Thursday, May 12, 2005

Cheezy and Sentimental

On Tuesday night I headed out on my usual route, first I hit the Ladies Night at Fez and then off to Reggae @ PARC. I was pretty worn out after work and was not really in the mood to go out but I had promised my buddy Teddy that I would deliver him something.

I started playing the Djimbe (West African Drum) when I was about 16 years old, and I have always had an interest in percussion instruments. When I went to college I did not have my drum but I returned to Ghana during my first summer away and I brought back a Djimbe with me. I hauled this heavy teak drum from Ghana, through London, through Detroit where we were redirected through Ottawa. I spent a night sleeping on the floor of the airport with this drum between my legs so it would not get stolen. My flight was again re-directed through Vancouver and I finally made it back to Honolulu with my new drum some days later.

My Djimbe kept me company when I was just stoned at home or chilling out at the beach with my buddies. I remember when Big Amit would sit on the drums side for hours sippin his whiskey, tappin along to the tunes that were playing as we lounged around our apartment. We played along with my friend Zarin’s acid jazz band, GIVA. On multi-cultural day, Rishi, Ro, and I sat on Fort Street Mall paying in unison and singing old Bob tunes. When Amber and I were alone in Hawaii one summer I ran short of cash and ended up playing on the streets of Waikiki just for a few nights. I made about 15-20 bucks a night which paid for a couple of hot dogs at 7-11 and a few 40’s of Mickey’s. Once an Elvis impersonator with a camera crew even came up to me and the drum and shot a short scene for the local news with us jamming for him while he swung his hips. We found beats together at numerous drum circles in the park.

I remember sitting on the edge of spitting caves with the Djimbe between my knees playing soft beats while watching whales dance close to the horizon. We went to Kauai together where I met a young guy with dreads chilling out in a cave that sang some sweat tunes and showed me some new beats. The Djimbe came to Maui as well where we played together beside the bonfire. We left Hawaii and ventured back to Ghana and I spent some time learning rhythms with the old Rasta’s on the beach. Every given Sunday, my dog Bacchus, the drum, and I would be planted on the sand chewing kebabs and drinking star beer. Yes Bacchus too… But not the drum, because drums don’t drink and eat. We came back to Jakarta together.

How many nights Neeraj, B, Ash, and I have sat beside the fire at Pelabuan Ratu jamming tunes and singing till the sun came up. Shoots, I even remember now that we played at a rave together here in Jakarta but it didn’t go too well cause we popped too many. Me, not the drum, because drums don’t do drugs. Basically I have had this drum a fucking long time and we have seen a lot of shit together. I have tightened him so many times and I guess he just had enough. The skin tore last summer. I have other drums, in fact I have a brand new one at home that my brother-in-law brought in for me last Christmas. So there was no real love lost when I offered it to my friend Teddy and his reggae band who wanted to re-skin it.

I took my old Djimbe with me last night and I handed it over to Teddy at the bar. He was fukin thrilled. I watched a few people mill around the drum, turn it over, look inside its hollow shell, and tap at the torn skin. And it hit me. I leaned over to B and said, “Dude, I have had that drum for fuckin ages”. I watched him sitting in the corner with all these new people and it felt kind of strange. It is totally not me to be so sentimental and cheesy but what the fuck. We aint getting no younger and life seems to be just passing by. You can’t hold on to the past forever.

If you could speak I am sure you would have many stories to tell. Here are some pictures from the old days.


Shan said...

*sigh* Nice one - I really miss jammin' especially when I'm listening to some great jazz tunes at my local after work, sippin on a couple of cold ones and watching the sun go down by the waterfront. I feel you bro! It ain't easy giving up something you obviously love so much - but at least now someone else will hopefully have as many happy memories with it as you did :)

Avi said...

Thanks Shan. But I am gonna make sure you get one wikid jam session in when you come here.