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An Inspiring, Musical Weekend with The Delhi Drum Circles

“Music speaks what cannot be expressed, soothes the mind and gives it rest, heals the heart and makes it whole, flows from heaven to the soul.” Folks, I had to begin this new post of mine (that comes after a rather unplanned hiatus) with a genuine, heart-felt appreciation for music. Music, that has been my constant companion, my soulmate through ups and downs of life; through peaceful times as well as emotionally charged-up phases; through the sweet joys of pregnancy and motherhood to the neverending sleepless nights of baby-sitting. Talking about baby-sitting and babies, isn’t it sweetly surprising to notice how even a new born – just out of her mother’s womb – responds to the sound of music? As far as I can think, the only appropriate ‘toy’ any of us would gift to a new-born would be something that produces some melodious sound, beat or a jingle. So ensconced our heart and soul are within the harmonious confines of music and so naturally tuned our ears are to its balmy, sonorous notes that we never even stop for a moment to imagine a world devoid of music. And that’s because, if music stops, our hearts would stop beating too. This world would be too lifeless for us to continue living… So, how could have I not paused a while to ponder over this precious gift that is always there for me, for us – no matter who we are, where we are, what we do. This post is an appreciation of and dedication to – our constant companion – MUSIC.

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My Beacon of Hope Past 3 weeks I could not focus on writing due to some not-so-pleasant events, Pari’s change-of-season sickness and an aprupt negative development. Being in the middle of zoo-like chaos saps your peace and energy. But, I’ve figured that when things are not exactly in your favour, it’s best to not ponder and sulk perpetually. It is precisly during these times that we should seek that ray of light that will calm us, re-energize our spirits and lend us the power to persevere. That ray of light can be anything that you place faith in and that acts like a balm for your ailing heart and mind. It could be art, an enlightening book, a stroll on the beach, a quick retreat to the hills, a heart-to-heart talk with someone you trust. It could even be as simple as watching a classic movie. To me, this ray of light and hope comes in the form of music. During such times, music comes as my saviour and a knight in shining armour – if I may add with some lightheartedness optimism! Hence, when, I got an opportunity to attend a musical event, I embraced it whole heartedly. Alright, there were things on personal front that needed my attention. But, I could have paid attention only if I felt upbeat and emphatic, right? So, the three of us – my hubby, 5-year old daughter – Pari and I, blocked our time for this musical Saturday. Come what may, we were not going to miss it. Everthing else could wait.

The musical meeting was with The Delhi Drum Circles. This is a live group of amateur drummers that blend music, community and bonding in a literally close-knit ‘circle’, making it unique, fascinating and creative. This group has drummers from all walks of life who aspire to give music a new dimension and and meaning by creating it impromptu without any formal coordination and within the small community circle that meets every fortnight at the Deer Park in Hauz Khas, South Delhi. The setting is casual, their spirit congenial and the camaraderie – breezy! The Delhi Drum Circle was formed in January 2010 by Margot Bigg, an American writer along with Rakesh Mathur and Anisa Nariman. You can read up more about the Delhi Drum Circle or join the group over here. When I first read about this group on Facebook (or, was it Flickr?), I was intrigued. Sometimes (actually more often these days in my life), you think of something and some divine force presents it in front of you directly or indirectly. Ever since I have started learning Hindustani Classical music along with Pari, I have been yearning to join a group or face-to-face forum where we could meet like-minded people, exchange ideas and just sing, play and listen to music created by “us”. There couldn’t have been a better time for me to be introduced to the Delhi Drum Circles. Come Saturday and just as we enter the Deer Park with my hubby and 5 year old daughter (Pari), the thump-thumps and the tap-taps were reverberating the air from quite a distance! My excitement and eagerness was racing. We walked the long green stretch before reaching the small group of people sitting in a circle on wrought iron benches painted in green.

We stood there for a few minutes just to soak in the uniqueness and peculiarity of what was going on.

Drummers were engrossed in their hand-drums and other percussionn and acoustic intruments; exchanging smiles and nods with each other; improvising at the moment. The drummers ranged from 5 year olds to 50 year olds and from teenage girls to mothers with toddlers in their arms. This diverse group of musicians – some dressed casual, some funky, some unconventional and some borderline gypsy – made quite a (fashion) show!

