Day 1: Tulum, beautiful Tulum + welcome dinner

I ended Day 0’s blog with this but I’ll say it again- only after a round of proseco with Mamady Keita and team TTM, overlooking the pristine beach, did it sink in that I am in one of the worlds most beautiful beach destinations to learn, take Djembe Lessons and reconnect with my djembe friends from all over the world.
The next day, Lao K, my djembe brother from Beijing was to take his TTM certificate test. Looking at him, I realized what I would have been like the previous day. I’m happy to have gone first because I don’t think I would have lasted with the tension for much longer! It is with great joy that I say that he too passed his test. It was a good two days for TTM because through us the djembe and authentic Mandingue tradition shall spread through India and China, furthering our djembe master’s mission.
After both the exams, the sun started to shine like the Tulum we expected. The rain-clouds of the previous days disappeared and as did the other people staying at the resort. I can’t wait for the rest of the participants to arrive so I meet my friends, old and new. I spent most of this morning in the sea learning how to body-surf. Jeremy Tomasck – also Mamady’s manager in Europe and also the maker of the excellent Mamady Keita signature series djembe was my partner in body-surfing crime.
Next to arrive were TTM school directors Bill and Taylor from Winston-Salem and Chicago respectively. I met them first in San Diego in 2011. Lots of time has passed but the connection is strong. This is the grace and gift of the djembe- timeless and pure bonds because ‘people who make music together cannot be enemies, at least not while the music lasts’ (line by Paul Hindermith)
In this blog series I’m going to share, with each entry, what it means to me to be on the path of the djembe; what it means to be a TTM certified professor; and what it means to have a master.
Mamady Keita is a very rare soul, a true master of the djembe and a very aware and cued-in teacher. It is this essence that has kept me inspired to keep learning, taking Djembe Drum Lessons and reach this milestone under his guidance and also the mentorship of the rest of the senior TTM teachers/ school directors and diploma holders. Like Bill rightly said, “NOW you’re ready to learn djembe!” And I said “Namu!” out aloud which means “Yes / I agree” in Malinke. The quest to be a better djembe player will always be on but what is new is that I’ve been bestowed with a great responsibility. I now represent Mamady Keita in India and anywhere I go, play and give African Drumming Lessons. Let it be known that I will do my best to transmit Mandingue culture and tradition in all it’s authenticity and excellence as was taught to me by Mamady and team TTM. It’s time for all of us in India to strap up and brace ourselves… Because the djembe storm is coming soon! This is what having a master does- gives direction, structure and meaning to ones path, it gives purpose without which we wouldn’t be living, merely existing.
As expected, the energy was at an all time high at the welcome dinner as over 15 countries were represented at this workshop. It is great to see people from all walks of life, united by the love for the djembe and Mamady Keita, come together and really make an effort to improve their understanding of djembe rhythms, technique and Mandingue culture.
What’s even better is that, the entire resort was now occupied by only participants for the workshop. That gave us a very interesting feeling of ownership and pride. It was time to get ready for our next day of drumming, swimming, lovely food and joy!
Come. Drum. Be One.