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This time last year, I was in full swing for rehearsals for a Christian youth concert in Kathmandu. The headlining band was a local act, with plenty of support and I was excited to be a part of such a big project in a foreign country. Needless to say, the set list was revised a million times before we went live, but it was all part of the fun and games. Travelling has always been my passion and Nepal held new adventures and a definite opportunity.

We landed in Kathmandu airport, which was a great indication of the laid back culture and atmosphere in the city. The officials seemed carefree and luggage was bandied on various conveyor belts without any real consideration for security. It was a lovely change from the clinical rigidity of Heathrow.  The taxi drivers were over flowing with Asian hospitality and warmth and not to mention a great sense for bargaining. So after much give and take, I arrived at the hotel, with anticipation and excitement – knowing all that separated me and the stage was 48 hours.  However, in a land where the politics change with every wind of doctrine, 48 hours was a long period of time during which, anything can happen…and it did.  I woke the next morning to find the whole city on a stri that permeated all modes of transport. The so called ‘responsible advice’ was that  tourists were being targeted and that we shouldn’t under any circumstances venture out.

Whether it was in our best interest to listen to the British Embassy, is a matter to be discussed on another day, for another blog but our parameters soon became synonomous with the hotel’s walls. In my mind’s eye I kept seeing every practice session slip away, the set evapourating into a figment of my imagination and the concert becoming an ever increasing uncertain possibility. Prayer and some more prayer were the two main ingredients that made the whole waiting game more palatable. By 5 O’ Clock, the news flash was that tourists could enter the streets by foot. The only problem was the concert venue could only be reached by car. With time slowly edging closer to 19.00 (the concert was meant to start at 19.30) cancellation seemed to be the only viable route. Somewhere between resignation and the glimmer of hope, Bon Jovi’sliving on a prayer” flooded my mind.

With much trepidation we ventured outside – driven by a taxi driver that finally agreed to take us. By God’s grace, we didn’t have to dodge protesters or any other violent antics. With 30 minutes to kick off, we  arrived at the concert hall, raced through the sound check and were ready to rock and roll.

With my prayers answered, I stood backstage with a cocktail of emotions flowing through my mind.  I walked onto the stage, into the bright lights of hall, dancing to the drums and getting lost in the giddiness of performing. The first song – cover of Hillsongs’ ‘No Reason To Hide’ helped ease the nerves and gave me a chance to get to know the audience – who were amazing in their support. Time slipped by unannounced and it was only when we began the introduction for our last song ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,‘ that I realised two hours had passed.

It was a night to remember. Prayer and performing are good wholesome foods for this soul. Check out my Facebook page ‘Nitya’ for some amateur footage.

A Eurovision sonnet

So Eurovision and all its frezy has died down. From past experience of the psychedelic lights and aluminium foil inspired outits that have paraded the contest’s stage, I did not hold much hope for 2011. Afterall, apart from the anomalies that is Abba, Celine Dion and a few others, the competition rarely injects talent worth noticing into the world’s stage of music. The UK’s entry was a clean cut, freshly pressed boy band – Blue, who are desparate to make a comeback. Patriotism aside, I was sorely disappointed by the pure lack of music in the the song  “I Can.” It only highlighted the painfully obvious point that on this ocassion they can’t and they didn’t. Don’t get me wrong – there is nothing wrong in a little soulful cheeese, especially if Lee and his grinding voice have the spotlight. However, for a country that gave the world The Beattles -I definitely think we could have produced better. My woeful sonnet of course is also inspired by the fact that the UK followed Italy’s hunkilicious entry – Raphael Gualazzi’s Madness of Love. From the moment his fingers touched the ivory keys of the piano I was memesmerized. Now here was a real musician, transporting me back to the days of underground jazz cafes, Paris in the summer and black and white movies that saw musicians play till dawn and sleep till dusk. He silky voice only added to the song’s allure and his trusted trumpeter even gave his instrument a voice that Louis Armstrong would have been proud of. Mr Gualazzi’s piano tinkling prowess was slightly Cullamesque in its dynamics and his voice floated somewhere between Bubble and Mayer. My hope is that he will go all the way and bring jazz back into mainstream music.

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