Suppose you’re a busker in England and you plan to do a busking tour in Asia: how many chances would you think you have, to fly to a city like Kuala Lumpur, randomly decide to find a room in a guesthouse that you’ve never been before refuse to take the room at the ground floor because you know it will be noisy, be gently taken upstairs at the room n214, just to discover that next door, there is Amir, a full time busker just like you, only on the other side of the bloody planet ?
Amir is originally from the KL area, he’s 32 and he used to work as a official tourist guide in the Taman Negara National Park, the world oldest tropical rainforest and therefore main natural attraction of Malaysia. During those many years of nights spent camping around a bonfire with the travellers he used to escort, he learnt to sing and play many western songs, mainly rock and pop hits. “At night, there was nothing to do and i was bored, so i started playing guitar for my guests..” he told me.
As soon as we met, we had this connection and he wanted to take me to the city to meet his friends, who busk too, and he started to show mw around. It was nice to see how two strangers with their passion/profession in common, can instantly tune up and get along. The second night since my arrival in Malaysia i was already busking and earning my ringgit, at the night market of Jalan Alor, enjoying a cup of Kopi Susu after “work”, taking rest from the massive humidity and jamming with his friends.
This guy’s name is Bob, and when he started playing the jambe i suddenly thought “wow..what a touch..!”. he was tight, great dynamics and very good musical hear…but is when he started to do backing vocals and the sing that he really amazed me ! This guy’s voice is awesome..he sounds like a rasta malaysian version of Al Green! So much talent and humility, things that often don’t get together well.
Amir’s girlfriend is names Nikki and she’s 20 years old. They’ve been living together in the same room at the Wheelers guesthouse for the past 8 months. She’s still studying at the university and occasionaly she gets some modeling work. they’re planning to get married next year and to move to a proper flat, maybe a bit outside of the city. She’s chasin’ him around, carrying his guitar case and waiting for him to finish his sessions, sitting at a table in the market, sipping a cold drink or surfing on her IPad. I call her The Manager (or Ten Ten, 20..) and she calls me “People”.