TRAVELS WITH MY GOULASH or THE CELLO AS BABY CARRIAGE
Air travel with my cello used to be so
simple: the airline would treat it like a child, sell
you a half-fare ticket, give it a seat belt extension, let it be next to you in a
and you would be on your way. The cello could demand its own meal. Since it had its
own name, Cello Wimmer was frequently offered its own credit card. It politely declined
since its birth date of 1728 would, in the end, never pass the final credit check.
Things have changed since those days - and one must learn to adapt. Years later,
my dear father died and I wanted to play some Bach at his outdoor funeral in Berkeley,
California, I decided to leave numero uno at home and, instead, travel with
equally beloved Hungarian cello. Naïvely, after packing it well with extra underwear
socks, I checked it as baggage. As I was boarding the plane, I saw my cello flailing
helplessly in the brisk March wind as it leaned against the cargo door below, unattended.
Then it fell over and rocked on its belly until it was rescued by a supervisor. Fortunately,
my judicious packing had saved the day, and the cello arrived safely.
But there must be a better way. When I recounted this sad tale to my dear friend,
luthier Jacques Français, he took me aside and explained in his inimitable
French accent: "Dear 'arry, nevair, nevair let zem put ze cello on ze baggage
travel often to Europe vizz a fine instrument. I walk it to ze gate. Zei take it
and put it in
ze baggage "hold". Zen, at zee ozzer end, I wait at ze plane exit door,
and zei bring ze
cello öp to me."
Fast forward to 2012, the era of security checks, scanners, vast hordes of travelers.
overworked airline employees have learned how to deal with wheelchairs, baby carriages,
strollers, scooters, but a cello in a hard case? What is it? What to do?
On this recent occasion I was teaching and giving
master classes for a month in Italy.
Again I took along my old Hungarian instrument, by now affectionately nicknamed my
"Goulash" cello (since it was made up of so many mysterious ingredients
New York to Rome went O.K. using the Jacques Français method. The trouble
the return trip from Rome Fiumicino Airport. Trying to apply as much of Jacques'
as I could muster, the beautiful Italian lady at the ticket counter was unmoved.
a special conveyor belt for oversized (like overweight people?) baggage. Your guitar
will be fine." "Not acceptable", I demurred. The supervisor was called
and, after much
discussion, finally buckled. "Go to the gate. There they will give you a special
put the cello on board." "Grazie mille", I replied.
Ah, but I had not counted on the fact that a different company ran the security screening,
and they were not beholden to the individual airlines. "We cannot let the cello
without a seat ticket or a tag." It was classic "Catch-22", finally solved when the original
supervisor was found and intervened.
More corridors and escalators. The cello, stuffed
with underwear, was getting heavier by
the minute. At last I arrived at the check-in gate. Another beautiful young Italian
the counter. I could sense this was going to be a long haul: Though she had gorgeous
makeup, her fingernails were far too long. This one never played a string instrument,
certainly not a cello. No simpatico there! As the waiting line behind me grew
the minute, and between loudspeaker announcements of airline travel "specials,"
explained that I was promised a gate receipt for my cello so that I could leave it,
retrieve it at the end of the flight.
"We have no such receipt," she said.
"Please stand and wait right here" she admonished
as she consulted with a series of bumbling supervisors. 45 minutes went by. It was
boarding time of the huge fully-booked plane.
I was just about to start yelling, when she cooed,
"I have a solution: it's in 2 parts. First,
we'll let you board with your cello. If the on-board supervisor has room for it in
(fat chance!) you're all set. If not, he will tag it and take it below, and we'll
bring it up to
you on arrival." Hallelujah!
And so it was that my cello was handed back to
me safe-and-sound, with a geaming red
tag marked wheelchair/scooter.
Of course, all the New York customs agent could
come up with was "what do you have in
there, a machine-gun?" But it was good to be back.
POSTED: NOVEMBER 12, 2012
COPYRIGHT AND TRADEMARK
This blog created, written and maintained by Harry Wimmer (email@example.com).
Thanks to Shirley Givens
firstname.lastname@example.org for her imaginative illustrations.
|Design and content ©2006, 2007, 2012 by Harry Wimmer, Incidental
Artwork ©2006, 2007, 2012 by Shirley Givens.
All materials on this blog are limited to personal, non-commercial use.
Trade Mark by Harry Wimmer
CHAPLIN - Left-handed Cellist and Composer
BUXTE - W H O?
Confessions of a Would-be Page
Concert As A Meal
N.Y.Times Misses Out Again! Quack!
Michael Tippett in Carnegie Hall
HARRY WIMMER ON
Sonata in E Flat Op.120 No.2 (Live)
MENDELSSOHN: Sonata No. 1 in B Flat (Live)
CHAPLIN-WIMMER: "Oh, That Cello! (Live)
Spring Song (Live)
by Wilhelm Busch
Cello Concerto (anon.)
Itzhak Perlman in Aspen
Rose in Colo.Springs
Portraits by Shirley Givens
C Minor Suite Was Written This Morning.
Casals From Afar
Tippett Arrives inShorts
Lives On in Puerto Rico
Golden Treasure of San Juan
Bach on the Bayou
from the"Joy of Cello Playing" website