You are currently browsing the monthly archive for September 2007.

Put down a sentence and go with the flow – is how I tend to deal with not having anything specific to write about when I feel the need to keep the blog going. And it usually works, surprising the shit out of me on more than a few occasions. What I mean is that stuff comes out of my head – stuff that I had no idea of anything even remotely resembling the content that appears on the screen of the laptop.

Of course Java may have something to do with this, as he is pretty good at subliminal suggestions and often triggers the stream of consciousness with either music or some off-hand remark – like the one that he made in passing a few moments ago.

It was an innocuous aside – at least it seemed to be at the time. WorldSpace had an Oscar Peterson-ish Autumn Leaves going on the Jazz channel RIFF. I figured is must be Peterson, as he had this brilliant vibraphone solo midway through the number that must surely have been Milt Jackson, and since they often collaborated, it seemed a safe assumption. The music fit flawlessly into the early morning vibe at Flowerbook, where the sun was just lighting up the garden and the Jungle Fowl (Gallus lafayettii) was calling from the lower end. I was at the laptop accessing mail and checking kottu for the blogs that I usually read and looking for the ones that may turn me on with the first few lines promising interesting content, when it struck me – that it’s been just about a year since Ephemeral appeared with Java playing the catalyst in chief and together we have now posted some two-hundred plus bits and pieces.

Sheet maan, yo shuurre bout dis? Don seem like it be dat long we bein into dis sheet or dat yo be postin so many pieces out dere

Can’t blame Java for his disbelief – two-hundred plus – who would have thought?!! Certainly not us, so it did come as a bit of a shock – especially considering that the average stats of hits per post was something like sixty-two, which to us was rather complementary – even though we are well aware that the popular blogs get waaay over those kinds of figures. The thing about it is that when we ventured forth into the realms of cyberspace, we had no idea where the trip would take us or what kind of style and content would evolve from those initial steps. And looking back – skimming through some of those older pieces – we weren’t at all disappointed. In fact we were rather pleased – a bit of ego-stroking to be sure – although a few of the more personal posts did elicit some amount of rant from one of the pseudonymous characters that played their parts. But that was soon sorted and we managed to find ways of describing events or experiences without involving those that didn’t want to be identified – and understandably so!!

But the point of this post is that it didn’t begin with the content that you have just read in mind – it had no starting point and no end in sight. The opening sentence was put down and the stream took over – until Java’s observation of something totally unrelated made him utter the words that directed the stream to where it has ended – for now. All he said was:

Heey maan, it ain’t what’s done, it’s da doin dat counts.

Objectivity’ is a hard one. Defined as ‘free of bias or prejudice caused by personal feelings’, ‘based on facts rather than thoughts or opinions’ and as a ‘philosophy existing independently of the individual mind or perception’, one would need to be of a special bent to achieve the appropriate mindset in a given set of circumstances.

Some recent theatre reviews on kottu and the comments generated as a result brought this aspect sharply into focus, as reading the responses to the posts indicated clearly that much of the content had to do with defending the objects of criticism due to personal relationships that some of the respondents had with whoever or whatever it was that was being defended.

Then there were those that used the same cliched, hackneyed, ‘after all, these guys are not professional..’ bullshit. And that won’t wash anymore, as audiences (hopefully) are much more sophisticated than in the past, now having easy access to all sorts of good viewing from DVDs and satellite or cable TV – not to mention the many that have experienced excellent theatre in other countries and those who have experienced professional touring troupes playing here in Sri Lanka. So if a producer and director get a cast together to create a theatre experience open to the paying public, it is incumbent on them to produce something that will cut the mustard – in Colombo, or on Broadway, or anywhere else – Marsh Dodanwela doing Shel Silverstein’s ‘The Devil and Billy Markham’ being a case in point. And even in that production the sub-standard sound and lighting (at least on the night that we saw it) did take away from the total experience.

