I have very specific playlists to get me through my day. These are curated for different moods, different chores, maybe even different parts of the city. I elevate the quotidian with this make believe soundtrack for my life. And sometimes I just use music to prevent unwanted social interaction.
But one city where I will happily consign my earphones to death by tangling is New York. There will always be strains of music drifting towards you no matter how loud the hum of humanity and traffic gets. I might have been rounding a corner just because the crowd was carrying me that way; or hurrying into a subway station; perhaps I was picking my way through a slightly grubby tunnel in Central Park: but the music still followed. Sometimes it was the jazzy strains of a saxophone and sometimes it was a sudden burst of invigorating hip-hop. (Admittedly, this may be true of only a specific, touristy part of the island, but hey, I’ve only visited the city as tourist, so that is what I know of it.) Most of the times on this visit, I did not get a chance to linger and soak it all in. But at other times I got slightly lucky.
My friend and I were exiting the Met in a fit of giggles since a disgruntled docent with a whistle had been herding the mass of visitors out of the Met. The steps were overrun and attempts at Instagram-worthy selfies were being thwarted by accidental photo-bombs. But then the mellow tunes of a sax began to mingle with the sound of general chaos. I love how the music was so incongruous to actual tempo of the situation, and yet it made perfect sense. It was very New York in the sense that every sensory stimulus belongs even though on the surface they may seem to be competing. But alas, I only had a New York minute to take a photograph before I chased after my friend because she’d already proceeded to board the M2!
Fortunately, I had another happy and more leisurely encounter with a New York busker the very next day: a desperately rainy day that had me running for cover (if the Bethesda Terrace can be called something as mundane as ‘cover’ from wonky weather that is). The rain was beating down with great ferocity and a film crew was running about trying to get their equipment into a dry area. Meanwhile I was desperately trying to make sure that I hadn’t murdered my camera by exposing it to rainwater. Combine the noise and the oddly dark afternoon, it was easy enough to miss the busker for the first couple of minutes. But let’s be real. It’s impossible to miss the unmistakable tune of ‘Somewhere over the rainbow’. Obsessed as I am with You’ve Got Mail, I could not have been happier!
In quick conclusion (because I’m getting sleepy as the effect of all the tea I drank today is beginning to wear off), when in New York, leave your headphones behind. Maybe not all the time. But definitely sometimes! And keep some change handy to support the artists!