Off The Record is a recurring, feature here on the Drunkard, that marries two of my greatest interests; music and travel. Having a locals perspective when visiting a new locale is the difference between experiencing it through the lens of a tourist and of that of a native.
Off The Record gathers some of my favorite artists, asks them to reflect on their city of residence, and choose a handful of places they could not live without, be them bookstores, bars, restaurants or vistas.
The new Doveman Lp, With My Left Hand I Raise The Dead, conveys a hushed countenance that began two years ago with the stellar Acrobat album. Here, Thomas Bartlett guides us through his favorite spots in his second home, Kathmandu.
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I live in Harlem, but my parents have been primarily based in Kathmandu for the past few years, so I’ve spent quite a bit of time there. — Thomas Bartlett (Doveman)
1. Honey Store – There’s a store near my parents’ house that sells just one thing, so called “Himalayan Honey,” harvested from wild bee hives on the cliffs of the Himalayan foothills. The honey itself is unlike any other, dark, smoky, not even particularly sweet. It’s famed for its medicinal properties, and more: As I was leaving the store, the salesman leaned in close to my ear to whisper “Sir, it’s better than Viagra.”
2. Khukri XXX – There are local Nepali brands of all the standard liquors. The gin and vodka are undrinkable, the whiskey is passable, the rum, Khukri XXX, is amazing. Heat up some water with grated ginger in it, strain out the ginger and mix your hot ginger water with lemon juice, Himalayan honey, and Khukri XXX.
3. Wedding Bands – Behold the glorious cacophony of the Nepali wedding band. Brass, marching drums, a clarinet soloist, a repertoire made up of traditional Nepali songs and Bollywood hits. I once saw one of these bands marching through the city in matching bright red outfits, each with a light bulb on top of their hats, all connected by electrical cables, with an identically uniformed boy carrying a generator bringing up the rear, powering all the bulbs. A few years ago I hired the Everest Band Baja to play a set in the backyard of my parents’ house while I recorded. Here’s one of the tracks: download here
4. Russian Bootlegs – Nearly all CDs and DVDs that are sold in Nepal are bootlegs, shipped in from Russia. You can get almost any Criterion Collection release for the equivalent of about 4 dollars.
5. Nepali Technology – My mom recently sent me this email: “An amazing Kathmandu sight today. I was walking down Durbar Marg after charging my phone card, and this ectomorphic Nepali with a scruffy beard walked by with a Rube Goldberg contraption on his head – metal strips, wire, tin foil, electrical cords, rubber bands, the works. It was a little like an orthodontic head brace, but a lot bigger. Maybe more like a crown for some demented monarch with huge pretensions and not much cash. There was little sign across one side saying “Praise the Lord !” – another saying something about an air circulator. I stopped him and asked what it was. He said for R50 I could take a picture. But I didn’t have a camera, so for R20, he explained it to me. When he connected two of the dangling electrical wires, a fan moved forward and started blowing on his face. Two other wires got some sort of head massage thing going – the whole rig vibrated like crazy. I think another two started a radio, but it was noisy on the street and I couldn’t be sure. The objective, from what I could put together between my Nepali, his English, and a lot of ambient racket, was to improve his personal surroundings and deal with the stress of Kathmandu street life. Two smart ass adolescents stopped by and told me that this was a good example of Nepali technology.”
6. Boudha – Boudhanath is one of the largest and holiest Stupas in the world, and apparently a prime contender for the likeliest burial place of the Buddha. It’s one of the most beautiful places I know. Here are some pictures I took there.
Previously: Doveman :: The Acrobat
MP3: Doveman :: Chasing Clouds (new)
MP3: Doveman :: Honey
MP3: Doveman :: Teacup
www.dovemanmusic.com ++ myspace.com/doveman ++ www.brassland.org ++ emusic