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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Batizado 2010

I have to begin by saying I am envious of the Batizados’ I missed but I am grateful for the milestones I am about to cover from here on as a permanent fixture of CDO India which has grown on me like oxygen n food n beer n forro n atabaque n music n roda… everything. I went from a completely unknown and awkward entity at the Khar class to someone people had confidence in and accepted soon enough. My 1st Batizado feeling transitioned from an ‘oh alright a belt ceremony’ to ‘dear lord I have soooo much to do’.

It was last year 2010. Baba started warming us up to having I. Pinoquio, CM Cueca and M. Esquilo for our workshops. He spoke very fondly of Pinoquio as an extraordinary capoeirista, energetic and like a fireball with incredible experience since he joined capoeira at a young age; CM Cueca as his teacher, someone he looked up to and was very honored to have here with us. Honestly I don’t recall much about M. Esquilo but a safe bet would be Saci Lua Cheia (walking encyclopedia on M. Esquilo). Khar class immediately became an overcrowded venue. I was a bit annoyed at 1st at seeing so many people just loitering about taking up space but soon enough the tempo was set. Cabeca (Parikshit) was introduced to us as the Bimba sequence instructor (I laugh now because finally I know the meaning of Bimba). He always called out to us “All my Bimbas come here”… a joke he enjoyed secretly until our ‘early’ realization. I have to say my 1st impression of Cabeca was ‘very strict’. He had an air of authority about him but someone who had incredible knowledge on capoeira. Not only did he patiently teach us each and every one of the 8 sequences he went on to explain the nuances of WHY a kick comes from the left or right, why that esquiva and why a move here and there. He timed us, grilled us, drilled us, killed us… I loved it. We met outside in the park on off days to practice the 8 sequences in pitch darkness but Cabeca made it a point to be there whether it was 1 of us or all 8-10 pairs. There was a sense of friendly competition as we stayed glued to our partners and wanted to excel. Danceira :D was my partner and we practiced in her compound, on the club house roof, in the club house and everywhere. Apart from the Bimba sequences there were other groups of Bimba throws and Bimba take downs involving advanced students. Everyone trained intensely through November and December. I met many of the old students and bonded with them. It’s incredible how ‘at home’ you feel once you walk through the doors even after a prolonged absence.

The classes got more intense and pushed us to the limit. This was the time when I experienced my breath giving out and limbs and body parts aching that I probably hadn’t pushed earlier. But it was all incredible. Afro and maculele was taken by Diamante and Espaguete and we had a super fun time. Music – this was the time when you couldn’t hide in the background and just clap pretending to not know the words. The music is as much an important part of the roda as all the elements involved. Music provided us the axe, the intensity, the drive and singing loudly and clearly.. getting the lyrics right, trying simpler instruments.

Let me tell you I was not at all prepared for what to expect when the heavyweights of capoeira finally touched down in Mumbai one after the other. They were incredible, their stories, their songs, their fluidity… hell even the ghinga was so diverse. Each workshop at 1st felt very short but once we were into it, we were gasping for air, water and some more learning. The most memorable for me was the class I. Pinoquio took on the ground floor of SS Sahney, the class CM Cueca took at Juhu (Oyster room) and M. Esquilo at our regular Khar venue. Songs that have stuck by me were ‘o si si’ by Pinoquio, ‘Sem dende’ by CM Cueca and ‘capoeira que en si noi´by M. Esquilo. The added bonus was having M. Chicote, Pantera and Armelle with us. It was a huuuggee family and I had forgotten all other elements of my life except capoeira and Batizado. This was the time I even socialized with the group outside of the class and saw an incredibly different side to all the people I now recognized as family. Was no longer awkward or nervous. I was involved in the preparations and everything that I could get my hands on.

Batizado day was amazing. The energy was high and very much in the air. When I see the videos and pictures it seems like days but in reality it felt like blink and miss. Everything just swished by… we rushed through costume changes and face paint and rodas. The most significant and important moment for me was getting my cordao. I remember waiting forever and pushing others to go ahead of me. Didn’t know how that would prolong or make it special. Noone from my family was expected to come so the moment was left to me to be special. I entered and played a lovely game with M. Esquilo. I refused to be taken down…. Ppfffttt arrogance of a beginner. Eventually he did. I just stood there frozen as he smiled ever so widely and tied my cordao. I walked out and felt so…… THAT’S IT. It’s over. My 1st green cordao moment is OVER… ☹ and then someone tapped me on my shoulder. I turned to find my father standing there. He had made it. He told me he saw everything from the start and he was proud of me. He would never question why I spent so much time training or such late hours all week. I only remember trying to listen to him between sobs (I didn’t know I was crying). Thereafter it was a rollercoaster. I was sooooo happy. The grand finale of the batizado was grander and soooo much fun. The music the axe was very very high. The party that followed (graciously hosted by Manteiga at Fat Cat Cafe) and all the fun and frolic that remained for days after until they all returned home and the quiet descended on us HEAVILY. As of today its 17 days to that experience again. I will have a new story VERY different from my 1st batizado.