I was nervous that morning. I know there is no real need to but I didn't know how it would take with some white westerner looking for money on the street in a far poorer country.There was also the police issue because Darjeeling is close to the Nepal and China borders. There seemed to be police/army men everywhere, although I will say that they seemed quite relaxed. I choose Nehru road, a pedestrian only street connecting to main two main locations in the town. It was located not far from Glenary's Restaurant and was near all the pashmina stalls.
I started setting up at around 11am, and I could instantly feel a large number of eyes beginning to stare at me. I bit the bullet and just turned around and strummed a few chords, the crowds gathered even more. I think the first song I played was the Bob Dylan classic, To make you feel my love. My songs choices mainly consisted of the classics and popular songs from "our" end of the world. I don't think the people knew many but they were certainly curious, happy and I felt they were impressed by what they heard and saw, probably a rare enough occurrence in this quite region of India.
I had no guitar strap and so made a make-shift one out of a leather belt (see picture). I layed my hat on the ground on a blue cloth I had purchased in Jaisalmer for the camel safari. On top of that was an A4 sheet with my web address and twitter name (went unrecognised I'm guessing!) and I had a few business cards I printed off before I left. People came very close and checked out the sign and took a card although I cant help but think I could make them a little clearer for non-English, semi-computer illiterate people. What truly surprised me here was the money I made and mostly from the locals. I accumulated over 1,300 Rupees in less than two hours, which although equates to not much in euros, in this currency it covered a train ticket to Varanasi (14 hours away), 2 nights kip in a budget guesthouse and the evening meal, sweet!!! Most of the money came from locals and generally in 10 rupee installments, once one came they all seemed to flood over. The odd white tourist would smile as to say fair deuce mate, are you really playing those songs here?! and usually walked on. I couldn't believe how generous the people were yet I couldn't help but think this region of India is a little more forgiving and knew that other places would not be as forward with payment or be willing to listen with such positivity and encouragement.
What did I learn from this;
Well I found that people love music and particularly love a person who has the guts to just stand up with a pair of balls in the name of entertainment and share their talents, that's no.1 and most important.
What could I do to improve;
I need to have some more songs, more complete and run them into each other. I am always conscious of this and always to a degree have my set like this, but I hadn't gigged in so long that I paused too often playing filler. Also I need to pace myself a little better, in less than two hours my throat was weakening as I seemed to sing higher ranged songs as I went to be heard. Although this is an essential point if aiming to play all day,however if I give it my all for 2 hours it will probably just be fine.
Awesome, encouraging start!
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