Sunday, May 20, 2007

Chatting over the pavement in Chiang Mai with the Cyclown Circus.

Photos: Raffi, the violinist, and his instrument, more used to constelate with whiskey bottles over the pavement than with partitures.

For several weeks I woke up with Johnnie’s bass and Raffi’s violin as a soft cushion softening the comeback of reality. On the afternoon my time would be divided in two tasks. Firstly, early afternoon, work on “Vagabonding th Axis of Evil” my coming booklet of travel stories. After 6pm, when tourists are already in the cafes, I would hit the streets to sell some of my old books (Harmony of Chaos), as to be finnance the day’s food and accomodation. Invariably, at night, we ended up on Tha Pae Gate with the Cyclowns, chatting with co-dreamers and curious alike, down in the pavement, often barefoot. Beer bottles would ooz out of plastic bags as flowers in spring. It was spring all night long.

No attempt to reconstruct one of such conversations could ever be succesful, but here it goes a random patchwork of images that one night I happened to put down in a notebook.. Somebody had abandoned a cello in Istanbul, because she wasn’t god enough at playing it. The abandonment of musical instruments is something terrible for Rachel. Music is a matter of comitment. When Rachel met Raffi he was barely able to hold the violin and had none of the skills he has now. Raffi says that there is a difference between the Chinese farmers that spend their lives in the ricefields, and them, who travel around the world with a violin over the shoulder trying to understand mankind. Truth is beauty, beauty is truth. Still, the people who will be touched by the unpredictable end of the chain we unleash each time we make somebody question reality, will always be strangers to us. We have always been there, from Diogenes on. A warehouse art space has been inaugurated in Minneapolis, and its mentor want Spanish to be the only language spoken within. Raffi says he is too lazy for yoga, mainly due to the fact that he wants to play music 8 hours a day. We were betting to which of the ladyboys would be picked up first. Maybe when I am 40 –said Raffi- I may want to settle down and have a house I can call my own. No way –answered Johnnie, who was 44- when you will be 40 you will want to continue to tramp around this world like me! Raffi recalls that when they cross a country by bike he feels like stopping at each stupid village they bump into and play music. When they enter a cantina or bar to offer their show it is Johnnie, the tidy mature man with the bass, who walks in alone first to make the deal. A tidy man with contrabass scandalizes less the bar owners than Raffi and Channing who rather look like two punkies with their instruments, and would be kicked away inmediatly.

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