Euro trip and Return to Swarnabhoomi

Natalie News, Travelogue, Uncategorized Leave a Comment

Via a 3-day layover in Belgium, I have fled NYC to return to teach at the Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music outside of Chennai, India! Let me start this post by sharing a bit about the loveliness of my trip to Brussels.

I met Conor at Central Station, close to the centrally located and historically charming Bedford Hotel, immersing us in the city center.  Brussels is a city of many cultures diverging into a French aesthetic, not unlike Paris, but on a smaller scale. Walking down Rue Anspach feels oddly like Houston St. or SoMa in San Francisco. In the twisted streets tucked between the main boulevards, Conor and I just soaked up the café culture, lounging over espressos for hours and lingering in several adjacent areas around Grand Place. We were tourists in all essence, and we had a great time aimlessly wandering and indulging in the city’s offerings.

We found in the area of Saint-Géry an abundance of street art, in the style of Roy Lichtenstein, among many other styles of graffiti art.  We found young people, old people, and many friendly faces.  We had the first experience of sun warming our skin since we stood atop a mountain in Northern California in January. It was rejuvenating to say the least.  I fell in love with Brussels, a city designed for lovers to stroll in the park and take life in slo-mo.

Last Saturday, with a heavy heart, Conor and I said goodbye until July and I lugged myself and my effects to the Brussels airport. The flight from Brussels to Chennai, I had a pleasant surprise: the companionship of one bass faculty, Steve Zerlin. He was routed through Brussels as well, and armed with his laptop, we whittled the hours away looking through his photo albums of his trip through India after we parted at the end of last semester. His travels took him to Trivandrum (the very south of the sub-continent), Kodaikanal (the cool mountainous region of South India), and even Aizawl in the north east region of Mizoram (and in a few weeks I will get to visit this very town).

Our flight landed just before midnight. Disembarking, feeling that wretched heat and innundated with that familiar smell, wasn’t as jarring as it had been last October. I think Steve and I both felt like we had never left.

Almost the moment I returned to the campus at Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music, I was reminded exactly of why I returned to SAM.  There is a distinct fire in the heart of the students, a yearning to soak up as much music as possible. There is a thirst, a drive to elevate to higher levels. And I’m infected with that groove…

storm clouds looming over South Indian flowers

I sense a sea change in my mode of operation. All these years, I dont think I ever understood Thomas Edison’s meaning of: “Genius: one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.” As a younger woman, I had never resonated with that notion, and never related to it.

Returning to India couldn’t have come at a better time in my development as a musician and a human being.  I brought my trumpet, my ideas, and my passion for sharing my musical knowledge and my voice with others. Here at SAM, everyone is a student and everyone is an instructor. I can’t wait to share just what becomes of these 10 weeks.

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