The Playlist of Life
After completing my AP Calculus homework, after studying for the AP Psychology test that’s coming up on Monday, I sit down, ready to write a stellar college essay. I clear the always messy desk, stick out my feet on the foot rest, turn the fan on. Twelve years of school has made this a routine for me. I turn on Pandora (I can’t work without music, of course). I sift through the many memories in life. Images flash through my head like someone’s rewinding an old movie reel. Blue, green, red, brown, white.
So many choices, my personal life journal. Picking one specific event to write about is like sticking my hand into the 64 crayon box and drawing ONE color. It’s too few to represent an entity.
Taylor Swift’s Innocent begins; I’m filled with thoughts of “lunch-box days”, of second grade, when immaturity and freshness ruled the school. The feelings of pain and sheepish embarrassment when a stuck up boy teased me about my unusual, Indian name. Third grade, when I began holding my lunch of a Tupperware box filled with homemade Indian noodles or chapattis, little wheat pancakes, under the table so that no one could make a snide comment about the weird smell or look of my Indian heritage.
When the next song begins to play, I’m yanked out of my nostalgic moment. I wasn’t expecting a Bollywood song, but I soon realized that my playlist was a mix of America’s Top 40 and classic Indian songs. I didn’t mind. Mujhse Dosti Karoge – will you be my friend? — was a favorite song.
This pleasant surprise pulls me back to eighth grade, when my parents attempted to instill a sense of Indian culture into my brother and me by whisking us off to India for a year. I remember my initial reluctance to give in, to feel acceptance into a radically different society. Mujhse Dosti Karoge symbolizes the question I unknowingly asked India, hoping to get back in touch with a heritage I had tried to push away.
With the next song, Dil Chahta Hai, do what your heart desires, my mind floods my eyes with memories of high school. What a life changing four years. Perhaps Miley Cyrus’s The Climb should be on this emerging sountrack; I remember always feeling an “uphill battle”, there never appeared to be a moment of relaxation. I was full steam ahead with deadline days in Journalism, tournaments in Speech and Debate and Science Olympiad, volunteering at the local hospital every week, balancing NHS meetings with my Indian style Bhangra dance practices. Curiously, summers were busier. Proctor ; Gamble’s Resident Scholar one week program was eight hours of science and engineer related activities for a week in summer 2011, daily tennis games with my brother tired me out, sangeetha – singing – classes of Indian classical Karnatic music happened every week.
Life is “Kabhi Kushi Kabhi Gham” – sometimes happy, sometimes sad; I didn’t get that A in AP Chemistry, but I did produce a CD of Kannada songs. Maybe I didn’t make the tennis team, but I placed first in a dance competition with my dance crew. I lost people close to me, but others have come to help fill in that hole.
This playlist is yet to be finished. But hey, one thing’s for sure: Indian and American songs – together – add a zesty touch to an ever-growing richly colorful life. Mine.