Mumbai Blog 9 – Dharavi art room concert, Badmaash in a Rickshaw, one more week.

Dharavi Art Room music wallahs shone in their performance this saturday. We had trained hard…


sweated….stuck to a strict regime.


The kids came up with their plan of action – what songs to sing, actions to do, what to say. The kids choo choo’ed their way up to the stage singing the welcome train is coming! then into you are my sunshine, a couple of the kids played it on the keyboard. Then they sang baby shark, (which – in the middle of – one of the kids stopped and told their friend to sing more softly because they were yelling) then ah wumba way and finishing with Herman the Worm song. In class we were using my piano sack as a worm costume…. obviously. So we did this in the concert too. I love these kids.


Earlier this week I heard the best excuse to leave class – “I need to go and get my snails from my friend because he is leaving now”. Here he is, on returning with his snails safely in….a plastic bag.


With the concert confirmed only a week before it happened, not much advertisement could be done so we had a slight audience turning up issue. But our good friends who did turn up helped us shepherd in a few more folk and before we knew it, the room looked pretty full.

Badmaash in Bombay episode 5 – Rickshaw! This was a lot of fun. Our friend Amogh helped us film from another Rickshaw. We made a small circuit in Bandra and drove round and round with the 2 rickshaws….amogh’s rickshaw swerving loops round ours.


At gateway this week, Rimi and I have been thinking up musical parts for the kids to play to accompany their play, Romeo and Juliet.


here’s a turtle and a duck.


here’s a parrot


Welcome to the office. We are very busy.

It’s not sunk in yet, I have one week left of teaching and spending time with the kids. but I have thought carefully about one thing. There will be cake. let there be cake.


Mumbai blog 8: HOLI, Dharavi Art room and Women’s day

On tuesday (before Holi) I was teaching Mahesh piano. He is the music teacher for the ‘Mewsic’ centre in Dharavi slum. He is from Dharavi himself and is self taught on piano, guitar and probably other things too. He has an amazing ear and has created a curriculum for the kids from Dharavi to learn through. He doesn’t use notation but uses the note names and the Indian version of Do Re Mi, which is: Sa Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni. He wants to learn notation so we have been touching on that. His main idea though, is to get the kids excited about music and playing rather than reading music. Mahesh told me he is firstly a harmonium player and then taught me a raga on the harmonium! cool.

Wednesday was a busy day with Aashansh and then I went to Gateway school for special needs. I normally go to Gateway on a Friday but this week it was a holiday for Holi….

On thursday I planned all the weekend sessions since I knew there was going to be some partying…

Friday – Holi festival! woke up to Laura phoning at 10am. leave now! so got to hers and oiled up! This is so colour doesn’t stick. Wear white and put phone, purse in plastic bag.

We left for Amogh’s to meet the others. It was a bright sunny day. We gathered and had a rum – felt like christmas day having a drink so early! We threw Colour, had a massive water fight and continued to drink rum and dance under the Indian sun all day

ahhhhhh just had the most beautifully amazing happy time. Loved it!!!

The next day I had a session with the music teachers from Muktangan and a session with the Dharavi Art room kids, who fancied trying on the keyboard bag for size…and modelling…..

They are really quick learners and keen to learn the instruments. Aqui says someone has donated a guitar to the art room – which is cool! Hopefully the concert at end of March will raise good funds and the music sessions will keep going!


Sunday I did the session at St Judes cancer rehabilitation unit. We did the parachute swamp plus other activities at the beginning. Then we got the percussion instruments out. A lot of the kids are amazing drummers! It was pretty loud from the moment we got out the instruments -the poor nurses and other workers were putting their hands over their ears. heehee. But for the kids, whacking a drum must feel pretty good if they’ve been cooked up getting treatment.

Aqui from Dharavi Art room was hosting a session for the women of Dharavi for international Woman’s day. After watching a couple of videos about women empowerment we did an activity in partners. We had to find out facts about our partner, favourite colour, hobbies, etc and why it feels so good to be a women. We then had to stand up and tell the group the facts we had learned about our partner and shout GO WOMEN after. hehe.


