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#TravelingBandJournal: 2010 UK Tour Diary - Landing in London

Updated: Apr 9, 2020

Taking in the sights of London including colonial memorabilia as the band gets to stay together in the charming suburb of Barnet

A first hand account of a bass player’s travels with a band in the UK. The only time the bass player is heard is now.

New Delhi airport baffles me. All those who fly in and out of the gateway to the capital regularly will know what I mean when I say that all airlines fly only to the outskirts of the city. Upon touching down at the extremities of the city, every aircraft begins a long and arduous drive through what seems to be peak hour traffic to the terminal which to all appearances is at the other end of the city. I swear I felt like I was back in Bangalore trying to negotiate old airport road at 7pm, except with aircraft and not vehicles. The day is not far when syrupy paperback sellers, trinket vendors and the guys who try to foist off sun-shades for your windows will make their appearance as you pause on the taxi-way waiting for traffic to clear. T3 we are told will make it all different, we’ll see.

The last time we were in London we were too excited to really notice the city. We were more like the sights from the window of the pickup van on the way to my cousin’s house. Chini is a doctor working at a hospital here in London and very graciously offered to host the whole band at her flat in East London. The last time around, we were split up and stayed apart which is always about half the amount of fun it is when we’re all together. As an example, even as I speak a battle rages on before me where Pavan and Montry are pummelling the crap out of each other for no apparent reason. The others stand around and bet on whoever they think will win. I suppose if you write serious music, it has to be offset somewhere. If they’re not too embarrassed by the video, they may even let me put up the video online.

We spent a delightful afternoon at a lovely little suburb of London called Barnet. Apart from the location (at the very edge of the tube map right under the ‘here lie dragons’ part) and that it takes about three years to get there on the tube, it was just perfect. Now we may not be authorities on London, none of us can speak eloquently of quaint little places or nice little cafes or even of places to see and do in the city with any confidence but Barnet we can tell you gladdens the heart. An unhurried pace of life is probably what took us.

[Photo] A wisp of cloud in a blue Swarathma sky

But what took us to Barnet, you ask? Indeed when we told most Londoners we went to Barnet they raised their eyebrows like two worms startled when they were about to kiss. Well, there’s a music store which held great promise but alas, we didn’t find what we were looking for. Except of course a terrific lunch at the Chipping Cafe; there’s something about inviting English cafes run by East Europeans. All the warm wooden furniture, the happy hand-painted menus and delicious aromas are rendered worthless by the icy stare behind the counter. “Ve do not zerve de tap vater’, barked the erstwhile Auschwitz guard when I requested for a glass of aqua. Which brings me to the price of bottled water – what do you spike it with here? Silver shavings? Why is it so frickin expensive?

Varun and I caught some of the exhibits at the British Museum, the loads of riches from around the world the noblemen on tour took back for their Raani ma as offerings. We couldn’t see it all of course, but gawking at a few thousand years of history did give us an idea of the smallness of our existence and how little we are in the scheme of things.

In the end I succumbed and picked up a Rosetta stone paperweight. Not that I am inundated by paper flying away in a breeze, but it felt like a nice thing to have. Nothing like weighing your bills down by an edict issued in three languages.

When we return: having Susheela Raman and Talvin Singh at our gig!

Text: Jishnu Dasgupta

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