Sunday, January 23, 2005

Kathmandu Nepal Musical Instrument Scene

Kathmandu, Nepal Musical Instrument Scene

CleverJoe says: "Travel light, leave your fears at home."

It's no secret that CleverJoe likes to shoulder the backpack from time to time and venture out on the big wide road to see where it might lead next. One such sojourn took him to the backstreets of Kathmandu and the shadows of the Himalayas. Okay, so Kathmandu is not quite in the shadows, but you would be able to see the mountains on a clear day after a few days of banning vehicles from Ktm, which is one of the most polluted cities in the world. The pollution is exasperated due to the city's location in the Kathmandu valley. But we digress.

The sheer amount of life that can traverse across the front of your nose when you're not looking is staggering. Wandering in the old parts of the city and Durbar square is like strolling through a chapter in a living, breathing history book - new pages being written at record speed, but with grace and purpose. If you listen closely, you can actually hear the quill scribbling quietly as you make your way down the old streets. The sound pauses as you stop for a moment to dodge a rickshaw, cough up some phlegm and move along again, the quill scribbling softly after you.

CleverJoe stopped hearing the quill after a mango lassie and rough haircut at the local barber which included a surprise Ayurvedic eyeball massage. With dark, pulsating spots in his eyes, he staggered through the twisting alleyways towards the guesthouse in Thamel, looking forward to getting to his room and relaxing with a drink and something sharp to poke out his flaming eyes.

As luck would have it, Clever took a wrong turn and quickly became lost in the maze of narrow streets that make up the old part of Kathmandu. It was late afternoon, and the sun was quickly disappearing. Realizing it would be difficult to navigate the darkening streets in a city where street lamps were a premium, Clever ducked into the nearest shop his eyes could 'spot'. Little did CleverJoe know that he had just stumbled into the very epicentre of the Nepalese music scene.

Rubbing his eyes and surveying what would become his personal spiritual retreat for the next few weeks, CleverJoe sighed, coughed, then jumped in surprise as a brown hand thrust itself at him between two djembes. "Namaste" said the voice attached to the arm, and Joe shook the hand. CleverJoe could barely take in the scope of what his clearing eyes were seeing. Looking around the inside of the small shop, Nepalese and Indian music instruments of all manner were piled from the floor to the ceiling. In all directions were sitars, harmoniums, tablas, sarangi 'violins' and of course, stacks and stacks of the popular Nepalese double-sided hand drum, the Madal.

The person attached to the arm turned out to be a Nepalese gentleman named Ram. And it was Ram, who for the next few weeks would be CleverJoe's guide along the magical musical instrument mystery tour. Ah, such a delicious time of discovery and fresh ginger tea.

There is something universal about musicians hanging out at their local music store, and Canadian musicians are no exception. It's true that Ram's music shop has a certain Asian flare to it that is tough to beat back home, but as CleverJoe likes to say about Canada in January:

    "There snow place like home".

To help guide you through all four seasons of the Canadian musician's path:

And just in case you have a hankering to hang out at Ram's music shop, or simply if you want to travel to Nepal become enlightened a là Leonard Cohen:




At 14.4.09, Blogger Small Flowers Crack Concrete said...

really found the article interesting.


Post a Comment

<< Home