Hey there audience!! For Throwback Thursday I want to share my choreography and group performance from 2006 S/BAD Sacramento/Black Art of Dance concert. Imagine Dunham, Tupac, Phil Collins, Bone Thugs, and Sir Elton John help tell the story of Haitian folkloric icon: Eshu/Eleggua.
Jaipur is a really cool city. Admittedly laid back and relaxed by the locals, this place is home to the Pink City and a temple in honor of Ganesh, which offers super fun elephant rides... I even got to wear a turban. While visiting this temple several culturally awesome things happened: 1. I saw a hall of mirrors, definitely felt some Oshun vibes. 2. I witnessed Indian tour guides speaking Portuguese with a Brazilian tour group, might I add with lots of plastic surgery? 3. Local photographers spoke Spanish to us because the group ahead of us was from Spain. 4. I bought shoes from a deaf gentleman who wanted to marry me. 5. I bought some beautiful jewelry, also from a deaf gentlemen, including a pearl ring and a necklace of silver, coral,and turquoise. I never buy jewelry but the gentlemen lowered the prices and the jewelry was screaming my name. 6. The Pink City was built in honor of a British prince, like just about everything else. One building is full of windows filled in with stained glass. At night, the place lights up like a multicolored disco ball, so pretty. 6. We closed the evening with a visit to a local Sikh temple of Krishna, where a prayer and blessing ceremony took place. I took some of the candy. The beautiful white marble spiraled up the walls and into a dome which seemed to go on forever.
Across from the hotel in Agra a tailor shop making sarees and Punjab suits was nestled between an ATM and a restaurant. Our tour bus poured eager shoppers into the shop where not enough people were there to help too many people. Happy to help my friends out, I winded up spending more time interpreting than figuring out what I wanted. For this elf you who now me, I got easily frustrated and had to count ten. Folks took over for me and I was able to pick out this beautiful what I like to call bright salmon saree. I felt like a princess.
Thereafter we took off for a dinner out at a restaurant where locals go for good Indian food. Unfortunately, my digestive track failed to find the same appreciation. From that moment ion until the day we left I was grateful for my small bottle of Immodium AD.
After a very long bus ride through what are referred to as highways we arrived to Agra, home of the beautiful monument of love, the Taj Mahal. By before I discuss the amazingness of the Taj, let me elaborate on these highways. Remember India, and damn near everywhere BUT America (just like the metric system), drives on the left. That took some getting used to. Also, the fog and pollution in Delhi and along the way was so thick I don't think I saw the sky or sun during the entire eight hour bus ride. Also just as our tour guide had promised, people lived in shantytowns next to the highway. Not like in California, where a small plot of land protects the homes from the highway in the agrarian central San Joaqin Valley. I'm talkin the highway is these people's front yard. Water buffalo, white cattle, bonfires, drying laundry, shops and such skirted the highways on both sides. When traffic slows down to a complete halt the sellers of kick knacks and mommy-and-me beggars swarmed the bus, sometimes even banging the sides with their fists. India never gets boring.
Finally we arrive to the Taj, and security here is no joke. Because of cultural values, women and men often queue up separately. I kind of like that. Between you and me I think I got more action from the female security guards in all of India than I have in my last semester of grad school. As much as I could go on and on about the Taj, all I can say is how beautiful it is. My ignorant American mind failed to realize the Taj is not a religious building, an emperor form the 17th century built the Taj as a memorial of the love he had for his wife who passed away. Wow, that's a lot of love.
The grounds are gorgeous, and so are the attendees. Again and again Indian men wanted to take a picture with the blonde blue-eyed American. At one point an Indian man approached me and asked if I would pose in a photo with his wife who was dressed to the nines in a gorgeous red saree decked out in all kinds of golden jewelry. I felt so honored.
The next evening we were received with a beautiful reception of Indian hors d'oeuvres, entrees, drinks, and even more beautiful were the people in attendance (and I'm not talking about just myself). I met young vivacious deaf women who sat and chatted with the young deaf undergraduates in my group. I met the NAD president in Delhi, his wife, and many other deaf influentials. One man who had lost his hearing at a later age as an adult shared his testimony of love and enjoyment becoming a part of the deaf community, culture, and world in Delhi. This was another humbling and inspiring moment of the many I was blessed to encounter during this journey through incredible India.
One woman I met works in the advocacy of abused and battered women, fighting for women's rights in India. Meeting such noble people really puts things into perspective for me. She has such a strong and friendly energy about her. Although I didn't know Indian Sign Language and she didn't know American Sign Language, we knew each other's alphabets and found a common place to communicate. This evening was a mere foreshadowing of the life changing and inspiring events I would soon experience.