Friday, March 4, 2011

Nepal Soundtrack

A few days ago one of my fellow Kiva Fellows shared a photo of a taxi plastered with Justin Bieber's smile and effortlessly styled hair. Apparently, Bieber Fever has reached Rwanda.

This photo inspired me to reflect on the music I hear around Nepal. Most common, of course, are the Hindi pop tracks that I hear on every microbus ride. Far less common are U.S. pop imports, but I have heard those too, most recently at Thakkola Thakali Cuisine, which was playing Rihanna, Jay Sean, and Jason DeRulo. Most surprising, and a delightful change, was Muse -- but the owners of the restaurant quickly changed the track to make way for...Bieber.

What about me? I find myself returning to an album that I listened to constantly during the summer of 2003, my first trip to Nepal. Call it nostalgia if you must, but I simply call it good music: The Counting Crows' August and Everything After. (Aside: did you realize that this album is now 17 and a half years old? Dear Lord). This album, Counting Crows' first, is probably the only thing I can point to out of my sixth grade life and style that is worthy of resurrecting today. I rediscovered it in Nepal because I had grown tired of the small selection of CDs (YES! CDs. This was before I had an iPod. Maybe before they even existed) that I brought with me. There are plenty of inexpensive (read: pirated) CD and DVD stores in Thamel, so I found my way back to Adam Duritz that way.

It was a great soundtrack for both Nepal and my overland trip from Kathmandu to Lhasa, Tibet, and back again. Frankly, it nearly saved my life during that journey, as it muffled the sounds of our driver's West Life album playing on repeat. At that point in my life I had never been to Omaha, but I found that listening to a song about the great Midwest while driving through the great West of China was somewhat poetic. Well, either that or I was delirious from the altitude.

Now back in Nepal for a fourth time, I am happy to return to some songs from August and Everything After, among others. Want to see what I am listening to right now? Here is my latest playlist:

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P.S. Please excuse the Twilight soundtrack. I have never read the book nor seen the movie (I swear!), but the soundtrack is not bad.

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