Summer’s last gasp

Hands up if you didn’t write a blog post because the weather was so glorious over the weekend. You too, huh?

There have been journeys, mostly out to see bands. Judging from those bands – The Wagons, Little John and Sonny & the Sunsets – I’d say the over-riding theme of my week was lush vocal harmonies driven by the last sweet breath of summer. Have a little listen to Sonny & the Sunsets and tell me this doesn’t sound like summer waving goodbye. You can just see it turning up its collar as autumn blows gently on its neck.

Turbans were my other theme for the week. It all started in Hobart (see previous post) at a new restaurant where the staff were swamped, service was slow and one of my companions was starving. Urgent distraction was required lest my friend attempt to eat one of my arms. (They’re not above a bit of cannibalism in Tasmania.) I noticed a diner at another table was wearing a turban – not the full desert-type turban but one of those elegant 1920s types. ‘So,’ I said to my male companions. ‘Do you think you’d be better able to carry off a turban, or a cape?’ We agreed that only vampires and superheroes can get away with capes, so by default we’d be more likely to rock a turban.

I thought about turbans again yesterday when I was cleaning the house before heading out into the sunshine. I was listening to a CD of the band Tinariwen. Now there’s a band who can rock a turban. But they’re desert-dwellers from Mali, so they’ve had some practice – and it’s easier to not look affected in a turban if it’s keeping your brain from frying in 50 degree heat. Tinariwen play a hypnotic rhythmic blues featuring electric guitar, chanting vocals and hand claps. Listening to them reminded me of stumbling upon their performance at one of the smaller stages at WOMAD and being completely mesmerized by their music, their sway and their dress – layers of soft cotton to keep out the heat and dust. As I was listening to the CD, I was pulled in to the rhythm and soon enough was dancing around the living room, my cleaning forgotten. Ah well, you know what they say…Dirty House, Fun Times.

I danced right back to a memory of dancing with a woman from one of the desert tribes of Rajasthan, India. I had gone with friends to Pushkar, where every year, at full moon in November, Rajasthan’s desert people come to trade livestock and entertain/harass tourists at the Camel Fair. We had found a great room to rent, with a rooftop where we would sit at sunset and watch the teeming mass of people in the street below. The men wore turbans of bright primary colours – pinks, blues, acid greens – and the women wore saris in the same lurid shades. Seen from the rooftop above, the turbans and saris moved along the street in an endless kaleidoscopic of swirling colour. I thought about the two Rajasthani desert women I’d sat opposite while on a ferris wheel at the crazy circus/carnival that came to town for the fair. The women had giggled and screamed as we lurched into the air – and continued to scream and giggle throughout the ride, occasionally leaning forward to give my friend and I happy punches in the arms. These desert gypsy women have considerable biceps from carrying pitchers of water for miles. Every time they leaned forward to punch us, my friend and I also screamed and giggled, with nerves and anticipation of pain.

This week I’ve travelled from the contemporary/retro Californian beach sounds of Sonny & the Sunsets to the desert folk of Rajasthan, surfing that summer wave until it’s a mere mirage disappearing into the dunes…those dunes that are, in fact, the drawers containing my winter woollies and the cupboard containing the heater.  Well, hello there autumn. Didn’t think I’d be seeing you again so soon.

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