And their music? Boy, was I impressed with that seamless blend of art and entertainment! I can’t begin to tell you how enticed we felt in that super charged-up atmosphere! The whole place radiated gallons of positivity and passion and a bohemian, quirky spiritedness. They played gracefully, in fluid rhythmic tempo and with unwaivering concentration. Yes, inspite of the idiosyncratic nature of this whole concept, the drummers exuded a meditative quality when playing their instruments.

The drums and other instruments this group played, spanned a whole wide spectrum – from the conga to the steel drum, from the waisted drum to the unique African Djembe and from guitars to the bamboo rainstick, we felt privileged to listen to some unique beats and sounds.

The on-lookers kept streaming in; the photographers went clickety-click – at times right under their noses; and yet, there was never a lapse of concentration on the faces of the drummers or in their beats.

And this was just the begining of the jamming session. Slowly and surely, the rhythm, tempo and momentum grows and builds until it reaches a crescendo. The ambience was euphoric. Now was the time for the non-drummers (read ‘the dancing sorts’) to join in – for a tapping of their feet and jiggle of their heads. First, it was a security guard at the park itself. This guy had the drummers and the onlookers in splits with his rather funny moves and expressions.

Next up, this lady in orange kurta (tunic) and harem pants and a smile that never eluded her face – enthraled one and all with her dance moves – profusely graceful, innovative and replete with joy.

I must salute her for her spirit, guts and energy level. For, she was the only one in that whole wide group who danced for a good one hour or more – all by herself – at the centre of the circle. Now, that’s what most of us lack – the guts to go out all alone! We’re always looking for a push or a company or a support.

I, for one, was craving and yearning to take the dance floor. But, one part of me which is stage-shy, kept pulling me behind. And, what the heck, before I could muster up the courage, the session was over. That was one outcome (or rather, lack of it, because that surge of heroism did not happen within me) of this event that left me feeling less than ecstatic. How I wish I had danced…. I really do. I wish I had not bothered about what others would think; how I would look etc. etc. I am wondering, what ever happened to my philosphy of living life to the fullest, without any regrets?! There was one other thing though that I was yearning to do. And, I did it whole heartedly! Yes – my all time favourite passion – photography. :) I went clickety-click from the word go. What an opportunity it was to photo shoot! Expressions, moments, action, colours, exoticness, greenery, and musical forms – there was everything a photographer would wish for to have fun with the lens. Having said that, I also wanted to absorb and live in the moments as they were – with bare eyes. Capturing through lens gives immense artistic satisfaction and a tresure chest of memories. But, often photographers miss the pleasure of experiencing the moment live without letting the lens come in between. I wanted to strike a balance. Audience was pouring in every moment. The evening walkers, the families that had come to visit the deer park with kids, the diners (the Park Baluchi restaurant is in the same premises).

And then, there was this sweet and much sought-after class of audience, who seemed to tune in their ears, like no others, to this alluring sound of music. The deer, the antelopes and the peacocks from the near-by deer park that had always attracted a multitude of spectators, seemed to be in a different aura that day. It looked as though they too were soaking the melody and beats.

We have often gone to the deer park in the past, but, never have we seen them hanging out so cose to the fence, in such large numbers; and seemingly enjoying the company of the visitors in a so very happy-go-lucky manner. They fearlessly ate out of our hands and looked us in the eye!

And those beauties in shades of blue and gold – the peacocks – made a spectacular display. But then, these birds are so hard to capture. They won’t stand still for even a fleeting moment!

It did turn out to be one of the most prolific evenings we had spent in recent times. Music, dance, photography, natural greenery, animals in their habitat! Who needs the malls, the pubs, the movie theatres to beat the blues? Bye byes to the claustrophobic air of the malls that cause itchy, watery eyes; to the dingy trial rooms with serpentine clues outside; and bye bye retail therapy. We prefer our ‘music therapy’ any day! Now, over to you all – my dear readers – to share your thoughts and ideas on what acts like your ‘beacon of hope’ when motivation takes a plunge? What is it that reenergizes you, helps you beat your blues and rekindle your spirits? The space is all yours from here on…! Please share your precious thoughts.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Anu November 19, 2010, 9:52 pm

    sounds wonderful! Wish I could attend something like this too!

    • Rashmie Jaaju November 19, 2010, 9:57 pm

      Anu, thanks for sharing your comment. The Drum Circles are active across the globe. I am not sure, but may be there is one in Mumbai. If not, you could initiate something like this on your own or inspire someone you know, who’s into drumming, to start a circle in your city. It sure was an exhilarating experience. :)

      Just so you know, the circle is meeting again On Nov. 27 – same venue (Deer Park, Hauz Khas, New Delhi).

