Travels with minstrels
review by Maryom
The Bauls with their particular blend of music and mysticism are traditionally itinerant musicians of Bengal living on the alms given by the villages they pass through - hence their name of honey gatherers. Theirs is a life style under threat in modern, increasingly urban India.
This book follows Mimlu Sen's discovery of them and their culture. Born and raised in India, after a period of political activity including time spent in prison she left home first for London, then Paris where she lived for several years and her two children were born. Strangely it was in this city on the opposite side of the world that she discovered the music of the Bauls, and her future partner, Paban Das Baul, at a concert. Instantly attracted to them, she gave up her Parisian life and moved back to India. She tells of travelling with the Baul singers and musicians throughout Bengal, hitching lifts, balancing on the top of trains, joining them at festivals and melas and eventually setting up home with Paban Das Baul and trying to find a way to bring their differing life styles together.
This was a more personal account than I had expected and I felt the author assumed the reader to have more knowledge of Indian music and customs than I have, but nevertheless a really interesting book, capturing the sights and sounds of Bengal and its people.
Maryom's review - 3.5 stars
Publisher - Rider
Genre - Adult Non-Fiction
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