Rip van Winkel would probably have his work cut out with me … I mean, maintaining his reputation and the legend of the man who falls asleep and wakes up twenty years later to find out the world has changed … he sure has competition from me …
So we see this band appear on local TV …
The lead singer must be American Indian, no maybe Texan Mexican American like my dear friend Daniel, writer and poet … he is an old new friend, if you know what I mean, we have never yet met, but that is the funny thing with online poetry communities – you get to know the souls of the members through their words, as if you have known them ever since your early days.
I am fired up by this band I see, one of the other two of the three is of African American lineage, I say.
And the last of the trio, why, that is a no-brainer, she is pure Country …
A fusion of so much cultural DNA and the mix is great.
It can be amazing what comes up in these journeys of DNA … if you are offspring of immigrants you will have you own stories to tell about this no doubt.
My parents came out to South Africa knowing not a word of English!
Fortunately for them, the little town on the South Coast, Umkomaas, grew two fold by the influx of these skilled artisans from Italy and for a while Italian was the work place language as what is now the largest factory of its kind in the world arose out of the flat alluvial land astride the mighty river that gives the town its name.
For a while they could get away with Italian only – in their expressive and passionate Italian!
And in time, all these Italians could even break into English – in their expressive passionate broken English … !
To this day, at 94, after sixty years in the country, my father’s English remains broken – and absolutely delightful!
It is as if he decided he will always pronounce English words using the Italian alphabet, no matter what.
Even if there is no J, no K and not even W in Italian … although in his regional language, one of the official languages of the European Union, with its two million or so speakers, Js and the Afrikaans kappetjies abound as an anomaly.
This band reminds of the richness of colour that can manifest when Diversity weaves its Tapestry …
Back in Umkomaas, before the Italians, was the richness of the descendants of the indentured labour from the Sub-continent that came out to South Africa in the 1850s or whatever to work the sugar cane fields.
The marvelous culture of the Sub-continent is a richness in South Africa, four or five or more millennia of civilization reached our shores, a civilization stretching back all the way to the early Jains who gently swept the insects out of the way in front of them so that they would not take life as they walked, to the Buddha, to the multi-faceted colorful rituals of the Hindus, to Gandhi himself … who by the way figured out the beginning of his non-violent political philosophy here in South Africa as a young lawyer after he got kicked off a ‘whites only’ carriage of a train …
And Durban is not only the invention capital of bunnychow, but also the largest Indian city outside of India!
Which reminds me of another TV program I saw some years ago, a Miss India pageant, but amazingly it was taking place in Durban!
A huge hall and dazzling decorations, that Durban Indian accent just too fantastic … I could feel the pride stir inside of me, we had a wonderful Indian family as our neighbours for two decades, and I still see them as an informal part of my extended family.
Once I said to an Indian friend of mine, after watching all the noise, chaos and confusion in Monsoon Wedding, you know, I have figured it out … Indians are the Italians of the East, and we are the Indians of the West. She smiled …
Years back, I was up in the village in Italy where my surname comes from, my first visit there, a beautiful September evening, serene, heaven on earth.
Suddenly at a fountain I saw an Indian child … goodness gracious, how incredible, up here in these mountains, rising to the Alps, so far from everywhere else!?
He was sipping the fresh mountain water that was bubbling out of a spout, and I knew, I just knew, with all the Naidoos, Reddys and Govenders from Umkomaas, Life would have him be one of these.
Come ti chiami (what is your name): I asked him, knowing I would be so,so right.
Kiriam! In his sing song voice came the reply.
Oh yes, Kiriam, I have you in my Serendipity Sights, your first name is going in the right direction.
My parental line, Rigotti, is from here, from the late 1400s, it is all in the church records.
And I find an Indian child here after having grown up with them in a world far, far away.
Wow … !
So I asked: Kiriam chi? preparing for the inevitable serendipitous Naidoo, Reddy or even Govender.
Kiriam … Rigotti!
Okay, stunned I was so wrong – but even so much more serendipitous-ly right, don’t you think?
Anyway, getting back to the beauty pageant, right here in Durban, South Africa, a nation of a billion people from across the Indian Ocean was having its national beauty pageant on the shores of a country that its people had come to.
I just could not believe it … !
And then – when the Master Of Ceremony wished us all good bye from … Montreal – well, I just could not believe that either!
Ah, so the Indian accent in English is the same the world over – just like Italians speaking English sound the same the whole world over, be it Sydney, Melbourne or Montreal.
That is a richness of delight – and it belongs to all of us on this planet … !
Italians and Indians must maintain their accents when they speak in English … who cannot have a joyful smile spread on their face on hearing them, it is like a cheerful sun rising in the morning and reassuring us all that it will be fine, everything will be fine, just fine.
Now these three girls with their amazing music, a sort of country that has fused into much more, so lovely, so sentimental, all that DNA that came in from everywhere.
I should really ask Daniel about them I thought.
The lead singer is definitely Texan Mexican American, the other one African American, a very slender Mariah Carey look alike sort of (maybe only sort of-ish but as lovely) and perhaps in the third is a touch of Ireland too, it is the red hair, okay you never know with women’s hair but that red on her looks genuine …
Blackbyrd is their name, I see that now …
But instead of Houston or even San Antonio – good heavens! – they are from here, my very own Cape Town …