The sweet fragrance of wax wafted through the air, mingling with the smoke as it drifted up into the faded yellow sky. Everywhere pinpricks of light cut through the black: distant city lights, the delicate specks of fairy lights and the dazzling dances of flames flickering from 8,000 torches. The streets were on fire. Continue reading “Edinburgh Torch Procession: Hogmanay”
From my side a winding creature fixed to the staff in my hand rose to peer over the masses. Glancing left then scanning to the right its small drum heart pattered as the weighted strings spun out and pelted its surface. The sound of rain droplets bouncing off a tin pot radiated from the dragon’s sway. It bobbed through a 360-degree turn then shook its head and zipped down to my side once more.
Overhead a river of dreams twinkled as it receded into the black of night. Thousands of sparkles, each a hope and blessing, floated upward and onward. Like soft but determined little beings these messengers hurried on, carried aloft by the feelings of those who lit them, by fires as bright as the human spirit.
Being a Canadian and a small-town-girl I had never been among so many people in such close proximity in my life. I’m not tall by Canadian standards and stand maybe an inch or two over the native Thai but the crowd was filled with people of all heights and my sight was met with a wall of flesh. My old friend and two newly met friends (one from Iran who’d been living in Bangkok for 3 years and one from the UK who was backpacking through) had the advantage of height and casually gazed over the gathered heads.
The shade was creeping over my body, bringing a cool blanket over my hot skin. I yanked my cap up to replace the hot air around my head with colder fresh air. It was a habit I’d continue throughout the day as the sunlight became hotter and the sweet delicious shade became scarcer. I wiggled on the curb trying to get some feeling back after sitting on the pavement for over an hour. Though a solitary figure from the Declercq clan, I was far from alone. Around me people gossiped and greeted each other from their lawn chairs and blankets. Ever few seconds a cheerful cry went up as someone recognized another whom they hadn’t seen in months or weeks or years. A small child at my side turned to her mother and asked in a voice I could fondly recall from my own youth, “mom, when’s the parade starting?” The youngster settled back with a huff when the answer was ten minutes, which as we all know is a decade in a child’s time frame.
After ten restless minutes the sight of three Royal Canadian Mounted Police leading the parade around the corner erased all tension from waiting. The parents gave a gasp of relief and settled back to watch their children sprint back and forth with candy. The parade had begun and so had the Canadian celebration. Continue reading “Canada Day: July 1st”
They looked so sterile, so cold. Silver cylinders. That’s all they were.
But when the two musicians standing before the crowd struck their first notes these pans transformed before my eyes. The musicians caused a waterfall of pearling, perky, upbeat sounds to bounce from their drums. Like delighted rubber raindrops falling on a steel roof combined with the purest moment in the sound of a steel pipe falling on the cement or on top of another steel pipe. I suddenly saw in my mind’s eye sunshine, palm trees and tranquil blue waters. Maybe it was because I’ve often heard this instrument in movies associated with warm places and the ocean. Continue reading “World Music Celebration: March 21st”
Glittering shoes lay abandoned in a path to the dance floor. The children were moving to a quicker tempo within the music. Their hands, shoulders and legs drumming out the fast beat. The slower grace of the elder women tempered the speed of youth. But every now and then an older women would catch the tail of the fast rhythm and she’d spin across the floor. With a lighthearted touch a nearby friend would be bit by the contagious vigor.
Within the chaos of individual rhythms orbits formed. The dancers moved around imaginary fires. In India, the celebration would include bonfires, so maybe this was a result of memory–the elder women remembering years of friends, family and strangers dancing as fluid and darting as the flickering flames. The children, with little or no memory of the event in India clustered rather than spun, but in time began to flow like tiny spiral galaxies. Continue reading “Lohri: Indian Bonfire Festival”