I’m taking some time off from the regular dose of travel-related posts that I dish out to talk a little bit about a new band doing the rounds in Pune nowadays. Hourglass Inversion (formerly Hourglass) is an alternative/progressive rock band making a name for itself in the local music circles lately.
My association with the band is through its vocalist Yayati, and drummer Chetan. Both these guys were with me during my B-school days and never left an opportunity to make my life miserable. In fact, so notorious was Chetan for the torture he inflicted upon freshmen that his nickname, even to this day, is Satan! Now I’m certain they’ll be eager to get hold of me for letting word out of their true nature, so under pressure to save my neck I’ll admit that I kid about the facts. Even though Chetan’s nick is still Satan, neither he, nor Yayati were ever bothered about ‘dealing’ with freshmen. They were always up to necks in music, and I was fortunate to have witnessed them perform many times during college. My friendship with Yayati grew out of admiration for his musical abilities, and it has persevered through the years solely, I think, on the basis of loving the arts. He even tried to teach me how to play the guitar, but I had already committed to photography. Someday I’ll pick up the six-string again, and then we shall jam together.
Anyway, back to Hourglass Inversion. The other two band members are Amit (lead guitars), and Hemant (bass). Together, these four make a solid base to create music. Their inspirations may be individual, but their visions for music have been combined to come out with a sound that is unique, and easy to listen to despite being progressive/alternative in nature. They have been doing gigs within the city for the past year, and have played at some big-name places such as Not Just Jazz by The Bay, Soul, Elysium, and at the 2011 Bryan Adams Rockathon. They have had media coverage in magazines and on radio, and have just come out with their first EP. Work on a web-site is presently under-way, and you’ll be able to sample their music once it is up and running. In the meanwhile, have a gander over at their Facebook profile – Hourglass Inversion, where you can listen to their first track – Someday.
I came to Edinburgh today and thankfully the Youth Hostel here wasn’t hard to locate. It was a short walk from the bus station. The hostel itself is quite a departure from the others I’ve stayed in so far, mostly up in the highlands. It’s much larger, has a huge number of rooms, and is open all day long. I’ve grown quite fond of these hostels, funnily, and I do believe they make it so much easier for someone on a budget to travel around a country such as Scotland in relative comfort and security.
I rested for a short while after checking into the hostel and then proceeded to take a walk on the streets of the city. The architecture is certainly distinctive and has elements such as the few cobbled streets, especially in the old town, that speak of days gone by. It’s also very crowded, and the whole place seems to have been overrun by people from out-of-town, looking to capture some of the enigma that Edinburgh, as the capital of Scotland, is associated with. I was admittedly one of them, although being alone allows me a certain degree of detachment from the whole process, while retaining the curiosity and willingness to explore.
Once again, having no fixed agenda or desire to only see the monuments, but rather giving into whatever I feel like doing at any point of time allowed me to catch a faint tune while I was taking a walk through the Princes Street Gardens. At first it seemed as if I was hearing things, because even as I stood at the same spot where I thought I had heard the sound, all I could make out was the wind ripping across the branches and leaves of the trees nearby along with the cackle of a group of youngsters chatting nearby. Just as I moved I heard the sound again, and this time I was sure I wasn’t imagining stuff. It sounded like a flute or a saxophone, and as I followed the notes over the air, I found this young fellow standing in the middle of the walkway in the park playing his instrument while resting on the railing besides him. I shall refrain from stating the instrument he was playing because, frankly, I don’t know and I didn’t ask him. All I know is that the music he was playing was extremely good, and seemed perfect for the late evening ambience that prevailed at the time.
I sat down close to where he was playing and stayed there for 15-20 minutes, while people crossing both ways stopped, listened for some time and then walked away, or paid no heed to the beautiful sounds being created by this young fellow and his instrument, and went on with their (rather loud at times) conversations and walked right past. His tunes were melodious and soulful, and he seemed to be quite proficient in his playing, as one who has spent years practicing their craft. The music I heard sitting there that evening was a great way to get introduced to the city on my first day there. It never ceases to surprise me how having music can alter the way we perceive the world around us at any given point in time, irrespective of our own mood or state of mind. It was great timing that I was there when he was playing, because as I later found out he wasn’t a regular there, but was only playing for a short while on his way to the west of Scotland where he would soon commence his new job. Thank you, Ano (I hope that’s how you spell your name) from France, for making my first evening in Edinburgh such a great one.
