Buskitechture in Helsinki, Day 5

A few notes on the other buskers here in Helsinki. Besides Cathal there’s a man who walks down the street with a large music box, winding it as he goes. He’s very polite and always stops winding the crank as he passes me. Today (6.15.10) I encountered a group from Chile – pan flutes and El Condor Pasa seem to have spread the world over. There’s a Romanian duo of an accordionist and a saxophonist who play near the train station who are very talented – I usually give them a 50 cent coin as I pass them. They tend to play Summertime a bit overmuch, though. There’s a solo saxophonist who slumps against a wall on Aleksanderinkatu. I talked to her today and she’s actually a rather nice Russian lady – pity she’s not very talented. She plays the opening notes of The Autumn Leaves over and over and over with insufficient breath support.

To the busking. It was a horrid day. Exactly the opposite of yesterday. The money was fine but the people… ugh. Something about the day felt hostile. Many people who passed were mean spirited. I split my time between Senaatintori and Aleksanderinkatu by Stockmann. There were many positive experiences, but somehow the deliberate maliciousness of a few overrode that in my heart.

Let’s start with that so I dont end on it. Many younger gaggles took the opportunity to make fun of me. Most of the older ones kept their heads down and rushed on. A few couples enjoyed my music with their toddlers but never made eye contact and kept a distance – needless to say, no tip. The worst was the teenagers. One especially malicious (and probably drunk) group stared me down haughtily with beers in their hands. As they approached me one bent over my case and made as if to pour his beer into it. Thankfully he didnt, but he made it clear with his eyes that he might later. It took me a long long time to recover emotionally from that.

And the positive experience. I sang Hallelujah in Senaatintori and a Chinese lady earnestly pressed me a $5 bill. Emotional and happy before she ran off to her bus. All in all I’m going to have to learn to focus on those interactions and try to find a way to brush off those horrid ones.

Earnings: €17+$5, 3 hours
Song of the Day: Hallelujah – Leonard Cohen

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