I’m Feeling Lost in the Past, So I Will Have SRK Sing Me Home

I am feeling unmoored and unanchored today, so I will turn to my anchor in time and space and life, and let Shahrukh remind me who I am.

I woke up this morning feeling stunned with nostalgia. Just before waking, I had a very vivid dream in which someone gave me a box of cassette tapes, and I could smell them, and the smell lingered after I woke up and threw me allllllllllllllllllllllll the way back in time. Remember cassette tapes? The clicky sound when you opened and closed the case? The plastic smell that was somehow kind of soft when you took them out? The sharp edges that dug into your fingers when you took out the tape and then slide it into the player? They were part of my life from 5 to 25 and then they just went away, and remembering that smell threw me all the way back again. I ended up with a very strange feeling of not knowing where I was or who I was or how old I was. A feeling that just increased as I went through my morning.

In my current bedroom, I have all the things that were on the wall of my childhood bedroom. In the hall outside, I have the array of family photos I put together for my dorm room in college. I’ve also lived in the same city since I was 18. So I got in my car to drive over and get coffee, my daily quarantine routine which should anchor me, and instead I found myself thrown back to when I went to this same strip mall 12 years ago to buy the last Twilight book from a bookstore that no longer exists, and when my Dad and I bought a lilac bush from the Home Depot across the street to give my mother for mother’s day, and when I went into the Indian store that used to be at the end of the street where I now live and bought cassette tapes.

The only thing that didn’t give me a strange feeling of timey-whimey being lost was my Shahrukh poster in the bathroom. Because he has grown with me. Shahrukh is not a snapshot in time, a phase that passed, he is something that has been steady for 16 years. So I am going to let Shahrukh sing me home and try to remember that it is 2021, I am 35 years old, and this is my life now.

When I was in college, the first DVD I bought was DDLJ and there was a skip in the middle of this song which I still brace for every time. Later, I showed this movie the first time my current closest friend came over for movie night. Another friend, when she moved away, I gave her that first DVD copy to remember me by. And she sent me a Blu-Ray copy of it as a thank you. 4 years after that, she moved back and now she lives half a mile from me again. And then I started blogging and DDLJ was the one movie I could go over frame by frame and never run out of things to say. That’s who I am, 19 to 35.

The year after I graduated college, I was living in the city and my parents were still back in the town where I grew up. Before I went home for Thanksgiving, literally between my house and the train station, I went to see Om Shanti Om. With my suitcase next to me. I saw it at the same theater where I had seen Paheli before, and would see Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi and My Name is Khan later. And I was blown away, it was so amazing. I started traveling up to Devon Avenue once a week to ask at the DVD store if the DVD was out yet. It got so I would pop my head in and the owner would just say “Not yet” and then I would leave. It finally arrived like a miracle one weekend when my parents were visiting me, and I showed it to them, and they loved it too. Years later, I showed it to my friends at movie night, and they got addicted to “Dard-E-Disco” (of course) and started singing along with the subtitles. I got a poster for it in the special DVD edition and put it up in my bathroom, but over the years it got damaged and crinkly and tired. I ordered a fancy new version that came all the way from India and picked it up at the post office and then went straight to Target and bought a big fancy frame and put it in standing at the cart return at Target and took it straight home and hung it up. And every morning when I brush my teeth, I can see him in the mirror looking at me.

When I was just getting into Indian movies, my sister and I rented a bootleg songs DVD from the little local Indian grocery in our hometown. It had this song on it, totally without context, and knowing absolutely nothing about it we immediately loved it. Even my parents fell in love with it, when they would wander through and see me and my sister watching the songs DVD together they would say “oh oh! Play the ‘Dancing on the Train’ song!” Years later, I was in grad school starting to study film seriously and I ran into so many articles about this film, and this song in particular. It was one of the first where I journeyed from simply liking it as a fan to understanding it on a deeper level. And then 5 years ago, I got to see Shahrukh live in concert with Malika Arora and this was the closing number, and as soon as the music started the crowd was on their feet screaming so loud you couldn’t hear the words.

Okay, I think I am starting to remember who I am and where I am again. Isn’t it funny? Those moments of feeling lost in your own life? Do you ever have that? A day when you wake up and think “how can I have a husband and children? Aren’t a 20 year old college student still?” Or “wait, why aren’t Mom and Dad down the hall? Why am I so big, when did I grow up?”

