Going on tour with Aditya Balani was a blast! The tour in a nutshell was four gigs, in three places, all more or less sponsored by the Goa Jazz Festival. The first night in Bombay was a super lame venue called D’Bell, which is obviously some rich guy’s attempt at making a club from a formula, laid out in a book somewhere. The entire place was reflective, so the sound was rough. The smoke machine was a nice touch but every time it was turned on in drowned out our subtle jazz lines, even though really in Adi’s band we all just shred. The drinks were expensive and they only offered the musicians Budweiser. The true highlight of our gig in Bombay was Francis, the young chap who picked us up from the airport and got us to the gig and got us out. He helped convince the taxi driver that it was actually necessary to strap down the back hatch of our taxi van, which didn’t appear to latch and threatened to spill my keyboard, Isaac’s cymbals, and all of our luggage onto the Bombay streets if we hit a bump a little too hard. Francis also gave us his take on his fair city, explaining that it ‘fuckin sucks’ and that all the super poor people have smart phones. He took us to eat some really really spicy pizza sauce that he called Indian food. And he was just generally a hooligan, and a fun guy to have around. At one point he described his hospital stay for a nasty fall he took off a cliff as being 9 weeks. Then he followed that up with, “that’s almost a YEAR bro!” We worked out the math as he hastily ordered the check from the impressively patient restaurant owner.
That night we stayed with Kshitij, a friend of a friend who I’m glad to know because he seriously hooked it up. Kshitij is a fashion designer and all around good dude. Kshitij you reading this? We made that Wednesday night as adventurous as we could, and we even woke up at 7am to take a walk before taking the cab to Pune, our next destination.
We didn’t see much of Pune, we just enjoyed the ride, where I got some great GoPro footage of Spencer scratching his nuts during a heavy nap. We went straight to the venue in Pune and my gawdddd was it incredible. One of the best places I’ve ever played. Incredible food, drinks, service, vibe, etc. Check it out: Shisha Jazz Café. The ambience was amazing, a huge open air shed, like HUGE, filled with beautiful jazzy décor and hungry people. That gig went super well and after stuffing our faces we went to some hotel and ate Apple Strudel at 2am with some new friends. There we met Abhishek, another friend of the same friend, and so here we were getting hooked up with cool friends from a cool friend (Andrea, if you should ask).
The magic really starts here though, in Goa. We flew to Goa the next morning and were shuttled to our beach cottage straight away. And when I say beach cottage I mean it. We were right there on the ocean, or a short walk away at least. We went for a swim in the warm murky water, and got ready for our gig that night. It was a small crowd at a bar that had a bit too many wicker chairs painted white to kill the vibe, but it went well. Isaac actually played so hard that he accidentally threw a drumstick at me. I picked up my keyboard and tipped it over onto his drum set like a toppled dinner table and then Spencer and Adi started sword fighting with their instruments. We didn’t finish the show, everything was a mess. Like I said, we shred.
The food at this place was amazing! The chef even took a picture with us, but then he gave me a broken email to send it to, and it’s bounced back a few times. Shame, because he really deserves this smiley photo. It’s very clear we loved the fish curry. I’m pretty sure that night was our first night to sleep, and we had Lucy in tow (Spencer’s lovely girlfriend), who flew all the way in from Seattle and met us in Goa, what a champ. So for the first time in a few nights, we really slept.
I don’t know what happened the next few days, but it all falls under the umbrella of pure magic. Our amazing friends from France who we met in Delhi (mentioned previously I believe) had serendipitously decided to travel to Goa at this time and we worked it out for them to come stay with us for the first few nights and we had such an incredible time. We played our second gig that night after a full day of hardcore chilling. I also met Geeta, my fantasy wife from a small village around the corner who works on the beach peddling random beachy junk to tourists that step into her tarp/corrugated tin roof shed that she so innocently guards.
That night Adi drove to North Goa with Nitika (who works for Wikipedia, how cool is that??) and we never saw him again. North Goa is the more party-oriented area of Goa. We stayed behind to chill. And chill we did. That day we rented scootys for only 300 rupees + 100 for the petrol, which is equivalent to about $6.50. There were 8 of us so we had 4 scootys, and I was enjoying my time with Heloise as my passenger.
So we hopped on our scooters and fought through the super chill Goan traffic towards the village of Verna. We were in search of a particular ‘waterfall’ with healing properties but ended up finding a different one just by asking random people on the side of the road. We made it, swam, laughed with some locals, even ate some Chicken Biryani that they gave us (MMMM incredible) and experienced the strange sensation of hundreds of small fish nibbling at your skin in water that is so murky you can’t even see two inches deep. After we found a private swimming hole not too far upstream and allowed the ladies to de-clothe with the trust that we wouldn’t stare like the locals would, we took a few funky underwater photos and were on our way. We ate at a restaurant just down the road, completely empty, and I wonder how they stay open, they’re in the middle of nowhere next to this waterfall…
On our way back we took a different route and accidentally ended up at a beach where we played soccer with some locals on the sand and Pierre and I both equally messed up each others feet in one crazzzzzy kick. Then we dipped in the ocean and headed home to return the motos by sunset. We made it just in time and were spitting out the twilight bugs as we cruised into port and returned the scootys. I gave the key and helmet to someone else, I was so out of it, and almost risked the moto getting stolen, but I figured it out, despite my sudden memory freeze.
Then we happened upon this guy singing karaoke at a hotel (his own solo show) and he literally sounded exactly like Sting. It was INCREDIBLE.
The night was laid back, we ate some decent food at a place down the beach and walked back and staked our claim on a small patch of sand in front of our cottage and did some nice chilling into the night.
Then 2:30 rolled around and the fishermen started to come for their boat so Spencer started helping them push it and what was thought to be an invite only trip ended up getting Heloise and I on the list as well and we shipped off into the night on a rickety wooden boat with 8 men in their underwear chanting work songs as we carried a net out to sea in order to catch us some anchovies. I wish I could describe it, but it literally was like a dream. It was like being in a boat with Vikings, just minus the spikey hats. One guy was in his underwear, and he was the main dude, shouting at all the rowers, and the work songs went on forever as they rowed and rowed out to sea, not too far from the shore. Then after an hour or so when we had dropped the net and I guess the guys on shore were pulling it back in, we were serenaded by the sound of millions of anchovies fighting for their lives as the impending net closed in around them. It sounded like the hardest rain I’ve ever heard, and every once in a while one of them would leap into the boat and flop around in the ankle deep puddle at the bottom that kept getting larger. It was incredible and deserves my full attention some day, not just a quick mention in a blog.