Dienstag, 13. März 2012

A ceremony for caged birds

Another story, another song.

One day Dea took me to the river.
She had heard that a buddhist ceremony was going on there.
A little crowd gathered on the riverbank.
Some participants were wearing jeans and colourful T-shirts,
some brought an umbrella against the sun.
I cracked a smile.
Since I had landed in China a few weeks before,
I accepted everything. Nothing had made sense for days.
What the crowd was about to perform
didn't actually look like the religious rituals I knew.
There was nothing stern about it, nothing quiet.
Some were chattering, some were chanting.
It didn't seem much of a difference.
They assembled in the midst of some blocks of flats.
There was not much nature around,
just the bored water of a tamed river.
The men and women were in good spirits.
They took pictures of their monk with their cellphones.

On the riverbank they had parked a tank full of living fishes.
Everybody grabbed a fish.
Nobody minded me.
Except the fishes – they gazed at me with their empty eyes, gasping.
They carried the fishes down to the river and threw them into the water.
Some of the fishes appeard again on the surface – belly up.

There were other animals, packed in stacks:
Mussels, about as big as the palm of a hand.
Were the women singing for the mussels?

Then I saw the birds.
There were about hundred little bamboo cages.
The birds inside them panicked.
They sticked their claws and beaks outside.
They made an incredible noise.

The women opened the cages,
caught the birds with their bare hands
and threw them up in the air.
Some flew away in a haste.
One of them fell right back on the pavement.
For that one, the chanting was in vain.

I did some recordings of the birds. Later on I wrote a song for them, and in doing so,
I guess I behaved like a superstitious old lady.

When I got home to switzerland, my friends actually liked the song.
Though, in fact, I later thought of it as slightly... declamatory.
A long friend of the band, the DJ & Producer Strobe-L, came up with the following remix of it

I noticed that the birds were gone

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