I need someone to pinch me. The last two days were so amazing that I am not sure that it wasn’t all a delicious dream.
On Friday, with friends from Jodhpur, we loaded up and headed off to the Sufi Music Festival in Nagaur, Rajasthan. I had no clue what to expect. I had signed on to go with them a few weeks back, when invited, and had not thought once about it since.
We arrived to Nagaur around 7 PM and the evening program was beginning at 7:30. We quickly went to our “rooms” for a freshen up. Accommodations (unless you were royalty or a celebrity) were traditional desert sleeping tents. Yes, the very same that Gypsy Faire Tents designs and sells. Yes, these tents were the original inspiration to the company 🙂
As we walked into the gates of the fort, my heartbeat quickened and my eyes became saucers. There were literally thousands of terra-cotta candles lighting the paths, the buildings, the staircases and the wall niches. The soft flickering glow illuminated the ancient buildings and transported us back hundreds of years. A lovely cocktail hour was in full swing and the crowd was a sophisticated culture seeking lot that easily represented 15 countries and all walks of life including musicians, art historians, journalists, the Royal Family of Jodhpur, conservationists, Sufi music groupies and furniture designers. 😉
We gathered on big floor cushions in front of an outdoor stage and spent the next two hours listening to the amazing songs of Zila Khan. Zila is the first woman Sufi artist. It was like nothing I had ever heard, uh I mean that literally as this was my first exposure to Sufi music.
Dinner on an outside terrace followed at 10:30 PM (early for Indians). The air was filled with the aromas of grilled lamb, tandoori garlic butter naan bread, saffron curry and cardamom spiced chai tea.
Dinner was followed by a midnight concert from a traditional Rajasthani tribal group. Beautiful. Haunting. Energetic and an experience of a lifetime. We festival goers amounted to roughly only 75 people so it was intimate and very personal. The musicians were seated inside an outdoor courtyard called the palace of lights. Floor to ceiling the walls were tiny niches filled with candles. There are no words. We sipped wine and listened to the sounds of Rajasthan until nearly 3am.
Saturday morning came all too soon and by 10am it was far too hot in the desert to remain in the tent. Feeling hung over, tired and hot I decided to take the fort tour in the sweltering sun. By lunch, we (she made some friends the night before) were taking shelter in one of the open air lounge tents, having a shandy and filling the hours with girl talk. 6 women representing NYC, Kabul, Dubai, New Delhi, Mumbai and Jodhpur in the fields of journalism, design, banking and royalty shared laughs and stories of travel, work and yes, men. :0
By 5, the heat was going and we toured a Muslim mosque (where I made a wish upon an ancient tree). If the wish comes true you are meant to return and take off the wish (a tied piece of string). I had forgotten my wrap, must have been the heat or the hangover, and the “mosque man” gave me a plastic yellow kufie to wear. Could it be the next look for me?
Saturday evening was just insane. At 6:30 there was a traditional Rajasthani dance near the tented camp. That was followed by puja at the fort temple. Cocktails hour entertainment was an out of this world dance performance called the Dervish. Thinking about this as my next Halloween costume! 🙂
The concert was a Sufi group from Jordan that were incredible. They “jammed” for the final few songs with an Indian Sufi group. They would go back and forth like battle of the sufi bands! We dined under an almost full moon around 11 and then had another local tribal group perform until 1. The night could not have been more perfect if even say, Sting were there. Oh yeah – he was! Yup, Sting and Trudy attended the festival. Big Sufi Fan – who knew? I sat beside them during the Saturday concert. Just sayin’
We ended the evening last night by an impromptu performance by …no not Sting, you can relax your heartbeat. We were all hoping though! A performance by Jackson. Twenty something. Spanish. Hot. Plays guitar. Yeah, I stayed til 3. Which is why I wanted to go to bed at 7 tonight. Alas, the Maharajkumri is having a little get together and I was invited. Off to a royal palace I go.
Today started HOLI! Tomorrow will be absolute insanity. Can’t wait to be covered in pink paint!