Ranjit Arapurakal, a.k.a. Ranjit, agreed to tell us everything about his life as a crazy-talented, soulful folk star touring Europe this month. (Check his tour dates to see when he’s in your town.) In his first post, he had just gotten into London. Let’s see what happens next…
Winter in Switzerland is everything I expected- cold, snowy, old fashioned and full of new friends and exciting new flavors.
I was really fortunate to have booked a two night stand at a brand new lounge called La Piazza in Gossau. When you’re alone on the road, booking your own shows, most of which cost more to get to than they pay, you jump at the opportunity to do a profitable show. It’s like getting a big commission for a starving painter.
I took a tram to the Hauptbahnhof (Main Train Station) in Zurich, where I would grab a piping hot bratwurst and sprint for the next train to Gossau, Switzerland.
With apologies to my vegetarian readers, can I just say that I love bratwurst? I love it so much. They make it so well here, you can eat a whole one, fresh from the grill, accompanied by a Liter of delicious beer from the nearby Appenzel region, and still be ready to eat dinner. Another delightful carnivorous pleasure of mine here in Switzerland is Fleischkäse, (literally, meatcheese) which is like American Bologna if you gave it a makeover and a suite at the Four Seasons. Eat with bread and mayo, or alone, by the slice. That’s what Switzerland tastes like.
When I got to Gossau, For the first night of my two night stand, I was greeted by the venue owner with a warm hug. This would not be your typical show. That first night, they didn’t organize a sound system for me, so I just sat on a lounge chair and sang a few sets of originals and old stand-by’s, while sipping on whiskey rocks.
The crowd was chatty but occasionally attentive, and the whiskey was cold and strong. After my last set, we drove back to the village of Berg, where I met up with the boys from the Berg Football team for their annual holiday party. They are by far my favorite football team.
That was a wild night, especially when we started playing Schwingen, the Swiss national sport. It’s like Greco-Roman wrestling with regular clothes. Lots of fun, but try not to get hurt.
I crashed with very close friends in Berg, and in the morning, I was invited to go see some local farms, an opportunity at which I jumped! They say Swiss cows are the most beautiful in the world, so I had to go see for myself.
That evening, I headed back to Gossau for the second half of my two night stand. I was early, so I went with my buddy Richard to check out a town race they have every year in Gossau, and to sample some Glühwein, the Swiss take on mulled wine. It was perfect, given the frosty temperature outside, and the fact that there were Ethiopian marathon runners whizzing by on the cordoned-off street. We downed a Glüwein, watched the start of the juniors race, and walked back to La Piazza.
This time there was a PA system for me, which always makes a difference in a big room. I was also treated to a delicious four course dinner by the venue owners. Like I said, this would not be your usual gig. Beef carpaccio, truffle ravioli, filet mignon, and some fantastic Italian wine from La Piazza’s extensive cellar had me more in the mood to take a nap than to sing, but I’m a professional, and I gave the people what they paid for. It was a fun night, and went much longer than it was supposed to.
My future home!
I love being on the road in Switzerland. The countryside is so picturesque, the farms and the animals and the rolling, snow covered landscape drifting by in silence as you speed down the highway. People here are warm and inviting, and Swiss-German, as spoken in these parts, is as much playful and beguiling as Hoch-Deutch (High German) is stern and forbidding.
Switzerland is growing on me! Stay tuned- my next excursion to Barcelona promises to be a musical and culinary good time!