Romancing the desert - Maati Baani's trip to Barmer for Kabir Yatra!

The biggest perk of being a performing musician is to travel to places never imagined and to experience a different culture by being a part of it!

It's great to travel to cities, foreign countries and hill-stations but when you travel to remote villages which are not the regular venues for a live concert,

it can either be a great or a hopeless experience.

For us it was the former, we had some of the best times of our lives exploring the inroads of Barmer and we thank Gopal Singh and a wonderful team of volunteers of Kabir Yatra for this unforgettable experience!

The venues that we had to perform were Gadra Road and Chouthan. Don't get confused by 'road' - the village name is Gadra Road!

Gadra road was 4 hrs away from Sanchal Fort hotel where we were put up. We were told it was a village at the border of India and Pakistan and that the commute from the hotel to Gadra road promises beautiful locations including a temple, a pond with migratory birds and a palace of historical importance. In a certain era, an invader chopped of the heads of the people living in that village and that the locales have made headless statues in remembrance of this event.

We had to reach the venue for the sound check, so we couldnt take a detour of even a km to see the pond but we saw the old temple from a distance.

We reached at the spot which led to the temple and all of us were glad that we could at least cover one sight seeing spot. As we moved towards the gate, we saw endless steps going up.

So, we did self-worship by taking some selfies and pictures with the steps behind and a gorgeous sunset. However, we could distinctly hear the winds and the language of the desert as we stood there taking pictures!

We reached the venue of our performance and we were greeted with curious eyes and giggling children. India is so uniquely beautiful in Her villages!

Innocence and warmth are the two attributes that anyone would feel! Gadra road being village, we didnt expect a proper green room and back stage facilities.

School rooms were our green rooms and it reminded me of the school shows that we did as kids!

Each one of us in the band could feel the high of being at the India Pakistan border - we were just 600 metres away from Pakistan. Also, interestingly the train from India and Pakistan travels from this village from western India. We performed to an audience who knew all our songs; Banjara, Hiye Kaaya and many more! Mooralala is the Ed Sheeran of villages, no exaggeration!

And the laddoos of Gadra Road- the thought of it's taste wants me to go back right now! If you are reading this blog till here, its for a higher purpose! To gorge the laddos of Gadra road.

On our way back from the venue to the hotel, we stopped in the middle of the desert- we looked up at the clear black sky full of stars, heard the desert silence and felt the breeze. We just didn't want to move from there as we had forgotten when we experienced this kind of silence last in the cities-

till some from the band mentioned ghosts!

At Sanchal Fort, we recorded a beautiful song with a fantastic Manganiyar singer -Bhutta Khan ! His name translates to Brinjal :)))!!!

The owner of the hotel extended all the help for us to shoot at the hotel.

A grand structure that reflects the architecture of Rajasthan, Sanchal Fort became a perfect location for the song we selected to record and shoot!

Really, cant wait to share the song, its one of the most exciting folk song ever that we have covered!

The second day we performed at Chouthan. Chouthan was relatively closer to big cities and hence, it was not as different as Gadra. It felt like a small town with people used to seeing people from the cities!

We had a lovely audience. Police Dept of Rajasthan were also one of the presenters of Kabir and this allowed us to hang out with the police force.

Going to these villages, we came to realise that this is also our audience, they love the folk songs that we make and expressed their admiration for the efforts that we put in to present the Rajasthani songs. It was surprising and heart warming at the same.

the Police Dept did a wonderful job by protecting the luggage of all the yatris while they enjoyed the concerts.

Coming to the Yatris, these are the people who leave the comforts of a luxurious vaction to experience the joys of a village life.

Trust me, its not easy to travel in a real yatra. But it's Gopalji vision who made sure that the essence of the yatra remains intact and hence we did observe a lot of togetherness, sharing, caring - in short

immersive experience of village life and not just be another tourist!

Our roadtrips from one village to the other were marked by some interesting convesations with our driver. From honor killings ( which is very much rampant in this area :/) , to ghosts and politics of Rajasthan which is mainly predominated by casteism and

having food at the dhabas serving yummiest food. Oh yeah, also Padmavati.

through the Kabir Yatra, we got to speak to people from different foundations doing great work for the betterment of villagers, the yatris and a lot of folk artistes like Gavra Devi!

We are waiting to going back to another village soon to perform!

Our next Kabir Vaani performance is in Varanasi for Mahindra Kabira Festival on 12th Nov at Assi Ghat.

'Aisi Baani Boliye Mann Ka Aapa Khoye,

Apna mann sheetal kare auran ko sukh hoye....'


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