Category Archives: cultural arts

music, art, theater, etc

Norwegian death metal meets Indian classical dance


Mom and I took the kids to a most unusual musical performance on a Sunday evening. But first we had a lovely dinner at an outdoor cafe in UB City called Cafe Noir. It felt like we were in Paris. Delicious pommes frites, omlettes, quiches, and fancy bubbly mocktails.


On the way to the concert, Kaden insisted she didn’t feel well and wanted to go home. The nightly swimming plan with friends awaited, I think. She perked right up at the concert, but all the way to the auditorium, she insisted on wearing a plastic bag around her ears–just in case she might be sick.

Then it was off to the show, called Questionings. The show was a fusion of Norwegian death metal and Indian classical dance.

The performance took place in Chowdiah Memorial Hall, a concert hall shaped like a violin.

Inside about 200 people attended this free show.  Choreographed by an Indian dancer, the stage included a tabla player and another Indian drum player, the full Norwegian death metal band including three guitar players and a shirtless drummer all dressed in black, plus three Indian dancers. Two of the Indian dancers mainly spun in circles–amazingly so. Sometimes 25, thirty times in time with the music. They all had bells on their feet and their movements were entrancing.

I took some videos of the evening to try to capture what it was like. The first video shows the spinning of the dancers to tabla music. The tabla player is shouting out the notes and rhythms that he is playing. That kind of rap, almost, is used to demonstrate how tabla playing works but does not usually happen in performances.

The second video shows the main dancer with the death metal dancers around her and also pans out to show the tabla players as well.

The kids loved the show, although it was so loud we had to stuff cotton in our ears. Carson was bouncing his legs and nodding his head to the metal music. Kaden was entranced by the dancing.


Holy Holi!


March 8 marks the day of the Holi holiday in India. It is a Hindu holiday that celebrates the arrival of Spring. It is mainly a Northern India  extravaganza. People throw powdered colors and spray colored water on one another. In Calcutta, where my parents are right now, you just don’t leave your house unless you intend on getting doused in color. Here in Bangalore it is more celebrated in controlled celebrations in apartment complexes and schools. Driving into town for some lunch and shopping, we saw some college aged kiddos having fun dousing each other at bus stops and street corners, but otherwise it was business as usual.

Both kiddos learned about Holi in their Hindi classes this week. Kaden can tell you the whole story about the gods and goddesses behind the Holi story.It is a very long story and suffice to say, they tried to kill this woman many different ways and she wouldn’t go down.  Carson can tell you about how the colors used in Holi stand for blood and the bonfires lit the night before stand for the fire in the story.

In terms of celebrations, according to Wikipedia, “In most areas, Holi lasts about two days. One of Holi’s biggest customs is the loosening strictness of social structures, which normally include age, sex, status, and caste. Holi closes the wide gaps between social classes and brings Hindus together. Together, the rich and poor, women and men, enjoy each other’s presence on this joyous day. Additionally, Holi lowers the strictness of social norms. No one expects polite behavior; as a result, the atmosphere is filled with excitement and joy.”

The CIS school were to celebrate Holi on Friday after school. So, Todd and I had to go on a mission this week to find Holi guns. We tried several shops/shacks/counters in Yelahanka. We finally found what we needed at this little hut called Krishna’s Gift and Fancy store.  We bought one water pistol and one pump for each kid. Thankfully, our driver came in to ensure that they shopkeeper didn’t double the price for us Americans!

These are the packs of powder that you throw at one another!


Friday after school was time to “play Holi” at CIS. We all arrived to pick up our kids and drive them down the road to the Tennis Academy where the melee began. The kids were to arrive with “clothes that you are ready to throw away, water pistols, a towel, a snack, and a bottle of water.”  At the advice of the yoga moms, I also coated the kids’ hair in baby oil and also covered their bodies in it–these dyes can stain for quite a few days!

They PTO had set up buckets of colored water and lots of colored powders as well that you throw at one another. Kids brought water guns and these big syringes called pichkaris. Luckily we bought both yesterday!  The kids had a blast. Kaden was the last one left standing I think–covered in color from head to toe. She was so busy that I hardly got any pictures of her.



Me and my yoga mamas– Kathryn, me,  Helen and Anne.

Below: Carson with a direct hit! and me with another yogini–Meena!


Hanging out in Jew Town (yes, that’s really what it’s called)


On our last day in Kochi, we hired a car/driver to visit the historic area of town called Mattancherry. We visited “Jew Town”, the area of town that has the oldest synagogue in India. They didn’t allow photos, but here is a picture from the internet of the inside of they synagogue. The chandeliers were very unusual and the blue tiled floor was beautiful. While this area used to be the largest Jewish population in the country, the synagogue now only has 6 families attending. For some ceremonies, this synagogue must rely on Jewish tourists to have enough people to properly conduct the rituals.

