Monday, October 18, 2004

I am Navratrilova

Stumped you, right? No, I am not changing my surname because I am a great fan of Martina (which I am by the way). Read carefully, very carefully. Its 'Navratri-lova'. Yup, I am talking of the nine day festival dance-a-thon. Now, I was born with two left feet, and I came to terms with it pretty early in my life. Discotheca was not my preferred place to be, I was more concerned with the bibliotheca.

However, the Gods up there must have been smiling on me. Someone invented the Dandiya. I finally found a dance form where I knew exactly what to do with my hands. Baby steps, five in all, and once the smile of triumph crosses your face, you move to your left with a heart brimming with pride to meet your next challenge. For all the ineptitude that comes when I try to shake a leg to other beats, somehow the rhythm of the dandiya beats stirs up some nascent dancing abilities in me. Maybe it has to do with my Gujarati genes.

Navratri is a big thing in Bombay (which I am told compares poorly to the scale in Ahmedabad and Baroda) and I fondly remember going every year to play Dandiya. However, I could never muster the courage and confidence to do garba in my life. It is too complex, and there is only a limit to which a person can be allowed to look graceless while dancing. The inhibitions surrounding doing garba that I had were one too many.

However, I decided to conquer these demons when I got a chance to do garba in my first year at the Texas A&M University. It was totally graceless and totally enjoyable. Of course that was the simple two-clap. This year, I graduated to the rather complex 8-step. I can do the first 6 ok, but turning round to land on my right foot (literally) never works for me. I did garba this weekend and caused a couple of accidents with people tripping and falling over me. But I prevailed, no major casualties were reported, and I am happy to announce that I have climbed the Everest.

I digressed. The post wasn't about my ability to do garba. It was about the fact that I love Navratri. I love the beats, the music, the dancing, the good dancing, the bad dancing, the Gujju clothes, the smartly dressed people, the Gujarati garbas that I know, the crescendo that comes at the end of a round of dandiya, the calories that I burn while enjoying it and the excitement that I feel every time I step onto the dance floor. I hope you see now why I am a 'Navratri-lova' (I am stating this a second time so that someone would care to compliment me on the smartness of the title :-))

8 comments:

Sachin said...

As it happened just before i reached ur blog, i read a article on times on navratri and after reading the title of this article, navratri was the first thing that poped up in my mind and then saw ur link to martina...

RTD2 said...

Since you mentioned it only about fifty times, great title Parth!! I am a Navratri-lova too..I got to go to dandiya this past Saturday, and had a wonderful time. Even got a "Asian Americans for Kerry" sticker for my conservative Bush-y roomie :) Ya..I did dandiya just once in Bombay, but have gone faithfully these past 3 years I've been in the US. I LOVE the colors we get to see at such occasions, and the amazing dancing, not to mention the $2 bhel puri! I am an inept-Garba-person as well, so I spend some time just watching with my mouth open! Can't wait for Diwali now!

Sarita said...

:-) good job. Did you come up with it while delivering that complex 8 step, and landing on your right foot ?? I still trying to picture a person do that ...its cracking me up just thinking about it ...btw , what happens to your left foot ..still suspended in the air :-))
The dance freak that I am, love the dandiya/garba and then bhangra routine we have every year..although I have'nt graduated to that heavy duty 8 step as yet ..still workin on my perfect 5 :-)

Sukanya M said...

My next door neighbours are gujratis who love their dandiya and there is a huge huge navratri thingie here in the Netaji Indoor stadium in Kolkata among others. I once saw them dance and vowed to never even try (for fear of making a fool of myself)! The eldest brother would through the sticks up in the air and do all sorts of twirls and what not and then nonchalantly catch them as they fell, behind his back much like one of thos gymnasts doing the rhythmic gymnastics! Enjoy your navratri...while I enjoy my durga puja! Sukanya

phucker said...

Well, being Punjabi, I haven't been able to experience the joys of Garba - here in Delhi they just kinda let the other communities do their stuff, then head on to somebody's house for the pre-Diwali alcohol/gambling fest (I hope that doesn't raise too many eyebrows)... ah well. I had the chance to try out the Garba in Univ, but after the first few times, my Punjabi genes revolted and almost caused me to raise my arms in the air (with only forefingers extended and start doing the B(censored). Heh ;-) BTW, speaking of American elections, I found this hilarious site:

http://www.aittimes.mithuro.com/voteindex.php

Parth said...

Interesting to hear feedback on a Gujarati festival from Bengalis, Punjabis, Tamilians and Maharashtrians. I beg to differ that it is a local phenomenon though. Sample this, at this dandia, I saw Americans and even Chinese playing dandia!!! Man, they looked scared. They were almost expecting to get hit everytime someone raised their sticks at them :-) Tarun, I am going to attempt Bhangra next. If you have done umpiring in a cricket match before where someone hits a lot of sixes, you have already done some groundwork :-))

Anonymous said...

Oh You are smart alright:)!

What a coincident that I came to this post of your just when the navratras are round the corner. How is going this year? have you improved since...???


-Sparsh

Parth said...

I have. I have! :-)