“But at the same time, who would have thought that it would be so intensely satisfying to have your future resolved, to know what you were going to be doing next year and the year after that and so on and so on, until who knows when?…It would be enough; as an alibi for a life, it would do; she would not need to apologize for how she had spent her time on this earth.” Amitav Ghosh, The Hungry Tide
the british museum is holding a huge exhibition of bengali culture until jan 7th. i know so little about what that is. it feels so huge to even begin to understand. even to go to kalighat to ask about dhak lessons feels like a huge undertaking—to be fair i suppose it is, which anyone who has been there would know.
met sound artist bhudaditya chattopadhyay last night. very interesting fellow, doing great work here in kolkata. we talked a lot about audio restoration, soundscape work, and, of course, gear. particularly interesting was hearing the stories of strange collectors and collections. there is a lot of wonderful music here that is being lost, archived haphazardly and outright thrown away. the same issues are at play in egypt, where my friend alfred gamil is trying to revive the song repertoire of the early 20th century. a large collection of cylinders and shellacs were given to the french government a number of years ago, and my naive questions about appropriation and such issues were dismissed by a wave of his hand. he says that archive was the best thing that happened to egyptian music—everything is being stored in climate controlled conditions under high security, but open for all. i wonder what is happening in canada.
i made it. still jetlagged but happy to be back. everything is as i remember it, but way more prosperous. it is obvious that the middle class is growing and has a lot more money. more noise than i remember as well.
yesterday there was a concert of folk music from various regions of bengal. it was really quite amazing, unfortunately i didn’t quite get where everything was from—the bengali was too formal for me to catch everything. further details available as they come to light. of particular interest was the chhauu dancing—unbelieveable costumes, music. backflips. really. looking forward to seeing more.