Bansuri and Ayurveda

One night, we attended a very special event, a private ‘bansuri’ (bamboo flute) recital. Even though they were students, the intimate atmosphere made up for any possible lack of technique. For a minute, we thought we thought we’d entered Satyajit Ray’s film about musicians (the Bengali film producer from the ’50s). The music was not amplified, making it possible to hear the nuances of the tabla normally missed. But in my case, any hopes of being able to hear a flute were dashed because the bansuri played in the lower register.

Unable to participate in many conversations that Gerard has can leave me feeling on the periphery. Only if I’m in a quiet environment and speaking to a woman can I fully participate. When the frustration mounts, I’ve found the forty minute walk up the river to Assi Ghat is a tonic.

After so many years of walking the ghat, I still marvel at what a unique place Varanasi is. Growing up in Totnes on the River Dart, walking along the Charles River and many others, I feel my whole life I’ve been refreshed by rivers, but none that compare to the Ganges.

Last week, Sandhya and Premgit, an English couple we met four years ago here. He’s a photographer working with only black and white film and focusing on religious rituals in India. His wife, Sandhya, has a chronic respiratory condition and finds help here from an ayurvedic doctor. She persuaded me to join her. The doctor took my pulse, inspected my tongue, then prescribed some pills and four sessions of Sirodhara, a therapy to reduce stress. While lying on my back, for an hour, his assistant “gently” drizzled warm oil on to my forehead, from a brass vessel hanging overhead. All I know is, it was quite euphoric, incredibly relaxing and gave me a good night’s sleep afterwards. Problematic was trying to shampoo all the oil out of my hair!

We’ll be moving on soon. God willing, we’ll be back next year and hope not to see further destruction in our favorite city. A reassuring reminder: we’re told that throughout history, Varanasi has been destroyed and rebuilt a total of four times with Modi the cause of the fifth. On a lighter note, he managed to move the cows from the lanes of Varanasi, while the British Raj could not. But there’s still a few around!

8 thoughts on “Bansuri and Ayurveda

  1. I realize that Roberta and Gerard’s trips across India are deeply counter culture, a culture of place and friendship. Far from the normal haunts that most of us wander, in an almost timeless era, where kindred spirits are found or reunited and an India is seen that somehow survives the materialistic cancer of the “real” world of today. We are privileged to share that strange and sometimes wonderful world that they travel each year. Growing older, they somehow are able to manage the difficulties of that travel as time moves on. Roberta especpially with her trials losing a most important sense continues to grow and see the world in a different way. Their connection with the world is heightened by all the other souls, wandering and sentient that come into their purview. So is ours.
    –Michael Raysson

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  2. I love the oil treatment we have an ayurveda doctor here that does it. I learned that to get oil out of your hair you use shampoo on the hair , rub it in, then use water to rinse!!

    Gets most of it out!

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  3. Lewis and i were at a flea market and we saw a beautiful selection of old phonograph players with the gorgeous wood case and lovely arms. the owner told us that helen keller had one and he demonstrated that if you close the case and put your hands on the top, you can feel every single vibration of the music!.
    he said helen keller had her favorite pieces that she would listen to over and over.
    What i recall about india is not so much the sounds but the smells,the vibrations in the air, the colors, the travellers she attracts, and the tastes of the water and of course the cows and the travel experience of getting from one place to another.
    Bobbie your writing demonstrates that you are experiencing india in a WHOLE nother way then you have experienced it before and thankfully bringing us that different experience!
    thank you
    love
    odella

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  4. Hi Bobby 💝💫✌🏽💕and Gerard,
    I’m delighted that you went to get the magic oil treatment! I’m sure you felt wonderful. Amazing photos, thanks 🙏

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  5. Hi Roberta,

    Started to write to you a little while ago but was distracted by the news and then my stupid phone sent on it’s own.

    Anyway, between the political news and the Coronavirus news, I can hardly keep up. I’m sure you get the news right away so you no doubt know that Pete Buttigeig and Amy Klobuchar have suspended their campaigns and are endorsing Biden. And of course tomorrow is SuperTuesday.

    Nancy C is coming to town to vote and take care of something for her new tenants and then have her cardioversion on Thursday. We’ll try to fit in a visit tomorrow. Then on Wednesday I’m going down to the harbor to visit Cynthia and Chris who have returned from their winter peregrinations.

    Meanwhile the Coronavirus is slowly increasing in the US. Today 4 more people died on the West Coast and Anthony Faucci said we are about at Outbreak proportions. Of course it is the elderly and people w health issues or compromised immune systems who are going to be most seriously affected. Eeek. Apparently there are only a few diagnosed casa in India but who knows how many there really are. Are you worried enough to try to come back early before we stop entrance from any country that has an outbreak which seems to be in the plans. When are you scheduled to come back?

    Getting weary. Hi to Gerard. Thinking of you. I continue to enjoy your blog. Fondly, Vicki

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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  6. Hi roberta! Not sure why but my email didn’t notify me of your posts and just caught this after the first post. What a lovely trip. 5hank you for sharing with us. We await your return 🙂

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