When meeting strangers one often ends up sharing notes on tastes in music, food, places, cultural observations and such. In the middle of these conversations I often digress to scratch the truth behind my ‘interests’, suspicious of their origins. Because in reality none of our interests and intrigues are truly our own. They are infact very much like the Christian tradition of ‘something borrowed’, fragments of borrowed happiness from people and places in our lives.
If you were to chronological account for the hobbies you took up through years, it is possible the motivations came from usual suspects- family, friends and later lovers. Sometimes taking up an author to figure out the fuss about your best friend’s predilection, thus laying the foundation for your obsession with the writing. Another time, gravitating towards a lover’s passion for trance music, almost forgetting your own liking for country. Sometimes merging, sometimes replacing old interests with new found desires. Also, some stranger brought a movie into your life that finally exactly summed it up for you. It is the movie you now use as a reference to judge connections with other strangers. Most tunes we hum, most songs that become special usually take us back to someone or somewhere.
Like people bring intrigues, places bring unknown sensations that often convert to interests. If not for living on campus in a quiet town, I would have probably never discovered my love for running. Not in the grime and dust of Delhi. If not for running, I would have never seen various cities waking up to their uniqueness, stripped off the drama of life. If not for Munich and it’s celebration of beer as a cultural catalyst, I would have totally missed the point of beer-drinking around the world.( and that would be a real shame!)
Three years ago my life would have been untouched by the sounds of sufi music, unmoved by the powerful words of the saints.And today ‘chhaap tilak sab cheen li’ never fails to raise goosebumps, never lets me be a mere spectator. There are hundreds and thousands of things I do, say, pursue, or laugh about that if put together would largely define me, and also the people and places that brought them to me.
So when I tune into that CCR song on the Radio, curl up with a Jhumpa Lahiri on my couch, and prefer my coffee a certain way, who is to separate the ‘me’ from them, whose influences I soaked upon like a sponge?From those who came and never left in spirit. As the famous piece mentioned above aptly describes ‘ Apni si rang Dini mose naina milayeke……’