I was having trouble making my brain work but it was a good activity to break the ice. We then sang a Hindi song – Aqui taught and I played the chords, then the ladies had a try of the instruments. They are so funny, joking all the time – I had no idea what they were saying and they had no idea what I was saying but dancing about playing an instrument is an universally funny thing.

We had a snack and Aqui played some music from her laptop and we all had a mini boogie before the ladies left. I realised I had engulf my food like usual and the other women had saved theirs… to take home. One thing they do here – absolutely everyone does – is share their food. Its really nice. Nobody ever seems greedy, even when some must be so hungry. I’d like to be more like this.

Last sunday we made a Badmaash in Bombay in a yoga class !

Mumbai blog 7 – learning a lot by teaching, Kuljit, Jazz and Laura Doctor Dolittle

Laura’s back from her travels. I’m glad Laura is back!

Here is the latest Badmaash video – Juhu Beach. Laura wrote a really lovely tune and called it ‘Juhu beach’

On Wednesday at Aahshansh, I was trying out some new ideas to balance out the hyper activities. It worked! we’ll see for how long… but the kids were more relaxed. We pretended to go to sleep in the “In the Jungle” song which helped. When it came to dividing into groups to try the instruments they were more calm and shared more. We tried out a Swamp song with the parachute (two bits of material sewn together) – which worked too! I’m trying to include the older girls more, as sometimes they sit out. Neha loves the keyboard so I got her to play first and then show the others. Sangeeta sat out during the parachute activity, so I gave her the job of shouting out the numbers of the kids that had to run underneath. It a vulnerable time for the older girls at Aashansh as kids living on the streets can get easily involved in drugs etc, make some quick money and quit school.

Went to Bandra base (above) – a venue in Mumbai which is more like a living room with pillows on the floor. Saw some really nice jazz there from a New Zealand pianist, Steve Barry and his girlfriend, Jess Pollard – who had just the most amazing Jazzy soulful, creative voice! They were also joined by Ko Omura, a drummer from Japan.

Kuljit Bhrama happened to be in Mumbai this week ! I first met Kuljit during the ‘River of Music’ project at Uni. A collaboration between local Indian musicians and Scottish musicians. It was a lot of fun and so good to see Kuljit again. His friend Ameen took us on a tour of tasty places to eat. First stop was a tiny place selling the most fresh, tasty fish, called Jai Jawan on Linking road. We ate it off the bonnet of the car. We then crossed the Sea link onto Worli and stopped for a cup for Masala milk that had nuts in it and finished in a place for more curry about 12:30 midnight. The name I can’t remember…. I did have a couple of meetings with the toilet the next day but It was worth it.


At Gateway this week, Rimi and I planned to teach the kids something Scottish while I’m here. So i’ve been looking into activities based around the Selkie story. It’s been fun looking into different versions. I found one that wasn’t too morbid and told it to the kids this week. It made me appreciate story tellers – there’s an art in telling a story well ! – I’m not so good but the kids picked it up – Rimi gave me some tips after.

At Dharavi Art Room this week I walked into a serene room with lots of kids silently reading! They’ve got a little library in their space now. The kids love it!

Laura kept coming across a tiny kitten outside her flat. So decided to try and at least help it abit. She took it up to her flat, gave it a bath with a cloth, fed it milk and put some cream on its hurt ear. Then we put it back where it was. She said it was looking better the next day!

The kids at St Judes cancer rehabilitation unit were extra hyper this week. When I asked them to get in a circle – it resulted in them fighting to stand next to me – which happens with all teachers I guess – so I left the circle! We did a few songs, rhythm and movement games. They are enthusiastic to join in and quick to pick up the songs. There was a few sharing issues when it came to trying the instruments and sticking to their group. So, my mission for next week is to think of more calming activities that are still fun. I take a mini session with the younger ones afterwards so that they don’t feel left out. They are very cute. I found a few songs with actions and they were copying – melting my heart! Then they had a blast out on the keyboard – using fingers, arms, bums.