Day 28 & 29 22/1/13 & 23/1/13 – flight back home

I’m not very good with goodbye’s and even though it was a quick one with Tannis, I’d like to thank her from the bottom of my heart for being an absolutely wonderful co-traveler. Anyone who can tolerate me has my respect and Tannis, you take first prize. Thank you for a wonderful trip and for making me feel at home, away from home.

Partners in Crime – Tannis Zimmer and myself

I had an early start to the day since I had to be at the airport by 5:00 am for my 8:00 am flight. I knew I had excess baggage so I thought being early wouldn’t hurt; it would only compliment the smiling and charming I would have to do at the airport to not pay an arm and a leg to bring a lovely djembe back to India. But alas, I guess I lack the smile. Nonetheless, I was all checked in soon enough to have a lot of time to sit and reflect on the last 27 days and how they passed by so quickly with a lot to take away and absorb.

It has sure been a long time that I have been away from all I know and am familiar with. I reconfirmed my hatred of being just a tourist in a new land. Hence it felt good to have two clear reasons for travel: the drum and vipassana meditation. This way I will always get a more in depth understanding of the culture by interacting with the people on a much deeper level than otherwise.

These 3 weeks have given me a lot to chew on in terms of the djembe, rhythms, solo techniques, songs, performance standards, tightness, dance and most importantly, West African (Senegalese) culture learnt in the Djembe Drum Lessons.

Some of the points that stand out are the similarities between Indian and Senegalese culture. We have many ethnic groups in India, with different languages, ceremonies, food, music and so on. Expressing oneself within this fabric of music, song and dance is a very important part of rural / village life in West Africa and in India. It is truly amazing, how the Djembe, the Sabar and just any kind of drum and performance can bring so much joy to an audience and the only way for the audience to appreciate that is by going up to the drummers and dancing leading up to the echauffment or singing or clapping very naturally in complicated polyrhythms or rhythmic subdivisions. I also note a major difference. I see that the people here, be them in a village or a city, are very comfortable and open with their sexuality. In my opinion, this is not as strong in India. Indian rural culture is far more conservative on the whole. This explains a lot of behaviour experienced in village life in Abene, for instance. When people come up to a foreigner and just start talking, initially, it is about being welcome in the village, then maybe about selling you something and then maybe just about chatting over some sweet and strong green tea. I find the same behaviour in India minus the genuine curiosity that fuels the chatting over tea, for example.

‘Same same but different,’ as they say in Thailand rings true at this moment.

As of now, I return with a heart full of new connections that I wish to explore, nourish and strengthen. Some connections are external and some internal. I feel I am more patient than when I set off for Senegal a month ago. I feel more comfortable with the path I’m on and have re-fueled my energy levels to carry on full speed ahead.

I feel blessed to have a very supporting family because if it wasn’t for them none of this would be a reality. My second family, those who work with me, the entire Taal Inc. team have held fort so formidably that I can’t wait to get back and experience this camaraderie that has now come to fruition.

There are a lot of things I have missed: my bed, Indian food, the chaos, the ease of communication and my work. I am happy to get back to these things and dive straight in to the work that lies ahead of me.

There are a lot of things that I will miss: the peaceful and laid back way of life in Abene, the food, the green tea (although I will try to make this when I am in India), the sound of the djembe in every soundscape that one is in, the music and the people who have grown so close to me.

I now wait to board my flight from Dakar to Bamako (possibly to Ouagadougou), followed by Adis Ababa, then Mumbai and finally Pune. Bon voyage to me and peace, love and light to all of you for having taken this journey with me.

One FINAL Group photo – photo credits – Tanya Price

Come. Drum. Be One.

Taal Inc.