Bob Dylan in Shanghai

A couple of Fridays ago we flew to Shanghai, hung out in a hotel room for a few hours, then took the crowded peak-hour metro to the Shanghai Grand stage. Bob Dylan was performing. The crowds in the subway on a Friday evening could overwhelm anyone. I don’t know how L and R made it without a problem and even enjoyed it. Not only that R fell asleep in his carrier. L was exhausted but in typical L fashion she rebelled sleep. The bright lights, masses of people, and noise were her co-conspirators.

We filed into the stadium/theatre all very excited. It was our first concert together. We waited in our seats as the rest of the place slowly filled up. The people around us were easy-going and cool. They made space for us with our two babies, two baby carriers, one back pack and diaper bag. We got many understanding and encouraging smiles.

While we waited, I wondered whether our families worries about taking one-and-a-half year olds to a full-on concert would actually confirm and result in a quick return. Would the loud music harm their sensitive little ear drums? Would they be overwhelmed by the sheer massive experience of thousands of people in a large space? And what about weed? I had assured everyone that if there was any difficulty for the children we would simply return to the hotel. No big deal really.

I wanted to do this. Maher suggested we go to the concert, but only if it wouldn’t be too much trouble. I knew this was a big deal for him, so trouble or not we would try. Maher’s main music idol as a child and probably always has been Bob Dylan. He often sang BD songs with his high school band. He introduced me to some of the songs and music over the last few years. M and his brother who was also somewhere in the audience with his girlfriend and mum share their admiration for the artist. They were happy there “together”.  All in all it was a special moment for us.

When the music started, Leila was one of few people in the entire stadium of many thousands to bounce in her seat. She smiled, danced and clapped her hands. In typical China concert style, everyone sat put in their seats and bobbed their heads from time to time. Rahul slept through the first twenty minutes. The loud music couldn’t have been that bad after all. When he stirred I wondered if he would be shocked by the context. He looked out towards the stage and clapped his hands! We laughed. What joy. One clapping the other dancing.

Never mind that BD is 70, his style was different yet again, and his voice even more raspy, we were happy to be there. He was criticized for accepting to give a set list of songs that he would perfprm to the Chinese authorities. He was not to sing “Blowin’ in the wind” and a few other pieces.  Apparently he doesn’t do them in concert anymore anyway. He is still on his “never-ending tour”, and we caught him in Shanghai. For Maher being there was an hommage to the artist he adores.  We took L and R to their first concert. It was BD. Only while we were at the concert did I realise that Maher’s first concert was a BD one. It was in Paris. His father took him when he was ten.

A little after Rahul woke up, L started to cry from exhaustion. I carried her to the back where a few people were dancing. She fell asleep in my arms as we danced. Maher carried Rahul over to join us. They both seemed happy listening and moving to the music. A man asked if we always took “the kids” to concerts, and said he wished that his parents had. We didn’t stay till the end; missed “Like a rolling stone”, and his usual show ending song “Forever young”. But we had our moment and won’t forget it.

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