I met up with Romanians briefly in the park by the lake this day, but they weren’t as happy to see me this time, and rather tight lipped. Probably something to do with smaller earnings. The previous day they’d made 600 CHF together over the course of the days from 11h to 18h, but this day they’d made significantly less. 150 CHF per person seems plenty to me, as I was happy to take home a tenth of that. But I suppose it does go less far as they eat in restaurants and stay in a hotel. Switzerland is not cheap. At all.
I set out a touch earlier and busked before descending into town. On the way down I passed by the scruffy dog man from the day before, shirtlessly washing his car with a huge contented smile. He conversed very patiently with me and bid me good luck. Tips flowed immediately with a smashing debut of Jillian’s repertoire suggestion: Ashokan Farewell (well, I just play the first few measures and then make stuff up). Two women tipped with small change in succession, greatly increasing the visual impact of the seed change and my confidence. I noticed today that I become nervous when people approach and tend to muck up the more difficult passages. The pressure of interaction with passersby (by eye contact, smile, voice) takes me out of my focus zone. Thus I don’t people watch as much with violin as I did with guitar – so less anthropological fun, and less notes to take. I feel more like I’m working with the violin and less like a tourist.
One man passed with profuse apologies for his lack of change and kept turning about to say bravissimo. The vibe felt distinctly different today. None of my Chinese songs garnered much attention, nor did Ue Wo Muite Arukou, even though I played both twice (I rarely repeat anything within a single pitch, but felt confused). As yesterday I had more male tippers than female, which I assume has to do with my long hair and the fact that it often hides my face as I play. But the reaction on seeing my face isn’t confusion or shock, though. Hm. Another five euro note from one of these male tippers, and a five CHF coin (yes, coin, Switzerland, wat) from an elderly man who stopped me to talk about music in excellent German English. One man carrying a large heavy table down the tunnel set it down by the bench to find some change to tip me with.
The Swiss seem so polite and kind. A group of boys stopped playing with their football as soon as they saw me in the tunnel, and one held it in the crook of his elbow until they passed, hushing their conversation until they descended the stairs beyond me. One tipper who took a photo asked “Posso?” before taking it, something that really never happens anywhere else. Of course I responded with “Prego!” At the end of my pitch an older Swiss German man who’d settled in Ticino spoke with me at great length about the importance and beauty of travel while young. He told me how “my people” in Taiwan and Thailand are better than the Swiss and how the world is divided into people who understand music and those who don’t.
Interlude: Lugano is incredible. Couples of all colors and genders holding hands and seeming so very comfortable in their own bodies. Everyone fit and attractive and enjoying life to the very utmost.
My second pitch, however, felt plagued by all the wrong mood. I’ve no idea why, but I felt nervous and out of sorts the entire time. Most importantly, I wasn’t having any fun. Not enough people out there, but that can’t explain my nerves. Perhaps I felt pressured to equal the success of the first foray. Perhaps it was meeting Damian in the tunnel but this also makes little sense as he was being friendly and helpful. Perhaps I felt nervous about messing up in front of him. This certainly happens with Brent. Perhaps I went out with the wrong mindset: I wanted to recoup the money I spent on my sandwich and thus felt too focused on the money. Only a few tips, and all from men.
Luckily, I’d scheduled to meet a Thai couchsurfer downtown afterwards to watch England lose to France, and the confirmation that I could still converse in Thai brightened my mood right back up.
Earnings: 34,90CHF + 5,90€, 2.2 hours
One thought on “Happily Humbled in Lugano, Day 2”
Yeah! negative feelings are yuck. I wish you a magic wand to wave them away. Or a mosquito swatter to crush them. Or may be you already did it with thoughts of delicious Swiss sausage and bread 🙂