A Year in India

Desi Girl
May 19, 2009, 12:00 pm
Filed under: Day to Day | Tags: , , ,

If there’s one song that’s defined this year for us AIF fellows, it’s been the Bollywood favorite, “Desi Girl.” Not much explanation is necessary except for the fact that the song is obnoxious, catchy, and somehow has had a bonding effect on the AIF crew. Listened to on repeat, it inspires some of the best (worst?) dance parties. Song and video below.

Dancing to our fellowship theme song at an AIF reunion in Ahmedabad

(For context, desi means “of the homeland,” i.e., a pure Indian. The song is from a recent Bollywood movie, Dostana.)


October 22, 2008, 11:30 am
Filed under: In the Field | Tags: , , ,

… And speaking of interactive learning, the slum kids who attend Christel House School recently put on a Founder’s Day Show.  It involved song, dance, and theatre drawn from several different Indian cultures.  I was blown away by how excited the student performers and the student audience were.  It was a real tribute to the value of arts education.  You’ll see how talented, engaged, and cute these kids are in the following little video montage:

Concert, Bengaluru Style
October 18, 2008, 1:32 pm
Filed under: Music | Tags: , , , ,
Pre-concert sunset

Pre-concert sunset

Last night was one of my best nights in Bangalore yet.  I went with my coworker Chandan and his friends to watch a famous Bollywood film singer, Shankar Mahadevan, perform at the free Times of India music festival.  We arrived at the concert at sunset and staked out a spot in the venue’s overgrown field.  As the band went through its sound-check, I met and mingled with Chandan’s friends.

Shortly after, Mahadevan appeared and sang several high-profile Bollywood songs (including an Indian version of “Pretty Woman,” a few songs from India’s current favorite “Rock On,” and an amazing back-and-forth voice/drum imitation between him and his percussionists).  The crowd surrounding me sang along the entire time, yelling, whistling, and dancing all over the place.  There was a sense of energy, star idolatry, and community (the audience ranged from age five to sixty-ish).

The crowd

The fans

As the concert came to a close, rain began pouring down.  It was magical.  Drenched, we all jumped the barrier separating us from the VIP section, something Mahadevan had been requesting security to allow since the very beginning of the show.  The music took an odd turn from Bollywood to techno, and we rushed towards the stage, climbed onto plastic chairs, threw our arms to the sky, danced like crazy, and chanted through our laughter “where’s the party tonight?” and – yes – “Hindustani! Hindustani!” along with the music.  It was a funny, random, memorable night.

“Back when dancing in B’lore was allowed …”
October 16, 2008, 8:54 pm
Filed under: Culture | Tags: ,

Shocking: the Bangalore dance ban