Sacha Terrat At The Cafe MonmartreTuesday, February 21, 2012
Not too long after (or even, perhaps, before) my father invited some of his friends from the Indian Embassy for his version of curry. The three men that came to my house in their Hillman Minx all wore turbans and were very dark.
In those days, when I traced maps of Africa, I had four coloured pencils handy. I used red to delineate the English possessions, blue for the German, yellow for the French and purple for the Italian. In those days maps of Mexico usually had a sleeping man with a broad sombrero drawn somewhere. In those days people from each country only seemed to live in their own country.
In Mexico City in the 60s I remember spotting the odd Soviet car. I would stop to look at it as if I had just found a rock from the moon. The car was exotic because it was alien.
In 1986 when I was returning from taking photographs of a Socred convention in Whistler, I stopped for a woman who was thumbing a ride. She seemed forlorn and although I had warning lights about stopping for anybody I did. She was okay. She had dumped her boyfriend and wanted to get back to Vancouver as quickly as possible. She had been born in Valletta, on the island of Malta.
In the 90s I met a man who was more French than the French and never wore anything but a bow tie with the French fleur de-lis. He was from Mauritius.
|Sacha Terrat & Sandrine Cassini
In a world of rapid globalization, when you can travel to Ulan Bator (I first read about this place in an essay by William F. Buckley many years ago) on points gathered by buying gasoline at your Burnaby Chevron station, exotic is just about dead.
Or at least that’s what I thought until my friend dancer/choreographer Sandrine Cassini invited me to the Café Montmartre on Main Street, last Saturday to listen to a three piece band from New Caledonia.
It was cold. It was rainy. I felt tired, but I knew I could not miss an opportunity to meet up with the exotic. Exotic it was, not to mention being able to gaze on that most exotic looking Sandrine Cassini.
For those who don’t know, New Caledonia is in Micronesia and it is sort of French. Officially it is a statut particulier or statut original of France. It would be simpler to call it a French department but it is not. Citizens born in the island now hold a French and New Caledonian citizenship. The band was labeled as Sacha (Terrat) and band (Maxime Brillou, DJ programmer and Johan Cazalas, drums).
I was not only rewarded by music that I could not exactly pin down (with dissonances and manufactured noises similar to Piazzolla) but with a haunting voice that sang equally haunting songs and lyrics that in some instances reminded me of Portuguese fado.
The singer, Sacha who before playing was sharing crepes with Cassini was handsome, and more so with his eye makeup. He had a beautiful smile and a soft voice that oozed good manners and grace. I was charmed and stayed for the more than one hour-long set. I gave thanks to Cassini and her friends and as I went home I thought that all was well with the world as the exotic could still surprise, even this man.
I make my sincere apologies for not having taken a camera for the occasion. My 3G iPhone did the best it could.