On the second and last night of our desert camping trip in Egypt we finished dinner and then sat around the fire drinking hot cups of tea and listening to Waleed, our driver and Zamoukha, our cook put up an awesome concert with spirited singing accompanied by a short single sided drum which they called a tabla. At some point, D and I were forced to get up and dance along with W. We did not really mind since W and Z were super-enthusiastic and were singing not just for the mandatory tourist tip but also for themselves.
With the whirling around the fire, we thought the festivities had come to an end, but we had not accounted for W and Z’s plans. Z decided that a neighbouring camp seemed to be having a good time and decided we would all go there.
After a lovely 15 minute walk over the desert sand and rocks in the platinum moonlight, we arrived at the camp. Three Chinese couples were seated around the fire progressing rapidly towards inebriation. Two locals were singing loudly. Z jumped in with his tabla and W also joined. After a while, Z decided that it was time for the visitors to sing and suggested that the Chinese go first after which the Indians would sing.
My heart sank.
Earlier in the night, after much prompting by Z I had sung two lines while D watched proudly.
Let me detour here a bit. D likes a lot of things about me, all of which I like about myself too. But the one thing that stumps me is that he thinks I can sing. My own mother who can stretch the truth by saying I am fair (leading people to expect Kareena Kapoor complexion vs the reality of Bipasha Basu complexion), has admitted that I have a reedy and shrill voice. My sis thinks I could become a good dog whistler at my ptich.
Yet D thinks I can sing and when the situation for public performance presented itself earlier in the night, I had figured a couple of lines would not kill anyone if it made D happy. D himself is way too tone deaf to do anything beyond intoning the mangled lyrics like a newsreader. So I pulled off a solo.
Unfortunately, now we had moved beyond the privacy of our driver and cook and were with a whole gang of other people.
The Chinese enthusiastically took up the challenge (obviously like in all other things) and sang not one but two group songs. Simple group songs have a way of turning a bunch of bad voices into a decent one collectively as long as everyone sticks to the tune. The performance passed muster and there was much applause.
I squirmed wondering how to get off this gracefully, when one of the Chinese women began to wave her hands in a collegial competitive manner and said something about China being great. Then went on to do some Kung fu punches to indicate they were kicking butt.
Sigh. Pride and honour makes a fool even of a cautious person.
So I sang. Since the only songs I listened to often are beautiful, high pitched numbers, I did not know lyrics to stuff that would suit my limited range. Anyway, the first para of a Kailash Kher number was duly performed and a shrill shriek pierced the night air.
Z and W began to clap and others joined in politely. After which Z and W safely took over the mantle of providing our camp’s contribution to the party and my services were not pressed for.
Relieved I went back clapping along and when the time came to dance around the campfire, I was more than enthusiastic and eager to let my above-average dancing skills take over.
The fallout is a stern resolution to learn four lines of some simple song. I am still figuring out the choices..