Sunday, October 19, 2008

Music and Memory

Its quite amazing. I've been observing how music is an an index into my memory. Just a strain or note from a song and the mind floats back into its database called the memory and transports me back suddenly to events in my life that I thought I had forgotten. ( can I think about something if I have forgotten it ? But I digress.)

Its almost like placing a stylus on record groove - the memory starts playing the song that life sang way back when.


Here are a few songs(not necessarily my most favorite and in no particular order) and the events they take suddenly me back to. (I know we drop the past in the Art Of Living but sometimes this painful indulgence is a little sweet - even if bitter-sweet).

I Just Called To Say I Love You (Stevie Wonder) : I went to an all boys school. At the bottom of the hill was our sister institution - thats right - the all girls school. They used to have a fund raiser each year - called the fancy fete (why they called it that - I don't know) - a highly anticipated event. This song was the number 1 for many years - played as requests from guys to gals.

Papa Kehte Hain Bada Naam Karega : Released right around our Std 10 farewell party (junior high graduation), this song was a super-hit from the Bollywood flick "Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak". Someone sung it at the farewell - as we all stood there with goosebumps - at the threshold of our teen years, suddenly realizing that we would never be school kids again - wondering what lay ahead.

Tujhe Dekha To Yeh Jaana Sanam : A hit from the Bollywood movie Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge . I was alone in Nashik working on a tough project, struggling to make sense of people - situations - life in my early professional years. This song would play on the movie promos on television each night as I snuggled into my hotel bed, glad the day was over, surrendering my pain, confusion and uncertainty to the night, wishing the next daylight would never come.

Ya Devi Sarva Bhuteshu : This a prayer chant glorifying the qualities of the Mother Divine chanted during Navaratri . We had no TV when I was young and I would love listening to this on All India Radio early in the morning.

As Long As You Love Me : A Backstreet Boys hit number released in 1998 as I first set foot on foreign land. Expectation, a foreboding feeling, exuberance, apprehension, obligation, excitement all played in my mind as my friend drove me to work each day blasting this on his car speakers.

Unbrake My Heart : A Toni Braxton hit. Also brings back visions of driving into Cupertino each morning awaiting an interview.

Nahin Samne : A beautiful number from the Bollywood flick - Taal - an A.R Rahman composition. I remember sitting in the passenger seat of my friend's car when this wafted through the speakers. Instinctively my eyes closed and i was quietly humming this song till the very end asking my friend to play it repeatedly until he went :( . Rahman's delicate Sufi touch is soooooo beautiful.

He Nanda Nanda Gopala : A beautiful Vikram bhajan. I had attended satsang for years, never had the guts to lead a bhajan. One day determined to sing, I went to satsang. A bhajan voice and sweat broke out simultaneously...finally breaking the ice...with myself.

Gita Govindam : Rendition by Unnikrishnan. I was leaving to go buy groceries when my dad played this on the cassette player. I remember stopping in my tracks, taking off my footwear and running back in asking my dad - What did you just play ? Over the years this tape has taken me very deep each time I played it.

Maa : A bhajan collection by Jagjit Singh. First heard it at U's place during an Ashtavakra Gita session. Hey Govind Hey Gopala..will forever be imprinted on my memory. I then discovered that the gazhal king also sang soulful bhajans. I remember meditating so deeply after listening to this one.

Hey Ram Hey Ram : Another Jagjit Singh beauty. Takes me back to the Ashtavakra Gita sessions. Deeply meditative....

Kaisi Hai Yeh Rut : A beautiful Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy number from Dil Chahta Hai rendered by Srinivas. Just goes deep....dunno where.

And So Many More ......

Jai Guru Dev,


  1. A very beautiful post. Loved reading every word of it.
    Thanks so much for sharing it, it makes me feel so near to another being, realizing once again, that we are all the same, with just a little different experiences

    **but sometimes even this painful indulgence is a little sweet - even if bitter-sweet

    I knowwwwwwwww.... :P

    Indeed this post is very special, it took me wherever you have been

    Jai Gurudev

  2. Lovely, and it brings back some of my own memories on this rain-drenched afternoon...hmmm

  3. @manju : do share some either here on on your blog :)