Radio Gift Four: Philip Reeves

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As 2007 draws to a close, Day to Day is sharing radio memories with our listeners. These are exceptional sounds, moments and people that our reporters have encountered this year. Alex Chadwick talks to senior correspondent Philip Reeves.


Back now with DAY TO DAY, and a 2007 radio moment.

These are from NPR reporters around the world. They sent in sounds and stories that stick with them at this year's end. Not the biggest moments, maybe, but the favorite ones.

And today's comes from the NPR foreign desk and correspondent Philip Reeves.

PHILIP REEVES: I was sitting beside the Ganges or the Mother Ganga, as Hindus prefer to call her, up in the Himalayan foothills, on a beach, camping in a tent, chatting with a group of young Indian people who were working for a mobile telephone corporation. We'd gathered there on the beach. It was a stormy night, and the moment was truly unforgettable, not just of the year but of a lifetime, I think.

(Soundbite of storm)

CHADWICK: I remember these stories, Phil. This is for a series you did, a journey into India, the Ganges. And we've got that at

But back to this moment. So there you are, lightning is flashing and we can hear that thunder. And what is going on?

REEVES: Well, we're on the beach. We're sitting around, drinking rum. We're chatting. The mountains are rising up on either side. In themselves they're exotic - you've got monkeys in the forest there. You've got temples along the shore. The river is green and fast-running. They are actually fish in it. And there we were sitting, chatting. And all of sudden this big storm sweeps in through the Himalayas that sort of rose up above us all of a sudden. So we got this great clashes of thunder and the sky sort of illuminated by flashes of lightning. And out of the blue, to my total astonishment, unexpected, not mentioned to me before, silhouetted against the night by the lightning behind him was a Scottish bagpiper who walked up to us as we were drinking rum along the beach with the full Scottish kit on. In other words, a kilt and everything else, playing the pipes. He'd arrived to entertain us on this night which, you know, was happening all around us.

(Soundbite of singing crowd)

CHADWICK: You know, Phil, I might suggest that this memory is a figment of the rum's imagination. But here, you actually have audio proof he was there.

REEVES: He was there and he came out of the night. He walked up to us. He played his pipes. One or two of the party danced around an open bonfire. There's great fat drops of rain fell down from this storm-pregnant sky. Every now and then, there'll be a flash of lightning and it would be like dancing in a discotheque under a stroboscope that you had to remind yourself you were by the Ganges, in the Himalayan foothills with a whole bunch of folk from a mobile telephone company, dancing the night away to strong and wonderful rum to the tune of the Scottish pipes. That is unforgettable.

(Soundbite of crowd screaming)

CHADWICK: NPR senior correspondent Philip Reeves, joining us from New Delhi, India.

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