When I was in Paris in spring of 1990, one of the few bright spots - aside from being with my dear friend Mimi - was the crazy hostel I stayed in. The women's "dorm" was a large room with four or five bunk beds. The advertised "hot showers" were not quite that. You stood in the shower and pushed one of those nobs like in the sink of public bathrooms. For 30 seconds you were blasted with the most frigid, cold water to ever leave a shower head. But by then you were covered in soap or shampoo which you had to get off so then you screemed through two or three more stinging pelts of the "shower".
Add to that someone laughing - hysterically - in the room. I came out, blue and a bit bruised, and she kept smirking.
And so began a friendship.
TM was from South Africa. The only other woman in the dorm was a petite Japanese who spoke no English. We figured out (through hand gestures, maps and some amazing shoes she bought) that she had been to Morocco, alone. TM and I felt pretty wimpy just being in Paris by ourselves.
I didn't run around Paris with TM but we exchanged addresses (this was, after all, pre-email). Once I got home we started to write (paper) letters to each other 3-4 times per year.
A few years after meeting in Paris, she wrote that she had a new job working for a South African musician. She didn't write his name out. I wrote back that I was (note: still am) a huge fan of Johnny Clegg. A white South African who formed a racially mixed band in the early 1980's during the apartheid government, he also published several academic papers before his music career took off.
A few months later I received a package with various signed items. It seems my friend was working for Johnny Clegg.
Johnny Clegg and Savuka - I Call Your Name (1988)
TM has moved on from music but whenever I hear Johnny Clegg I think of how she gave me a connection to one of my favorite musicians.
Who is playing this week?
Fourier Analyst (you gotta read her "coming clean" about her wild music performing days!)