The Human Computer
Humans are like computers in so many ways, except for, of course, that whole soul thing. We can only take in so much information at a time, we respond according to our operating (belief) system, we can be programmed and updated, and we need to recharge our batteries when we’re running low. Today was planned as such… a recharge day, a free day, an open day, to with as we please..and it was awesome!
I spent a large portion of the day just playing banjo. A lot of times when traveling, though I have it on my back, the environment doesn’t allow me to play or practice. It could be too noisy and disturb neighbors, it could be a spiritual or tourist place that doesn’t allow it. But today, I stayed in my room, and played. Thinking about and arranging the album is my main goal at this point. I’ve been contemplating, composing, arranging this album in my mind for months. The next two weeks with be the primary execution of it, and I want to be ready.
Prior to traveling here, I spent a lot of time reaching out to artists in India through social media, Instagram in particular. Many of those have panned out, and some have not. The first two weeks of the trip here was really 1) getting acquainted with India and becoming comfortable in the surroundings, and 2) solidifying these relationships and setting up collaborative meetings. Week three, which we are in the middle of, is mostly traveling to different places in India to get a deeper understanding of the country. Week four will be spent bringing everything together and recording the album. That is why I’m doing all I can now to prepare, so to make that process and seamless and successful as possible.
Throughout the day, besides playing banjo, I also spent some time handling logistics for future meetings, paying bills, and even set up some Bollywood dance classes. I’m really excited for that! Later in the evening I set out for a walk to the grocery store to pick up a few items. Upon leaving the building, I heard some tabla drums rapping away in the distance, and also the faint sound of sitar. My heart fluttered. Like a dog on a scent, I began tracking down the source of the sounds, eventually finding my way to a beautiful park where a three piece Indian classical band was giving a wonderful performance. One hundred or so people, mostly older Indian folks, were sitting quietly enjoying the music. There were a few open seats in the front row, so I made my way there, sat down, and began absorbing the rich vibes of the sounds.
An amazing singer who also played the harmonium led the band, the tabla player kept rhythm with grace, style, and funkiness, and the keyboard player added that element of harmony and melody. This was my first true taste of live classical music, and it did not disappoint! After talking with the drummer post show, he informed me they would be flying back to Calcutta, their home, the next day. I was a little sad, because I was really hoping for a Banjo Earth collaboration with them. But I did get the drummer’s info, and we agreed to a future partnership. He was such a sweet and loving man, looking at me periodically during the performance and smiling, noticing how much I was enjoying it. Their music left me with a sense of peace and excitement. A wonderful combination!
I texted my video ninja Paul when I found the music to come check it out and record, but after packing, walking, and having a little trouble finding it, he arrived just as the last song ended. So, after the performance, we set out for one of my favorite nearby neighborhoods, some back alleyways similar to the hutongs of Beijing, and I took him to a bustling corner way back off the beaten path. There we found some friendly, smiling faces, a welcoming nature, some of the best naan bread in all of India, and a spicy helping of tandoori chicken. We said goodbye, walked home, and enjoyed a nice cold beer with our street food finds. All in all it was a beautiful day full of music, food, and cultural exchange. An extraordinary day to be sure, but a delightfully typical day of a Banjo Earth expedition. The batteries are charged, the programs are running smoothly, and the operating system is ever more open to the heart and mysteries of the Universe.