TOO INTIMATE TO BE TOLD IN FIRST PERSON
“There are experiences which are not worth speaking about,
in the sense that either you know it,
or you don’t know it.
There are experiences that become simply trivialized,
just talking about them,
for, they are mysteries, and they should remain in the mysterious. "
He was in London, as a correspondent and photo-reporter
for a big Italian Rock Magazine. The year was 1971 and the musical scene
was dominated by all sort of crap, “muzak”, he used to call it.
Stones, Pink Floyd, Cream were already “old legends”, and the new scene
was exhibiting kids like “THE SLADE”, or the “T. REX “ of Marc Bolan fame,
while the States were sending packages of “Humble Pies” in melted sugar,
and Alice Coopers rolled on a python-snake.
There was a musical underground scene too, thank God; gravitating around
places like The Marquee, The Roundhouse, The Rainbow…
with Bands called “Hawkings”, “Incredible String Band”, “Quintessence”.
S. used to be particularly fond of the Quintessence, for they were the true heralds
of what will become trendy later as “Fusion”, or more precisely “fusion between East & West”. The front-man was Raja Ram, a flute-player that he
used to like very much, and truly thought he was a great musician.
One day, after some of the usual compliments , Raja looked at him and said simply. :
“If you think I’m a great flute –player, it is just because you know nothing about music,
and even less about flute-players . Listen to some of this stuff, then we can talk again !”
S. was taken quite aback, after all he was himself, growing a reputation of a “music-critic”,
and here is this guy with a handful of tapes for him to listen to.
When he returned home, he placed one cassette, at random, on the player.
It was a morning raga, executed by Bismillah Khan, a player of a lesser known form of flute called “shanay”. After a sweet & mellow intro, the tablas
started rolling, and suddenly S. was like “possessed”!
He had to start dancing, it was getting compulsive..
He heard his voice shouting imperatively :
“ I need “my stuff”, and right now !”
He looked around, and of course , it was not to be anywhere, so he literally started running towards the nearest music shop, where he bought
a pair of “goggles”, then ran back home,
fixed them around his ankles, then started dancing again, just like someone possessed by a raptus of some kind !
“That’s me.. that’s me…” he was repeating in a sort of inebriation – “it is me !”
At certain point he managed to look at himself, and he started observing
the movements of his body, of his arms, the mudras that his hands were forming one after another, his feet,
tapping the floor with it’s belts, in a perfect synchronicity with the tablas rhythm.
He wished he had a big mirror, to watch himself better, because all his movements were so elegant, so graceful, so divinely inspired…while he was repeating again –
“it’s me, it’s me !”
But when ? – was his next question ?
“WHEN ? This is me for sure, but when !?”
Certainly not in this life, was the obvious conclusion.
The rest you can figure it out for yourself…
The fact remains that he had NEVER seen a performance of Indian Dance in his life, not even on TV or in some movie, for that matter, he had never met a living dancer , he had zero information about Indian dancing, yet his body knew so much about it, as if it had been dancing like this all his life.
Yes, but which life ? Sure not this one. And then ?
Then, when he came to India, five years later, he decided to resist the temptations both :
of attending some dance-school, or to investigate about what kind of dancer he was.
He had a friend at the ashram, a girl called Heena. She was a professional “kathak” dancer, and at that time she was giving morning classes in the auditorium of
the ashram. One day she asked him why he never went to any of her classes, since they were open to everybody, and for free:
“I see you always in Buddha Hall dancing, be it at “Sufi Dance” time, be it for the “Nataraj” meditation, for the “Heart- Dancing”, but I’ve never seen you at my classes !”
It was a deliberate choice, and he would even close his eyes, if he had to transit near the auditorium during her classes, but how could he explain it to her ?
So, he just took a few jumps and threw a few postures , along with a few mudras around her, in total spontaneity and a supreme effortlessness… till Heena asked in wonder :
“ But, you have studied kathak before? ! “ – more as matter of fact than as a question.
He smiled and went away, still dancing , with a renewed energy,
for now he just knew what kind of dancer he was (since many lives) !
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