prime minister is in town today and the streets would be jam-packed.
We didn’t do a practice yesterday (Friday) because Prabhash invited me to see him perform at Binares Hindu University (B.H.U.), the huge university in Varanasi whose campus is like a little city in and of itself. It’s almost a miracle I found my way to where the performance was taking place. Thankfully, I was able to ask many people along the way and Prabhash was waiting for me outside when I was still walking around trying to find the building. The had been asked to perform for a reunion of sorts by one of the Directors and he invited an incredibly talented classical Indian vocalist to join with a few other musicians. It was a relatively intimate group so I felt quite honored to be included. We enjoyed a catered meal afterwards, standing up in the hallway like everyone else who attended, but that was fine and the food was really quite good. It was also a wonderful opportunity to visit the University which I wouldn’t have done otherwise. The campus was spacious and filled with trees so felt quite different than any other part of Varanasi.
Today, I also successfully booked a ticket online for the last confirmed seat on a train to Bodhgaya on 18th. Phew! I am not going to run the risk of getting waitlisted again!