Tuesday, January 18, 2011
It was the summer of 2001, and I was enjoying six weeks in the company of other teachers on a study-tour of China. It didn't take long for me to notice a series of peculiar events. Wherever we went, there were always more Chinese tourists than non-Chinese, and time and again I was either stared at or asked to pose with an individual or with an entire family for a picture. At first, I thought, well, they are not used to seeing foreigners, so they want their picture taken with one. After all, I have a beard, in addition to being a bit overweight. But this could not have been the case when, on Beijing's most upscale shopping street, I was snapped by several upscale Chinese, while on my way to the main branch of the Chinese Foreign Language Bookstore. It just kept happening. I won't exaggerate, but it happened at least twenty times. OK, on one of my final days in China, while walking along the marvelous Bund in Shanghai, a companion told me that "The Three Tenors" performance in The Forbidden City, which had occured not long before, was playing virtually non-stop on Chinese CCTV throughout the country that entire summer. That program, along with movies portraying Mao at Yenan, The Long March, and the 80th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party. So it finally hit me. The people who wanted their pictures taken with me thought that I was/am Luciano Pavarotti. I DID once "go as" Luciano Pavarotti to a Halloween party, years ago. I suppose that it would not have occurred to many of them that the great tenor had left the country, nor that he would not just be walking around the tourist spots of China like any regular person. It amuses me now to think that in at least a few Chinese homes, there are framed portraits of family members atop lace doilies, with their arms around me, smiling and making the "V" for victory sign, along with Luciano Pavarotti. Nessun dorma, indeed!
Sunday, January 9, 2011
Well, I always thought that I had a previous life, and often wondered why I didn't continue piano lessons when I was younger. I really loved playing, and my teachers suggested that I had some talent. I now understand that it was the ghost of the French composer, Emmanuel Chabrier, laying his hand upon me because "I" had already contributed mightily to the world of great music. This present realization has its roots in India, land of mysteries, where one is routinely advised to "expect the unexpected". In 2006, many people there told me that I resembled Bollywood star Shammi Kapoor, not in his younger years as an older man. A simple image search will show how we look somewhat alike. I am sad to learn that this member of the "Barrymores of Bollywood" clan is in failing health, and can only wish him my best, unknown and from afar. In fact, my "other world" doppleganger is not Shammi Kapoor at all, whose seva I much admire. Rather, it is none other than Emmanuel Chabrier, the composer of "Spanish Rhapsody", the video/audio and likeness of myself may be enjoyed through a simple web searching. I include a photo of myself for purposes of comparison. Well, my search is now over. Enjoy the composition of my decomposition which, alas, I cannot replicate in this present incarnation. As for Luciano, more to come in my next post.