Droning Shiva-style in Alexanderplatz

I ran into this guy, India Bharti, playing in Alexanderplatz yesterday. He’s a wandering musician of uncertain (but distinctly sandy-graying) age, a white yogi type, sitting crosslegged, sunflowered, maybe deeply cliched right up to the point you looked at how he was making his sounds.

He was playing a pair of homemade instruments: one a small electric violin, the other something he calls a “Bhartiphone” (and yes, of course I thought immediately of Slartybartfast), which is essentially two long, thick strings stretched almost zither-style, which he both plucked and played with a little mallet.

The result, electrified, distorted, and processed through a handful of guitar pedals, was hypnotic and droning, exactly the kind of music I love these days. Listening to his recordings online, you miss the effect; his rhyming, anti-war, anti-power lyrics are mixed too high, and they are by far the least interesting part of what he’s doing. I stood and listened for a quarter-hour, and vowed to make my own instruments one of these days.

No pics or sounds, because I was unprepared.

A moment of mourning for lost sky-blue seas

It’s not that I don’t like Berlin. I do. It’s a fabulous place to live and work, to free yourself from the fetters of a daily office. But returning last night from a vacation in the Greek islands, the Hauptstadt’s foggy summer and distinct lack of crystalline blue Mediterranean shorelines were almost hard to take.

I’ve fallen in love with Naxos, the largest of the Cyclades, where we spent most of the last week. It’s a cliche, this feeling. It’s what you do with an Aegean island, the way you ride a bike or fly an airplane. Barely more than simple grammar. But who am I to be proof against the object of a verb, or an environment this strong?

Ludicrously emerald seas, a little house shared with good friends a few minutes off the beach, waters perfectly warmed, perfectly cooled to keep us from frying at noon, weird barren rocky hills, brown against the intense blue of water and sky, white walls and blue shutters on every dwelling, parodic and eternally lovely (my pictures don’t do the place any justice, particularly since I ran out of batteries and motivation to get new ones). A corner of the island shockingly empty, given the time of year. Chilled retsina, milky ouzo, grilled octopus, perfectly fried fritters of eggplant and zucchini…

Yes, I love Berlin, but how can a gray tattered lady compete with this beauty? Once again, I embrace cliche: Who wants to help us start our impoverished writer’s colony in Greece?

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