There are some beats you will never forget. For me, I will never forget the first time I heard Bally Sagoo’s remix of Chura Liya when his Bollywood Flashback album released in the 1990s. The soft and alluring introduction baited my senses, and then… the beat dropped. In that beat, a flip switched in my spirit and I felt a connection that would never fade.
Whether you realize it or not, your life has a soundtrack. The soundtracks of our lives, however, are more than past tracks and memories in the playlist of our minds. My life, as perhaps yours, has been sculpted by experiences. These life-impacting experiences, whether small or large, are a combination of emotion, circumstance, environment, and meaning. My American desi experience, but more so my DESI identity, is empowered through the beats of each step I’ve taken in life.
I remember when I first read the Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri and how I related to her words, creating a soundtrack echoing in my mind, lingering with meaning. I remember having a drink with Aalok Mehta of American Chai the night before we both were leading talks about our desi identity and personal journeys at the annual South Asian Awareness Networking (SAAN) conference. It was listening to Karsh Kale perform an outdoor set in California as the sun set against a dry horizon when I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life; dancing the night away to countless DJ Rekha gigs along the East Coast with friends and classmates I struggled to keep in touch with otherwise; basking in the moment on a date night with my wife while Penn Masala alumni sang greatest hits during an impromptu performance; and getting lost in countless Bollywood remixes by DJ Lemon that I loudly proclaimed were each “MY JAM!” as the years have gone on.
Music makes mere moments into memories.
My wife used to be a dancer and part of various Indian/Bollywood dance companies. To this day, there are songs and mixes that come on and her smile brims from ear to ear as she tells me where she was when she danced to it, what the choreography was like, who she danced with, and what was going on in her life at the time. The dance, the music, the moment… it created a connection for her, each time. Like a scrapbook made of beats, music captures more in our life than words can often describe.
I take pride in how I’ve defined my life through one basic concept: Connection. How a person connects to their world, their identity, their passions, etc. is a powerful and unique force. Music can create a powerful connection in our lives with the experiences we are having. It captures a moment; a feeling; a struggle; a triumph; a chance to stop time and live in the moment.
I feel empowered each moment I get lost in the beats of my personal soundtrack as life unfolds. Sometimes you have to get lost to find the connections that matter most.
**Essence of Om is the proud sponsor of Rang De Basanti on August 18th Washington, DC – featuring DJ Lemon straight from the heart of Mumbai.**Author: Kashish Parikh-Chopra