So back to being ‘objective’. The way I see it is that (keeping the analogy of the critic going) a critic, ideally, must be one that has a more than above-average understanding of the subject, an exposure to quality productions, a keen aesthetic sensibility and the ability to focus on all aspects of the production. This last quality will sometimes require the critic to view the production on more than one occasion – to be fair to the production and to ensure that technical and other less obvious details will not be forgotten or go un-noticed. For the critic that has to review an opening night, however, no such luxury is available – for such is the nature of the beast.

The style and approach of a recognized critic is usually distinctive and cultivates a readership because of it. Some have been perceived to have their favourites and some are perceived to take pleasure in ripping into productions on various levels in a vicarious bid for attention and appreciation. Some have even been alleged to have ties to ticket brokers, producers and other special interest groups or individuals. But ultimately the effectiveness of a critic will be gauged by what the individual viewer’s subjective impressions of the production are. If a critic is seen to be affected by what appears to be a subjective appreciation of an individual performance or production, credibility is called into question, so for a truly ‘objective’ analysis to be made, the critic must necessarily divorce the view from personal attachment. And how easy is that to accomplish?

The problem with being truly ‘objective’ is that the ‘subjective’ is part and parcel of the makeup of the critic. The value system employed in the analysis is based on the aesthetic and other conditioning, which makes the degree of ‘objectivity’ somehow to be based on the ‘subjective’. So is true ‘objectivity’ really possible, or could the discipline required to be ‘objective’ be learned?

The International Association of Theatre Critics has as its objective “..to bring together theatre critics in order to promote international cooperation. Its principal aims are to foster theatre criticism as a discipline and to contribute to the development of its methodological bases; to protect the ethical and professional interests of theatre critics and to promote the common rights of all its members; and to contribute to reciprocal awareness and understanding between cultures by encouraging international meetings and exchanges in the field of theatre in general’.

Here’s what the well-known playwright David Rabe had to say about critics: ‘When I first started, I read (every review). Now I skim or ask to be told. Reviewers don’t have time or space to do anything very meaningful so I’ve stopped looking for that. Frankly, it’s only about good or bad business. . . . If reviews are good, they’re never quite good enough, because they’re not complex enough. If they’re bad, they’re just discouraging.’

So there it is – a brief collection of thoughts on the objectivity (or lack thereof) of reviewers, their purpose, function and appreciation. But in the end, as Java  put it:

Maan, jus tellin it like yo see it, warts an all, providin yo know sheet bout what you be tellin folk, is all dere be to dis game.

The secret was out. The Center was buzzing. It didn’t seem right, but there it was in full view so there was no denying the truth of it. How it came to be exposed was anybody’s guess, so there were all manner of efforts underway to determine who exactly was responsible for the dilemma that confronted those concerned. And those concerned were extremely upset – to put it mildly – and being ‘upset’ could cause a series of repercussions that would result in waves of effects on even folk that had absolutely no connection with the cause of it all.

How all this intrigue and secrecy would impact on the main event was the million dollar question and so far, there wasn’t even the semblance of an answer.

Java was busy with his fixins and his music in between trying to access answers to questions he had posed to the one entity in cyberspace that could, perhaps, help him solve the riddle. It started off with some metaphysical postulations that to me seemed to be far too abstract and unconnected to the crux. However, some of the results of the search made me alter my view enough to think that, just maybe, Java was onto something. And then he ran into what he termed as ‘a fuckin brick wall, maaan’.

My advice was for him to change his tack – approach the problem from a different perspective, don’t look for the obvious. His reaction to this was to head for the sound and turn on Soft Machine – the Bundles album – as if in the quest of some inspiration. And of course the ubiquitous doob materialized and the matter was laid to rest for the moment – or maybe more.

