Elliott is a talker. In the 3 days we drove around Goa together, looking at various locations, often I had to do nothing except say, “Hmmm” and “Yes”.
On the way to the airport, I told him my favorite story of the client from Qatar who went round and round the Taj in Bumm-Bumm-Bhole-Land in a taxi, looking for the Taj Mahal.
Elliott has lived in Qatar for a year. He said to me: “I made a lot of friends there. So did my parents. The people are nice there. But aren’t people the same everywhere? You just have to keep your mind open.”
I said, suitably chastised: “Hmm”.
He continued: “I find it funny the way people generalize. For instance, they are shocked that I don’t drink or smoke even though I’m a Goan. And I don’t do drugs, even though I love going to trance parties.”
I said: “Hmm”.
He said: “And heavy metal for instance. People have a certain image of people who listen to heavy metal. But when I am sad about something, I listen to it, and feel calm.”
I took a moment to think of a sad Elliott. He is nothing else except calm, and reminds me of a gentle giraffe with big eyes and a long neck and legs.
He continued: “I just don’t get people who listen to sad music when they are sad. I say to my friends who are doing that – whoa, do you want to die?”
I say: “Yes, come to think of it, people do do that, don’t they? That’s funny.”
In all conversation about music with Elliott and the other musically talented people around me, I dare not admit that I have no real urge to listen to music, no memory for it, and no understanding of it, though I do enjoy it if I am listening to it, specially when my friends are jamming, or I am at a live performance.
At one rock show we chaperoned Dhanno to, her guitar class mate was there. Sonu comes from a conservative Marwari family. She began to learn the guitar with her son, because she finds it difficult to practice classical Hindustani music at home. “I can’t sing ragas at home, it would disturb my in-laws. The guitar I can practice quietly in my room. It’s like meditation for me.”
Their guitar teacher mainly teaches them rock music, and I was intrigued by Sonu’s search for spirituality in it. She was ill at ease at the pub where the rock show was. She was inside a pub for the first time. Her husband had taken her son and her away from another show, refusing to sit in a place like that. But this time he had given his consent, because of his son’s zidd.
“It’s not bad,” she said, “I must tell my husband, this is not a bad place. You can listen to music here.”
And I, quite at ease in the pub, could make no sense of the music there. So I just stole some calm from Sonu’s face.
And for a more insightful piece on music and meditation go over to Aquatic Static’s.