In a perfect conclusion to my Boston sojourn, I caught, not one but, two shows of Della Mae at Club Passim as part of their post-AMA tour wrap-up. The Dellas had decorated the stage in all their swag from their tour, including fluffy telpak hats from Turkmenistan, silks from Uzbekistan, felt animals from Kyrgyzstan and a carpet from Pakistan.
The Dellas reminded me why they were such wonderful cultural diplomatesses. They regaled the audience with stories from the ‘Stans, and played both their music and music learned while on tour. It was amazing to hear the Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Uzbek and Pakistani collaboration pieces again- from the bouncy Kazakh Illigay to the solemn poem by Allama Iqbal. As they played, they cast shadows on the silk tapestries that decorated the wall. It was such a phenomenal show, and the kind of two-way exchange that cultural diplomacy is all about.
More incredibly, the Dellas put on the show for free. All ticket sales from the 2 shows went to support the Lettuce Bee Kids- an NGO in Islamabad that they encountered on their tour which helps Afghan refugee kids and Pakistani street kids. The Dellas raised almost $4,000 for Lettuce Bee Kids!
And it all marked a bit of closure for me on the tour. I had been struggling with how to put such an experience in perspective and give it some sense of closure, but this final concert seemed to mark a proper end.
Meanwhile, I slipped out with the cold wind out of the arctic tundra that is New England. I packed up my stuff and hopped the T down to South Station, crossing the bridge that connects Cambridge and Boston as the frozen lake mirror on the Charles cast the city’s glass beauty in icy reflection.
And bade goodbye to Boston, and marveled at how I had connected with this fair city in ways I was not able to a decade prior. Boston will likely never be a city I truly plan to call home, but I am pleased that I got a better relationship with a place I spent a few years but with which I had not previously connected.