Indian Saints, School Days and Blue Jeans
An Impromptu Lesson ~ Hope Project January 2016
The other day I was conducting singing class/rehearsal for the older girls of the Girls Non-Formal School in the Hope Project. This Project is based in the Nizamuddin Basti, inside of the vast city of Delhi. There are many ‘bastis’ (village communities) inside of Delhi. Many, many, many!
The Hope Project is located next to the ‘Dargah’ (tomb) of the Sufi Mystic, Hazrat Inayat Khan. He was a spiritual teacher and wonderful musician who brought the teachings of Spiritual Unity through Sufism to the Western World in the early 1900s. Every year, his ‘Urs,’ or the anniversary of his passing, is celebrated on Feb 5. The children in the projects around his Dargah give an enlivening performance, and the girls I work with in the Girls Non-Formal School at the Hope Project are part of this event.
This year the girls have learned one of my songs composed to the English words of the great woman saint from India, Anandamayi Ma. She lived until the mid 1970s and is still very well loved by people in different religious groups all over India.
“How much more time will you spend at a wayside inn?
Don’t you want to come home?
One is the wanderer, exile, and homecoming.
The universe is the realm of the Divine.
Great Mother of the World, deliver us home.
Don’t you want to come home?”
– Anandamayi Ma
In between practicing, we Take A Minute™ using the exercises I have developed, to energize and refresh the body and mind after sitting. We also talk about various things together, the girls and I. It is good to break up activities with different kinds of learning. Yesterday, I asked them about clothing they like to wear when school is over. In India all students wear uniforms to school. I asked them if they liked wearing jeans. Some were enthusiastic, “Yes!” eyes shining. Some said, “No,” shaking their heads, and telling me they liked the more traditional ‘suit’—the big pants with the long kurta, or Indian shirt.
I love fabric and the way we can use it to express our feelings with color, texture and shape. We started talking about jeans. It became an English, History, and Fashion lesson; English Conversation, which they study, and the history of jeans. Since Levis were first made in the city of my birth and life, and since my father was, for a time, a cowboy rancher, I found myself telling about how jeans were originally made for working men, and how their popularity had spread. I found myself telling about the World Wars and women in the West needing to change from dresses to pants, so they could work, when the men went to war.
It was an extremely interesting morning, and the song is sounding better and better!