Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Goodbye Machu Picchu

My cover photo of Machu Picchu had a good run on this blog— one year since I actually walked those paths in the swirling mist and a lovely reminder each time I signed on. But good to switch it up once in a while and so this photo of a festival in South India.

For those long faithful readers, you may remember my blogs back in February of 2011 (still available to read for those curious). 32 years after a remarkable trip I took with my wife to the state of Kerala, India (and beyond), we returned with our two daughters— which included the elder named Kerala! It was then— and will be always in my lifetime— the most different place on the planet I had ever encountered. Food, dress, music, language, customs, festivals, architecure — nothing was familiar when we arrived.

Take this photo, for example. How often do you see bare-chested men standing on top of elephants waving big pom-poms? If you look carefully, you’ll see some curved horns in the crowd and could you see through the crowd, you’d see three kinds of drums you’ve never seen or heard in your life (the maddalam, idekka and timela , for those musicologists among you) playing music unlike anything you’ve ever heard. The Festival is called Pooram (no relation to the Jewish Purim) and is celebrated on different days in different villages. The size is determined by the number of elephants. Back in 1979, we saw one such festival with 26 elephants!

I write this at Gate 102 at the San Francisco Airport about to board a flight to Taiwan. Though I hope to enjoy some Shabu Shabu hot pot meals and catch some of the Lantern Festival, I will be staying in hotels with wi-fi and a view of Starbucks out the window. A tamer type of travel, to be sure, but still I hope to bring some of the wacky chaos and elemental power of drums, cymbals, horns and elephants into the Orff workshops I’ll be teaching. And some of the mystery of Machu Picchu as well.

But first, 14 hours on a plane!. See you in Asia.

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