Monday, June 1, 2009

Another last day of the tour ordeal!

As I am waiting to be kicked out of my hotel room in Paris because they have a check out time, I though I'll jot down another 'last concert of the tour' ordeal that happened yesterday.

Somehow these last concerts of a long tour have something about them that make it quite a long and arduous affair. Though there are a lot of pleasant memories about yesterday's experience (which I will write shortly) I just felt like describing the 'ordeal' part of it.

Saturday night we had a big concert at the Theatre de la Ville in Paris and by the time everything ended, we had dinner and crashed it was 2.00 AM. We were due to travel to Correns in the south of France for our last concert of the month long European tour. The train was at 7.15 am, and was a 3 hour ride on the TGV from Paris to Aix en Provence. From there we had a an hour's drive to Correns. The train was comfortable but then we had to get up early and be at the station. After we got into the train, we found that the staff at the cafe on the train was on strike, so no refreshments available. Fortunately I had bought some breakfast stuff at the station even though our contact had said we can eat on the train. That atleast gave us the fuel to last the train ride.

We reached Aix en Provence at 10.30 and were picked up by a car. Halfway through the drive they realised that we had not picked up another musician who was due to perform at the festival in Correns. So we went back to pick him up and by the time we reached Correns it was 12 noon.

We had some good food waiting for us and an hour's rest before the sound test at 1.30. It was bright and sunny and the venue was an open air one. As we finished the sound test at 2.00 pm clouds gathered! Our concert was only at 5.00 pm so people were not really worried. We roamed around the streets of the quaint little village for a few minutes and came back to get some rest. This was a festival and there were several bands and musicians. So resting place was most noisy with musicians playing and singing etc. A jolly experience by itself but not for us three weary travellers from India at that moment.

Meanwhile the sky was getting darker and the technicians started covering the stuff on stage. We still did not know whether they will go ahead with the concert because of the rain threat. It was a bit like a cricket match with the skies darkening just before start of play. At about 4.45 they decided that since it had not started raining they would go ahead with concert. We got ready and as we were about step on stage it started to rain! It was dark, gloomy and chilly for 3 hours and raindrops fell at that precise moment when were due on stage.

So within 10 minutes an alternate venue was set up, and the concert began immediately in about half an hours time. The wait and uncertainty had really made us nervous with some of resembling expectant fathers outside the maternity ward at Isabel's hospital in Chennai as we paced up and down looking at the sky!

The concert went off well, the people were most gracious and accepting and we had a good time on stage. As I finished Kambhoji raga alapana, and the audience was still unsure whether to clap or not, because they did not know if they should at that moment, a young kid lying down on his mom's lap launched a spontaneous applause!

Anyway we finished dinner, drove back through a long winding mountain road on a full stomach clutching our intestines, as the driver with his experience of taking fast turns with power steering on a speedy Peugeot van reminded us a of a ride from Kothagiri to Coonoor on a Matador van! We reached the station and caught the train to reach Paris at about 1.00 am and in time to be in bed at 2.00 AM! I looked back at a post I made some months back on a similar 'last concert of the tour' exerience and thought to myself history has a way of repeating itself.