Music has always been an integral part of my life, even though I can't play an instrument. Tried the flute in grade four, but something about blowing on a long, thin object just didn't seem right. Tried the piano, but old Mrs. Hoy in Harrisburg, PA put me to sleep. Tried the guitar, but the creepy Polish instructor Ivor pissed me off. Am I making excuses for my own ineptitude? Maybe.

I grew up around music, if not musicians. There was always music playing wherever we lived. I remember being a toddler and fiddling with my parent's record player, tiptoeing up to it and playing with the cartridge - it reminded me of a caboose - before someone yanked me away from it. LPs of Bing Crosby, CCR, the Eagles and Bob Dylan sat placed on shelves in Mussoorie and various apartments in Bombay.

My earliest memory of comprehending lyrics is of sitting in Sadhana Apartments on Gamadia Road, the quite little lane that connects Warden Road to Peddar Road. My dad flipped between audio cassettes of the Beatles and Aradhana, music by SD Burman. I remember being amazed, confused and later confident at listening to and mastering a few lyrics from both cassettes, as distinctly dissimilar in language and comprehension as my five-year-old ears and mind could believe them to be.

"Follow her down to a bridge by a fountain ... where rocking horse people eat marsh mellow pies" shares as much space in my memory as "Raat nasheeli, mast sama hai, aaj nashe mein, saara jahaan hai...". I didn't know what half those words meant but they were mystic, overpowering and cool. I will never forget either song.

In a way that moment captures who I am. Torn between two cultures. I have never been able to decide on whether I like Western or Indian music better.


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