I spend big parts of my life on this balcony, I often work from here, hang out with friends, eat, relax; other people spend big parts of their lives around or just beneath this balcony, they work here, hang out, eat, relax. We all have our needs, and many of them are met right here. If I haven't totally forgotten the entire curriculum of pedagogy from teaching college which I quit many years ago (!), there was this guy called Maslow talking about basic needs and so on. These needs of his are shown as steps in a pyramid, when you have covered your basic needs: enough food, housing, security, love and care; you start feeling the need of entertainment and meaning of life and so on, and at the top of the pyramid, when you've reached and fulfilled or mastered the lower steps, the urge for self-actualization appears. Maslow's hierarchy of needs has of course been criticized and reshaped, and don't take my interpretation of him in this posting too seriously..!
I can't guarantee that every single one living their lives in this street gets enough food every day, or feels safe, healthy and secure throughout the day, but it seems that they're doing ok; they have the energy to work, to care about themselves and others, to entertain and to be entertained to add joy to life.
Many a time while I sit here working or I pass on the street on my way out or back inside, I hear singing. It could be one of the latest local hits broadcasted frequently on radio or TV, or interpreted in one of the street bars; it could be a traditional melody; or even Shakira's world cup hit along with her hip movements! Malagasy music is famous for its impossible rhythm; no foreigner seems to be able to pick it up properly. People here love their local music, and so do visitors of the island.
This city as many other cities, has its weirdoes, some of them looking strange, others acting funny, some appearing to have lost his/her mind... there's one guy in particular that I've noticed passing by. He has a different appearance, to put it that way. His hair is rather long, which isn't common among men here, he has a ragged beard; he wears a necklace, a long coat even when the sun is burning hot. He carries a spear even he's not a shepherd, and I don't know how many piercings in his face! He totally stands out in the crowd, so I've had my thoughts about him.
One day I heard a sad, still sweet melody finding its way towards my balcony, the sound was someone playing the flute. I got up and looked to the street, and there he was, the ragged one. The sound of the flute disappeared, and a hoarse melancholic voice replaced it. It was beautiful! I took some pictures, and I asked a friend of mine whether she knew of him. She told me that he is antandroy, a traditionally nomadic people who come from the area further south, that fact could actually explain the spear. My friend went on telling me that he used to be a famous musician performing in many events. He seemed to have turned inside out somehow, and now roams the streets. He'd still play in gigs abroad, though, whenever he was called to do so. Sometimes, he'd play for eager listeners asking him to do so while passing by, and people would give him some change. I decided to go downstairs, approached him and told him how I appreciated his song, and gave him a small cadeau. The pousse-pousse drivers challenged him to continue; they all know me and thought it was fun that I gave him this attention. I totally enjoyed this private concert as did many of the passers-by!
Many people here have homemade guitars of some kind; a few of the kids downstairs have one and for instance while strolling along the beach, you may see a bunch of teenagers walking along the seaside, playing the guitar and singing. These guitars are usually a squared box with strings, not resembling a classical guitar at all, it's called a kabosy. One time I saw a young boy passing by here in the street with his guitar, it was not the kabosy and not a classical guitar, but a homemade guitar made of wood resembling an electric guitar! He stopped at the corner to chat with some of the pousse-pousse drivers, and then started performing. He sang like a local rock hero, and played his guitar with great passion! It was amazing and people passing by stopped for a few minutes before continuing to their destination. I took his picture, too.
These two examples tell me about the importance of entertainment, experiencing it by listening and watching, or by performing from one's inner source. No matter if the audience can't always afford to go to a concert or "spectacle" as it's often called here, one still gets to enjoy. And those not wanting to nor having the chance to perform in a show, still get their audience. Which of the needs in Maslow's hierarchical pyramid could this be meeting?!
I want to end this blog with yet another picture; it hasn't got anything to do with musical entertainment, rather of a different kind. It usually doesn't rain much here in Toliara, and it hasn't been raining for a while either, but today part of the street was a huge water pond due to some unknown (to me) reason. I heard kids screaming out of joy and looked out to see the bunch of them swimming and playing and throwing water at each other. Don't know how much that water added to improving health, but the kids were happy as ever!