Beating the blues away | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Beating the blues away

mumbai Updated: Feb 04, 2013 02:05 IST
Pankti Mehta

Once a month, 72-year-old Raymond Albuquerque can be found at Bandra's seaside Carter Road promenade, bobbing his head to the rhythm of his hands as he beats an African djembe.

This retired marketing executive never misses a meeting of the Mumbai Drum Circle.

The two-hour monthly event is free and open to all. Regulars include a mother-daughter pair aged 52 and 13, assorted youngsters and a surprisingly large share of senior citizens.

Most have little, if any, experience of playing an instrument. They just bring along anything they want to beat to a rhythm - from a borrowed dhol or djembe to just a bowl and spoon.

"One man brought a wooden frog-shaped showpiece that he had at home, and a small stick," says a laughing Bala Sethi, 52, one of the circle's regulars.

"It made a wonderful, acoustic clickety sound."

By definition, a drum circle is any group that comes together to play percussion instruments in a circle. This Mumbai chapter is organised by 27-year-old Aarti Sinha, a music therapist who decided that the city, with all its everyday stresses, needed a platform where citizens could meet, beat, de-stress and leave a little happier.

Sinha started hosting these events in June 2011, usually at Carter Road, and describes the response as overwhelming.

In addition to a Facebook group with more than 300 members, she has a set of loyal 'regulars' who never miss an event.

"In the monsoon months, it wasn't possible to hold sessions at Carter Road, since it's open-air," says Sinha. "But our regulars were so keen to not miss a month that I scouted for alternative locations and we eventually held our sessions in a classroom and a yoga studio."

Sinha's drum circles see anywhere between 20 and 50 participants each month, with people walking along the promenade sometimes joining in. People also bring wind instruments such as flutes and didgeridoos so they can play a melody to accompany the drumbeat.

"Initially, some of the people who are regulars now were scared to start playing because they had never done anything like this," says Sinha.

"But once they started to let themselves loose and realised that they were playing in the safety of a crowd, they allowed themselves to be immersed in the beat. A lot of them now have their own percussion instruments."