Merry Christmas, Happy Solstice & New Year, and general good festive-season vibes to everybody!
I'll be heading off to do a 10-day Vipassana meditation course tomorrow, so for the next 10 days I won't be able to respond to email or phone-calls.
LIKE SANDS THROUGH THE HOURGLASS...
Since my last report a couple of months ago, my life has changed radically, but as regular change is an integral part of my life it's all good. Just days after that last report, Orie & I finally broke up. In writing these reports I'm now trying to keep more moderation in revealing my personal life, but in sharing experiences of interest to all I find that my love-life always has a big influence on where I'm at... Anyway, in a nutshell, the break-up was a result of my own actions but I wished for more understanding. (Note to mutual friends of Orie & myself - if she starts badmouthing me, please ask for my side of the story.)
So, for the last couple of months, I've been living in Hilary, my great old 1976 multicoloured Ford Transit (or maybe a Bedford). What a wonderful van - thirsty for petrol, but always getting lots of smiles from passers-by. Gotta post a photo soon. It's actually been really nice for me to go from place to place, staying with different friends or occasionally in the car-park at work, living a nomad's life. I've been able to see a lot more of my friends than when I was staying out in Ferny Grove, the outer suburbs of Brisbane. I've fixed Hilary up, at some expense, so when I get back to Brissie in April I'll still have a home and vehicle. Special thanks to Tenzin, Bronwyn & Tashi, Kevin, Kylie & Kenzie, and River, Masayo & Naima - three couples with young kids who've welcomed me into their families with open arms.
TIBETO-PERSIAN REGGAE WITH TABLA
On matters musical, I haven't been so busy the last few months. Lots of work at Padma Imports, moving big boxes of incense and dependably saving cash for the next trip to India. The main musical project has been getting a group together with Tibetan singer Tenzin Choegyal, Persian singer & multi-instrumentalist Cieavash Arean, and singer-guitarist Marcello Milani. It's been a real good-vibe song-band - a bit of a change from the long instrumental improvisations I usually get into. We performed at Joyfest, an alcohol-free festival on the Gold Coast in November and then again a week later at Pulse, a monthly world music/percussion event in Brisbane.
My last gig was held last week - the EthnoSuperLounge Christmas Party. I got 9 musicians together in a yoga centre for a no-mics session, home-concert style. First up was Matthew Noone on sarod, then Mbira Myoyo, a trio playing the Zimbabwean thumb-piano, mbira. Next up was our little Tibeto-Persian reggae band, and finally Lansana Camara from Guinea playing kora and balafon, with a lovely jam session. Of course I was playing tabla all along - about 3 1/2 hours in all. There were lots of smiles and good vibes all round. The big musical up-side of being in Australia is to be able to play with all these musicians from different cultural backgrounds in such a cafefree atmosphere.
On the Indian classical front, I've been having weekly sessions with Matthew Noone, an upcoming sarod player, in a local cafe. But apart from that, I'm sorry to say that opportunities in Brisbane have been scarce. It is quite hard for me here in this respect. I really miss the energy that Indian music devotees in Japan give to their music. I'm really looking forward to getting more inspiration in India next month and also to visiting Japan again later next year.
Tomorrow I'm heading to Pomona, on the Sunshine Coast, to take part in a 10-day Vipassana meditation course. Ten days of no speaking, no eye-contact, no activity at all really except for learning this deep meditation technique and hopefully eliminating some suffering. It's the first time I've done anything like it, although I suppose 9 nights of Durga Puja non-stop tabla practice is in some way similar. The timing is great, being in between work and heading to India. Another new phase begins...
I fly to Bangkok on Jan 16 and then Kolkata on Jan 18, where I'll attend the annual Dover Lane music festival - 3 nights of Indian classical superstars including Ali Akbar Khan-saheb, one of the greatest ever. Then it's on to Varanasi for more lessons and practice; other highlights will be Saraswati Puja (ceremony for the goddess of music) on Feb 2, and the second annual Ashu-Babu (Guru-ji) Memorial concert on March 17. This time I've invited excellent Japanese sitar player Yasuhiro Minamizawa. If you have any plans to visit India next year, please consider being in Varanasi around March 17.
I'll be back in Brisbane from mid-April to accompany Indian vocalist Raka Mukherjee in her concerts in the region. Japan from July-October, Brisbane after that, and then the cycle begins again with another now-annual trip to India.
Love to all,
Aum Mani Padme Hum