Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Strange Sounds

I was just listening to an interview on Q with Mark Johnson who developed Playing for Change and he talked about being in Nepal looking through a music shop's CDs that had all of this traditional music and in the middle of it all was Bob Marley's Legend. It reminded me of a similar experience I had quite close to where he had that one but a long time ago.

I spent a few months in Thailand in 1990 and my visa ran out after 3 months. The deal is you had to leave the country and then you could come back. Going north wasn't really an option, going to Malaysia was expensive, but flights to Calcutta were cheap, so I took one of those.

I'm trying to give the short version here to get to the foothills of the Himalayas. The streets of Calcutta were awesome and full and it's on that trip that I met Mother Teresa. Anyway, I wanted to get out of town and see something new so I applied for a visa to go up to Darjeeling, way north. I took a bus up and was told that the views would be incredible. The bus ride is worthy of a whole post of its own (so is the train trip down!), but I made it and that Darjeeling stay was something else. The weather was so bad that I could barely see 6 feet in front of me let alone the spectacular views that were promised in the travel guide. Sometimes the weather cleared and I could see the garbage strewn all along the hills of the city built all up and down the sides of the mountains but I never saw snow capped mountains on that trip at all. Some boys gave me their pictures to show me the views when I was in the train on the way down to give me an idea of what I'd missed.

Anyway, I was by myself up there and wandered around and drank tea and shopped and read (I remember I was reading the Accidental Tourist at the time), and managed all of the questions about if I was Christian or not, I got that a lot and there was a big Christian community up there. So I'm far, far away from home. I'm in a strange place that had a lot visitors - mainly Tibetans and Nepalese - and I found a dry cafe to sit in and read and write. I'm sitting there away from everything and I'll never forget this, on the radio they played Bryan Adams.

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