About five months into my first stint in India, I found myself in Pushkar, one of the oldest cities in India. It’s clustered around Pushkar Lake, a precious place in the Rajastani desert, fabled to come from the tears Shiva cried at the death of his consort Sati. The temples and lakeside ghats are fully bustling, but the outskirts of the town seem like post-apocalyptic ruins, open-sided concrete stalls fringing the streets nearest the desert. They are waiting for Pushkar Camel Fair, the one month a year when it becomes the focal point for trading and racing camels.
I did camel trek while I was there, and very painful it was too. But my abiding memory of Pushkar is musical – my travelling companions at that time were all percussionists and flautists. The flat rooftops of the guesthouses by the lake provided the ideal location for tabla players to sit as the evening air cooled, rippling through their practice sequences, echoes bouncing back from the low parapet walls until the air was embroidered with rhythms as musical and complex as birdsong.
Happily for me, I’m now working with a tabla player to add percussion and sound effects to the show. Our initial experiments are taking us in many directions – definitely tabla, but also strange scrapings on guitars, vocal loops, tapped jamjars and some digitally-distorted underwater weirdness…joy!!