Day 5 – 30/12/12 work begins

I woke up with a wonderful itch to play and probably attend an African Drum Circle. My hands wanted to play as I was woken up by the lovely sound of drumming. It was the first day of the dance class. Tannis, my roommate was super excited for this. Salimatu, the teacher is a lady who smiles constantly and moves naturally, like dance is in her every breath. After freshening up and saying hello to our little friend who lived in our bathroom I went to listen to some of the young djembe players who accompanied the dance class.

The weather has been beautiful; hot in the day and seriously cold at night and early in the mornings. This was very unlike what I had expected. I never thought I’d say this about Africa but I am happy I have a sweater and a skull cap.

I have also learned my first few (highly useful) words in Wolof, one of the main languages spoken in Senegal:

Nangandef – How are you?

Marikidjan – I am fine

N’deki bi Nehna – the breakfast is good.

Ann bi Nehna – the lunch is good.

Rare bi Nehna – the dinner is good.

I have started appreciating beer more now since I have been in Abene. Maybe it is because it is one of the only available drinks apart from wine that should be used to wash hard stains from clothes considering its high vinegar content! These are the local beers that are available here in Abene: (in increasing order of size of bottle).

Flag (pint size bottle with most decent taste)
33 Export (larger bottle with average taste)
La Gazelle (largest bottle with least taste)

It is safe to say that taste of the beer is inversely proportional to the size of the bottle. I noticed that new tourists jumped at the ‘La Gazelle’s’ first and then as they grew wiser and older, started holding bottles of ‘Flag’ in their hand. The brave ones, made their way to the ‘Mini Marche’ (Mini Market) in Kafountine (the neighbouring village) to buy some decent French Merlot or Moroccan Wine. ‘Not bad for a Muslim country,’ I thought…

By the end of this trip I should be able to put on a good English accent and have improved my French by a bit (*French as spoken by an African).

During lunch time I decided to share some Methi Parathas (Indian fenugreek flat bread – recipe on hyperlink) made by my grandmother, with the entire group. That was the only way it would be consumed before getting spoiled. It made me miss home and everyone back in India for a bit.

This is Mamady, Iya and myself chilling after lunch and revelling in our food-comatose state.

Djembe classes were progressing well. The group grasped the introduction breaks of Kudani quickly. We stumbled with the feeling a bit at times but it was nothing some goods old practice won’t cure. For those unacquainted with this rhythm (or the Bali blog where I put the description of this rhythm up for the first time), Kudani is a rhythm created by Mamady as a tribute to his grandmother. His grandmother was called ‘Kudani’.

I had my first dunun class with Seckou. He is a great teacher who focuses on technique and feel and enjoys his way through it. We went over the dunun patters of the rhythms taught by Mamady earlier (Lekule, Tiriba and more to come).

We were all given maps of Abene that were made especially for us tourists. This will give you an idea of the village. To the left is the Atlantic Ocean and to the right is the village centre.

This evening I wanted to go to the festival late so that I could last till the last performance and maybe even have an experience of the disco. There’s something about our full packed drumming day, the fresh clean air and the food that makes me rather tired by 9:00pm. So I packed in a power nap post dinner and made sure I reached the festival by 10pm. We caught a bit of the last act and then I witnessed the smoothest administrative transition into the disco; which is a room to the right of the stage where one has to pay an additional 500cfa to enter. And now, I seem to have cracked the code as to why some of the locals are so ‘nice’, ‘peaceful’ and ‘welcoming’. As the transition from festival to disco takes place some of them ask you to pay their way in. Considering that they did not have much and to spread the love, we had with us Adulaye and Big Lamen two characters from Abene and The Gambia respectively. One worked in the fake jewellery business and the other in the boutique business.

I could have been in any club anywhere in the world based on the music that was playing. Of course this part of the world likes its reggae and that is the truth; a ‘mini Jamaica’, like Jeremy, my French friend who works in the Congo calls it.

We got home soon after to rest and prepare for the next day, the last day of 2012. Another year had almost gone by… It was time to sum it all up, sieve the productive, learn from mistakes, look forward, leave the rest behind and walk home under the moon and the stars…

Come. Drum. Be One.