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GP’s New Territories

December 14, 2009


I’ve got that broken chesty feeling you get after flying across the world – immediately doing a gig and drinking too many beers… I’m in Dakha, Bangladesh – a city of over 12 million that doesn’t have its ‘lonely planet’ guide but is currently suffocating under a blanket of fog thats been here since I arrived last Thursday night. It was meant to be Phase One of a ‘new territory’ tour that was also getting me into Bombay and then Almaty, Kazakhstan, but right now the tour starts and ends in room 517 as I wait for a break in the clouds.

It’s a shame because I was really looking forward to playing in India for the first time – my visa didn’t show up on time – that’s never happened before (we gave the passport in 2 weeks ago but…) so the billboards all over the home of Bollywood will just have to build the hype up for next time – real shame coz Nihal had loaded me up with somw bombs to drop and I’d received a few excited emails… oh well, it meant I got to hang out here though – a real eye opener! Not quite as extreme as when my mum and dad came here around 40 years ago when it was still East Pakistan – my mum always tells me about the hotel she stayed at that served Swiss Rosti! I was expecting a greater divide between the classes – it’s there of course, but it’s not been as strong as the first time I went to Nigeria – maybe I’m just used to it or maybe I’m just being hidden away in my comfortable cars and luxury hotels!

I’ve been around the city a bit though – Shammu and the crew here have really looked after me – I even went to a free concert by the lake which was fantastic – the band were called Lolon and mix traditional local sounds with minor rock – a bit like Blondie in Arabic!

Being a mostly Muslim country people aren’t allowed to drink – well, apart from the foreigners in hotels – of course the drink gets into people’s homes but in public its a big law breaker so the atmosphere at a free gig is different, especially when the band have to take a break for prayers as the calling can be heard from the many mosques all over the city – great moments!

Obviously I’ve taken full advantage of the fantastic food on offer… whilst being careful not to be tempted by
the street snacks – I did this in Salvador once to my regret… this time my schedule’s too precious to waste in the toilet!

I’ve been amazed by the diversity of looks here…some are dark, others look Vietnamese… there are very pale people, almost Eastern European or straight up Lebanese… not what I’d expected at all… thing is… in London most Bengals are in East London and are from a certain part of Bangladesh but here in Dakha you get a real sense of the meeting point you’re at – remember you’re only 90 minutes away by plane form Bangkok… needless to say that some of the women I’ve seen here have been astonishingly beautiful!

Most of the socializing seems to take place at people’s homes – there aren’t pubs or bars here. there are a few restaurants but most events take place in the hotels or places where you can drink and make a racket… my gig was in the Regency hotel – it wasn’t my crowning glory – it was more of a ‘first gig in a tour straight off an 18 hour journey’ type gig…but it was okay… if slightly caught between an international ‘I know about Ibiza’ crowd mixed with a couple of curious world music types and a few who listen to my show religiously… always a dilemna… especially when the DJ before’s hitting em with ‘I’m from Miami bitch’ just as I come on…making ‘Vacuum Boogie’ by Floating Points seem a little slow as my opener!

But you know how it goes… a couple of big ups down the mic followed by my Fat Boy Slim arms aloft imitation…. and next thing the majority believe they’re in the presence of a ‘top’ DJ and I slip in a couple of dubstep descargas and it’s all good… phew… but to tell you the truth I just wanna play ballads!

I need to make sure that when I go somewhere new like here in future, that I do 2 gigs… 1 for the heads and a bigger one for the fee! But as with all upcoming places I met some super up-for-it music heads and got great feedback. There’s a real sense of building a scene here – apparently I’m the first ‘name’ that’s played here… I’m sure I won’t be the last!

Cheers – GP