We also visited the Dutch palace (to the right). It was half under renovation and not really worth seeing. Then we walked around Jew Town, with tons of shops (above). We got some fun treasures including a new Elephant tea cozy, a pashmina, and some gifts. We found a lovely European cafe (below) where we had Swiss Cake and some delicious drinks before continuing our shopping.


On the way back to the hotel, the driver suggested that we stop at the Folklore Museum. The building was pieced together with parts of old buildings. The whole museum is the private collection of one man. Very extensive!


Lots of statues and great masks for dance and theater performances!


The top floor was a beautiful auditorium for performances. Would have been great to see one here!



Dancing and wining….


We took the kids to see classical Indian dancing the other night. My campus (National Institute of Advanced Studies) was hosting a dance performance called Mohiniattam.  It was free and at 6:00 in the evening—every early by Indian standards! I didn’t think the kids would last more than a few songs, so this seemed like an easy way to get them some culture! But first I bribed them with ice cream.

The dancer is a professor of Dance and she danced in the Kalyanikuttyamma style.  This style is known for grace, femininity, intricate choreography, and “abinaya” or expression.


I think Kaden was hoping for more of a Bollywood dancing, upbeat performance. But classical dance is based on Hindu mythology and is quite slow. The dances tell a story and Carson said, “I wish I understood the story better.” I wish I did too—kind of like when the opera narrates what is happening!  I had also hoped it would be live accompaniment. Carson would have enjoyed the musicians more than the dance. But it was recorded music.  For a free performance, I can’t complain!

What was cool to see were how they stomped their feet to make the bells sound. The eye and neck movements are also very precise and the hands form shapes to represent all kind so things—flowers, bees, birds.  It was also interesting to see the elaborate makeup, costumes, and how the hands and feet were painted to that you could see them more clearly.

Carson lasted for two songs, Kaden lasted for four. Todd felt that the dancing was very monotonous—similar movements over and over again. I kind of liked it. Very hypnotizing. But then I was really tired, so it was nice to sit still for a while. I felt I had done my duty as an ambassador of culture and we headed home!

So the kids whined a bit during the performance, but it was important to see some very interesting classical dancing. The night before, I go to experience a different kind of wining. I headed out on my own to a wine dinner hosted by the Overseas Women’s Club. Four wines by Revallo—a local Indian company—paired with India food. Todd was supposed to join me, but he had to be the babysitter since my parents are in Ahmenabad.

It was nice to make new friends and to enjoy time in the city after dark. With restaurants not opening for dinner until 7:30 and service being very slow here, going out to dinner with the kids is not much of an option! They would be falling asleep on their plates! Below is a pic from my table of the new sassy ladies that I met. They were hilarious. I was long overdue for some sassy company. The driver of the lady on the left, below, told her. “Madam where is your pashmina? You must cover up!”  The lady with the blond hair not facing the photo has lived in India for 30 years since meeting her husband at the World Bank in DC long ago. She had some wonderful stories to tell. Her husband died four years ago but she has no plans of moving back to the U.S. India is her home now.

The chardonnay was good, the rest were just okay. But the murgh chicken was delicious! And the payesh for dessert (below) was lovely. Although the “gooey” chocolate cake was anything but gooey! As my new friend commented, “It tastes like a Ding Dong from back home!” Indeed it did!

Cricket, soccer and Bollywood dancing!


With Todd arriving, I think we are all more homesick than before he arrived. It reminds us of being intact as a family again–but without our house and our State College life. So the kids are missing friends more these days. They seem less settled in school as well. It’s also probably because our routines are topsy turvy. We’re doing a lot of travelling and everything has changed at home as well. My parents have left for a three week trip to Ahmenabad  and Calcutta. Janet and Kinjal have left. So even the sleeping arrangements have changed!

This photo below is of Kadens new besty here in Bangalore. Her name is Alberta and she is from Denmark. She is in the third grade. Kaden is also friends with her sister, Esther, who  is in the fourth grade. Kaden and Alberta play soccer together. Alberta is on the school team, so she gets to wear the white CIS jersey to class on soccer Wednesdays. Children get asked to be a part of the school team–you don’t get to pick! I haven’t heard about any matches for the girls team so I don’t know if Kaden will be chosen or not. She certainly is the tallest kiddo out there!



Carson is  developing an Indian accent. He is pronouncing his words more precisely and his voice makes a sing song noise sometimes. It’s very cute.

