I’m in my hotel room in DC the night before our Fulbright training begins, listening to a concert of Bhimsen Joshi in Pune from the 90s on YouTube.
It is always a catharsis for me to listen to Indian classical music — I know just enough about it to form a basis for thorough enjoyment, and yet I know so little about it that I don’t listen with the critical attitude that I might to western classical music. It’s very liberating at this stage to just enjoy, knowing that there is so much I don’t know, but also to know that soon I will begin to hear the subtleties that I now miss, and that I will begin to form a whole different relationship with this art that has already won my heart.
I think about it from the western perspective, too: so many times after a concert, I have heard non-musicians say, “I don’t really understand it, but I definitely enjoyed it!” And I always respond with the thought that understanding does not necessarily precede enjoyment — it sometimes adds to it, but even then, not always. Enjoyment is an experience by itself: it requires no validation. So on the other hand, I’d like to believe the same is true for me with Indian classical music: that whatever I learn, the enjoyment is its own experience.
Fulbright Pre-Departure Orientation starts tomorrow. I am really excited to meet all the other people and hear about their projects. I can’t even imagine what a diverse array of topics might draw people to a year of study in India, but I can’t wait to find out!
Also, I think I might finally have an affiliation! And maybe even a subletter for my New Haven apartment! Things are simmering along.