Friday, July 5, 2013

Trip to Illayaraja Concert with GlobalScholar Gang - March 2013

I was very excited about the Illayaraja's concert because he is one of the music geniuses of my time and I grew up with his music most of my life.  Even today, I prefer to listen to his music than listening to anybody else's music.  He normally  doesn't give any live performances and this is his first time to USA in the last 40+years of his stardom in the field.  We were planning to drive down to SFO for the concert when it he originally scheduled to perform in November but it was cancelled at the last minute due to bad weather in the East Coast.  We were glad that we didn't book the plane tickets at that time.  The rescheduled event was on March 1, 2013 and the ticket prices were reasonable to fly so we (Arun, Dandy, Mani, Mani's wife, Raj and I) booked the ticket to fly out almost at the same time on March 1st in the morning. 

After picking up Mani's family @5 am, picked up Arun/Raj to head out to Bellevue to get Dandy.  No problem at the airport despite all of the Hoopla about the whole USA going to be in a mess because of the "Sequestor".  Went to the Groupon offices, after getting the rental car, to harass Vik and get his hotel room keys..;-)  On the way to the hotel, picked up some beer and snacks.  We were at the "Menu" restaurant after having a couple of beers in the hotel room and the lunch buffet at the restaurant was very good.  After having a glass of wine at the restaurant, Dandy was out and given a choice he would have slept in the restaurant.  Despite his state of mind, Dany found a bone piece in the vegetarian dal dish and we decided keep it quiet so that the other vegetarians could enjoy their "vegetarian" buffet..;-)

When we reached the hotel room, the room cleaning service was taking care of all the mess that Vikki made there ;-) and Dandy was pissed off with Vikki for giving so much work to the crew (really he's pissed that he couldn't go to bed).  To kill time, we decided to head out to get some snacks to enjoy at the concert and after driving while Dandy was snoring, we went to the Indian Cash&Carry place to some food for group.  The price of Indian things in this place almost half of what is being sold for in Seattle, couldn't believe that the fresh Chapatti cost only 30 cents where we are paying more than 60 cents in Seattle.  As in any place we go, everyone started talking about how great the weather is, how good the Indian food is, how less expensive the Indian stuff is, etc. and everyone wanted to move to SFO at that moment, I am sure that no one will move out of Seattle for now..;-)

While waiting for Vikki to show up from work, talked to Sharadaa to meet up in her work place around 430 pm and took a short nap.  Headed out to meet Sharadaa around 415 pm even though the traffic was not that bad, it took us more than 30 minutes to get to a place which is just 8 miles away.   After dropping me in the parking lot the gang left to the concert place.

Sharadaa and I were just talking about our kids and the difficulty of dropping pounds ;-)  I need to check out about "Chi" running and need to see whether it is going to make any difference.  It's very frustrating not to lose any weight after riding bike for 200 miles, running a marathon and climbing (almost) Kilimanjaro..;-(  At Sharadaa's home, talked to Raghu about different hikes he could do around Seattle area and tried to convince him to make a trip to Seattle.  Raghu was dropping us in the the concert hall, on the way to the conert hall I was telling Maya about how think her mom was and using Vikki jokes on her about how she was not allowed to travel in the convertible car.  Talked about Nadhu's kids and how the time flies.  

The concert had the whole tamilian and telugu gangs from the bay area there.  Parking and checking in was well organized, also the food in the concert hall was very good.  Got a glass of beer once got into the concert hall after saying adios to Sharadaa, headed to the seating section.  It is farther from the stage but even after the concert started a lot of seats were empty.  For the first 60 to 90 minutes of the concert, the audio system was not good, either it's too loud or too soft.  After some time, they figured out what to do with the buttons to control the audio and Hariharan sang about 4-5 songs, he was really amazing.  If Illayarja was the foundation for the whole concert (Illayaraja doesn't want it to be called a show and he said that he's not showman…more on this later), the main pillar was SPB.  SPB was incredible and we were gifted to see the performance of the musical magicians at work.

Illayaraja was as usual getting upset with the crowd for making too much noise and advising them to be quiet to enjoy the music, the message didn't get to the crowd because they were still shouting ;-)  His point of just sitting and enjoying the music is not the way most of us enjoy the music unless otherwise the music concert is mainly Carnatic but here the crowd was to there to appreciate the great talent and show how they enjoy the music.  SPB and Illayaraja were giving some background story about some of the songs.  With both Telugu and Tamil crowd in one place and trying to satisfy both the groups was tough, and at some time I was bored ;-(  Once a couple of hours into concerts, couple of us went to occupy better seats closer to the stage.

By the time we reached our hotel, it was 30 minutes after mid-night.  Chatted for a while before going to the bed.

Checked with the hotel front desk about the CalTrains to catch the Bart, I was told there're trains every 15 minutes, it might be true for the weekdays but for the weekends the train service is every hour.  I am totally impressed with number of people taking the CalTrain and the train was almost more than 50% full.  But it took forever to reach Raj's place, to be exact, it took me more than 3 hours to reach his place.  Waited in the California Road station for more than 45 minutes and it took an hour to reach Melbrae where I had to transfer to the Bart.  By the time, I reached Bay Point, it was 1245 pm, I could have easily reached Seattle in that time ;-)

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