Sitting at the bharatiya baithak on the second day of the Sawai Gandharva festival, I realised once again that for me, the festival is as much about the grand music as about watching people. There are all sorts there. People come with yoga mats, some get floor chairs for a back-rest, some come with all their picnic paraphernalia of sheet to sit on and food to eat. What I love is that music is so ‘everyday’ for them. Sitting and eating or even lying down and looking at the stars when space permits are no mark of disrespect. It’s just enjoyment the way they want to enjoy classical music without social restrictions and conformation to norms.
People-watching made me smile yesterday because two old ladies found place to sit near us. Getting to that precious empty space would have been difficult, though. Weaving their way through people watching the big screen, captivated by exceptional music, is never a pleasant experience. How did that matter? The white-haired ladies bent down and went in between the two bamboos that marked out the sitting area. Nimbly finding their way in, they laid out their chadar and sat down. While Amaan Ali Khan and Ayaan Ali Khan played, one lady sat and knitted, shaking her head to the beautiful music. They talked in low voices every so often, stopping their conversation abruptly when the music was particularly divine. They said their kya baat hai appreciatively and then continued knitting, eating and talking.