Dreams, Schemes & Themes: Bob Dylan

Back at the farm again. That too, in the dryest season of the year, swiftly heading towards the hottest. The plants and trees all close up, introvert and shed all uneccessary actions, simply ravaged by thirst, not bothering to be green. A harsh, no nonsense beauty takes over. April is not the cruellest month, 'least not in Vardenahalli. March gets that honour. And February is coming up a close second.

This year, our Summer Camp theme is going to be Bob Dylan. His poetry, drawings, songs and art-making. Plus, as a tribute to his epic radio show - Theme Time Radio, we're launching the Infinite Souls Podcasts at Camp. We're listening to Theme Time Radio as I write, the "Weather" themed show with Ellen Barkin's whiskey voice talking the listener in. "It's nighttime in the Big City...somewhere a car alarm goes off. You're listening to Theme Time and here is your host, Bob Dylan." "Having fun in the old California sun..." drawls Bob, as he plays an off the cuff selection from Muddy Waters to Dean Martin, reciting poetry inbetween, evoking Chicago weather with "And the Wind Cries Mary". It's not for everyone, much like this introverted, barbaric weather, but is good for listeners who have time and the inclination for scabs and dry scrub.

Theatre Lab kids will record and broadcast live from Camp. Studio set up at our cottage. They'll use Theme Time Radio themes including "Flowers", "Mothers", "Fathers" and come up with content that feels relevant to them against the backdrop of Bangalore rural. But other themes will wash up as well, post Camp, for sure. This lot enjoy improvizing and creating new things. You can expect music for sure, but also poetry recitations, stories, discussions and interviews. These will be available as a regular feature on the Infinite Souls Farm and Artists Retreat blog.

Why are the horses circling the cottage? They're so weird, I cannoy figure Zara out in the slightest. One of the dogs is going to get kicked any minute now, probably by Anjali. The animals all hover in the shade or near water the whole time. So do we, retreating indoors to books and dreaming. Not kicking, at any rate. Kuki to his beloved Jim Corbett and me to Sue Townsend or Salim Ali or whatever is close at hand. There's wasp buzzing around with some anxiety, bashing against the white curtains, trying to find a way out.

The buffaloes look skeletal, giant hip bones pushing through through their hide. No amount of feed makes up for the loss of good grass grazing. While Kuki sat on the swing beneath the banyan on the path to the El, a black and white Holstein came running in. No idea who it belonged to. But after some chasing of it around the Gypsy, it found a gap in the fence and left. Deaf and mute Moogaiah has been hanging around near the kitchen. When he first saw me, he gestured 'moustache', 'bottle' and 'gone' to let me know that Thirpal had had a drinking jag and headed back to his village.

The only plants that get any watering this season are the vegetables as we need sackloads to see us through both April Camp & May Camp. Here's what will be ready: tomatoes, red amaranth, carrots, radish, ridge gourd, ladies finger, brinjal, green chillies, pumpkin. Drum sticks and drumstick greens are perennial. Should be enough goosberries to make some pickles. Hopefully enough sapotas, limes and mangoes to feed and water hordes of hungry children.

The rocks stand in acute relief against the leafless trees and bone dry mud. No scrub or grass to break their strong lines. There goes Zara, neighing outside my window again. It can't be water she wants...maybe Noorie and Anjali are in the paddock. That really makes her mad.

Vidu chikki's peepal tree near the Buddha has sprung new leaves, as has Sanjay Iyer's pink Tabebuia, Flo's temple flower. The banyans will soon be nothing but bare bones with carpets of crunchy leaves beneath. My one litchi tree looks a bit bereft. Maybe water here is not a bad idea. But everything else will just have to cope as this is a farm that will not pump water through the dry season. We just take it on the chin and await the rains.

I wonder what Bangalore kids today will make of Bob Dylan? The other day at class, a student was in tears because she said she felt she "just couldn't please everybody" even though she tried so hard. I played them Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 to make a point but then had to quickly put the chorus off before they got all excited about, well, you know what. And they would too, the little buggers.

April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only

A heap of broken images,

...where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water.

So long as no one plans to do any welding at Camp. I have no intentions of dealing with heat, masks and solder just so they get a taste of what Bob Dylan has recently been up to in his unending journey of creation. So, if anyone asks why Bob Dylan and not, for instance, Led Zepellein, here is why:

1. He kept jumping right out of boxes as he saw fit
2. He didn't bother justifying anything to fans or critics
3. He experimented and failed
3. His poetry is sublime
4. He ran a radio show and played other people's music
5. He has never stopped creating

Thus he is my perennial, eternal, forever-soul of choice.