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#TravelingBandJournal: Tales from the Orient from Swarathma's Hong Kong Tour

We play a regular corporate show but have a great time exploring Hong Kong - savoring the many gastronomical delights followed by an impromptu-gig at Land Kwai Fong

Passports, check. Forex, check. Air tickets, check. Don’t need visas. Packed, locked and loaded and off on our first ever tour of Hong Kong! It came as a bolt from the proverbial blue, what with it being a corporate enquiry: they wished for a ‘non-Bollywood’ act who would play for an evening of fun and frolic for a bank’s high net-worth Indian clients as they sipped cocktails and reminisced about the smell of the earth back home and why they wouldn’t ever go back. Right up our street. OK who cares, we’re just about to head out there and have a blast!

There is much to be said about the quiet efficiency of Jet Airways. The crew both on the ground and in the air appear largely at peace with the world, and hence do not vent ire on their hapless customers, as we experienced on our last trip on Air India: where the most rabid of the inmates of the Ladies Wing of Tihar Jail were given preference in the job interview for cabin crew. We landed in Hong Kong at peace. Upon landing, sound engineer Niranjan was mysteriously whisked away by an enigmatic lady in the immigration department: rumour has it that he was asked his sixteen times tables which he rattled off laconically, and was hence let off, as he proved to be a fine upstanding citizen, and of no risk to the residents.

[Photo-1] The instructions to pirates, "Draw your swords, me hearties and give no quarter" - this bit did not make it to the photo! (Pic: Montry Manuel)

[Photo-2] Your Goose is Cooked. $55 Only. (Pic: Montry Manuel)

[Photo-3] We have a real head-start. Happy heads, too.

With Sanjeev and Jishnu the more culinarily experimentative type, we lost no time in trying out some authentic Cantonese barbecued goose, sweet and sour pork among other marvels. Over the next couple of days we would dabble in dim-sums stuffed with prawn and shrimp, Sichuan (not the spelt the ‘Szechuan’ way) prawns, fried dumplings, and fried squid tentacles. Oooh, delicious!

The show itself was like most other hard-boiled corporate shows. Every imaginable luxury (sound, dressing rooms, the works) only missing an engaged audience. We got done with it real quick and headed out to Lang Kwai Fong, where the party was really at! That was where some friends of ours talked the club owner into letting the ‘band from India’ get on stage! Then followed 15 minutes of bliss – suffice it to say that the Cantonese learned Kannada, and we had a ball!

Much of the night was spent walking the streets of Hong Kong island (where the action is) and Kowloon island (where we stayed). We came away with some pleasant memories of the ferry harbour, the broad steps of which were lounged upon, the benches of the tree-lined boulevard skirting it were jammed upon, and the pleasant breeze blowing in from the harbour was breathed in with much gusto.

[Photo-1] Bonnie and Sammy of HK band Purple Fruits. We met them by the harbour-front and had a memorable jam!

[Photo-2] The Discover Bay ferry comes around the bend. Lovely lights. (Shaky Pic: Jishnu Dasgupta)

Tom Lee Music is a must-visit if you’re a musician in Hong Kong: with one of the largest shop floors in Asia, they’re the closest to wonderland you will get! We picked up a kick-ass Tama snare drum, jam block, gong sticks, tuners and assorted accessories for the road, and at bargain prices! Tom Lee has a dozen showrooms across Hong Kong but the one in Kowloon is the largest. They even have performance venues and workshops too. Check it out if you get a chance!

All too soon the tour was at an end…  with the exception of our tickets being messed up a quick detour of Chennai owing to bad weather prevailing over Bangalore, and that Jishnu’s bass flight case was smashed, it was an uneventful trip back.

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