Creative Encounters: Year 2, Chapter 2, Part 4

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by Henry Montes, Dance Maker

I am writing this from Delhi where I arrived this morning. I went to the old market of Chandni Chowk and was both overwhelmed and delighted by the narrow streets filled with densely filled shops of spices, fabrics, jewellery, incense wafting, intermeshed with the hustle and bustle of work-ers with great heaves on their shoulders, rickshaw drivers and motorcyclists, pedestrians all making their way through what at first seemed like complete and utter chaos but on closer inspection re-vealed something deeper. One noticed that the honking and the yelling and the animals skirting by were all details of an intricate greater whole which would fall asunder without their synchronous col-laboration, everyone looking after each other in order for it to absolutely work. I bring this up be-cause of a note i took for the session on 13th February which reads “the more absurd the discon-nection the more it connects to what is going on”.

As I was sharing a long piece of silken yellow material with C she went on about it’s loveliness, bringing her face to it and reminiscing on how she was always attracted to odd things as a child. This led to a conversation on bones and her fascination with them. We then began to touch each others hands and Lucy S. joined us as C continued elaborating on the histories relayed deep in the bones of those who have lived long. This impressing of hands and fingers and its deeper framework went back and forth in its presentness, an isolated happening amongst the sounds and activities in the room. Yet its inception could be traced to the start of the session when some of the group of-fered hand squeezing in response to persons shaking hands as they entered the room, which then transformed into throwing kisses, the hands further assisting the flight of the kisses across to some-one in the circle.

I sat between L and Ch on the floor. L would frequently retreat into asking for her mum. Beside me were a bunch of images of spectacular landscapes which I would lift before us, one by one, de-scribing what I liked about its particularity in terms of colour, texture or what it evoked in me in the hope of coaxing a dialogue. During these exchanges L would draw herself out deeply in her reflec-tive response to state what she liked, what she liked less and why this was so. L would then include Ch in our exchanges who was both lively and expressive. These lines of connection, our words, are they then not simply bridges to one another? Or is it the bodily sensations and memories behind them which allow them to anchor? In the silence that followed, as Ch transitions her attention away from us and to the group, L shifts hers deeply within again asking for her mom.

The symbolism of the arch as a gateway to the greater in the mosques I have been visiting here in Delhi has not been lost on me, but more felt is the symbolism of connection across what may divide us. And it is in those small tender moments of togetherness that bridge our common humanity and frailty which gives meaning to being here.