In the meantime the buzzing continued and the affected continued as well – to thrash around in search of the ‘violators’ – and who knows how that will go. Hopefully the damage will be minimal, as we all know how bruised egos can respond in moments of madness. Java must have changed the music as I can hear the plaintive vocals of John Lennon

……I wonder should I call you but I know what you’d do
 
You’d say I’m putting you on
But it’s no joke, it’s doing me harm
You know I can’t sleep, I can’t stop my brain
You know it’s three weeks, I’m going insane
You know I’d give you everything I’ve got
for a little peace of mind
 
I’m so tired, I’m feeling so upset
Although I’m so tired I’ll have another cigarette
And curse Sir Walter Raleigh
He was such a stupid get…..

It was The Last Queen of Kandy’s very special birthday party last Saturday and his Stone House Lodge – aptly named, for more reasons than one – was the venue. Friends from all around the globe, some of who had not been back since his last special birthday bash ten years ago, made the trip. Rooms at various hotels had been reserved for those who chose to stay at any one of them and those who chose to get back to Colombo and elsewhere in the wee hours of the next morning made sure that all arrangements were made to ensure a safe return.

Entering the drive to Stone House was like entry into Fairyland. The trees tastefully festooned with fairy lights and the other unusual decorative details within, transformed the Lodge into the perfect venue for the special event. Alex, whose brilliant paintings are on exhibit at Bareass Boulevard right now, and who was busy DJ-ing when I walked in (The Dancer had a cast party to attend and so sent her love instead), was one of those who had made the trip from the UK to be at the special occasion. And you probably won’t believe it, but the gigantic strands of light hanging from branches fifty feet above the grass at the far end of the gardens, danced to Alex’s music – keeping perfect time as they swung and swayed to the music in the gentle breeze.

All the usual suspects were present and many more to boot. The great thing about these parties that The Last Queen throws is that really dear old friends – some even from school days and many of who are now domiciled abroad, get to meet again. Reunions with folk who have been close through the years, even though contact may have ceased for ages, is usually pleasurable and reminiscing together often makes me flash on certain happenings that have long faded but that are brought back vividly into the present state of consciousness. Mr. Sands, the manic one, and Snake Man had organized the cake and, as with the last one, it was guaranteed to do the job. The cake wasn’t quite as visually descriptive as the last one he had ten years ago, but the message(s) got across as emphatically.

The weather held, fortunately, as most of the action was outdoors – including the very well-stocked bar. Other food for the sensibilities and consciousness-enhancing catalysts were also floating around and all the guests bar none, looked like they were having the time of their lives. Alex’s stamina as DJ was simply awesome, as I doubt he moved away at all from the console all night – and the music was outstanding. Cinimod took away with him images and other illusions that he captured in his inimitable style and the few that I got a deck at pretty much told the story of the instant without so much as a word.

So the night sped by, and before I knew it the first streaks of dawn were appearing over the tree-line of the spacious gardens. There were still quite a few folk ‘doin their thang’ when I made my way back to that relic of colonial splendour smack in the middle of downtown Kandy for a few hours of shut-eye before a late breakfast and the trip back to Flowerbook.

I guess it will be another ten years before The Last Queen does another – but, as usual, it will be well worth the wait.

Just heard from Chris, very old mate, musician and music freak that Joe Zawinul had passed on. Needless to say, it was a major shock to the music sensibilities to realise that this exceptional composer/musician would not be bringing us any more of his brilliance in the form of melodies and rhythm. My immediate reaction was to dig out some of the music he performed with his major group Weather Report and give another listen in his memory.

Here’s what Chris sent:

It is with stunned sadness that I pass the news that Joe Zawinul died this morning of a rare form of skin cancer. There will be a Tangents tribute on Sept 22 from 10p-midnight (91.7, kalw.org). 

In the pantheon of Tangential artists, Joe shares the top spot with a select few. He was an innovator, compositional genius and cross-pollinating pioneer.  He led the most important world jazz fusion group of all time: Weather Report. Of all the jazz fusion bands that arose from the Miles Davis personnel of the late 60’s/early 70’s, Weather Report led by Joe and Wayne Shorter (and eventually included Jaco Pastorius) stands the test of time better than any other. I say with all due respect to John McLauglin’s Mahavishnu Orchestra, Chick Corea’s Return to Forever, Tony William’s Lifetime and Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters.