  • Tarun Roy November 20, 2010, 12:21 pm

    Rashmi, this is a very well written article which reads straight from the heart. It has in the true sense captured the culture and magic of drum circle.

    • Rashmie Jaaju November 22, 2010, 8:43 pm

      Thanks for reading the article and for the comment. I am so glad you think that this article captures the “culture and magic” of drum circle. I enjoyed this community musical evening so from the core of my heart that the narrative had to be straight from the heart. :)

  • sahiba November 20, 2010, 12:21 pm

    Lucky gal to be able to attend such a fun filled evening..envy you:)next time don’t think, just take the dance floor by storm.

    • Rashmie Jaaju November 22, 2010, 8:54 pm

      Dear Sahiba,
      Like I wrote to Anu (above your comment), you must find out if there is a Drum Circle in Mumbai as well. There may be one. For, Mumbai is the city of entertainers! If it’s there, you should not miss an opportunity to join.
      Or else, how about being my guest here in Delhi. And, together we can have a blast and dance to the beats. Give it a thought. :)

  • drumcircle November 20, 2010, 2:46 pm

    good biies the drummers

  • vitoria November 21, 2010, 5:06 am

    Once more you mesmerize me with your words and emotions. Music is food to my soul, so, I understand you. Even though I have age on my back, the sound of music still makes me dance, I rejoice when I dance in public at a dance place for which I have not done it for a while, however, at home, I let my feelings flow. Lets keep these feelings alive. It is a good thing! More power to you girl friend. My love to all. Vitoria

    • Rashmie Jaaju November 22, 2010, 8:48 pm

      Dearest Vitoria,
      Thanks for your unrelenting support, my dear friend all the way from Florida!
      Yes, I can pretty much visualize you doing the zesty Brazilian Samba to the beats of those drums! You know what, next time I attend such an event, I will just think about you, imagine as if you’re giving me company, and, will take the dance floor by storm! This is my word to you. :)

  • Mimmy November 22, 2010, 11:17 am

    Well written article and use of words is so perfect…that can’t stop in between when i’m reading it -:)
    And don’t let such chance go next time…enjoy!!

    • Rashmie Jaaju November 22, 2010, 8:50 pm

      Hi dear,
      yes, next time I will throw inhibitions to the wind and just dance to my heart’s content! With so much boost from the so many of you here, I will not let you down. :)
      I am so glad you liked reading the article. Thanks darling for your motivating words. Means a lot.

  • Ashu November 23, 2010, 6:24 pm

    Rashmie..i really enjoyed ur article and feeling so touch.And very true Music is just big ray of hope to raise from some negitive energies….I Wish to attended something like this.Entertaining plus soul touching experience..
    Caputered moments r lovely.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • Rashmie Jaaju November 23, 2010, 7:42 pm

      Dear Ashu,
      Thanks, as always for your encouragement and support for what I write.
      You rightly said – “music is a ray of hope to rise from negative energies.”
      I am so happy that you liked reading about this experience.
      And yes, I too wish you can attend a Drum Circle like this or any other event of similar nature.
      Do find out if there is one in your city.
      Love to you….

  • Nic Kolbe November 23, 2010, 6:27 pm

    Dear Rashmie,

    thanks so much for sharing this exiting event. I was captured from the first word to the last line… and I could feel the music and something more profound touched my heart. I had two hour healing sessions earlier and felt a bit depleted, now I feel rejuvenated and complete. Thanks for shining your light, you never know in which part of the world it ends up… Love and light, blessings to you and your family! Namste! Nic

    • Rashmie Jaaju November 23, 2010, 7:38 pm

      Dear Nic,
      Thanks for your lovely comment. And, I am so glad you felt rejuvenated reading this article after your healing session.
      Yes, music is a universal language that cuts across the boundaries of geographies and cultures.
      Through music, you never know who you might connect with and where in this whole wide world.
      Thank you once again, dear friend, for your motivation and support. Means a lot.
      Love and light back to you…. :)

  • Anshul December 6, 2010, 12:18 pm

    Hi Rashmie, I must compliment you for the perfect orchestration of words!!! While reading through i was almost thr and could feel the freshness of that environment. Very Interesting and refreshing too!!! Cheers, Anshul

    • Rashmie Jaaju December 8, 2010, 5:52 pm

      Dear Anshul,
      Thanks for your encouraging words. I am so glad this made for an interesting read for you and you were able to connect with the event.