The Playlist – Part VII

He decided it was time to close his story and for obvious reasons he picked the apt song or at least that’s what I thought. He decided to call me that day and it left me a little off guard. I didn’t have my notepad or anything to record his words. He never really ever made it easy for me but then again this was never going to be that easy. I hope you are listening to me? And then he began, for one last time..

My book has failed, my love has failed and to be honest nothing hurts more than the fact that no one really cares. Do not protest, you know it’s the truth. Even the idea of restarting has become impossible to even comprehend and you begin to wonder what you are leaving behind. Is there any legacy, any unfulfilled destiny that someone forgot to inform you about? You certainly realize there is no secret waiting for you to uncover. I have lived with many ideas, mild successes and too many regrets. That’s no way to square up to life. I urge you to help me immortalize this life. There is no certainty and there is no solution. I want to leave that behind and these songs which will always tell the story of despair and arising from that the most unbelievable urge to live, to not give up.

I had thrown the phone and started running. I had to get there and I had to get there fast. My mind was racing. the songs, the symbolism of it all. The concept of Ved Vyas and Ganesha writing, co-creating an epic. The mythology of it all. Most importantly the need for validation that helped create a story that will forever remain immortal. I remembered the songs, each of them reflecting the moments that will forever define him. By the time I got there he was already gone. First he was lying listless on the sofa and as I saw his eyes close, something woke up in me. The story was over, most importantly he in his own way had helped us both. I sat next to him and he became one with the nothingness around me..

It was only me, it always was only me. I had been healed and the playlist of a past life, was, well, complete now.

With this song..

The Playlist – Part VII

The Playlist – Part VI

Let’s lose the plot tonight. It’s the only way you will understand this memory. Also you just have to hear this.

It must have been about 250 people squeezed up, sweating and piss drunk. One of those nights where a lot of shit was going to get very real. I saw him disappear into the crowd and in between the crazy lighting i could see him hug many people. They all knew him but nobody wanted to talk for too long with him. He was lonely and to compound that, he was in denial.

He finally sat with a drink as the song began and the whole club began to groove to it. A couple of people called him but they did not insist and it felt like he knew. He knew that it was all just polite words followed by nudges and shaking of heads. They had given up on him, maybe more then he had himself. As I sat in a corner of the club observing him and taking notes, I felt this intense despair set in within me. It was powerful and it refused to leave me. He staggered towards the bar for another drink as a young girl, covered in tattoos walked towards him. She went close to his ears and whispered something and then held up a napkin. He faltered first and then gave me a glimpse of the same person I saw in that interview room. The swagger was back, the arrogance was contained yet sparkling in his eyes. For that one moment it was all back. He signed the napkin she held out and as she walked away and he turned to look at me, I began to realize why this night was a part of this playlist. I realised why he wanted some thing to immortalize him. He had his books, he had his fans, he had pretty much pioneered a genre of writing yet that was never going to define him. It was an effort that was far from complete and he needed to leave behind a legacy or less dramatically, a story that everyone could understand. I saw him reach to the DJ and frantically signal something to him, the DJ seem to oblige him and play the song again, the beats had me transfixed now as I watched him dance and fall on the floor. No one walked to pick him up, nor did he try and get up.

The ‘Bangarang’ in his life had swallowed him whole and spat out the bits, which was now him on the floor. I walked away from that night club with my notes intact and another song added to the playlist, but this time feeling closer to him than ever before..


The Playlist – Part VI

The Playlist – Part V

So when did this song decide to join your playlist?

He sat with his back to me, facing the sunshine outside his window. And then he began to speak, for some reason he did not want me to follow him into this memory this time.

It all began on a dull monsoon morning. I had only fifteen minutes to get to college and waiting at the bus stop staring at the clock wasn’t reassuring. That’s when this song began on my ipod. Cars whizzed by, the bus came and went and people stared at me. I had walked away from that bus stop and found myself in the middle of the road. It was raining, I threw my bag off and I was on a terrace, six years later. Cigarette in my hand hiding under the miserly roof that just about kept my smoke dry. The voice on the song picks up and finds emotion and I was in a coffee shop looking at my friends with my girlfriend cuddled in my arms, while I could see the love of my life. She wasn’t in the same room but she was in the same moment. I saw a stage in Bangalore, with me lifting a trophy with me also holding up my hands, giving up as a 6 year old in my Karate class. All this in the same moment.

