Journey To and From
I came across a beautiful Haiku poem titles ‘Cold Front’ by Nora Wood. I identify with it:
in the busker’s guitar case
five copper coins
As I was changing trains at 14th street, on my way to the WhiteHall ferry terminal, three Nortenos were waiting for the ‘R’ train. One of them, named Stuart, told me that yesterday they played on the ‘N’ train and it was “dead”. They moved through 4 cars with absolutely no response from the audience. They then moved to the ‘Q’ train, and it was good. You change places – you change your luck.
Stuart told me that they often encounter teenagers who give them a hard time. Yesterday, as Stuart was passing the hat, a kid reached in and took the money that was in the hat. The kid thought he was being funny in front of his friends. Stuart talked him into giving the money back. “These kids have no respect”, Stuart said. He told me that people in his own country don’t understand him. They think he is playing music for fun. They don’t understand that it’s a profession.
An ‘R’ train arrived but the Nortenos didn’t board it. There was some other musician, a guitar player, working this train, so respectfully they gave him the space. Real buskers have respect for one another. Even if you don’t know the other musician, the buskers’ code is that you don’t infringe on somebody else’s space. The Nortenos waited for the next train. The ‘W’ train arrived, but they wanted the ‘R’. I took the ‘W’.
On the train back home after I was done busking, Martin from Mexico was playing both Mexican mandolin and pan flute. He told me that his friend who used to play with him in the subway moved to Florida and doesn’t play music any more.
Martin is Aztec. He told me that in his religion there is only the body, the spirit, and the heart. Everything is very simple and they use music and dance in religious ceremonies.
Martin has been in New York for 3years. He plans to go back to Mexico in a year. He said Mexico is very cosmopolitan, with lots of tourists and just like NYC there is a lot of freedom.
We agreed that the sound of the pan flute is similar to that of the musical saw – they are both spiritual and pure.