On January 4, 2015, I lost my beloved Guruji, Pandit Chitresh Das. He was the fittest, most energetic, extraordinary artist and being who walked the Earth with a purpose and vision too grand for his time. His passing was so sudden that it’s going to take me some time to be able to express the depth of knowledge and life lessons that Guruji gave me. I may not ever be able to encapsulate it, but for now it’s the funny, scratch that, HILARIOUS, moments spent with him (and there are hundreds) that give me strength. EVERY moment was a lesson and never was it dull. I feel so blessed to have spent such precious moments with him and
“Guruji can rock a hat”
Here we are on a random Monday afternoon in beautiful Tiburon of Marin County, California. We were supposed to have a school meeting and he said “This is boring. I don’t function like this. You people and your mundane meetings! Lets go have fish and chips and cold beer on the dock. We can discuss there. And I have hats so we can sit in the sun!”
“Caught in a little black dress”
This was my birthday and Guruji caught me rushing off after rehearsal for a night out. He saw me come out of the dressing room and dragged me back into the dance room. “Who are you trying to impress with that dress? Your husband? Ok. I can understand that you want to have a nice time on your birthday with your husband. But if you want to impress me, practice your 16 tihais. Actually, do it to impress YOURSELF. How’s that.” Then he did that coy smile he does before he’s about to say something deep. “You’ll never be able to impress me. Ha Ha!” (Insert evil laugh that we hated).
“Cotton candy – one of life’s simple pleasures”
Not much of a back story with this one. Just a fun night out in Scottsdale, Arizona during our residency at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. Guruji insisted we get the fresh cotton candy at Saddle Ranch Chop House because it reminded him of his childhood. He said, “I don’t know about you people but I AM getting the cotton candy. You all are so conservative. Life is short! You have to enjoy!” He was right – it was delicious.
“South Beach Style”
This was one of the top 5 most fun and relaxing days I ever spent with Guruji. It was a day off after much hard work during our residency at the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center. Me, Guruji, and tap dancer, Jason Samuels Smith, loafed around South Beach all day doing all the things Guruji loved – we ate oysters and fish, drank beer, made fun of people, debated issues, listened to profound thoughts of his, and attempted to keep up with him running on the beach after drinking. The most classic line from this day was when we got back to the Bay Area and students would ask him in class “Dadaji, how was Miami?”. His response was the same every time. “Jason really liked all of the booty.”