Joe Zawinul wrote my favorite song: “In A Silent Way” which he contributed to the Miles album of the same name.  He recorded on five Miles Davis albums including the ground breaking “Bitches Brew” recording.

Here’s a short excerpt about Miles from a 1997 Anil Prasad  interview:  (innerviews.org/inner/zawinul.html)
 
 Anil: How did Miles influence your life?

 Joe: I wouldn’t say that he influenced my life.

 Anil: Many point to the work you did with Miles in the late ’60s as the music that most significantly impacted your musical evolution.

 Joe: It is the other way around, frankly speaking. I think he got more from me than I got from him in that respect.

Joe also revolutionized the use of electronics in jazz. No one could make a synthesizer or keyboard sound warm and organic like Joe. Listen to “Peace” from his 1986 “Dialects” solo cd. It is solo synth that is emotive and moving.

Here’s another excerpt from the aforementioned interview:

 “…we had some funny backlash from people who said we were selling out because we were using electronic instruments. It’s such idiocy.

It’s ridiculous that someone could place that much importance on the instrument to be that great. An instrument is not important. It is the way one plays that is important. Instruments don’t play by themselves. A piano is certainly not a better instrument than a synthesizer, but if a synthesizer is played like a piano, it becomes a very bad instrument. It doesn’t work. You can’t play a trumpet like a violin—it doesn’t go. That’s the problem—the players, not the instrument. Any instrument is a wonderful thing.” 

Zawinul grew up playing Roma (Gypsy) tunes and studying classical music in Vienna (his birthplace). After seeing the film “Stormy Weather” some 24 times, he got hooked on jazz. He won a scholarship to the Berklee School of Music and emigrated to the States in 1959. He joined Maynard Ferguson’s band and then became a fixture with Cannonball Adderley and stayed until 1970. As part of Adderley’s group, Zawinul wrote the classic “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” which hit number 11 on the Billboard pop charts in 1967. 

I interviewed Joe around 1986. It was like talking to the Muhammed Ali of jazz. Joe, after all, was also a boxer and talked the talk, and walked the walk. He was a straight talker and let you know how good he was. But he always backed it up and was as entertaining in person as he was on stage.

Here is a vintage Zawinul excerpt again from innerviews.org/inner/zawinul.html:  

…people find out so late. You know HipHop? What is HipHop? I invented the beat of HipHop! In 1970, I invented it and no drummer could play it and I did this album with Weather Report called Sweetnighter that has a track called “125th Street Congress.” It has the original HipHop beat and I have about 50 recordings of rap and HipHop groups using a sample of the original song. Many other things I did in the 60s—I’m not complaining about it, but since we’re talking about it, I might as well tell you—a lot of people got credit for it, which is alright with me. But it’s a fact—I did this stuff so many years ago. What is called world music today—I started the damn thing!”

Joe along with other pioneering cross-pollinating artists like John McLaughlin, Don Cherry, etc. increasingly explored other music cultures and integrated these influences into their music. Joe especially loved African music. He produced Malian star Salif Keita’s “Amen” recording.

I’ll leave you with a final interview excerpt where Zawinul answers a question about his own mortality: (innerviews.org/inner/zawinul.html)

 Anil Prasad: “Do you ever think about your own mortality?”

 Joe Zawinul: “I’m not afraid of death. The reason could be that I grew up in an environment in which I was always exposed to death every day for years. Experiencing bomb attacks in the night and day and actual war in your country is very different than watching a war from 1000 miles away from your home. We had the war right there in my house. The Russians came in and many of my friends died, so this type of life prepares you for death. An 11 or 12 year-old kid in America will play with a rubber duck, whereas I used to bury people—dead soldiers and all that. When I was 12, I used to steal horses from the Russian wagons and kill them for food. I ploughed fields with Oxen. That was my life. The kids were the men. I was trained for the military—I was a bazooka man. But going back to mortality, I felt when the war was over, everything was easy, but I went through some very hard times in America too. I was the only white guy to play with black bands in the South during segregation. I often had to sit in the bottom of the car when we drove through certain parts of the South. Those kinds of things never phased me—I wanted to play music with the best and I could play on that level with the best.”

