I am a hardened and dedicated music fan! I am never happier than when lounging at a festival on the grass with the sun shining or seeing live music in small venues. I also love travel (I suspect I’m not alone) and at my happiest when exploring local markets, hiking foreign trails and drinking strange beer in amazing countries.
Why Travel and Music?
The two fit together so well it is as if some divine creation looking to reward the human race chose two of the most enjoyable pleasures available and sent them to earth. I travel nowhere without music swarming through my headphone cables; that includes the tube to work, the supermarket aisles and at home. Even as I sit here typing ferociously away on the keyboard, the sweet voice of Blondie fills the warm Greek Island air like fireflies warming to a candle flame. I like the complete detachment from the dulcet tones of everyday life and the ability to replace this with my own play list. Some may say I am missing out on what is around me but I say (are you ready for this folks)…it puts a stride in my step and makes it easier for me to remember where I am at certain times in my life. Example: when I hear Pink Floyd it takes me back to sitting by the water at a campsite in Patagonia, watching a sea of water swept up from the heavy winds breathe its way across the watery surface. When I hear Portishead it takes me back to Italy when I came out to my parents, and when I hear Coldplay (just for the record I am not a fan now) it reminds me of a border crossing from Argentina into Bolivia. So you see for me, music is a catalyst to remember times in my life and when I hear those same grooves pulsating through café speakers or passing cars it takes me back to another time and another place. I may hear Blondie in a few years and think of sitting on my Greek balcony and smile sweetly.
When I lived in China and went shopping in the Silk Market (if you’ve been you will understand what I mean) I would crank up my headphones to avoid the onslaught of stall sellers beckoning and dragging into shops. They can be quite ferocious and I have a tendency to want to acknowledge everyone who speaks to me, thus with a hand-selected playlist filling my eardrums I managed to escape them. The same in the Aswan bazaar in Egypt, after a year I was still harassed like the day I arrived, fresh faced and ready to snap up the bargains. Music filled that gap, or at least my ears from keen salesmen looking to accost me and my wallet.
Long bus rides and music are the perfect combo. I remember before iPods when faced with a 20 hour bus ride, I would buy a 10 pack of AA batteries and perpetually work my way through the lot until Bob Marley was singing at two paces slower than normal, just in time to arrive at my destination. Now iPods stay charged and I love it. No more packs of disks filling my pack and sadly, no more cheap CD’s to buy. I am a sucker for cheaply ripped music such as on the Khao San Road in Thailand or Potosi in Bolivia. Anyway I digress; there is nothing better than putting on some incredible sounds on a long bus ride and staring out the window at the changing scenery. Like I said, it is creating your own playlist to suit the environment, see where I’m going with this now?
That leads me to a question for the readers but let me set the scene first. You are travelling through India and all is well with the world. The temperature is perfect, ok I take that back, the temperature is not sweltering and humid, people are smiling, kids are playing football, sweet aromas fill the air and you stumble upon a CD salesman. Your foot starts tapping and delicious music fills your ears. You stop to ask what the name of the artist is and consider buying it, cooking a nice Indian meal for your friends at home with throw cushions to sit on and incense burning in the background. Could this be your best idea ever? So my question is do you ever listen to the CD’s when you get them home? For me I load them onto my iPod and tend to forget about them. That is not to say that I won’t listen to it as everyone has bad music on their iPods, and it needs to be there, it has a place in the world. All music is perfect for specific situations and when that time comes and you have the killer sounds of an Asian monk chanting or whale noises you will be the hit of the party.
On another note, I used Sennheiser headphones for a long time, I was a brand loyal customer for about 8 years. However, due to their poor shelf-life and terrible customer service to back up their products I have since explored other brands and been more pleased than before. Just a little warning – because I care.
I leave you with a memory which has stuck with me. It isn’t one of those life affirming moments which makes you jump up and scream, it is rather unassuming and I haven’t mentioned it before. I was waiting for a long bus ride to Istanbul from a place called Olympos, set inside an orange grove, near roman ruins and a hop skip and a jump from the beach (if you haven’t been it is really special). I was lying in a hammock and there was no one around. The staff were cleaning up and getting ready for the day and put on a Rebirth of Cool soundtrack at low volume. My feet sank into the raised edges of the hammock, softening and relaxing until they became irrelevant, my arms hung down the sides like deflated balloons and my head nestled sleepily into the confines of a warm space. The music sent me off into a peaceful daydream and couldn’t have been more perfect. When I hear that same CD (which I did go out and buy by the way) it reminds me of lazy days in Turkey before a long bus ride.
Could that be perfection folks? I think so. Happy grooving.