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Audio Travelogue, Kumbha Mela Project 2001
James R. Cobb III

James Cobb III india light graphic India Audio Travelogue, Kumbha Mela Project 2001:
      by James R. Cobb III.

Background -

Originally everyone on the team needed an assignment to help identify their role and to strengthen motivation and group camaraderie. I was to be the Scribe, interpreter of behavior and archivist of stories and incidents of wonder and disbelief. I did indeed keep a meticulous journal of observations and vexations, complete with little sketches and anecdotes of madness, sorrow and inexplicable joy. But my journal quickly became more personal and eccentric than a document for public consumption.

Fortunately, since I am primarily a composer, I was equipped with a minidisc for basic field recording and a microcassette for instant dictation of all my feelings from total exasperation to a bewildering assortment of melodramatic utterances.

What is contained in these short little vignettes are snippets of India combined with my own reactions and some post-production sound design. The larger trajectory of my personal journey from New Delhi to Allahabad to Varanasi to Bodh Gaya to Allahabad to New Delhi to Dharamsala to New Delhi is a different work than what is presented here. The Kumbha Mela was the reason we ventured to the Indian sub-continent and once there, Mother India did her best to protect us while ripping our precious assumptions to shreds. What began as an adventure turned into a pilgrimage. My eternal gratitude to David, Doug and Alex for being strong brothers and comrades on a most enlightening journey.


    India Audio Travelogue

  • Dog Symphony (5:30) - MP3 Audio File
    Midnight in Bodh Gaya, birthplace of the Dharma and Buddha's enlightenment. The dogs howl and everything is mantra. In the refugee camps, the tent restaurants serve the finest momo soups.
  • Blind Boy Alms (6:15) - MP3 Audio File
    On a train to Bodh Gaya in the state of Bihar where the hill bandits are notorious and said to be dangerous, a blind boy begs alms while moving through the crowded aisles among the chai merchants.
  • Mother India (2:30) - MP3 Audio File
    Some say she is the water from the Source, filtered through the hair of Shiva and now the purifying nectar of the Ganges. I believe she is the grace that allows strangers to conquer fear and survive.
  • Temple Chimes (4:30) - MP3 Audio File
    Some call it Dharamsala but it is really McLeod Ganj where the Dalai Lama resides in his palace compound guarded by Indian Special Forces. The monks who live in the surrounding monasteries are surprisingly naughty and must be told to be quiet so one can get some sleep.
  • Young Monks (5:30) - MP3 Audio File
    Children are systematically trained in the chants and traditions of the dharma lineages. These young boys in their ochre robes sing and when the singing is done explode into the narrow streets of this mountain village to play before the senior monks can lasso them back into class.

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