8 thoughts on “I’m Feeling Lost in the Past, So I Will Have SRK Sing Me Home

  1. It’s a funny you should post this today because I know exactly what you mean. I had this exact same feeling earlier this week. I put it all down to being stuck at home for almost a year now. I just figured it was everything getting to me. But what triggered it was seeing the opening sequence for Buffy the Vampire Slayer on youtube randomly. It just threw me back to when I was obsessed with that show as a kid and that just put me in a fog of nostalgia for a while where I kept remembering random things from back in the day. It was occasionally nice but I also felt very unmoored. What bought me back was the inauguration though. It was a very much here and now event that grounded me. But yes–its very strange to think that kid me would see me now as a grown up adult and I dont at all feel grown up.

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    • Yes! That’s it exactly!!!! Feeling thrown into the past and then trying to work your way forward to how you ended up in the present. And when you are alone in your own head most of the time, it’s just really hard to jump out and remember where you are.

      On Fri, Jan 22, 2021 at 9:52 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  2. Isn’t that a kind of “proof” that time is just a human concept to measure life but not a cosmic norm?
    I really like to experience those “glitches” where I feel to live either in a known past or in an (imagined?) future…it makes me travel in time (or ages).

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  3. This has been an important week for every American, no matter what your political persuasion. It’s not surprising that it brings out strong emotions .

    I totally relate to the concept of ShahRukh marking phases of your life. Although I discovered him at a later age than you Margaret, it has still been 15 years of virtually living through the events of his life ( well those that are public) alongside the events of mine. X happened when this film released, Y happened the year that film/interview/photo shoot/ media drama/ award/ child event happened. He is always there, in the background, usually making a happy space in my head.

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  4. I want to know what the deeper levels of the train song are. Time is a funny thing. My best friend has always had a very hard time with its passage. It’s always been a bit easier for me. I tend to think it is personality, but also it could be that I’m happier than I was when I was younger, so I have less desire to return. But I think it is something more than happiness. Every now and then I wake up and think I am in my childhood bedroom, and then it does take me a bit to re-orient myself. I imagine reorientation could take longer if I actually was in my childhood bedroom.

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    • Train song: It has it’s own wikipedia page! that’s how much is going on there: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaiyya_Chaiyya

      Yeah, that re-orientation is trickiest for me between college and now. Because there’s no significant life landmark to hold on to. I’m still living in the same town, doing the same things, friends with the same people. Which normally is awesome!!!! I love feeling so tucked in and safe and familiar, but it’s really hard to remember “right, I’m 35 now, not 25”.

      On Sat, Jan 23, 2021 at 11:19 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • The truth is, outside of my husband, I’m not still friends with the people I was friends with in college. I am still friends with high school friends, but we are scattered and rarely see each other. Thinking back to my time in Berlin, when I was in my mid 20s, the people that I was close to then have had, or made changes to their lives over the past 20 years. One wrote a book (like you!), one entered into a serious relationship and bought a country cabin, two made children, one didn’t have a big change happen to him, so he created one himself become an avid runner, running all over Eastern Europe, and one, one has made no changes but had so much turmoil in his life with love affairs and drug use that I imagine he uses those to bring him back to place.

        Have you had the same job for 10 years? I can imagine that the starting of your blog is a marker in your life.

        The dirty little secret is that a lot of people never age in their heads. When I worked with at risk families there were quite a few 50 year olds who never developed past 13 mentally, and that’s a problem because 13 year olds really shouldn’t be parents, or grandparents. I remember at 22 meeting someone who at 28 said they still felt like they were 18, and HOPING that would not be the case for me (I was an unhappy 22 year old). And while I embrace 44, I will say that sometimes when I’m out walking and I see 50 year old women walking by, I step out of the path to make way for them, forgetting that I’m only 6 years younger, and that I have friends older than those women I’m treating as elder.

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        • I think I just settled in one place really young and ended up making friends with people who did the same thing. We all moved to Chicago during or just after college planning to stay here forever and ever. And we pretty much all have. People have gotten married, started new relationships, finished grad school, and so on and so forth. But we still all live within 5 miles of each other and have the same friend group. So time feels kind of weirdly compressed. But also super nice, having this group that has known me since I was 23 and I have known them.

          I am now coming up on “parent age”. Isn’t that WEIRD???? When I was little, I thought my parents were the wisest most together Adult people ever. And now I am realizing I am about the same age they were when I started forming memories. But that can’t be right! Because I’m not an Adult, I’m the Kid. And all my friends are Adult age too then, which is also weird, because they sure aren’t wise and perfect!!!

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