“Aaah, no, no, no, you shouldn’t have spoken to him. Wait, wait, let me arrange a harmonium for you.”
Within 5 minutes he had arranged for me to borrow a harmonium from his friend Mukti, and that we upgrade our accommodation to a large room with ensuite toilet courtesy of another friend Margaret. High five Ajeet! And big up Mukti and Margaret! Sadly Ajeet left today to return to Mumbai. He was one of the few guys who could sing and play instruments, so his absence will be noticed by me in the bhajans big time.
This morning I tinkered on the harmonium whilst the men’s tone deaf Mandir session was going on. A couple of the keys on the harmonium keyboard are shot, but other than that it’s wicked. I have decided that from henceforth I shall be an honorary lady and attend their Mandir sessions only, since the men’s Mandir sessions are so atrocious they leave me feeling irritated and unenthusiastic afterwards. During the men’s sessions I now have the perfect opportunity to practice the chants and bhajans on the harmonium on my own and in peace and quiet.
We share our building with a Kazakhstani Swami (that has a certain ring to it) and his wife, girlfriend, or disciple, I’m not sure which. Neither are very friendly, as per the Russians we came across in Tiruvannamalai, but at least there are only 2 of them and they keep themselves to themselves. In the bhajan session before lunch today one of the Indian ladies playing harmonium asked Kazakhstani Swami to sing the lead. The ladies obviously thought he knew all the bhajans since he looks the part of a Saddhu – orange robes, long beard, top knot etc – and would be perfect as lead singer. Imagine their surprise when he shook his head, hurriedly stood up and made a beeline for the exit. It didn’t phase them for long though. The bhajan session became a request session of sorts. The ladies were chatting away in Malayalam discussing what tune to play next. They were hilarious to watch. I can imagine how the conversation went:
“Gita, do you know the vun that goes like this?”
“Vich vun? The vun that vee played last night?”
“Ah, that vun. Who is going to sing it?”
“Sarali, vhere are you? Come come, please take the cymbals and sing also. OK?”
“Ready? Vun, two, vun, two, three, four....”
And so it went for each tune for the rest of the session.