Posts

Delhi Daze

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On Sunday, I actually had the day to do as I pleased without a scheduled activity. In New York City, I have whiled away whole days without leaving my home, and prepared for bed at night realizing that I did not actively attempt to do anything. Here in India, I have had a harder time giving myself the room to not be actively pursuing something to justify “uprooting” myself to spend six months in India.  This is not to say that I don’t have plenty to do today, with classes and choreography to prepare, writing this blog, writing a blog post for Fulbright to post on their website (http://blog.usief.org.in/Posts.aspx?PostID=2339), reviewing and continuing my Hindi studies (still working on identifying letters and words), reaching out to new contacts and setting up meetings, etc. However, I have come to realize that sometimes it is critical to allow “down-time” for processing information with some reflection, recording my observations and postulating next “steps”.
Last Wednesday evening, I t…

The Familiar from a Very Different Past

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The amount of time I spend getting around in cars has been really great in getting a sense of the geography of Mumbai. It has also made me conscious of a few more things that remind me of my childhood in a tropical country. Mumbai is lush with trees and vegetation, most of which I have not seen on a regular basis since leaving Jamaica. I have no idea what the local names are, but it warms my heart to recognize breadfruit trees, poinciana trees, tropical almond trees, bougainvillea bushes, banyan trees, monstera vines, plumeria and so much more. In the USA, I doubt that I could identify one tenth of the temperate flora as compared to the tropical plants whose names have come creeping back to me, upon repeated viewing on my daily walks and car rides.
At least once a week, I try to catch up with Petra in her neighborhood of Bandra, where I do occasionally teach and where a couple of other “Fulbrighters” are residing. One indicator of the trendy affluence of Bandra is the way cut flowers a…

Patience, Perseverance, and Perspectives of Privilege

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What Does That Mean? In a very short time, it has become clear to me that I must perpetually be on my guard to recognize how both verbal and non-verbal language differs from that which I have grown accustomed in the USA. Hindi and words from other languages pepper the vernacular English commonly used here in Mumbai. I will have to wait until I have spent some time in Delhi before I can say which vernacular slang and usage I imagine to be specifically regional. But here I will address things I think are pretty universal around India. I have already written about words like Lakh and Crore which is indicative of Indian’s thinking literally in tens of thousands, and hundreds of millions. Four quick examples: Theek hai. Kriti. Revise. Crossword.
One of the first “words” of Hindi, I was encouraged to use was “theek hai” (I had to look up how to spell this in a standard Roman Transliteration), and it corresponds with “okay” or “all is good” whether statement or question in English. If you list…

Where In The World Is...?

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Last Friday, I finally had a chance to go down to the United States – India Educational Foundation (USIEF) offices and meet in person the two people who have been handling most of my correspondence as a Fulbright-Nehru grantee since before I landed in Mumbai. Typically I would have visited the USIEF offices the first day I was here, but I’m situated quite far away, and one of the officers kindly met me at my hotel to go through my initial orientation. This excursion was also my first chance to visit one of the more iconic areas of Mumbai, Colaba, where the Gateway of India and the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel are situated. Fortunately I had a “local” friend go with me to show me around and guide me through my first ride on the commuter train system.
In 2008, there was a coordinated terrorist attack in Mumbai in 2008 at six highly trafficked areas in around the city. I inadvertently visited two of the attack sites, the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel and CafĂ© Leopold (I’ll leave it to you to look up t…

A Personal Perspective On My First Few Weeks.

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Today started kinda rough with the news that Arthur Mitchell has died. In less than a year, others with profound impact on my dancing career have passed away, including Elizabeth Walton LeBlanc, Donald McKayle and of course Paul Taylor. These names may not specifically have meaning for everyone, but they are inextricably connected to the life I lead today directly and indirectly, and I want to honor the opportunities and knowledge their lives provided to me and countless other dancers and lovers of this field. This post is not going to be an elegy, instead it is going to be about looking at the “everyday” of my time here.
NOTE: to those of you who subscribe to get my blog without visiting the blogsite, it appears that when I upload the occasional video that it is completely omitted from the email version of my posts.

In my first few days on the ground here in Mumbai, I took the opportunity to watch a “college” dance competition at which advanced dancers from Danceworx were performing an…