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 !


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