Aug 23, 2012

Listening to the city of Buenos Aires

Downtown Buenos Aires is somewhere a cross between the charming old edifices and a very youthful present. The areas around Avenida Cordoba and Corrientes might be a narrow lens to the city, but indeed a very pleasant one. There is the magnificent old world architecture with its ornate facades  and Italian and French influences, punctuated by a smattering of statues of heroes of a bygone era.

These house a number of commercial establishments and is also a bustling shopping district which range from the designer houses, the little souvenir shops to the ones laid out of the street with their hoard of semi-precious stones and handicrafts. The streets are a bustle of people, very few shopping , most in transit and a handful of them with time enough to stop and listen to the myriad musicians playing their tunes.

There is a young man at a street corner on the saxophone playing "I will survive", a block away a pair of young men are singing, almost to themselves, oblivious of attracting any listeners. There is a talented boy, sitting on his amp by the side of a little flower shop bursting with color. He's playing Dire Straits and barely looks up, not acknowledging the number of people gathered around him. He's just playing his guitar and in true rock style, making it cry.

A few paces ahead closer to Plaza de Mayo, a rock back has just set up, a couple of guitarists and a drummer. They're belting out contemporary Spanish rock and I sit down awhile to soak in the music and the people around.

On the way back, I finally chance upon two young girls barely in their teens, accompanied by a man on an acoustic guitar. He is narrating in Spanish, something that i don't quite understand. I give it a moment before I begin to drift away. Just then, the girls start to sing, in what I associate with classic opera. I stop, and retrace my steps, the girls are singing with their eyes are closed and a hint of pain on their faces. They sing beautifully and I am amazed at how penetrating their voices are over the humdrum of a bustling street. I've never been to an opera before, nor do I understand what they are singing, but there amongst a crowd of strangers in the company of two young voices I let go and cry.