The Rest of the Story (because I like to be on top)
2008-01-16 04:47:23
We left the very next day and travelled by bus to Madrid, where we performed our first concert. It was an exhausting experience sight-reading first flute in the actual concert, and afterwards greeted the complimentary cava with relief. This was the beginning of a trend of traveling ridiculous distances by bus, staying in a nondescript town many miles away from the city or concert destination then performing without practice and weary from the long journeys. We performed 11 almost consecutive concerts in Madrid, somewhere near Bilbao, near Burgos, near Barcelona, Badajoz, Jaca and then on into the south of France. If you look at the map of spain you can get a vague idea of the portion of our lives we wasted on that bus.

For New Years we stopped off en route to buy our own cheap snacks and drinks to pool together for an evening feast (of sorts). We arrived at our destination (a hotel in the middle of nowhere, en route to Badajoz) and it was explained that - Romanian style - the men would carry the bags into the hotel while the women would go downstairs and prepare the food. Offended to the highest degree, my Spanish roommate and I hid in our quarters and enjoyed gin & tonic and Spanish television until it was 11:30pm and safe to emerge into the sexist wingding. It was a quiet and uneventful night spent mostly avoiding the older male Romanians who were more than eager to give a kiss to the only piece of fresh meat on tour.

Post-concerts, the director would walk down the bus and hand out cash mafia-style as our payments. We had to sign a piece of paper for this, and to my surprise I noticed a Evgeny Kleiner on the list. I introduced myself to him, and it took him a while to believe that I was also a Kleiner - he made me write my name on a piece of paper and said, "but some Kleiners are Jewish. You're not Jewish are you?". After establishing that I was and that there were enough holes in both our family histories that it is quite possible that we are related, a transformation occurred. Previously a quiet and introverted man (he is Russian, so didn't interact with the Romanians so much), he sought me out at every possible point from then on, favouring me as 'familia'! He'd walk the whole length of the bus to offer me a cookie first (para familia!) and carry my bags or open doors for me whenever he could find the opportunity.

I was soon to meet his brother - also a double-bass player - who came for the France part of the tour, and immediately it struck me how much he resembled my late grandfather. I might be completely off the mark, but at the time the whole coincidence seemed fun and exciting. The brothers invited me to stay in their home in Figueres (2 hours north of Barcelona) after the tour, and I gladly accepted.

In spite of everything, the end of the tour was lots of fun. The Romanian, Spanish and Russian people I befriended were all such wonderful characters, and we shared many great moments together. It's funny how depriving yourself of certain expected luxuries (such as three meals a day) can open the door to new and crazy experiences that really leave a deep impression.

Mas muy que bien-e


by Thea on 2008-01-19 18:34:21
tears in my eyes and lump in my throat as I relived your experience from "horribilus" to an amazing discovery.

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