Saturday, February 24, 2007

floyd and floating pigs over mumbai

Returning from a morning on the set after a couple of nights of not sleeping... I was so wiped out and I just slept a lot of the weekend. The Sunday night was another great night... a Roger Waters concert - the closest you can get to a Pink Floyd concert nowadays - something you only get to do once in a lifetime I think... especially since I missed out because of geographic location earlier in life. The amazing thing is that if it was LA I would have had to have bought tickets months in advance and they would have been major coinage... but I got these on Friday for me and 3 friends.... and they were for the best 'seats' (it's all standing room only) at 3000 rupees each (roughly $69 which seemed pretty amazing for what Roger Waters).

So.... my Indian brother Pavan came to pick me up... and he brought along Mandeep, my trusty friend, confidante and coordinator from work, who had been at his house for lunch and was travelling with us part of the way. We piled into an auto... quite a pinch all three of us, as those boys take up a bit of room. :) It was fun... we were in high spirits and there were lots of laughs. It was warm but a really nice day - the streets were alive as always and we saw the cats roaming around the fish market waiting for tasty morsels to fall.

Mandeep jumped out at an intersection, and we continued through neighbourhoods I haven't seen before, including the one where the leader of the Shiv Sena, Bal Thackeray lives. He was a cartoonist once... but is decidedly un-funny now. He started the ultra-conservative Shiv Sena political party in 1966 based on the beliefs that Maharashtrians deserve more rights in Maharashtra than those who are not from Maharashtra. There has been a lot of violence because of it.... and lots of the principles of hinduism seem to have been thrown by the wayside..... but then fundamentalist groups always do that, don't they. He sure lives on a pretty street ;)

Pavan and I reached the Bandra-Kurla complex... a huge area/street with big corporations on it...opposite the world's biggest slum. India is world of contrasts.... but you get used to it quickly in a strange way. It's a massive street... about 4 lanes on either side, which is something I hadn't seen for a long time, other than the highway. Of course... noone is actually following those lanes when they drive... so it's much more lively :)

We meet Uma, another coordinator, who is very excited to be coming to the concert. We've decided to meet at the ICICI Bank building and then catch an auto to the concert grounds... so we head there (after some confusion as to the direction... but following the mass of people seemed the way to go) and then find ourselves overwhelmed by the number of people! we thought since they hadn't sold anywhere near the full compliment of tickets at the top end, that the line would be short to get into the 3000 rupee area..... but we were way to hell and gone when we finally got to the end of the line!! I was trying to meet my friend Anil and his wife and friends... but there was little chance of that!

Finally... close to the time the concert was due to start, the 4th member of our group, Prem arrived. He had ridden his bike and had his bag with him... something the ticket said was forbidden... so I figured I'd play the 'girl' and 'firang' card and carry it myself. We were herded through the seperate sex screening - a regular thing here. The ploy seemed to work... there was some questioning but they let me in and I handed the bag back to Prem - no worries!

We only just got in and walked over to the stage as the concert began. We were so close... 20 feet if not closer! Incredible. Of course... being standing room.... and me being a midget... it wasn't the best view I could have had. But then... Indians are shorter than, say, Americans... so I was better off than I might have been. We looked up and a few people in front of us was a Bollywood star - Arjun Rampal. Hehe.... he didn't stay that close for too long but it was fun to see him up close and personal-like.

The concert itself is hard to describe. Roger Waters was amazing.. he sounded just like the albums. His band was phenominal. And he played hit after Pink Floyd hit. It was very moving. The whole stadium was singing each song... and I found myself choked up many times just overwhelmed at hearing the songs live and not really believing that I was doing so. The only thing that was a little disappointing was the light show... or lack of it. There was some nice pyrotechnics.... but not the giant computerized moving lights you think of with Floyd. But still.... it was wild. At one point a HUGE inflated pink pig balloon floated over the crowd. It had things written all over it.... very political statements... even some in hindi. [NOTE: follow that link and you will find a reference to the pig on Feb 18th 2007 in Mumbai ] A lot of general things, and some relevant to India about getting rid of the caste system and saying all religions are one. But right across the arse... 'Impeach Bush Now' :) sweet! The coolest thing... and none of us knew if it was scripted or not... it got loose from its ropes and just flew away.... into to the night air over Mumbai.... quite a sight to see.

The encore was unreal..... the whole stadium thundering and screaming 'we don't need no education'... and I couldn't help but remember the last day of primary school when we played that on a cassette and totally upset our teacher..... haha.... it was a great moment... and it must be an anthem for a generation I think. Then my favourite song of all... 'Uncomfortably Numb' .... big lump in the throat. I had my cell phone held up to record on its crappy video camera.... and so did everyone else. In the old days at a concert.... you would see everyone holding up cigarette lighters. Now it's the slightly blue glow of the cell phone screen. Modern technology.... it looks cool though.

I was a sweaty, numb-footed mess when the concert finished. We stood outside for a while hoping to meet friends but getting cell service was impossible and the sea of people made meeting pretty we headed on to find autos for Uma and Pavan, and I would catch a ride on Prem's bike. The weird thing was the way all the autos were acting.... they just did not want to give *anyone* a ride! It was quite odd.. still don't really know what the story was. Perhaps the masse of young people was a bit scary and they didn't want to risk it..... but they weren't stopping for anyone. We decided that Prem would give Uma a ride to her train and Pavan and I would start walking to a meeting spot.

It was a really fun walk.... VERY LONG but totally enjoyable with many people and a warm infectious evening. At one point, a long way from the stadium, we went past where a muslim wedding was ending.... and many women in long black burkhas were walking in front of me. The first one really caught my eye. She was so slim and so obviously had such a gorgeous figure underneath the black garment. I got a glimpse of her beautiful eyes. She walked with such a sexy attitude and was just so eye-catching and marvelous. Then coming up behind her, were three more women.. and their black burkhas were all covered in little black sparkling twinkling sequins and decorations...all stitched into the fabric. It was great to see how they were expressing themselves and all the lovely little touches coming through when at first you can't tell anything about them. It made me really smile.

We walked and walked.... all the way to the end of the Bandra-Kurla Complex Road... over bridges and past water.... to the edge of Bandra. Finally met Prem waiting on the bike, and Pavan was going to get an auto while we headed off on the bike. It was a great night!

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