 Heaven just got a hell of a musician.

I guess Heaven’s gain is very much our loss!

Jeeez maaan, when it rains it fuckin pours, looks like, huh?

Java’s expressing himself on the couple of theatre experiences over the past two days, as well as all the recent posts we’ve put out there on similar events. Kumbi Kathawa   on Sunday was followed by Return to Sender, a performance by six Iranian dancers (all of them women and all of them either grown up or born in Germany) directed and choreographed by Helena Waldmann and sponsored by the Goethe Institute in celebration of the 50th anniversary of their existence in Sri Lanka. The performance was at Waters Edge, followed by dinner for those who were invited and for those who were not, but chose to dine there anyway.

Return to Sender is a production of the Festival Montpellier Danse 2006, but evolved out of Letters from Tentland, which was “..born from the fruitful get-together with the support of the Dramatic Arts Center Tehran and the Goethe-Institut” in 2004. The production has since been seen in seventeen countries, after which “…Helena Waldmann changed the perspective of the piece for the Montpellier Danse Festival ’06. The Iranian ‘Letters from Tentland’ was now overwritten, answered and sent ‘Return to Sender’ by exiled Iranian women. So statements were transformed into answers by return mail”. That quoted bit is from the programme notes.

The other message the programme conveyed in relation to this production (and that fits a ‘refugee’ situation anywhere in the world): “Only three percent of the world’s population are migrants. But the world of the rich has a problem with this minority. Their escape from a settled existence at home towards an uncertain future does not exactly elicit increased hospitality. In between the law and police practice, they flutter like tents in the wind.

The concept of the piece was as fascinating as it was powerful in respect of it being a political statement about the plight of refugee women. The audio-visual inserts blended beautifully with the images on stage, which for virtually the entire duration of the piece, were bodies in tents. That’s right, the tents danced! They danced to music by Iranian composers and musicians, which was quite exceptional and merged brilliantly with the surreal images – the misshapen, convoluting, unpredictable movements of the tents as they danced, and sang and spoke and bickered and wailed and thrashed around.

The ‘letters’ were projected on a filmy, gauzy curtain. The notes were typed as you watched – short, terse, expressing emotions and philosophical meanderings. They always ended with love – H. And they were always Returned to Sender.

The performance itself was outstanding and one wondered at the control of the performers within the confines of their tents – how they moved their ‘shells’ in such intricate ways to the rhythms and how, with all the rushing around in some parts, they never knocked each other over or messed with the visual balance. The music was superb, with the percussive bits dominating, and whatever the stringed and wind instruments were, they somehow conjured up the ‘feel’ of the message. Some of the performers actually sang, and spoke lines occasionally and it all coalesced in a dazzling display of theatre art.

At the end of the curtain-call and an extended standing ovation, the dancers invited the ladies in the audience backstage. They explained that sometimes it was the men they invited (for whatever it was that went down back there), but this time it was for the ladies. And so a bunch of ladies (The Dancer and some of her students among them) went off behind the curtain whilst Java and I had a couple of cans of German beer and a smoke or three in the foyer, chatting to assorted friends and acquaintances about the show.

Dinner was a blast, as The Dancer had been selected to chat with the performers and so we were at the same table and had the undivided attention of these very attractive and intelligent women and ended up with them arranging to meet at the Kalayathanaya to watch some traditional dance and also participate in some of the movements. Chatting about re-visiting Iran to one of them was as enlightening as it was interesting – it having much to do with the double-standards of the fundamentalist mindsets as opposed to what actually goes down behind closed doors. It reminded me of our own situation with the hypocritical religious bunch and their brand of Buddhism infecting the political sphere and affecting our lives. But then that’s how it goes in most unenlightened societies, right? This sentiment was actually reinforced when we heard that the performance was banned in Pakistan, so the Director of the Goethe Institute in Pakistan had to make her way to Colombo to catch the show!

