Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The longest day of this tour

Am sitting at the Logan airport in Boston as I type this. Another tour of the US is over and it has been so power packed and hectic. Thanks to the tour sponsor Bhargavi Sundarrajan, my accompanists Nagai Muralidharan and Neyveli Venkatesh and the warmth and love of the numerous rasikas, organisers and hosts, I go back in an extremely happy and joyous frame of mind. It has been like this every single time I finished an overseas visit and this time it is no exception. The only difference to the previous occasions is that I sit down and pen my thoughts immediately in this blog. For years I wanted to write a diary and never could do it. There was this pressure to write something every day and things never got on track. Blogging is so different. I can write or not write and still not feel any pressure. At the same time I can record a few things that I go through and feel nice about it.

17 concerts in 35 days can be quite exhausting but my experience has been more on the lines of a great workout at the gym. Am feeling so refreshed and ready to get back home and start looking forward to more activity. US tours have a way of rounding off one's music. I always felt that my first tour in 1995 was the one that convinced me that I could take music as a serious full time career. After several such tours today my mind is already thinking about the things that I tried here, managed to pull off, flopped here and there. I am already excited about taking them up in India especially in the music season. For instances I sang some RTPs in ragams that I had not done in past like Desh and Dwijavanti. I was particularly happy with the latter as I had struggled with it in the past. I must say that a recording of TNS that I found and some help and encouragement from Nagai Muralidharan helped me along more than anything else.

It felt good to catch up with a few old friends from previous tours and things have hardly changed. Yes the price of gas has gone up, so has the cost of food in airports not to mention Starbucks. But I made a start by getting used to some of the black coffee served on the planes especially Southwest and this basically took care of my daily quota of caffeine. The disappointment was not being able to keep up with a thirteen year tradition of visiting Dayton, Ohio this time.

So after all that the last concert was probably the longest day of the tour. On saturday last we had just wrapped up the concert at Austin, TX and went to sleep only by about 1 am. We had a flight to catch the next morning at 7 am. So we got up on Sunday at 4 am. We reached the airport only to discover that the flight was delayed. As it is we were due to arrive only at 1.40 pm in Boston and they had already postponed the concert by an hour to 5 pm. By the time we landed in Charlotte to catch our connection it was 12 noon.We had to traverse the entire airport in Charlotte to reach our gate and the walk was a good 25 minutes even at a brisk pace and I am reasonably fit at the moment I tell you. We just had time to grab a bite before we boarded the flight especially given that it was lunch time and there were long queues at all the food joints. We landed in Boston at 3 pm and had to wait 35 minutes for our baggage to arrive. US Airways yesterday put the Indian Airlines of old to shame! We finally managed to reach the venue directly from the airport experiencing a bit of the famed 'Boston dig' and missing our way as the GPS got as confused as everyone else.

We still managed to start the concert on time after a few visits to the restroom who's location was the farthest I have seen on the tour from the performing stage. Thankfully the concert went well and the audience was in a more forgiving mood to tolerate what I managed. The saving grace was that I pulled off the Dwijavanti in the midst of all this. I think the adrenalin was pumping more because it was the end of the tour. After the concert we reached the hosts' place only to find the outside temperature at the lowest since we landed 5 weeks back! So in what was the longest day of the tour we had so many different varying experiences that more than made up for everything else to give us the usual well rounded US tour experience that we may have missed!

Things haven't stopped because I reached the airport and found an attendant telling me that my reservation has been canceled and I cannot get back home! So finally after more talk and explaining etc etc I am here at the gate waiting for the announcement to board the flight. I am probably writing more of this because things have gone like clock work and a special special thanks to Bhargavi Sundarrajan for planning and executing things to perfection.

Ps: Sitting in Brussels airport with access to the net I think I can finally post this today.