July 18th, 2013
At the risk of sounding morbid, let me observe, that we come into this world with nothing save our potential, and we leave with nothing save our past experiences, which exist only in memory. And if your memory is also taken away, you leave this world with nothing as well. In between we accumulate much, skills, friends, money, things, but of course in the end, it all goes. So the natural question is,” what is the point?” And the best answer is that, “I don’t know but that still life is precious and it moves on and on until it is over”. This trip for me have been some simulation of that grand journey in a way. I’ve had a number of losses and still I must carry on and try to find the value and to put things in perspective. And maybe that is the lesson, that things can and must be put into perspective.
After getting home at 3 am I set all 8 of my alarms and woke up at 6 am, much to the horror of the other 7 people sleeping in the same room as me (this is the reality of budget travel most of the time). I arrived at the airport early as usual and passed out in my airline seat until we arrived in Barcelona a few hours later. Things were going fairly well. I collected my things, found the train, bought the ticket etc. I even had some Euros left over from Prague to pay for the train. As soon as I got on the train, all hell broke loose. A man seemed to take charge of me and directed me into the train and told me to stand there. As I walked by him, I felt someone, probably him, go for my wallet. I walked past to where he was telling me to stand to the other end of the car where a man was holding an uprght bass in a case. Around him were some other men holding instruments. I asked them if it was possible to play street music in Barcelona and where was a good place to play. “No you can’t play here. The police control everything. What do you have?” I told them. “Then play with us now”. And like magic, the man whipped off the cloth over the bass, the other 2 men pulled an accordian and a sax out of their bags and within seconds they were playing a kind of jazz. It was the song “Sway with me”. I knew it and they played it well. “I thought you said it was illegal.” “It is but all the guards on the train are our friends so dont worry, play with us.” I was tired and surprised but I figured, hey why not. It seemed like a good and bad omen. So we played and I sounded at least as good as they did and it was fun and I was the center of the attention of the car. Other passengers were hugging their bags to their chests, I guess they heard about pickpockets. My luggage was sprawled all over the car but it didnt matter. They asked me to play another song. I chose an easy one , “All of me” . They tried to play it but really couldnt. Maybe their repotoire was limited to 1 or 2 songs. As I played the other alto player walked around collecting money. As I took my solo he filled up his cup with coins and as quickly as they had started they were gone. They didnt even give me a Euro. Ok, they needed it more than I did but hey fair is fair. Ok. Hello Barcelona. I realized that my phone was dead as i tried to take a picture and so was my camera. How would I call the guy from the room to tell me how to get there. Luckily luckily I had copied the number down, but I had no way to call. After I arrived, I had to beg to use someone’s phone. Some nerdy guy finally agreed to let me make the call for 1 Euro, about $1.30 . hello Barcelona, still I was thankful. they guy came, Xavi. He seemed nice enough. We went to a cafe where he bought me a coffee. We went to the room. About the size of a broom closet, but I didnt care. I finally had my own room. However it was on the top floor (66 steps…I count steps you know) , which was ok. I could always use exercize,but the bad part was that the window didnt open. It was like a smelly furnace in there. Hello Barcelona. After taking a nap, I walked around the Sant Anguel area, about 15 minutes subway ride from the tourist center. It was strange but I ran into xavi again and he suggested that I go down and walk around the center area called Ramblas. There I discoverd the truth. There were no musicians at all. it was barren. There were thousands of tourists and a prime place for playing but no one. I ran across one guy carrying an instrument. He filled me in. The police are strict here. You can play only with permission. If you want permission then you have to stand in a lotterry and you are assigned a place and a time. There it was. My plans were ruined. I couldnt play in barcelona. Barcelona is not the place for me. I should have just gotten on the train and flew out of there but I had a room for a week and I DID want to see the architecture of Gaudi, so there it was. I would be miserable for a week. First I had lost my amp in Prague but I found other street musicians. Now I had lost even that. Could things continue to go badly. Yes, they would.