Day 6 & 7 – India Blog

Day 6: Back to school

So on Monday we head back to KM college of Music and Technology. Adam who is the principal there introduced me to Nakul Krishna Murthy. Nakul has recently graduated from the academy and has a really interesting musical history. He is from a small town in Kerala and study Carnatic music from a young age as a singer. In the village he was exposed to only 4 western songs. These were Michael Jackson songs. Nakul then went to Chennai to study and explore other music and was totally surprised when he entered a world of heavy rock and the likes. But Nakul being Nakul took to it with aplomb and this year actually presented an installation piece in Berlin examining how we hear Carnatic music. And now in Mark Fell he has met his first artist who works in sound installation among other things of course. Nakul has become our guide to Chennai and food and music. So on Day 6 we get our first class on the basic principles of Carnatic systems. This is an extremely useful step inside the music. Classroom and white board, brilliant! Later that afternoon we go to listen to some village drummers who have come in to record for EarthSync. What a sound!

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Day 7: Demonetisation and the good banker

And back to money. What indeed is going on here in India is quite amazing to experience but maybe not in a good way. So to summarise quite simply, the government has taken out of circulation 1000 and 500 Rupee notes. The reason is to get people who have accumulated lots of cash and not deposited in banks and therefore not paid tax on it to declare this money. India has a huge cash economy. So what this means on the ground is that there is very little cash in ATMs and what is in them is the new 2000 rupee note which no-one can change as there is no change or at least very little. So what happened next is a tale of what can happen in such times of trouble. With impending travel coming up to Kerala and to rural areas I realised that I would need cash and this would be difficult to find. This morning I set off with the task of trying to get cash. After walking around and unsuccessfully locating a Thomas Cook outlet I decided to go into a bank and ask about exchanging some GBP currency. After the initial what the heck moments! The kindly bank manager took my case in hand. He would exchange £60 for 5000 rupees in change. Then I told him about my travels to Kerala and as he was from Trivandrum originally, which is in Kerala, decided he would help. He actually called two branches and explained I would be there and that they should help me with exchange. 5000 rupees is the maximum you can exchange in a week so in a week’s time I can do the same again. Small gestures like this are such a relief in our world in turmoil. Interestingly his take on demonetisation was slightly different than others.