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Photo by Catherine Von Holt, Nepal Semester.

Jazzmandu Baby Yeaaahhhhh

I like music. I like it a lot. I’ve been around it for a long time, played it for while. I never really went to see live music; the last show I went to was at a small bar where my school band conductor was playing with his band Slide Attack (it was pretty awesome by the way).

I had heard about Jazzmandu, and was interested, but did not do too much research before coming to Nepal. I hoped that maybe I would see a performance, but it was not at the front of my mind.

This past Monday, Micah made an opportunity available to us: meet in Durbar Square, 5:30, and we could go see some jazz. Now jazz is my favorite kind of music, so I signed up immediately. I found myself alone in Durbar Square at 5:30. Micah walked on over to me (in his favorite coat he might like me to add) and let me in on a little secret: we were going to the swankiest venue on the most special night of the Jazzmandu jazz festival; with all the coolest cats from every corner of the world—Masters of their craft.

Micah and I ditched our taxi in the 6:00 Thamel traffic, leaving behind two bewildered Chinese tourists, and relied on our own two feet to close the distance between us and a night I will never forget.

The venue: a 500 year old courtyard; a stupa directly in the middle. Five stories of balconies loomed above us, covered in intricate stone and woodcarving (which provided for excellent acoustics). The show was sold out and we barely made it in the door and found our places on the stone floor at the back left of the seating area before the concert started. Curling up into the fetal position, I occupied no more than a cubic foot of space, but that was not what I was thinking about. What I was thinking about was the music.

A nun kneeling in prayer can be in the same ecstasy that a crazed participant of a bacchanal might experience. I read that recently in some book that I forget the name of, but this paraphrase stuck with me. I didn’t understand it. Until that night. Curled up into a ball, balancing on my butt, listening to some of the best jazz I had ever heard, I lived. Halfway across the world from my home, in a place whose people’s language I can barely understand, seated next to someone I had met only a little over a month before, I lived. I was in complete bliss. The floor, the venue, it all melted away, and the music enveloped me.

Well, that was what it felt like. According to observers, I was bouncing up and down (as well as one can while seated) and shouting things like “Ohhh YEAH” or “NICE” at relatively regular intervals.

I don’t think I stopped smiling until at least evening the next day. A kind of 24-hour high.

Jazzmandu what the Jazzmandu, and the jazz men sure did. Thank you for a night I will never forget.