I spent two months in India from mid-nov to mid-jan because I got the luckiest exam schedule in the world.
I had already fallen in love with Tamil music while volunteering in Eastern Sri Lanka two years ago. One of the most popular modern tamil pop songs had basically become the soundtrack of my two months stay and I could sing along to all of the words which were in Tamglish, a popular way for artists to mix in English words and make the song sound “cooler. “Why this Kolaveri di”, which means why all of this killing, is as is the norm in India, a song extracted from a movie. It is about “all the killing” that this femme fatale fair skinned beauty has done to the poor singer’s heart.
I learnt this song by listening to it repeatedly on the colourful and loud bus rides in Sri Lanka and this allowed me to make a very important discovery about the power of songs. Living in a village where the absolute majority did not speak English this song became my main medium of communication, it was a way of showing how deeply I appreciated Tamil culture, how curious I was, and ultimately my love for the country and its people.
This was an invaluable lesson and one that I took with me on my trip to India. Living in Bangalore, in a girls hostel for a month, I was introduced to completely new songs. Some nights we would try and learn the choreography to the most dance-y tunes, my two favourites were these ones, one with Sharukh Khan, the old Bollywood sweetheart and the second one with the new one. Please notice the demented hip movements…
In India, I was volunteering for an NGO which runs a school for underprivileged children from slums around Bangalore. Bangalore, the Silicon Valley of India, is located in Karnataka, where the state language is Kannada. The school has a very active choir and children practice for a half hour every other day after lunch. One of the songs particularly stuck with me and I was surprised to find myself very moved by it despite not understanding a single word, later I was told that this was a song written by a professor at the Bangalore School of Music (which some of the children attended weekly to participate in the choir) specifically for our choir, it was a hymn to peace, called Shanti.
Music has become such an essential part of my travels and the links with memories allows me to organise and remember them better. It is one of the easiest way to communicate with someone without ever saying a word.
This song will always remain my absolute favourite and definitely one of the most romantic songs ever written. Like 99% of Indian women I too have developed a massive crush on the one and only Sharukh Khan and I cannot resist the fact that the song is performed in my beloved Egypt!!
Definitely planning to host a Bollywood themed flat party when I return to Edinburgh and introduce everyone to these crazy devilled rhythms!