Month: July 2015

A Patch of Green

On a hot morning in the Chinese city of Guangzhou, I met a Chinese acquaintance who could surprisingly speak very good English, facilitating our conversation, as we headed towards a cultural park which I wanted to visit. A long metro ride ahead of us, we went on talking about one thing then the other, this habit and that tradition, India and China, life and the Universe.

Very soon, as had to happen, with a person like me, very soon, we landed on the subject of movies. Who didn’t like movies? At the mention, he felt compelled to give me his very honest opinion- his face went glum, his voice lowered , a shadow of disappointment fell over his person. “I will not tell you to watch any Chinese movies. Here, we do not like a lot of Chinese movies; they are very stupid. They have no story at all, just a bunch of stupid fighting scenes, some stupid love story, everybody always beating each other up. All of them are the same”

I looked at him, amazed, making no effort to hide my expression. How many times in ourselves, in our friends, in our families had we said the same thing about Indian movies? How many times have we scoffed and dismissed Bollywood commercial films, dismissed them for their exaggerated nuisance, spurned their stupidity, their absurdity, their distance from real life, their nonsensical nature? “That’s what we also think of our movies, sometimes”, I told him, giggling.

“What?” he asked me, flabbergasted. “Why?! Here, we LOVE your movies. I haven’t seen a lot of them but the ones that I have, I loved. Especially I have seen 3 Idiots and PK, and they are amazing! In my college, all my friends love these two movies. They are so full of life and so funny. How can you not like them?”  “What, and I love your movies! Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee- come on!” We both burst out laughing.

With a shake of the head, a hint of a smile and a dawn of realization, I understood the secret to the universe. What is yours will always suffer your criticizm, your rebukes, and your disappointments. It will take your praise and present its flaws, it will lay bare in front of you, in its stark honesty and nakedness. What is not yours, however, will escape the glaring eye; we will never know their problems and their dreams, we will never know what it is like to be them. We can always guess, but we might never know. So what we belittle here could be celebrated there; what they deride there could be extolled here.

But more importantly, I learned that you could be sitting in the most beautiful and lush sprout-wielding, cherry-popping flowerage, but the grass? The grass will always, always be greener on the other side.

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MUSIC TO MY EARS

It became an unspoken rule that every vacation I’d take, I had to have a trip song- that one song which would transport me back to the place, flashing memories and moments alongside the beats of the track, making me wonder how perfectly the song fit the mood of the trip, as if the singer had cut out and moulded it just to fit my days, as if it had no other purpose but to make me reminiscence. So in Goa I’d see colourful clothes and gold beaches pass by on Kid Cudi’s ‘Pursuit of Happiness’, thinking of how amazing life was, how wonderful its fruits, how young and wild and free we felt at this moment, singing and dancing and hurtling forward without a care in the world even if it be that one night. And in Mcleodganj I’d match my pace to John Mayer’s ‘Slow Dancing in a Burning Room’, skipping along this tiny little hill, curiously talking to the locals, understanding how time literally slows down at a tiny place like this.

On my vacation to Kasol, staying in a cute, little homestay after returning from a daunting trek to Kheerganga, the weather was gloomy, the sun had set, and our corridor was abuzz with our excitements, the smell of smoke, and the rumbles of the stomach, when suddenly played Chet Faker’s ‘Gold’. The first time it played though, I was busy running around and never paid attention- the next time however, I couldn’t help but adjust it according to the place we were in, the mood of the moment. Because the song played at the time that made me pay attention to it, in a homestay on a dark evening in Kasol, it will forever remind me of the night, those people, that furniture.

Music, then, has a funny way of attaching itself to moments of your life. A simple, random collection of sounds bring to your brain a host of emotions: if some remind you of the car ride with that one boy, some remind you of the person who always went mad dancing on those songs. Songs, then, become right on occasion, in the sense that the moment makes the song, instead of the other way round. A song is never right or wrong for you essentially- you just make it so. So my kind of music and your kind of music is just a testament to what surrounded you and I, for there really is the fact how a lot of us went about loving typical Bollywood numbers in our childhood to Avril Lavigne-like teen obsessions, and then finding even those embarrassing, moving on to our rock and alternative and EDM.

Different sorts of music has different sorts of ambience, which also includes what we refer to as a particular style of a musician or a band; whatever you listen to also starts defining your ambience, and so, it is your own moments and memories that determine the ambience of the music and your memory of the music. Some years ago, I used to go for swimming early morning and would always keep a loud song for the alarm- now that song always reminds me of the smell of chlorine! The song is never right or wrong, the music is never good or bad- its just you and what is around you that makes anything, if at all.