Post: Aug. 24
"It feels as if I have walked through the fire and can now take anything India can throw at me. But maybe I shouldn't say that as this country never ceases to surprise you...." (Post: Aug. 7)
Famous last words.
Delhi Belly: Round Two arrived just in time for our first gig.
On Wednesday of last week Prasanna and the folks at SAM found us a great gig in Chennai for Saturday night. The faculty rehearsed together for 5 hours on Thursday and 6 hours on Friday. We were playing Prasanna's original music which is really fun material and also a welcome challenge. If you want to hear some of his songs that we performed, here's Prasanna's website: www.guitarprasanna.com. Everything was going according to plan until bedtime on Friday night when I started to feel a bit under the weather. By 2am I recognized the ominous feeling. Lightning had struck twice in the same place and the timing couldn't have been more impeccable! I woke up on Saturday morning determined to do the gig anyway. The tricky part wouldn't be the performance- adrenaline and pepto bismol would take care of that, plus we were set to perform for only an hour or so. But the idea of a two and a half hour car ride to Chennai travelling mostly on country roads and a secondary highway with hardly any rest stops was troublesome to say the least. But everyone was really sweet and understanding and made sure that at least I had a seat by the door. Everything was going fine on the way there. Even the heavy rain wasn't as much of a problem as it could have been.
Then we got a flat tire.
This hitch actually turned out quite smoothly. Not only was the driver able to change the tire (in the rain) within fifteen minutes or so, but there were also two other cars traveling from Tapovan that were still behind us and stopped to help just in case. It could have been much worse as we were already running late (ah, but India time allows for such things!). We even found a pit stop shortly afterwards. Anyway, eventually we made it to the beautiful five star hotel where we were to perform. Even though we arrived late (we're talking an hour and a half late) they still weren't ready for soundcheck (see? India time!). Thankfully they had a couple hotel rooms for us to freshen up in so I curled up for about half an hour until they were ready to soundcheck. The fever I had with Round Two was crazy! I got these off and on chills that turned my feet, fingertips, and lips blue. I couldn't feel anything with my fingertips. All that would help when I got these chills was to ball up under a warm blanket, which I did in the hotel room- that bed was heavenly. It got me all warmed up again for soundcheck, and then it was pretty much time to perform. The adrenaline and pepto bismol did their job and we all had a really fun time onstage.
The concert was part of a MARG charity event for a great cause called "Give Life", which enables and educates urban children living in poverty. Some of the kids were at the concert and they stole my heart completely. At one point we were all asked to pose for pictures with the children. I was standing behind this little girl who, once the pictures were taken, immediately turned to me with bright, shining eyes and said, "Hi!". Suddenly I was surrounded by these adorable kids who were not shy in the least- they held my hands and asked me all sorts of questions. I asked them what their names were and what they wanted to be when they grow up. They answered "Architect!", "Police!", "Police!" (these two were best friends so of course they both wanted to be police together), and "Doctor!". All of them were girls. I was floored by their ambition and earnestness. What an amazing difference for these happy, bright kids who, otherwise, would certainly never even dream of becoming a female doctor (they would more likely end up working as child labourers). There were little boys there as well of course who came up to me a bit more shyly than the girls, but only at first. All of them were so sweet and I'm very grateful to have been able to meet them.
There were other VIPs at the event, including India's education minister, the world chess champion, a cricket star, many more politicians, and of course, MARG's CEO and representatives (MARG is the company that owns and sponsors SAM). It was a really interesting evening. There was some beautiful food laid out for dinner but there was no way I was going to risk eating anything but bread and rice. At the end of the performance they honoured our band by presenting us with some beautiful shawls which we wore kind of like wrestlers (they were big shawls). I was especially glad of it because the fever returned the moment we finished our last tune.
Made it back to Tapovan by 1:30 am. Crashed immediately. Still had antibiotics left over from Round One and they've been helping tremendously. The Tapovan staff have been bringing me a more natural remedy called tender coconut water, a refreshing, stomach-easing hydration drink. I just found out that to make this, they actually climb a ladder on a coconut tree, grab a coconut, make it fresh and then bring it to my room. It really helps ease stomach pain and you can't get it like this anywhere else in the world. The odd thing is, apart from one other faculty member having a bad stomach overnight on Friday night, I was the only one who got hit with this in full force. Twice. We all ate the same food on Friday. What the?!
So, India is still full of surprises. But I'm not going to jinx things by saying anything else.