Saturday, June 21, 2008

Dancing around the World...for Gum!

If you've been watching YouTube longer than a year, you've heard of the "Where The Hell Is Matt?" meme (which also made it into this Barenaked Ladies video). This one guy, Matt Harding, goes around the world and films himself doing a silly dance in every single place he visits. This started few years ago, after which the Stride Gum company started sponsoring his trips. Opportunistic of him? Maybe, maybe not. But if a bubble gum company paid me money to travel the world and all I had to do was shill for 'em and do silly dances with the locals, I'd do it! I love traveling. And if I showed them my silly dance, maybe they'd even show me their far less silly ones?

In this latest video, crowds in almost all of 42 different countries bum rush the scene and dance with Matt. I'm a little embarrassed to admit, because it is a silly video, that I actually started tearing up somewhere between Tokyo and Austin. I don't know why! Maybe the combination of the music, the sheer silliness, plus the exact same type of joy being shared by everyone who started dancing with this fella. And then of course I started laughing again around Munich.

In case you were wondering, the music is the Bengali poem "Praan" (Stream of Life), from Rabindranath Tagore's Gitanjali (Song Offerings), translated by the author, set to song.

Stream of Life

The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day

runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures.

It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth

in numberless blades of grass

and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers.

It is the same life that is rocked in the ocean-cradle of birth

and of death, in ebb and in flow.

I feel my limbs are made glorious by the touch of this world of life.

And my pride is from the life-throb of ages dancing in my blood this moment.


Anonymous said...

I think its the music that brings the emotional response. So much more so after reading the lyrics. By the way, I laughed when he was in the demilitarized zone in Korea. I couldn't have seen James doing that while he was there:)

nathalie said...

my fiancé and my friend chris and i are in the washington d.c. clip. it was really fun meeting matt and dancing with him! he's really sweet, laid-back and funny.

John said...

Anon: I can picture him doing that ;)

Nathalie: Cool! You probably know about his website where dancers can comment in their own special section - there are some interesting comments there!

Sudipto Das said...

Though the essence of both the Bengali and English lyrics is same - the eternal life, but still anyone who has read Tagore well can make out that the Bengali song doesn't exactly match with the English one.

I found out finally that the Bengali lyrics or Praan is indeed not the original song from which the English "Stream of Life" was derived by Rabindranath Tagore. The original Bengali poem for "Stream of Life" is as follows:
E aamaar sharirer shiraay shiraay
Je Praan-tarangamaalaa raatridin dhaay
Sei Praan chhutiyaachhe bishwadigbijaye,
Sei Praan aparoop chhande taale laye
Nachichhe bhubane; sei Praan chupe chupe
Basudhaar mrittikaar prati romkoope
Lokkho lokkho trine trine sanchaare harashe,
Bikaashe pallabe pushpe - barashe barashe
Bishwabyaapi janmamrityusamudradolaay
Dulitechhe antahiin joyaar bhaataay.
Karitechhi anubhab, se ananta Praan
Ange ange aamaare karechhe mahiyaan.

Sei jugjugaanter biraat spandan
Aamaar nariite aaji karichhe nartan.
The Bengali lyrics of "Praan" features in the original Bengali Gitanjali, but not in the English version. Actually the English version is created out of a selection of 103 poems from the Bengali Gitanjali and three other booklets of poems by Tagore.

Nevertheless, when the essence is same and the impact is so great it doesn't matter what the original song was.....