A house boat on Lake Nagin

Thursday, April 18, 2013 - 18:29

Last weekend, our Alchemists were visited by Sue Shorter, who told them about how she lived on a house boat in India. Here’s a bit of her story.

“Umrao Jaan” is probably my all-time favourite film, with wonderful and authentic music and dance – saw original version in India in 1981. The audience went wild, singing along, laughing, crying, leaping on seats!

This was my first trip to India – a 6 week marathon to various places with Indian friends/colleagues – Delhi, Jaipur, Mumbai, Kashmir……where we stayed on a houseboat made of fragrant cedar wood on Lake Nagin (smaller of the 2 lakes) ….surrounded by lotus flowers ….went on trips to local dawn fruit and veg market in “shikara” (gondola) weaving its way through velvety lotus leaves, drops of water rolling over them like mercury…hearing the distant call to prayer from the mosque….later did a Himalayan trek to a glacier.

More recent trips to West Bengal with Indian singing teacher Rajeswar Bhattacharya and Suekali Stubbs – part of a long-standing and dedicated group of serious music students, studying and performing songs of Rabindranath Tagore….at one point travelling with an armed guard because of kidnap threat! Long train journeys accompanied by the haunting devotional songs of Baul singers………On one occasion the taxi due to take us from hotel to performance was late – we said let`s walk (the short distance) but this was considered inappropriate, in our concert attire….solution was that a fleet of open ” cart” rickshaws were ordered, and we careered through back streets at high speed, flanked by an army of delighted little boys, running alongside, shouting “Hallo Auntie! Hallo Auntie!”

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