I looked at him intently and he was holding back his tears. He continued between sobs now.

Later that night I went home and I couldn’t get the song out of my head. It kept taking me to happy places and juxtaposing it with memories I wanted to erase. The song was on loop and as it began for the sixteenth time that evening, my mom came and hugged me and seeing my sweat, told me not to panic. There was this instant warmth and then I realized the song had done it again because as as she held me I saw images of that dull monsoon morning again. This time it wasn’t a bus stop with other passengers and as I began to cry they took my mother away.

She looked content..

The Playlist – Part V

The Playlist – Part IV

‘Why do I need to feel everything you felt? I’m just reporting what you felt and compiling a playlist that seems to define you. Why are you so hell bent on ensuring i’m involved? These journeys down your memory lane are painful at times. It does affect me.’

He looked at me, startled at my outburst and then asked me to hear this. I don’t think I was going to get an answer tonight. What I was surely going to get, was another experience. This time we were in a room with a table, two chairs on one side and one on the other. This was an interview, This was his first job. But for some reason he did not want me to hear his answers so this is how it played out in exactly the order of questions asked:

We required experience for this job, how do you expect to make up for that?

You seem very self assured, yet we know nothing about you? Could you tell us more about yourself?

How can Karma have a role to play with this moment and why are we even talking about it?

I understand that universal brotherhood and the idea of peace can be a hindrance to development, but is that a philosophy you are ready to live with?

Wait, i’m not sure how you are doing this but how is this knowledge going to be of any help in your job?

No , I do not agree with your stance on the unguided notions of modern women in India?

I do not understand the definition of a modern Indian woman!! How can you be so presumptuous?

Mickey Donald was not chauvinistic! Even if he was, how does that support your argument?

Ok, so Disney cartoons were war propaganda, but how can they be used to understand social constructs?

So on that basis, can you guarantee me loyalty?

Gordon Gekko was the grossest representation of greed. Ok yes, he did reek of success too but is that the kind of role model you want to have?

Now come on, there was a stark difference between Gandhi and Bhagat Singh. Do you really not see that?

Yes Paris Hilton can lead. There isn’t any doubt in that and i’m not discriminating but it surely isn’t that black and white. Is it?

But why?

Are you sure?

I see..

Would you like to work for us?

No I still do not see the point of comparing Calvin and Hobbes and Fight Club. Either way, will I see you at work this summer?

Thank you and see you soon. And I can see we will not have a dearth of lunchtime conversations..

I was amazed and could not control a giggle. He was amused too and looked back at me with his usual vacant yet expectant expression.

‘Why did you not allow me to hear the answers?’

‘Well wasn’t it more fun this way?’

I had to agree it was. Only strange thing was, I felt like I kind of knew the answers. More significantly I knew I would have said the same things too..

The Playlist – Part IV

The Playlist – Part III

So he took me for a walk one day. He asked me that I should carry my notepad with me and not miss to report a single moment. The song seemed to be truly special this time. He had a smile this time and it felt like a good memory. As we walked he began speaking, but i wasn’t listening. I did mention earlier the common frameworks of thinking we shared, and also similar taste in music. This was one of those days where we synced, maybe a little too more than I had anticipated because I wasn’t with him anymore, I was him now.

‘Do you really think we can make this work?’ She looked at me through those teary eyes and waited for me to answer. I panicked, I thought I was just a spectator and he would come and give the answer, but I was him today. She looked at me and then looked away. My silence was the final nail. She held me, like it was the last time and then changed me forever.

‘You do know right. We will never stop loving each other. We are screwed.’ And then she smiled. 

