The song reminded me of a hotel in Pondicherry, India. I had walked from the bus station to the hotel via a coffee shop on the waterfront. I was thrown by just how much French was spoken in the former Gallic colony and had wandered in absent minded wonder around the streets. A rainstorm, indicative of that time of year, caught me off guard and I hid out under some eaves trying my best to stay dry. When there was a pause in the deluge I made a break for the hotel.
When I arrived the owner seemed to be surprised. He’d tell me later I was the only person staying in the small hotel, it was off season and not a popular hotel even in better times. When I walked in the door he quickly put on some very stereotypical Indian hindu devotional songs. I liked it, but when he learned I lived in Mumbai he seemed a bit embarrassed about it. Most guests wanted the ‘authentic’ experience, a guy on a business trip from the west coast was not his usual audience.
I often think of the song, I really enjoyed it. As much as the owner took me for a seasoned Mumbaiker, I still was a sucker for the tourist stereotypes. Any music would make the process of checking into a hotel better, and good music even more so. I meant to ask him what the name of the song, but it slipped my mind and I never got the chance.
Sitting in a coffee shop not dissimilar from the one I visited the morning I went to the hotel, but now on a lakefront in Patagonia, I heard a song that reminded me of the hotel’s welcome track. It wasn’t the same, noticeably different in fact. The original had a male singer, the new version a woman. Something, though, seemed to be the same. ‘Vibe’ would be one way to put it, but an inadequate description. Something like the essence, perhaps the ether that notes flowed through.
I looked up from my book and stared absentmindedly out the window at the cool wind rustling the pines. I felt the material of my hoodie and the denim of my jeans and my skin yearned for the tropical humidity of India in the monsoon. The dry mountain air blowing down from the Andes, sparkling clean as it was, could not quench the desires of my nostrils for the damp, mossy smell of a fresh wave of rain born of the Bay of Bengal and dumped over the streets and banyans.
I wonder what separates me more, the six years time or the thousands of miles of distance. The same eyes glimpse the world, but refined ever so slightly, worn smooth by a galaxy of extra images. The same brain takes in the day, but now they compete with more data to find an empty place to be stored, to be forgotten.
A white, fluffy cloud blocked the sun and cast a huge shadow across the calm azure of the lake, beyond, the mountains gleamed in virginal beauty. My heart ached to sit on the bare concrete of a balcony in the heat of the day, watching sheets of rain fall, heart beats punctuated by rolling thunder.