Is Earthly Music Universal?

“What is this? Australian music? I thought we were in Africa! “, said the little fellow peering into the dashboard up by the driver’s seat.

“Yes- my young man! We have moved on from the plains of the Masai Mara to the deserts of Australia. Traveling the world during lockdown. Feel adventure in your veins!”

He rolled his eyes. His teenage sister has taught him well. 

“Remarkable isn’t it? How we are able to traverse the world in an instant these days? In the years of Ibn Batuta or Marco Polo, I suppose you had to wait to shimmy your way into the audiences of the explorers to get a glimpse of a world other than your own. “


We had taken a drive to catch the fall colors in the nearby mountains, and I was seated in the front-seat clasping the task of deejay dearly. I am usually entrusted with this important task only after several rules have been put in place.

🎼 You are allowed one Carnatic music not more than 7 minutes long (I do have a bone to pick with Carnatic musicians who take up my allotted 7 minute slot with one line)

🎵 Instrumental – cannot be slow, slow music. (Drivers got to stay awake.)

🥁 Everyone’s got to get a chance at their music

🎻 No weird music

“Yet…just look at us swiping away and traveling the world 🌍 with YouTube music? Lockdown or no lockdown. How remarkable music is no? Transports you straight out of this world into another world altogether!” I said. The husband and children gave me looks of amused tolerance that they seem to reserve for holidays and trips. Indulgence, sure, but also a joy in seeing my whimsy rise to the surface. 

The brilliant Youtube recommendations engine stood on the side panting and scratching its head trying to figure out what to recommend next based on my list of songs. Ahh! That happy feeling you get when you stump an AI algorithm is truly priceless. Scottish bagpipers marched down the dales of Scottish highlands with their music; middle eastern belly dancers flexed their tummies with grace and agility; shepherds tended to their livestock with Bulgarian folk dance music; and royal court musicians of Turkish sultans from the past bravely set forth their music to the unwittingly pulled in audience in the car. 

“Ummm – what music is this?”, said the son when I played the Bulgarian folk song, Izlel e delyo haydutin, By Valya Balkanska.

This, my dear, is what the universe would hear if ever anyone intercepts Voyager on its space voyages, and finds a way to extract the music within. It is part of the Golden Record. It is now hurtling through space making  our earthly music universal. ”


“Please! Appa – what is this? I am happy to see Amma this happy I suppose, but this is too much. Can we have some, like, normal, music? “ asked the teenaged daughter. 

“What?! If I may remind everyone in this car, this coming from one who is constantly the one asking me to try new types of music. Who is forever berating me for listening to toiyan-toiyan music (instrumental music)? Amma jazz it up a bit! Shall I create a playlist for you with my favorites so you can listen to it? – huh?! “

She gave into a high pitched laugh, and said, “Yes I meant different genres as in rock, jazz, country, pop, not bagpipes, bongo drums, and what is this now?! Doesn’t sound like an instrument at all!”

“That’s because it isn’t”, I said happily. “We are listening to whale songs now.”

“Okay…that’s it! All deejay rights revoked for some time now. Whale songs! Pass me that phone!”


And to this musical, lyrical bickering, was added the sounds of harmony, resulting in an orchestra of noises. The trees, that night, as they passed their messages to one another, rustled in excitement. How long since they had heard natural sounds of whales?


St. Patrick’s Day In The Jungle

What have I been doing the past few days you ask. The truthful answer to that is that I have been having fun with Irish music. I have been introduced to wonderful ideas about background music by my talented friend. It all started one cold winter evening over a cup of tea that still has me smacking my lips, when my friend mentioned that when I am ready to put out the next book, I must try experimenting with background music. At which point, I did the square thing and told him that I don’t know the slightest thing about the whole affair. The only experience I had with background music was when the school’s stationery manager told us all that he had left an illustrious career in the theatrical industry, and offered to do the background music for our plays. Time is a great healer: it has only taken about 3 decades for me to think of background music without shuddering a bit. You can read all about it here (I had written this 5 years back)

Well, we have been hard at work getting the next book out in app form and on iBooks. It is a charming story about celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in the Jungle. It is available for free. Please do take a look and share with your friends if you like it. The daughter has narrated the book and has added her creative touches to the book. The illustrations were done by the same talented couple who did the Christmas In The Jungle (Fi2Designs)

St. Patrick's Day In The Jungle
St. Patrick’s Day In The Jungle

Links are given below:

The iBook is also available: (Please go to iBooks on your iPad and then look for the book)

For those of you who don’t have an IPad, the St. Patrick’s Day In The Jungle book is now available in app format:

Android devices as an app at the following location:

Kindle Fire:

Please take a moment to read the story, or have it read it to you, and let me know your thoughts and suggestions. It means the world to me to hear from you. I only fumble on based on the kind encouragement I receive from many of you, and for that I am truly grateful.

Please mail me if you prefer to just see the PDF version of the story, and I can mail it to you.

It is free – so, if you can spare a moment and let me know your thoughts, I will love it.

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