A small set of images shot in and around George Square, Glasgow.
Music courtesy the street violinist who appears towards the end of the clip.
So I’m here in London for the time being. Last night was far longer than I imagined it would be. Although I had no reason to expect that I would’ve got out of Heathrow within an hour after the plane landed, I never quite thought it would take me more than two hours to get through immigration and collect my bags!!! I guess big hubs such as Heathrow always are crowded, despite being well staffed. Boy, was it a pain to stand in the immigration line for over an hour and a half only to get to the wrong baggage carousel (they’d taken off the markings for my flight by the time I got to the collection area because it had been more than 1.5 hours after the plane had landed!) It took a good three hours to get to the train station at Hanwell.
I planned to hire a cab from there to my aunt’s place, but nooo! No cabs available, so I start walking, keep walking, and walking, and walking for more than a kilometre (possibly more) with a 15 kg rucksack, and two 6 kg. bags, each in one hand. Up the street, over the crest, down the road and into the last street. Boy, was it a fun! Not.
Strangely though, it isn’t as cold here as I was expecting it to be. The temperature is hovering around 17 degrees C, which is far from cold. Thankfully I brought along this light jumper that worked perfectly last night, although in hindsight it would’ve been better left in the bag, what with all the physical exercise I was subjected to.
Had a good time trawling through Kensington High St. in the afternoon, followed by an extremely pleasant time in Holland Park. A single narrow path leads up into the park, with all kinds of people walking up and down; kids on tiny bicycles tearing down from one end to another and parents desperate to exercise (or at least display) some kind of control over them; young couples wandering aimlessly (ahem ahem!) from one bench to another; older people basking in the sunshine watching other people go by. The path eventually leads to a huge open grassy area where everyone seemed to be enjoying a beautiful autumn evening in the sun playing football with children, or with one another. Families were sitting around, talking and laughing while groups of girls and guys were sitting and talking about whatever topics interested them the most.
As I walked on the path leading up to the main park area, taking casual pictures of leaves and other inanimate objects, all bathing in the golden evening sun, the sound of somebody playing a song came to me, and it seemed to lift the mood of the place to another level altogether. I stood and listened, trying to recognize the song but hadn’t heard it before. Everyone who had previously been talking also stopped doing so, and listened to the notes that were being played out just a small distance away, their sound being carried into our ears by the cool evening breeze flowing through all the green, yellow and red leaves hanging from branches of all the trees that stood there with us. I decided to go check this out, for it was too good to pass on.
So I walked into the park area, and stood away from this bunch of guys who were sitting in the middle, one of who wielded a classical Ibanez. He seemed to be tweaking the strings, and that went on for a while. I kept standing a fair distance away, unsure whether he would play again. In the meantime I saw three small boys playing with their father. A kiddies bike belonging to one of them lay close to where I stood, and I bent down to take their photograph, hoping to trap some of that simple childhood fun in a frame. The youngest chap saw me sitting close to his bike and came running towards me claiming it! His brothers then joined him, and they stood there smiling at me. Before I had much of a chance to chat with them, they ran back to their father. Oh well, you get some and you lose some!
By this time guitar-boy (whose name is Lourenco) seemed to have finished tuning the guitar to his satisfaction, and was making the final tweaks before he started off with another song. I strode up to where he was sitting with his friends, greeted them all and told them I’d heard to the song played earlier and thought it was very good. I asked this guy’s permission to record whatever he was going to play, to which he readily agreed. With that I sat down with them, and one of they asked me more about what I was doing and I told them I was traveling around the UK and the US, trying to experience the life in these places, and the differences in the landscapes of their lands and their people. That seemed to pique their interest a fair bit, and Lourenco asked me if I had any particular song I wanted him to play to which I simply asked him to play anything he wished to. He began playing again, and a part of that song can be heard below. Once again, it just uplifted the spirit of the entire park when those notes started coming out of Lourenco’s fingers on the fretboard. The green grass; the sun bathing the entire field with golden light; people sitting and standing listening to Lourenco play and sing. It was the perfect concurrence of everything you could ask for on a Sunday.