What I really love about exploring the unknown neighbourhoods, streets and corners of a new city is that you never know where a walk will bring you to. I used to do this in Athens, since I was 15: I’d pick a neighbourhood on the map as a starting point, go there, and start walking random streets that I hadn’t seen before with the hope that I’d stumble upon something noteworthy. I’d walk for hours and hours way past the starting point. Usually, the results were less than spectacular: aching leg muscles and no interesting sights. Sometimes though, those few times, I’d find hidden treasures: local markets, archeological sites, musicians, cafes, fields, hills, cinemas, the cheapest ice-cream in the city, you name it.
Today, while walking in downtown San Francisco, around Union Square, I stumbled upon the celebrations for Israel’s 60th birthday. A huge crowd had gathered there to enjoy the festivities; what kept them excited where bands that had come from Israel and especially one, in particular: The Idan Raichel Project, giving one of the best live performances I have ever seen in the unusually sunny San Franciscan down town. They literally rocked the house (well, technically there was no “house,” but who cares).
This band is special in that it has no leading singer. It is a team of musicians each of whose members gets the chance to show their musical talent on the stage. The founder of the group is a young guy named Idan Raichel and the rest of the group are his friends: musicians from Ethiopia, Iraq, Israel, Uruguay… Their message is that peace and harmony among people is certainly possible and more than ever necessary. Their songs, in Hebrew (I think), left a mark upon me and their melodies are still playing in my head as I am writing this, despite the fact that I couldn’t understand a word. I hope I’ll see them again soon. In the meantime don’t hesitate to check them out, they are worth it.