‘We Are Sharing the Same Vibes’: Garv Bomjan Brings eastern Ragas Melodies to the MBTA

Photo By Jack Adams. Garv Bomjan jams out at South Station

Garv Bomjan moved to the U.S. from Nepal three and a half years ago. A year later, he decided to take up busking at Boston T stations, which soon became his full-time job.

“The satisfaction that I get, that’s why I started doing music … self pleasure. And if my pleasure gives pleasure to other people, that’s like, okay, yes, I’ve accomplished my goal,” Bomjan said.

Bomjan has parlayed his love of music into a full-time career as a street musician, or busker, in Boston subway stations. It is more than just an unusual way to make a living – for Bomjan, it is a calling that brings him joy by sharing music with others.

According to Bomjan, he first became interested in music while visiting a music store with his mother when he was 15. He fiddled around with a keyboard and grew excited by the electronic tiger noises the keyboard could make. Despite his interest, his mother could not afford the keyboard, so she bought him an acoustic guitar.

“When I took it home, I made the same tiger noises on the guitar itself, by scratching,” Bomjan said.

In Nepal, Bomjan was a graphic designer He found work at Staples after immigrating to the U.S. When he realized he could make a living off of his busking he quit Staples and started busking full-time. He said the money he makes off his music is more than enough to live on.

Bomjan’s favorite spot to play is South Station because there is enough room for him to set up his equipment and the acoustics are good. He said his least favorite places to play are Davis Square and Park Street Stations, because there are trains on both sides of where people wait.

Although he has received some trouble, for the most part Bomjan said the police are very accommodating towards him.

Bomjan says his music is inspired by Eastern Classical Raggas, which places great emphasis on improvisation. All of his songs start by just playing a melody, which eventually turns into a song. He never writes down the music.

“I play on the guitar, you know, and suddenly the compositions come. The first time I started it was improvisation, and slowly it goes into a composition; you play that every day, on and off, and you know it becomes solid,” Bomjan said. “I don’t write it, I start with a tune of some kind, and I just feel it … I don’t think of any chords, I don’t think of any technical style.”

Although he admires many musicians, he said most of his inspiration comes from the people and the sounds that he encounters. A sound can either inspire him or disturb him, he said. In the subway, however, it is the people rather than the sounds that influence his music.

“They sit and watch, and I see their faces … if they are looking at me, I can sense their energy and their vibes,” Bomjan said. “So it’s like I am sharing – we are sharing – the same vibes when they are enjoying my music.”

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Jack Adams is a local writer and photographer who covers social justice issues around the Boston area.

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