After a very long, prolonged unexpected early arrival in Jaisalmer we found out way to Fort View Restaurant. It was time to meet Ali.
A desert man, now running a restaurant in town, with one of the most beautiful views of the fort, we met with smiles, hugs and heartfelt love for friends.
We met Rebecca, Ali s wife, Salem his nephew, Kamal his brother. Another home from home. We truly had arrived in Jaisalmer.
A journey to the desert to meet The Maestros.
We have been invited by Nawab to visit Sikander ‘s village to meet his family of musicians. The journey will take us 2 hours from Jodhpur into the desert.
After a weekend of musical delights at RIFF, we feel as if we’re going to the font, where the next generation are emerging from.
Nawab explained that our visit was to be unannounced otherwise they would take great efforts in preparing food and laying out the proverbial red carpet, so in order to reduce the pressure we arrive without prior warning.
We spend about 2 hours going from house to house, visiting each generation and finally meet the maestros who we saw at RIFF, gleefully showing us their official passes
And apart from video and a few phone shots, due to a technical hitch with SD card, I’ll be writing more when I’m home with more quality shots
One revelation has been how being so close, only a few feet away, how the musical vibrations reach further inside, we travel back with a deep sense of healing.
Emotions, bundled together, in a swirling mass of excitement, the time had come to crystallise months of internet calls, emails and sharing Facebook posts, I was going to meet Nawab Khan.
When I was last in Jodphur I had visited the Mehrangarh Fort, the only remaining city in India with a living Maharajah. As he had been crowned Maharajah at the age of eight because his father died after a tragic accident, when India gained Independence he became the only living Maharajah.
Putting the Mehrangarh Fort under the protection of a trust has secured its future and its continuing success as a World heritage site, following traditions of patronage for arts and crafts.
One of these artistic traditions is the music of Rajasthan, sacred and soulful, healing and heartfelt, euphoric and mesmerising. And whilst walking through the fort I met Shahid and was invited to a short performance. My first memories of Indian classical music, as many before me, have been with Ravi Shankar, the ragas from early morning to evening.
Listening to the dulcet tones and feeling on a soul level the dramatic effects of the musical tones, I had felt a deep earning to visit the place of its origin ever since first hearing it. Over the years I’d treasured moments at rare live concerts by travelling musicians, topped up with listening to meditative sounds played in clinic whilst working with clients, and now here I was, listening to Shahid, 7th generation of court musicians, playing the Sarangi and then the tabla.
That was in March 2017 and now, after a summer of watching YouTube videos of Nawab, Shahid’ brother, following their European tour, I’m about to meet him to design and plan his UK Tour in 2018.
We arranged to meet at the step-well close to our lodgings and in the bright sunshine of the day Nawab’s yellow t shirt shone bright. We were invited to a home concert and to meet his family. And in meeting Nawab it felt like meeting family.