Heey maaan, two fine shows in two nights be somting speshul in dis part of da world huh? An now wit our fren getting hisself ready for dat Equine trip nex mont, maybe we be havin more surprises in store, you tink?

 

 

 

 

 

 

The parking lot was full when Java and I arrived at Bishop’s College for the matinee performance on Sunday – we had decided that we had to watch both shows on this final day of ‘Kumbi Kathawa’, as having watched some of the rehearsals we realised that there was more to absorb than one viewing could possibly provide.

The introduction was in the form of an audio-message in the blacked-out theatre with a single spot focused on an empty chair and had to do with the trials and tribulations encountered by Chitrasena and Vajira ever since they were ousted from the “rambling old house on Galle Road”, to find a space for their work. The message was clear – the Kalayathanaya has finally found a ‘home’ and temporary measures provide the facilities to conduct classes and rehearsals, BUT funding to complete the dream is a dire necessity.

The introduction was followed by ‘Rebirth’ – a sequence of movements that was choreographed by Heshma for Thaji to music by Pradeep Ratnayake for the show he put on some weeks ago. The control and precision with which Thaji executed the movements to the music was near perfect – if not perfection itself. As I think I mentioned in the earlier review of this piece, “a dream in slo-mo” – but more of Thaji later.

Rebirth’ gave way to a short audio-visual presentation on ‘The making of Kumbi Kathawa’ and informed the audience of how the production took shape over a few years. All very useful and appropriate no doubt, but both Java and I, being rather impatient with introductions and speakers at performances in general, thought that this took away from the whole. But that’s just us, as a lot of folk we spoke with after the event appreciated the information and thought it added to the total effect. It also seems that as the ballet itself was only like forty-five minutes, the producers needed to add something more. Weeell – we all know how that goes – the different stroke thang, maaan…

Kumbi Kathawa was just so full of visual treats combined with the very controlled movements of children who seemed to be so in tune with the totality of the production, that it boggled the mind. The detailed intricacy of the costumes that brought the various insects to life on the stage, combined with the lighting and music (an outstanding selection, immaculately edited), conjured up a magical fantasy-land that took me back to childhood books and memories of mystical other-worlds. What more could one expect from a theatrical experience?

Thaji played the villainous mosquito and did it to perfection. Her total absorption of the music made her timing impeccable and this, combined with her fluid grace, her flawless lines and her malevolent expression, elicited the Yang aspect of the story in no uncertain terms. Having watched Thaji develop over the years, it was always obvious that she would be the heir apparent to her predecessors – Vajira,  Grande Dame of Sri Lankan Dance (her grandmother), and Upeka, successor to Vajira (Thaji’s aunt and teacher). This has now come to pass, as Thaji has surely come of age – and from now on, can only get better over the years to come, which, to us dance-aficionados, is something to really look forward to.

Anjalika’s labour of love was nearly four years in the making under the most rigorous conditions and at times she felt that it would never see the light of day. However, her perseverance paid off, being catalysed by the return of her daughter Heshma from the USA armed with her newly acquired degree in Theatre Arts and other assorted-related qualifications and new thoughts about choreography and other theatre concepts not used by her predecessors for their productions. Then with Mahesh combining his talents with Anjalika’s concept and Heshma’s ideas and drive, the battle to bring the story to life on stage was finally won.

So, in the end, ‘Kumbi Kathawa’ was to Java and yours truly, a magical experience made all the more wonderful by seeing how little children could be taught to combine and to play their parts with discipline, coordination, timing and cooperation – lessons that would stand any child, anywhere, in good stead. And then there’s the distinct sensation that the Chitrasena – Vajira legacy is well on its way and in excellent hands, with the second and third generations of the clan (Upeka and Anjalika, Heshma, Thaji and Umi) emerging as the successors to the tradition of sustaining the art of Chitrasena.

