India 3, Bangalore

On the way to Bangalore

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More Culture Shocks

The motor riksha stopped behind the huge puddle of dirt water, almost a small pond after the monsun rain, where no drainage is or is helplessly clogged with garbage or dead rats.

The rikshas seem to have no reverse gear. To reach the DHL-post, there was no other way, but stepping at least once with each feet into the puddle of black stinky fluid. Quick maybe works, the water reaches only to the calves, it could be worse, but the skin tells me immedieately: "This is not good, wash it right away when you have a chance."

It just itched for a day after the soap and "clean" water treatment, also the socks and shoes were cleaned as much I could, and no infetion on the open scratches on one foot occured.

"Socks", yes you read right, I wear socks here, and sport shoes. Inside the house barefoot when it is clean, otherwise slippers. Most have just slippers, which is hygenic because the feet get dry inbetween the rains, but one gets dirty feet in most places when you have to take the slippers off. Also the feet are unprotected, e.g. when motorcycling.

Just slippers when walking along or over the spots where is garbage, and the smell of hell comes out of the contaminated ground, no thanks.


I dont know if it was just this particular area of Bangalore, close to that canal, where I had to walk along, or if you find the piles of garbage also elsewhere on which everything feeds, like dogs, cats, rats, cows and probably also once a while humans. Also the ratholes everywhere, fresh ones just dug, old ones used, old ones unused, all variations you have to see, because you have to look down not to trip over the uneven ground, changing from huge, flat stones to a huge hole where is no huge, flat stone, but underneeth a clogged drainage, changing to soil, to pavement and to gravel, all with unevenness in one part and for sure with unevenness in the interface.

But the impressions are not only visual in combination with the smells you have to cope with. The constant sound of the traffic with various and ongoing horn signals from all kind of vehicles, their motors, ventilations in and outside of buildings, music, peoples voices, and even a mosque near by interrups the sleep at 5.00am again, introducing the beginning of the concert starting which doesnt stop until you fall asleep with it again.


All the weired things you see on the streets are still unaccepted by the writer, and he hopes that he never gets used to them. From his perspective, the reasons behind it dont bring good light on the people, and he hesitates to do that. These critics would be: irresponsability, ignorance, unadultness, uneducation and layziness in all levels and not rarly pure criminal energy.

Specially the male section seems to be more cought in their avoiding pride to learn, than the woman are.

If one has a shop towards the street and doesnt clean up in front, or doesnt tell  others NOT to throw garbage in front of his place, or puts a garbage can there, then it gets difficult, not to take them into responsability.

Then you have the poor and rich problem, the caste system, which is forbidden by the constitution, but lived by almost everyone, no matter on which side. Fact is, that everyone uses it as an excuse not to do something different.

Probably in some places I am the only one who says "Thank You", when someone from the "lower caste" brings me a tea.

A team of psychoanalysts would find for sure many pathological states when they would just grab any 10 people out of a crowd.

It is a sick society, like most others, which was maybe excuseable some decades ago, because the reasons were historically and sociologically explainable. Still the reasons are sociologically explainable, but the global times in which it is happening now, and the undiscussed problem of overpopulation make action necessary right away.

But all this is the outside western perspective and of cause incomplete.

And how about the westerners who live here, who like India, the tourists who come for the elephants, tigers, the yoga, the spiritual difference, and the fact that their Euros, Pounds and Dollars are worth more than where they come from.

Sure, with a high level of ignorance, it is possible to see only the nice points of it.

Exotism seems to have usually the root in ignoring ones own problems. So how can this exitement how differently great the other culture is, produce any positive effect, if there is an unresolved problem deep down in the person who runs away from something and is overrating the new culture? Probably the problem comes out in another way at another time ... .



The Students of Attakalari

26 of them take a physically demanding one year training in several traditional and contemporary stiles. They are in between 18 and 26 years and come from the most divers background one can imagine. Some are just the born dancer and never did anything els in fact. Others studied something boring. Some real housewifes are amongst, just kids with or without degree of some schol, one trained medical doctor and people which just did any kind of job to get the funding together for one year.

Now they get me for a week to teach some more technique, injury prevention, since many have minor problems with their mostly untrained body, and the project of "A Piece for You".

After one day they pick up the new demand to be crative by themselves and understand the fundamental aspects of dance in the different stiles as a pool to gain knowledge about and create with those their system of dance. This is a huge difference to the imitation procedure of dance teaching, which is still the most popular all over the world.

We do several exercises each day. Dance technical ones, compository ones, which need their input in the system, and they make decisions of dance material which is based on their individual "importancies" as I call it. Most of the exercises are done in a dialoque with a partner to make them understand and use the creative potential of relations. But they have to make as well their individual decisions.

One link inbetween many of the factors is the joint-work I developed. All joints are round and give therefore endless possibilities of movements, specially in coherence with other round joints. The mind can observe the interrelation of guiding the body, or let the body have some relative independency about in which directions and how to move. When some savety of this system is established, the mind also can trip into its own phantasy and any pictures which cross through.

"What else is endless in the world?" I ask. "The universe." "The mind." - "Right, look at the sculptures of Shiva, the one with the many arms and twisted legs, now we understand what his dance is about, right? He is creating the world with his dance and with his mind into the universe. Thats what we are doing right now as well!" I am not Indian and I dont know much about Indian mythology, but they agree!

I pull out some of my best exercises with them, but dont have enoug time to do some more very essential ones, well, maybe next time.


Because they are so many I have to pair them up to make the presents for "A Piece for You", and I cross fingers that it will work out. First it seems to be too restrictive, because they have to agree on one presentee, but then they find very creative solutions to it. E.g., two of them want to make something for their mothers to thank them for the liberty to study dance. The thing just is, that one mother is dead, the one who was a traditional dancer, who gets now a traditional dance from her daughter. The other student dances in contemporary stile parallel to her.

Into the space the traditional one speaks under tears: Thank you mother for teaching me those dances. I miss you mom!" The living and therfor present mother jumps in and hugs both on stage.

No eye kept dry in the whole space, participant or spectator.

It is touchy, but not fake. No clichees are used, they all just do what is important to them.

Some young men showed their skills of martial art as a present for one of their teachers. Others used the opportunity to make a celebration for the rape victim, which got internationally known and was shaking India for a while. One woman is making a "Thank You" present to her husband who "allows" her to do the dance training. Also he was present and got applause from everybody. Presents for friends are done as well and one between a real loving couple for their love to each other. Other themes are more abstarct, like rhythm, simplicity, friendship, and even reciprocity of twins.

After the show everybody is emotionally very touched and happy. All are expecting from me some words, but also I went through quite some yourney and need to breath. When I get myself together, everybody is very happy to hear from me that they did a great show. More speach from me is demanded. I have to give them a few more of my wisdoms of dance and life. They love to hear it, and I think it is based on the reciprocal trust we were building up. I trusted them as a complete, capable and creative human being, they understood and gave me back a lot. Mostly that it is worth to do this work. Every human being is able to make inter-human art. Thanks friends!

Rehearsals and preperations for the presentation and group photo after the gig. Video is coming as soon there is a stable internet connection.

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Contact:                                                                              © Thomas Lehmen 2013