Minipost 6 – In the Land of the Blind, the one-eyed man is king…

 

I’m delighted that over the last few days I’ve actually managed to unpack my books and, more importantly, my Tabla and Sitar. After six months in the UK and failing to purchase or borrow either (despite many attempts to procure some), I have forgotten quite a bit and lost the ability in my right hand to play the Tabla and in my left first finger to play the Sitar. Still, after a few days of practise it was all starting to come back.

Imagine my horror though, when – after just one lesson since we’ve returned to Bangladesh – my Tabla teacher tells me he is pleased with my progress and is sure my skill on the Sitar is just as good and how about I perform on the Sitar with himself accompanying on the Tabla at the Bangla New Year celebrations (in March, I think). “Absolutely not” I said most certainly, “I am nowhere near good enough”. He then pointed out that no one plays the Sitar in this area and, indeed, not many play it at all in the country. No one will know if I play a raga a little incorrectly or don’t follow a strict structure as ragas should be played – no one is likely to really know that. Besides, he points out, it would be good to introduce it to people here. If a Bideshi (foreigner) can enjoy playing the Sitar, how much more the people whose country to whom it belongs?

There is great merit to this thought and part of me finds it attractive. My whole teaching life has been spent trying to encourage (young) minds to love learning and try out new things. Most of that time it has been with music even though these days it is maths and science – so this would be an opportunity to encourage nationals to engage with music that is already theirs but, sadly, dying out.

That would be fine if I wasn’t so terrified at the idea of playing the thing in front of a large audience. Everyone comes out for Pohela Boishakh and it is a big deal here at LAMB. I can’t think of many things I would find scarier. I don’t like playing solo at the best of times! We’ll have to see what happens. Maybe the idea will pass and my teacher won’t mention it again. Maybe I will be able to get out of it. Maybe I will say “heck, let’s give it a go!”

I’d better get practising though – just in case…

 

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About D K Powell

British freelance journalist, author, writer, editor, musician, educational consultant. I lived with Wifey, Thing I (daughter) & Thing II (son) in Bangladesh for 5-6 years working for an NGO called LAMB. Wifey led the Hospital Rehab department and I used to teach O levels at the school before going full-time as a freelance writer in 2013. Now we're back in the UK learning how to be British again. When not writing or editing, I'm busy trying to complete a Masters degree in Intercultural relations in Asian Contexts and reading way too many books at once. I also drink tea - lots of it.
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2 Responses to Minipost 6 – In the Land of the Blind, the one-eyed man is king…

  1. jacqui says:

    Haha. I can relate to that feeling!! Ever since I can remember the thought of playing solo in front of an audience has filled me with dread. The urge to find a toilet seconds before I’m due to play is not pleasant. I have played in many concerts, dance bands, weddings, funerals etc over the years and the feeling never goes away. So why do I keep doing it???? Perhaps it is the faith other people have in me to perform well. Perhaps it is the pleasure I have given to other people. Just the other day my ten year old son invited a friend round for tea. He asked me to play the piano for them. I was terrified at the thought of making a mistake!! With a bit of encouragement I agreed to play. His friends reaction??? Wow!!! That left me with a huge smile, knowing the boys had enjoyed the rendition despite the mistakes. To quote Morecambe and Wise – I was playing all the right notes, just not necessarily in the right order!!! After all my waffling ken, just go for it. What an honour to be asked and what a gift you have been given. Enjoy xxx

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    • Well I can remember your playing when we were teenagers Jacqui and you were always annoyingly good – so I imagine you bring great pleasure to others when you play. I too have done countless performances over the years – especially as a teacher – though rarely on my own. Band situations I enjoy because no one is listening specifically to you, but duets are still scary even after 20 years of doing them! We’ll have to wait and see if I do get more formally asked to play and if will accept or not. Much of me would like to do it, I must admit 🙂 Good to hear from you hun 🙂 x

      Like

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