Reunion, Part 2
The fire dance follows. A woman and one of the girls, perhaps Ramudi's daughter, each light the top of a metal bowl on fire, which they balance on rings of cloth on their heads.
They move about with the music, then place the bowls on the ground and bend far over backwards, allowing the flames to caress their undulating forms.
A broad-faced man with a thick, bushy beard, wearing a rainbow-colored turban, a white robe and a vest, comes over with a harmonium and joins the musicians.
What a smile!
A harmonium is a small version of a pump organ that is played with one hand, while the other hand pumps the rear board in and out accordion style to give voice to the notes. He seats himself with the other musicians, and the music continues with a vigorous beat and the soothing, indistinct yet melodious strains of the harmonium. He sings with the music, lyrics which the crowd follows. They punctuate his tale with whoops of encouragement, nods of agreement, and knowing acknowledgements.
As the last strains of the last song trail off, Ramudi and her friends, with conspiratorial smiles, bring Ginny and Alyse into their house. They emerge decked out in beautiful dresses, makeup and each with a bindhi dot in the center of her forehead representing the third eye.
Alyse wears an intricate bead necklace, like many of the Sapera women. Ramudi's daughter and her friend paint Ginny and Alyse's fingernails bright red.
The cultural interchange continues as the men dress me up in a lightweight, yellow long-sleeved cotton shirt, a white dhoti and a red dot on my third eye. In return, I give them my t-shirt and my blue jeans. Lightweight long-sleeved cotton shirts and pants are common in India to beat the heat. A dhoti is a long piece of material, like a very thin sheet that measures three yards by a yard. Many Indian men wear dhotis instead of pants.
They demonstrate the complex method for wrapping a dhoti about your legs, but I forget it almost immediately.
The opposite of the peacock, men's outfits are usually much more sedate than women's, and my yellow shirt and white dhoti are outshined alongside Ginny and Alyse's brilliant dresses, makeup and jewelry.