Brad Spurgeon's Blog

A world of music, auto racing, travel, literature, chess, wining, dining and other crazy thoughts….

Saved by Turquoise Cottage, Delhi, Again – This Time in Gurgaon

October 31, 2012

Last night’s post from India warned: I thought I was headed for salvation in my hunt for open mics and jam sessions, and especially in one aspect of my challenge therein this year. Thanks to the Turquoise Cottage in Gurgaon, a city 30 kilometers south of New Delhi, and what feels like a suburb of the capital city, it was the whole deal. Whereas one week ago I played at the Turquoise Cottage in Delhi in a funky cool old neighborhood, this time it was in the other Turquoise Cottage located in a modern building on an ultra-modern strip of this city, full of shopping malls, McDonald’s, sports stores, etc.

But once inside Turquoise Cottage, it was the same vibe as the other. It is a recipe that has been going for 15 years now, and obviously worked so well that it expanded from the one in Delhi to the one in Gurgaon. This time there was no 16-piece folk ensemble, and there was, in fact, no Indian traditional music whatsoever. But there was a freewheeling jam and open mic, and I took advantage of both aspects.

I enjoyed immensely some of the other bands, singers and the Jimi clone guitarist. In fact, I liked the latter so much that I asked that he and his band stay up on stage when I played. We scraped through the first song – Mad World -, but got moving on the second – Wicked Game. Then I sang a few songs solo, just me and my guitar. Then I had a different drummer come up and we did a couple more, and then another drummer came up and we did a couple more again.

It was a great way to digest the dish of pasta and chicken…and that is not the right description for that oriental dish of whatever it was – but it was great.

The Turquoise Cottage is really worth going to if you are in Delhi – even taking the metro out to the one in Gurgaon, which is what I did. The feel is a little bit “Hard Rock Cafe,” with the walls covered with music memorabilia, etc. But the spirit is what the Hard Rock Cafe should be but is not, not even near.

So I got to do my jamming with local musicians – because there were no western musicians there last night, as there had been at the previous week’s jam session. So it’s Tuesday’s that the so-called “Rabbit Sessions” take place in Gurgaon, and Wednesdays in Delhi….

Quick and Short Delhi Update – a Final Eureka, I Thinka

October 30, 2012

It has been an insanely long time since I have posted on this blog from India, and there are probably some readers who are used to frequent posts from me wondering if I have caught malaria, dengue fever or a bad case of Delhi Belly. Quite honestly, there were moments I asked myself the same thing. But apart from a general feeling of fatigue and another cold – after Korea -, the silence on this blog has had nothing to do with any of those things. It has had to do with my situation in Delhi, however.

The race track that hosts the Formula One race that I cover for my newspaper is so far out of downtown Delhi where my hotel is located, that it requires in general an hour and a half trip at best to get from door to door. And the only viable method of doing that trip requires taking a metro and a shuttle bus provided by the circuit for journalists. The last shuttle left Delhi every day at 9:00 AM, and that meant me getting up at 7 AM in order to exercise, eat, prepare and take the metro to the shuttle. The return shuttle left at the earliest from the track at 19:15 PM. That meant a huge full day.

Added to that, I had a workload in my job like none I have ever had before. It is an accumulation of six races in eight weeks and also a special report consisting of eight stories by me that was due today and will be published at the end of this week for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. All of this meant that the usual intrepid adventurer that I am decided to buckle down into a life consisting of the usual journalists’ excitement of: Racetrack, metro, shuttle, hotel room. No more.

Having said that, I continued to look and ask about music venues in Delhi, and as far as I could see, there was nothing for me from last Thursday until yesterday. No open mics or open jams, and no likely or obvious venues where I could gate crash. So it was that I accepted my fate for once of living a one-dimensional life.

Still, I was incredibly pleased and lucky with having managed to get to the Turquoise Cottage jam session last Wednesday on my first day in Delhi – despite my flight related exhaustion. And this morning, just when I thought I will have failed to play again in this city and had for the first time failed in a remaining challenge or two that I had set myself this year… I learned that the other branch of the Turquoise Cottage is holding its own Rabbit Session of jam and open mic tonight.

So I am intrepidly running off tonight to see if I can find this new place, take part, eat, play myself and hopefully with others, and then get another half night’s sleep before taking off to Abu Dhabi tomorrow. Can I feel anymore ecstatic about the Turquoise Cottage bookends to my India trip than I do at the moment? No way! Let’s see how it works out tonight. I have no idea when I will be able to get access to a good internet connection to report the results, but I hope it will be tomorrow night in Abu Dhabi. If not, it will be Thursday….

Score: Brad Spurgeon, 2 – Metallica, 0

October 29, 2011

bennigan's india

bennigan's india

Has the news of the cancelled Metallica concert in New Delhi spread around the world yet? The fact that the stadium was going to be filled over-capacity and the group refused to play? (That’s the rumour I heard.) That the angry fans started tearing the stage apart and burning Formula One posters and destroying equipment as a result of the cancellation? Well, Metallica may not have been able to play New Delhi – as part of the F1 race sideshow known as F1 Rocks – but yours truly did two concerts in New Delhi, one on Thursday that I already reported on here, and another last night.

I met a bunch of disgruntled Metallica fans on the New Delhi metro and I invited them along to hear me last night at Bennigan’s.

“Brad who?”

I repeated my name.

“Can you give us your card?”

That meant, “Thanks for the offer, we’ll think about it….”

Well, it may not have been a Metallica concert, but we all sure had fun at the open mic at Bennigan’s, in Greater Kailash. Despite the sound of the name, this is NOT a real Irish pub inhabited by nothing but foreigners. The open mic was run by Gautam Lahiri, a musician who plays at Bennigan’s every Friday and runs his evening as an open mic, jam session, inviting friends, acquaintances, his guitar students and anyone else who wants to come to play. We did some on-camera talk for my open mic film, and I found a real kindred spirit.

I played for about 45 minutes or so, maybe more. And I was eventually joined by some of the other musicians present on guitar, vocals and harmonica. We did my song “Memories,” with two people playing harmonicas, including Gautam. It was really touching….

Oh, and it turned out that one of my own acquaintances met at the Formula One race who was supposed to go to Metallica ended up showing up at Bennigan’s to see me instead of going to Metallica. But he left before I arrived, which was just after 10 PM, since I was delayed by writing about the Metallica cancellation – among other things – on my NYT F1 blog.

PS: My internet connection is so slow in my cut-rate hotel that I have not been able to upload the videos I did. I will do that tomorrow….

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