‘Nothing we do or undo from this moment on will ever change that. We are doomed but in a nice way, trust me. Every time you look back to this moment and curse or thank yourself, just remember that it really doesn’t matter because this moment will now be etched as a reference for you. Forever’

i couldn’t believe she was saying these things. How was she keeping it together? It frightened me!! I got up and walked away wondering why was he smiling when he heard this song considering the memory attached to it. I turned up the volume on the song and she turned away to hide her tears.

As the song got over I was back walking next to him. he looked at my face and smiled.

‘How the hell can you be smiling? I thought this was a happy memory but seeing her face was heartbreaking. What about it makes you so happy?’

‘Well, she was right. And I can’t do anything about it. isn’t that enough to make you smile?’

I could just keep writing..And the mythology of it all began to slowly descend upon me.


The Playlist – Part III

The Playlist – Part II

This is how the creation of this playlist began. Play.

So he decided to reveal the next song on his playlist to me tonight. Again as he narrated the story of how this song became a part of him, he wanted me to hear it. He told me that this one reminded him of a beating heart and as I listened to it, I wasn’t surprised. 

It all began in a room, four walls, an open door..You would need a good sound system he was told and he set it up. The yellow light in his room flickered and went off, so he reluctantly switched on the white. It gave him a sense of inevitability, like this moment was carved out long before he arrived and then the beats began. He held himself together and then the memories flooded through..

Long walks in a hilly town he tried hard to call home, bridges crossed on a cycle below the tall mountains, a quiet childhood spent throwing stones into the Indus waiting for them to reappear. He made me live these moments and then gradually allowed me to infiltrate that room he was in, the night he heard this song. We sat together and listened as others groaned at the heavy beats but discounted it as the cries of a wandering soul. He spoke loudly above the music of the strawberry ice cream he ate in Lonavala with his family, he remembered the sweater he wore that day, the camera that immortalized the moment and the smile on his face. Vivid, strong and powerful. He had his answer, it did not lie in finding it. It quite simply was in remembering it. As we slowly left the room where the song and he became one and returned to the moment i’m writing this, he held my hand one last time and pointed to the table he sat at and to the open word document on his laptop with the heading – ‘Where does man find his inspiration?’ As the beats took over me, he began to type..

‘My inspiration begins with my love lockdown…’ That’s all I could read, we were back and four and a half minutes were up and so was the song. He turned to me and said, “Me narrating and you writing this by experiencing it. Feels mythological, doesn’t it?”

I did not understand what he meant by that, atleast not yet..

The Playlist – Part II

The Playlist – Part 1

If music were to define us, if it was just one song that encapsulated our being, which one would it be?

This question plagued him all his life. Well if you could call 25 years, a lifetime. You could right? There was a premature birth, good friends and bad, the family who changed and saved him, the heartbreak and the questions. Then there was the cigarettes, the leaning off the terrace, the mad urge to crash his bike, the hysteria that came with seeing her, the inspiration from seeing others chip away at what they did. He wondered what had kept him together through all this, he got the answer and now he wanted to complete it. He wanted to put the pieces together and create something that will always remind him of the beauty of his life. Thus began his journey, like any other explorer, It would have stages and he would need to chronicle them. He asked me if I could help. Turns out we share a very similar taste in music and an uncanny set of shared experiences. Our conversations went late into the night and we decided to collect and possibly immortalize the songs that have moved us the most. I have never written with music playing but he insisted that I listen while I write because apparently, that’s the only way I can channel his feelings.

So you may as well listen while you read too. This is how he remembers it the night this song became a part of him.

It wasn’t a language he understood, but it felt like the voice understood him. The music haunts him till this day and everytime he hears it he gets transported to many eras of his life, instantaneously. He spends a couple of moments there and in those 3 odd minutes goes through heavy introspection and wonder. He is not necessarily any happier or sadder, he just becomes a little more aware of himself. By the end it just becomes a narrative of his life, a weird concept of what he is and as he begins to believe it, the song ends. He is back to where he was before the song began. he calls out to me as the song ends and asks me.. Do you feel what I feel?

He wasn’t expecting an answer and as he turns away I just press the play button again.

The Playlist – Part 1