Tuesday, 14 September 2010


I've lived in London for six years and become used to its ways. London life is hard at first. It tires you out with its constant assault on your senses. You are bombarded by advertising at every turn. There are signs which tell you where to stand, when to move, when to think, what not to do, what to buy, how to think. Street furniture guides you along the road in neat channels and clean rows. The rat race at rush hour seems so alien. Thousands of unsmiling faces rushing about their business. It seems like the rush hour last all day. You tell yourself you will never get to the point where it makes you cynical or that you will stop smiling at people in the street.

Slowly, however, it becomes normal. You become adept at sifting through the information and noise levels and take what you need and ignore the rest. It's still there and at some level you process it but you don't let it come into your conscious mind. The street signs and funneling of people in certain ways becomes a comfort because you don't need to think where you are going. It becomes automatic. You curse if someone fumbles their travelcard at the tube station turnstile making you pause for a heartbeat. Your assimilation is complete.

Now I have been dumped into a country very alien to the UK and even to the hectic nature of London.  Needless to say everything is different. My London armour doesn't work here. Suddenly it doesn't have the familiar things to filter out. There is a finely honed part of my brain now with nothing to do.

While on the train the other day from Patiala to Rishikesh I put on my mp3 player and listened to a few songs. Every one sounded sublime. I had shivers running up and down my spine at songs I have heard a few times at home and thought were just ok. The music sounded completely transformed. Clear and pure and perfect. Such moments have been few and far between in the last couple of years. I haven't had the time to sit and really listen to the songs. To appreciate them wholly. My London filter had started to tune out the good things too and not just the bad or unwanted.  I'm glad I am wiping the slate clean for a while.