Written by Joana, Bhimphedi’s children home volunteer.
One of the things that catched most my attention when I arrived to Balmandir was watching some of the kids running up and down the courtyard and playing a pair of ramshackled and out of tune blue guitars (nothing strange considering how much they use them!) Some of them were rubbing the strings frantically and moving their heads with a comic pose, others were more concentrated and practicing some of the chords that Àlex, one of the former volunteers, had taught them.
It is also so interesting to discover such a new musical context with very different rhythms, melodies, dances and languages: here they dance in a Bollywood style (or better, in a Kollywood style, the Nepali version of this Indian cinematographic industry), the singers hum in a high-pitched voice and the melodies and instrumentation sound so exotic. However, here they can’t escape from the occidental influence either and the own Nepali tunes are mixed and fused together with our Pop ones. Besides, while listening to the kids playlists one can find among Raju Lama, Sugam Pokhral or Anju Panta superhits some songs of Justin Bieber, One Direction or Shakira (they love the Waka waka song!)
Together with Marcel we fast decided with all these musical high spirits we should promote them. Therefore, Marcel keeps on with Àlex’s legacy teaching the kids how to play guitar and I, with some percussion instruments and flutes that I picked up before travelling to Nepal, I’ve started to introduce the kids to the mysterious language of music. Pentagrams, keys, notes, silences, tempo, crotchets, quavers… such a bunch of unknown concepts that the beginner musicians are assimilating bit by bit and with a lot of patience and effort. Ah! And don’t think this is only a children matter… Even Krishna, Balmandir’s center chief, has joined our little orchestra! If this experiment works out we will try to play some songs all together, let’s see how it ends up… We will keep you informed!
Meanwhile… we’ll go on enjoying our walks around the playground and the kitchen garden while we hear, as a background sound, how the guitar players in the bandstand improve day by day and are able to play the chords of their favourite Kollywood songs as they sing them with a melodramatic voice.