Posts Tagged ‘Tengeru’

A clash of worlds . . . and Shahrukh Khan

June 22

From the moment I stepped off the plane at Kilimanjaro International Airport, all my senses have been stimulated by waves of familiarity. The sights, the smells, the people, the food (yes, even the food) – all remind me of home, of India. It is such a surreal feeling, and yet, it’s so special to be here in the town of Tengeru in Arusha.

We were warmly welcomed by the staff of Mama Simba’s Lodge last night along with a ‘light dinner’ waiting for us, which was by no means light. Delicious, flavorful, yet simple home cooked food – BLISS – especially after being in transit for 20 hours. The quaint, rustic lodge reminded me of the Majestic Hotel in Udwada (Gujarat, India) where we used to stay when we were kids.

Waking up this morning to another delicious meal, I was transported yet again, this time to 5 years ago when I performed at the most unique venue in Pondicherry, India . Adishakti, headed by Veena Pani, is a haven for artists from all disciplines, from all over the world. With green everywhere, an exquisite sound of silence interrupted by the laughter and smiles of people with a lot of heart, I felt pangs of something I could not express then, or now. I know this though, I am home.

Between intense work sessions, scheduling and planning, we have the opportunity to step outside and go into town for housekeeping errands. This time I felt like I was at Colaba Causeway, Bombay, surrounded by touristy coffee shops and boutiques, along with arts and crafts vendors trying to sell me anything I wanted.

The road to the market wasn’t too different from the drive to Pune. The cycles, the cows, the trucks, the buses, the cars – ok, there wasn’t any honking. And then, as I was trying to take all of this in, going back and forth between the Tengeru market I was in and Crawford market in Bombay, amidst framed pictures including those of Jesus, flowers, smiling blonde women and embracing couples; there in all his posed glory, was none other than Shahrukh KhanImage! The teenager in me succumbed to fits of laughter. The caption on the picture ironically said ‘The merciful one is the unlucky one’. I asked the shopkeeper if he knew who this was; he didn’t. I had to capture the moment on camera!

Speaking of capturing moments, I have now learned first-hand that the locals do not like their picture taken. We passed some women who were drying and frying fish. It was quite a powerful image and I started clicking. One of them saw me and got very upset, and asked me to either give her money, or delete the pictures. Long story short, on someone’s suggestions, I ended up ‘tipping’ her on the condition that the pictures would be of the fish and not her.

Ione Lloyd says it best – If you were at Macy’s doing your own thing, and someone randomly started taking pictures of you, how would you feel?

Making mistakes, going back in time and place, unlearning and relearning – the journey has just begun.

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