This bodes well for us all, as it does appear that creative and traditional dance in Sri Lanka are alive and well – and in safe hands for now.

Reading Darwin’s post on the Red Hot Chili Peppers concert made me flash on the different aspects of seeing a group live – particularly if the group is one of one’s favourites. There were many such experiences featuring groups that had top priority for me in those days – quite a while back. Among them were the Beatles (in Dodger Stadium, so it was like they were miles away), Pink Floyd (the other extreme, as we were almost right under David Gilmour), Jethro Tull and a few others of that ilk. The Floyd and Tull concerts were in LA and at the height of the ‘flower-power’ trip, so thick clouds of noxious (nice-noxious) smoke were everywhere and all manner of psychedelics were being freely passed around. The groups did their thing and generally the vibes and everything else that went to make the experience were absorbed by those of us who were into the whole happening and thoroughly dug it. The music itself wasn’t the main concern in the sense that although everyone was there for ‘that’, listening intently is never usually the prime priority at these events – at least that’s how I see it. For me it’s the total experience – and seeing the bunch of folk who manage to penetrate my music-aesthetic, live.

All this was brought vividly into the mindspace whilst watching Darwin’s vidi-effort and listening to the Peppers. The crowd was obviously totally into the experience and for that many thousands, the experience must have been pretty close to, if not totally, awesome. However, what struck me was that the ‘jamming’ at the start was pretty low-grade-mediocre in all respects, to say the least and Californication was done, like ass-backwards. If you give a listen you will hear Kiedis’ vocals getting out of tune on more than one occasion and even the instruments were not ‘on’ –  nothing like the Peppers on disc – everything hitting the spot – studio perfection. Which is the point I’m trying to make.

Huge audiences in auditorium type venues create their own ambience, the energies generated affecting everyone in some way or the other, so that mostly it is the familiar ‘hits’ that the audience love combined with seeing their idols perform live that is the turn on. No matter that some of the singing drifts off key or that the guitar solos may not be upto quite the same standard as on the album – who cares! No one goes for these things with a critical ear – unless there is some totally unexpected disaster which fucks up the whole experience.

The smaller, more intimate concerts or performances are a different number altogether and somehow, after digging the biggies for so many years, I tend to prefer these smaller ones now. Like Java says: Differen strokes, maaan…

So there it is – a thought or two on concerts and performers – and us, of course

Bangkok can be a bitch – when she wants to. This time however she treated Java and me as well as could be expected. Better, in fact. One dreaded aspect of the city is the traffic, but this time – the three days we ventured out in between all the working-sessions and stuff – it wasn’t bad at all. The rest of it was cool as well and the contingent was due to leave for Beijing on the 7th.

The call from Flowerbook came on the 5th to say that Buster and Rocky had developed worrying coughs. And although the Vet at the government facility in the boondocks had prescribed some medication, I started to get anxious. Hasty calls were made to Colombo and Mr. Z, who has mutual sentiments about dogs, assured me that he would sort things out to the best of his abilities through his personal Vet. Minor relief, but my mind wasn’t on the continuing sessions. To put it briefly, one thing led to another and I found myself on a flight back on the 6th night.

Back to Flowerbook on the 7th to find the dogs still coughing, but have apparently responded to the medication as they are reported to be better than they were a day ago. Fortunately there are no other signs of distress as they eat normally and are as active as usual. But it’s obviously uncomfortable – and that’s a drag. Java’s going to ‘worm’ them today, as that could also be a factor. And parasites on a farm with animals are usually pretty rampant, so..

Anyway, it’s just great to be back in my space and the dogs will also be better off. And then of course I get to experience ‘Kumbi Kathawa’ at the Bishops College auditorium on Sunday, which is another huge plus. Blessings come in many disguises, I guess!

So China will have to wait. Best not to hold its breath!