More from Mumbai

DAY OF SHOW.

Driving from the Trident Hotel by the sea to Shanmukhananda Hall, the place we are to play the Concert for Mumbai, takes about an hour and reveals every colorful sight one might expect of old Bombay. It is on this rickety road, which weaves from the grand British Victorian palaces such as the train station and India Times building, through the chaotically crowded streets where thousands of black and yellow taxis dart in and out narrowly escaping pedestrians who pour across the roads from every angle (no such thing as waiting on a corner). No one pays any attention at all to red lights. Under these conditions, the density of the population is nothing short of a miracle.

Descending into the back roads the scene quickly changes to “Slum Dog Millionaire” to coin a phrase. Rows of connected shacks make for slanted little storefronts, barely lit and stocked sparingly with cans or spices or whatever is being sold. Always there is laundry hanging from doorways or from the windows above or just festooned over walls and doorways just to keep the dirt out, for there is dirt everywhere. Dirt is the floor and the walls and it is clear that there is no way in this lifetime it will ever be removed. But, peering into these storefronts, at groups of men conversing, at woman wrapped in colorful saris strolling with babies, perhaps we are condescending and presumptuous to assume misery? Dirt is the earth, after all, and the primordial condition of most places.

We finally arrive at the theater, an old style bit of Indian Modern; something from the 60’s that once was glittering and grand and now stands in its orange and blue paint with fading dignity. There’s something stagnant and about the dressing rooms, which like the hotel are air-conditioned to feel cold and yet still feel somehow balmy. But, the stage, itself is nicely wide and deep enough for a symphony orchestra and there is a great new digital soundboard that gives our road manager/soundman a devilish glint in his eye.

As we expect, it all takes a lot longer than scheduled to finally hit the stage, but no matter, Stanley, one of the stage managers from E-18, the media company (India’s CNN) that have sponsored us, takes us across the street to the market, where he helps us haggle over bracelets, bindi jewels for our forehead and colorful cotton shirts. All of this happily becomes part of our stage wear for the night.

After an appearance by a few popular Bollywood actors including Rahul Bose and a set by MASS Ensemble, an art/music/dance troupe from LA, we finally make our India debut to an enthusiastic and amazingly Zep-informed crowd. It is truly wondrous that we can travel half way across the world and meet like-minded rockers. Like American audiences, they cheer at recognizable opening notes and raised fists in the air. After the show, hoards of fans gather by the stage door for autographs, pics and just a chance to tell us – in eloquent English no less -- that we have found new fans in Mumbai. And, likewise, Mumbai has found a new fan in Lez Zeppelin.

** Great article! Glad by Rob (not verified)

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