He has a love/hate relationship with school. His teacher is very different than  his teacher back whom who he adores.  The CIS teacher values neatness as much as getting the right answer–not a strong suit for Carson. But Friday was a great day–his first 12/12 on his spelling test! Plus his cricket coach asked him to play with the 3rd-5th standards (grade) group this next term. Indeed, Carson is still a cricket savant. Here is a video of him scoring a six, which is like a home run. You can hear me yelling, “Run Carson run!” But since it was a six he doesn’t have to run at all. I really need to learn the rules of cricket!


His coach is wonderful. He’s from Atlanta actually and he’s back getting  a Ph.D. in special education.

Kaden’s vice principal told me how impressed she was that Kaden caught onto the Bollywood routine so quickly and said she looks fantastic. Unfortunately she missed the big performance during Multicultural Day–a massive all day Saturday event with food, performances, sales. We had our big Goa trip planned long before we arrived and learned about the day! We also missed Sports Day in Goa which also was a big shame since Kaden broke the record for high jump for the elementary school during practice! They said that she would still get points allocated to her house for breaking the record and maybe even get a medal. We’ll see about that. But at least Todd and I got to see this practice of the Bollywood routine and one more segment of the Bollywood dancing. The coach is this guy who is very hip and always in trainer pants despite the heat!


Another set of barefoot runners on our way to school! These guys were training for the police academy.

And lastly, Daddy is joining in during the evening cricket matches back home in the neighborhood. Here he is fielding while Aryaman is pitching. And then Carson taking a swing.


Ayurvedic cooking


I took an Ayurvedic cooking seminar today through my Overseas Women’s Group. The day started with a lecture from an ayurvedic doctor. We all got a chuckle out of the set up of the conference room, in a fancy hotel no doubt. Mattresses on the floor, shoes off to the side. It was actually very comfortable but made me sleepy! (Thanks to the OWC Cooking club for the photos that include me in them!)

The Ayurvedic health process includes a great focus on body types and diet. Based on your body needs, you should adjust your diet accordingly. The doctor discussed three body types, and said that people are one of these, or more often a combination of two.

VATA–focus on large intestine and lower body, air and space, dry, cold, moving

vata people have joint pains. they are athletic, can’t sit still, the mind races.

They also describe these people as really tall or really short with thin, dry hair. (okay, well I thought I was vata until I got the really tall or really short).

Vata people should avoiad coffee, raw veggies, potatoes, nuts and beans and embrace sweet and salty food.

PITTA–focus on digestive system, fire and water, hot, oily

Pita people have heart shaped faces, pale skin, burn easily.

They tend to have digestive issues and be quick tempered and emotional

Pitta types should focus on cooling foods that are gentle to the stomach , so nothing too spicy or sour.

KAPHA–focus on mucous and lymphatic system–chest, shoulder, head eyes, cold, heavy, dense, smooth, slow

lots of sinus issues

These people are heaving, slower, calmer. They have good hair and a strong voice.

Kapha should avoid sweets, bread, red meat, and avocados

Then we headed to a cooking demo that demonstrated the preparation of food for each of the three types–a spicy coconut milk soup for vata, a beetroot salad for pitta, and a cabbage dish for kapha.

We followed the cooking demo with lunch at the Movenpick buffet–one of my favorites. Yummy naan, tandori chicken, and sushi too!

Kiddo adventures–unicycling, tattoo parlours….the usual


Kaden is taking unicycling as one of her activities at school.  She tells me, “You know it’s quite popular in Germany, mom!” All of the folks in this photo are German except for the Indian kiddo and Kaden. Kaden says that it’s quite easy. If you fall you can just step down, unlike a bike that keeps you all tangled up. Who knew?


Carson has been very fascinated with the Indian army officials that we see involved in exercises as we drive home.  They have since packed up and Carson insists that if they are not there, “Then they must be at war. Where else would they be?” The other day I saw the troops running, which is very odd to see in India. And I could tell that they thought it odd as well because most seemed to really be struggling. And it didn’t help that all but one were running barefoot. Not so bad on dirt paths maybe, but they were on the road and it was a HOT day. Their feet must have been on fire.

In other news, the children have established a tattoo parlour in our spare bathroom. They are inspired by the visit from their Uncle K, who is a tattoo artist and has quite the tattoos himself, including Hanuman, Carson’s fave monkey God. And he has his name in Bengali, plus other cool stuff. He is getting a LOT of looks here in India, as the tattoo craze has not made it to South Asia yet.  He had some boys grab him for photos during our palace visit. These are some of K’s tats:


So, the kid’s tattoo parlour is the Black Emerald. They give you a choice of designs that they have made on papers and then use black ink to “tat” you. You have a choice of sitting on the toilet or in the bathtub.


Above are photos of Janet getting her tattoo. And below are the final products. Look out though–in India it would be quite racy for me to be showing you my thigh! My favorite is Tia Janet– (Aunt Janet). Janet’s dad is from Mexico.