Music under the Stars : when a plain summer evening transformed into something magical

So summers in Nagpur are terrible, trust me, I have lived here all my life! But still we didn’t want our April event to take place in a confined space. We knew we wanted an open space, a public park; and thinking about this decision now, I realize, had the event taken place in a comfortable closed space, it would have lost its essence.

Most of the times these days, we confine ourselves in boundaries that either others have made for us or we have made for ourselves. We hardly ever let go of our fears and inhibitions, instead, we become comfortable in them. With Music Under The Stars, we wanted to step outside of our boundaries and widen our horizons. Music, we thought, was the perfect way to do that.

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Musicians from different genres, performing together in a park, without any mics or sound system. This was the first crazy idea we got and we decided to work on it. There were points where we too felt that maybe this was impossible or maybe we are expecting a little too much. But since we had decided to shed all our inhibitions, these moments of doubt actually encouraged us. That is how the journey of Music Under The Stars began.

From there till the event day, we saw everything, from differences of opinions to random thunderstorms on a perfectly sunny day to sitting together all day long to make souvenirs for the attendees.

With this event,  we wanted to play around the therapeutic aspect of music rather than treating it as just another form of recreation. By keeping the event in a public park rather than a closed auditorium, we had already broken a mental barrier. But that wasn’t our sole aim behind having the event in a park, without any sound system; we wanted the attendees to try and differentiate between noise and sound. Attract the positivity and consciously make an attempt to stay away from the negativity.

An open space would automatically make people walk in with an open mind, open to a new and unusual experience. We knew this because we experienced this during rehearsals. It was almost magical to see how classical singers, sitar players, tabla players, a flutist, folk singers and a jazz singer, who were complete strangers to each other, easily bonded over music. This was the magic we wanted our audience to experience, music, in its most organic form.

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To accommodate all the different genres, we decided to explore the different shades of music and divided the event in four segments. Music for nature, Music from the roots, Music for worship and Music for hope. The first three segments saw individual performances from the artists.

We wanted to end the event with the message that as we learn to move forward in life, hope shouldn’t be left behind. For the last segment, all the artists came together to look for the hidden signs of hope in our troubled lives with Noor-e-Khuda.

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Around 150 people attended the event. Right from a curious 4 year-old girl to a 75 year-old grandpa. He loved the songs so much that at one point he got up, went near the stage and went live on Facebook.

The weather had unpredictable in Nagpur for a few days leading up to the event. But nature pulled one of her miraculous magic tricks. As soon as our last performance ended and people assembled in a shed, it started raining. Maybe, it was nature’s way of showing up at the event! 🙂

By Manali Kulkarni (Nagpur chapter)

Letters of love, taking on cancer – Nagpur

“We are all just a car crash, a diagnosis, an unexpected phone call, a newfound love, or a broken heart away from becoming a completely different person. How beautifully fragile are we that so many things can take but a moment to alter who we are for forever?”

-Samuel Decker Thompson

Isn’t it amazing how simply yet beautifully Thompson talks about the unpredictability of our lives? We never know how an event will impact our life and change it forever. Cancer is one such experience that can alter a person’s personality and make her/him a completely different person.

In the Nagpur edition of Letter Earthlings, we thought why not take cancer and try to change the way people look at it. We wrote letters to cancer survivors, cancer patients and to the families who have lost their loved ones to cancer. ‘Why not use our positive and kind words to heal and soothe a cancer survivor’ was our main idea behind organizing this event.

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We live in a world that is divided by race, class, gender, but in this divided world, kindness and hope hold us together. Cancer is a disease that has confused the entire world, and the world is fighting cancer together. The one common element we found in every cancer survivor’s story was their strength and their will power to beat the disease and come out of it stronger. We wanted to write letters to cancer survivors to salute their ‘never say die’ spirit.

Chemotherapy and radiation are treatments that take a toll on a patient not only physically, but also psychologically; in such a critical time, it means a world to have someone by your side, someone who will make you believe in your inner strength. Constant support and a few positive words can make a huge difference to someone who is going through so much pain.

We often hear people saying one must always follow her/his dreams, come what may, but not many of us actually have the guts to do it. One of the survivor stories we read went on to prove that if you are really passionate about something, nothing can stop you. This middle aged woman is battling breast cancer, her daughter, who had requested a letter, wrote, how her mother’s love for music helped her cope up with her chemo and radiation. Today her mother is a stage performer!

Another instance that was heartwarming, was watching a tiny 12 year old patiently writing as many letters as she could. The care, love and compassion with which she was penning down each letter and personalizing it, was really touching!

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The event that was a huge success, gave all of us a new perspective to look at this negative disease. Reading the stories of cancer patients and survivors made us realize that optimism, love and will power can move mountains! The positive outlook of these cancer patients made us reflect on how we unnecessarily crib about little things and blow them out of proportion.

In a world that is so self-centred, it was overwhelming to see so many people join us selflessly for a good cause. If there is one thing I’m sure everyone took home with them, it was a wider world vision. In this age of selfies, this event taught us to look beyond ourselves.