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Sayin "Yes" to Gangstas Paradise



I‘d been talking to my Secret Asian spawn lately about  the need to say yes to things. Resisting the urge to pull back or turn down offers, just because initially they seem uninteresting or frightening or foreign.


Pull back is what I’d done when a nurse in Timor Leste asked me along to her choir practice.  


Choir? No thanks. I’ll keep it between me and my bar of soap if it’s all the same to you.


But then I thought maybe I should practice what I preach. I wasn’t going to do much of anything other than eat, sit and go to sleep, anyway


So, I said “yes”.


I said “yes” to a choir of mostly expats that rents out a hotel meeting room and sings once a week.  It’s not gospel and no one strives for perfection, though they made it to the semi finals of a local competition. It’s just a guy and his keyboard and a bunch of sheet music and 15-30 folks.  It’s pretty democratic.  There is some structure, but people seem to just yell out songs to sing and if there is enough agreement, that is what they sing.


We started out with a new rendition of “Let it Be” which improved after 4 or 5 tries.


While we were finishing up a man strolled in with 6 or 7 Timorese guys. They were milling about when some one said, alright it’s time for “Gangstas Paradise”.


Apparently the late-comer is leaving the choir and tradition holds that when you leave you get to pick a song to sing.


He also volunteers to teach English to the locals. Since they were young guys he’d been working with them on the lyrics to “Gangstas Paradise” and asked them to come work with the choir on it. They were also going to translate the rap lyrics into the local Tetun language.


So, we all reviewed our parts and after a few false starts put together a pretty rocking rendition.  Or at least as rocking as an acapella group of middle aged expats and a non-native speaking Timorese could be.  It was musical melting pot. There was video taken and I’d hoped to have it to post for you , but alas it hasn’t come through yet. I really wish I could see the final performance at a local bar in a few weeks time.

In addition to some friendly acquaintances, I found myself invited along to a book club and hiking group.  And all this because I said ‘yes’ at a point where I’d usually say,  ‘thanks, but no’.  

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