The strange sound filled the air. Like a flute, but more earthy. It was beautiful and unexpected on the boat. We followed it to the airy deck to find its source.
/here’s a fairly bad, cell phone recording of the flutes, for those interested/
Amid the many Russians and handful of other tourists on this ship from St. Petersburg to Helsinki were several elderly Chinese people. They were playing a gourd instrument. Everyone around had stopped to listen, a few pulled out phones and cameras to record it.
The men played as a few Chinese women began to sing. Someone turned down the formerly booming euro-tech music that had filled the deck.
I was whisked away. Here, surrounded by burly Russian men and very little English, I was suddenly in some sort of traditional ceremony in China. I felt like I should have tea, not vodka, in hand.
During a pause between songs, the entire deck erupted with applause. After a bow and a smile they continued.
In that moment, it didn’t matter how different our music styles were; or really how different our countries, governments and traditions were.
It mattered that we all appreciate the talent. It mattered that for a moment, dozens of nationalities cheered on another man. It mattered that we were all travelers experiencing something new together. It mattered that we could smile at easy other to say, “isn’t this great?” without needing to share a language.
We share many of the same goals and dreams. We all want happiness, health and some degree of prosperity. We especially share goals when we travel. We all hope to have a good experience in a new place, with new people and languages around us. Though we may all have different methods of achieving our dreams, we share them.
In that moment, we could all share an appreciation for music. We can all appreciate beauty and talent, no matter where it comes from.
Sharing experiences and sharing joy across cultures is one reason I love this world.