I came across this group of performers in 2006 just outside the Kapaleeswarar Temple in Mylapore. Not sure what this called or where they are from but it was quite interesting. While balancing that thing on his head head also continued to pull that coloured ribbon from his mouth (stomach?) while the band played on. Some funky folk playing of thavil/nadaswaram. Among other things that the lady did were thread a needle through lime with her teeth as well as chop a banana from the mans mouth while blindfolded. Entertainment!!!

Chennai, Tamil Nadu, January 2006

Wow. Kathakali in action. An amazing artform which everyone should see (do some google searches on it). I was lucky enough to see this full performance which lasted from the evening until the sunrise, which is how the performances are traditionally done. Not sure what this particular story was depicting but it was enthralling all the same. Notice the footwork and rhythmic relationship. In the background you hear the piercing drums chenda, shuddha maddalam, edakkai and ekathalam as well as the unique vocal style of Kathakali.

Kottakkal, Kerala, March 2006

This was a site to behold. During the annual festival of this amazing temple, the God Kapaleeshwarar is taken out in this huge chariot (ther) and pulled by hundreds of devotees using a thick rope. Thousands of others also partake and the scene can be quite overwhelming (and hot). I chose to just stand on the side and try to not get bowled over. Big wheels and lots of noise.

Mylapore, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, April 2006

A bird's eye view of the momentum of the ther being pulled.

Mylapore, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, March 2008

Pronounced "catch-a-pear-ree", this is a wonderful place which is considered to be the footprint of the Goddess Tara. As such it is a sacred site for Buddhists. Thousands of prayer flags surround the lake as well as lush forests and serenity. I stayed here for a few days at a small guest house on a hill and met one of the most sincere people I have ever known. If you go here ask for Sonam.

Khecheopalri, Sikkim, April 2008

A clip of some classical dancing. The dance style, Bharatanatyam, is the most popular form of dance in South India and quite spectacular. This is just a short example of a highly rhythmic piece where the dancer precisely dances to the jatis (phrases) that the man in vocalizing, using syllables known as solkattu. The mridangam (drum) also plays along in sync. The dancer is Neeraja Srinivasan who also choreographed the movements as well.

Mylapore, Tamil Nadu, Chennai, January 2008

I have the space to put this here so why not!! More from Neeraja, this time dancing to a rhythmically sung piece called a thillana which uses solkattu as its main text.

Mylapore, Tamil Nadu, Chennai, January 2008

Came across this randomly one day while looking for a restaurant. Heard it first and then went looking. No idea what these drums are called or why they were playing but they sure were grooving. Similar folk drums and rhythms I have heard in Chennai as well and similar playing techniques also. Note the unique stick technique of the "snare" drummer.

Bangalore, Karnataka, India, January 2008

This performance was seen in a park in Mylapore as part of a massive art festival that took place in different parts of this city and had many groups from all over Tamil Nadu come and display their traditions, especially folk forms which don't get seen often. Again, I'm not sure what this is called or where from but it sure is funky. And funny as the "women" are actually men. Another great example of folk use of thavil and nadaswaram.

Mylapore, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, January 2008

A short grainy clip of people going from one train to another at train station in Calcutta. I tried not to get knocked over. India has over 1 billion people and here just a few of them.

Calcutta, Bengal, April 2008