Sunday, September 19, 2004

Indian Music: Week 2

Rishi, one of my best friends from back in Minnesota is originally from Southern India. Although he is very much a part of the American society, it seems to me that there was about 10 percent of his life that none of us, although we were his friends, could really relate to. Some customs in his home were very foreign to us, such as his request that if we studied over at his house, he preferred it that we did not put our papers on the floor. He explained that papers and other academic resources were given almost holy status in India and that it would have made his parents nervous to have the books and papers on the floor where they could possibly be stepped on. I assure you that they had the most elaborate shelving and closets ever. Dr. Johnson talked about the newspaper, the Hindu, being at a whole different level in terms of reading difficulty and based on what I have seen, it really seems to be true that the Indian culture values education more than any other culture that I can think of. In music, we saw the same dedication to learning in their culture. The student will meet with their guru everyday and occasionally also live with them as a member of their family. This family connection also seems to be very important in the Indian culture. Rishi’s grandmother lived with them during the week and then went to live with his uncle for the weekends. That usually doesn’t happen in our society. Although he says it wasn’t a factor, I think that part of the reason that Rishi decided to attend MIT was due to the fact that his brother was attending MIT also and it was important to his parents that they be in the same area. There are many differences between the two cultures it seems and for me, it was really interesting to get to learn about the Indian culture in the form of music. We so often concentrate on just our music that we don’t always take enough time to see what we can learn from other cultures. The United States has been separated from the East by two large oceans for a long time, but as more people come here to from other countries, it is important to understand a bit of where they are coming from. Dr. Johnson – I don’t know if you read these blogs or not, but thank you for teaching this course and for making it very accessible to us.