Buskitechture in Helsinki, Day 8

This is my initiation into couchsurfing: and it’s been simply wonderful. I have a very kind, gracious and generous host in Harri, who took me for a 10km walk about the city that is the highlight of my trip thus far. That saved my day, really, for I was exhausted.

I had to tote my heavy, badly designed (found it in a brown bin at Yale) backpack with me everywhere and that was very trying on my back. It was a horrid day, also, with many bad experiences with the passersby. In the morning I tried a pitch by Senaatintori, which was promising. Before I even began a set of three Finns asked to take a photo with me for an office scavenger hunt and tipped me, wishing me luck. But midway through my first song, a duo of young Finnish girls, one playing violin and the other some hybrid between a zither and a guitar, both singing shrilly rushed in to catch the tourists as they began to board back on the bus. That is precisely the kind of busking I do not respect – that feels like begging and not art, all too aggressive. The violinist couldn’t hold a note and their “harmonies” felt to me more like a failed attempt at unison. Naturally, the tourists loved it.

I then set up by Stockmann and it was looking to be a great pitch. After a few songs, a very obnoxious African man sat nearby on the traffic dividers and started banging away at his drum, without asking for my permission or even communicating at all. He shouted random words like “Bang bang bang bang… give it to me” as he drummed a very simple rhythm. Adding insult to injury one set of youngsters loved it – banging on his drum with him and taking videos of it. I packed up, told the man to his face he was very rude – he ignored me – then tried by the railway station.

Just as I began, a cleaning truck decided to start up, passing back and forth in front of me many times, very loudly. Each time he’d pass he’d go around the bend as if he was done before doubling back. The crowd around the station was much dingier – smoking, drinking, pushing each other about. Quite unfriendly.

My final pitch (all these pitches being half an hour or less) was back in front of Stockmann which was now thankfully rid of the rude drummer. Across the street aways was a haughty violin player – I recognized the concerto he’d just finished playing (very well, mind you) and I walked over to offer my compliments. He flicked his eyes down at me, coldly, ignoring me, then started the same concerto, same movement over again. Very frustrating day.

Lake near Harri’s place, passed on a fabulous 10km walk around the city.

Earnings: €9.20, 1.5 hours
Song of the Day: Say – John Mayer

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