Expect the Unexpected!
Mexico happened to us by accident. And as much as I tried to get out of it, the organisers were quite persistent about wanting us to be a part of the ‘La Ciudad de las Ideas’ conference at Puebla, Mexico. A quick check with the band and I had a resounding “YES!” – 50+ hours of travel for one gig and it was worth it!
Our trip began with a quick stop in Delhi to play for the Bacardi meet for the entire Board of Directors of the company, and like all our shows for Bacardi, we played a fantastic set and headed straight to the airport. This is where it all began really …
We were booked to fly from Delhi to London, and then from London to Dallas, Dallas to Mexico City and then drive for 2 hours to Puebla. But this routing required all our flights to fly on time, well, atleast, somewhere in the vicinity of on time. But the first flight was delayed by 3 hours, and then sat on the runway fixing faulty equipment for 2 hours, so we were definitely missing our connection from London and as a result our last flight as well. We were all set to reach the airport at 1am and take our 3am flight and sleep all the way, but now, we were waiting for 5 hours till 6.40 when we started and reached a good 26 odd hours later, at 3am in our hotel in Puebla.
Except, there was one little surprise! – we checked 10 bags in, including all our instruments, our clothes and everything we required for our show and all 10 of those bags were misplaced. The staff at the airport assured us that the bags would reach by noon the next day and we should have no worries. So on we went, hoping that the little hiccup would be set aside soon and we would have one hell of a debut show in Mexico! However, the staff at the airport were wrong, and how. Our bags were stuck in London and would not reach at all on the day of the show, and we found that out the next morning, while we were still hopefully expecting our bags to show up magically and save the day!
The minute I realised that our bags were missing, I called Heena, from Gibson India, to put a contingency plan together, and I did not intend to use it really, but it had come to that now. Heena was a saving angel for us, she, along with her Mexican counterpart, Marcos, arranged for a Les Paul, a thunderbird and 2 acoustic guitars for Raghu to use and the folks at the festival arranged for that to be picked up and driven down to the show. However, even that would arrive too late for our first slot at the conference, so more calls were made to find guitarists in Puebla to find Raghu a guitar that he could use. But the big one was the Bamboo Flute set that Parth uses. There was NO WAY we were going to find a set of Bansuris (Indian Bamboo Flutes) that he could get to use.
So with our first sound check scheduled for 2pm and our first performance slot at 4pm, we went into the markets of Puebla at 11am, trying to find whatever we can to make the show happen.
Knowing that the guitars were coming courtesy of Gibson, we focussed on helping Willy and Parth find something, and after trying in about 8 different music stores, we figured that Parth was not going to be playing the flute for the show and instead bought a Melodica for him. Willy struggled for a bit but then found the sticks and brushes that he was looking for. Now it was time to see what we could do about our costume!
To make a long story short, after much searching for something that resembled what we would wear on stage, we realized that it was a futile effort, and getting all 5 of us into traditional Mexican clothes turned out to be much harder than we imagined, so for the first time in 6 years, we went on stage with our regular casual clothing.
The shows themselves were spectacular, we played a short acoustic set in the auditorium and a full blown set outside in the night to the 2000 people that had gathered there!
Thanks to American Airlines goofing up and being completely incompetent about our missing baggage, we were not able to sell any of our CDs to the many people who were asking for them, but I think the music itself made an impact. We met and made friends with SO MANY people and we definitely can’t wait to get back to Mexico!
PS: Many many thanks to Simone Sztrigler and Tesci for being amazing and for putting together a fantastic show! Also to Eder Olguin who helped us understand what everyone was saying to us in such rapid Spanish and also for taking us around town!
PPS: American Airlines – how awful is your baggage service? Raghu’s bags are still missing! one week after we flew on your airline!