Germany, May 2003
What does an American singing duo, an Indian family from Mumbai and a German family from the very small, neighbouring towns of Wald and Kirchsahr have in common?
I remember, as a child, sitting on the cool, marble tiles of my grandparents’ house in Mumbai, India. A usual family evening with music on in the background. The music that made up our formative years. Queen, ABBA, Sting, Pink Floyd, Bryan Adams. And Top Of The World by The Carpenters; that giddy, strikingly upbeat song. A song where new meaning would be added to old associations far away from home.
In 2003, we were visiting my mother’s pen-friend and her family in Germany, for the third time. (Mum and Gaby have been writing to each other since their school days; their friendship spanning more than 35 years now.) We were in Gaby’s sister’s new house in a room at the very top of the two-storeys, the lingering summer daylight through an open window still bright against the piano, its keys lovingly caressed by familiar fingers: Gaby’s brother-in-law Benny.
The opening of the song we all knew well felt momentarily strange, played as they were at a meandering pace, and not including slide guitar. And yet as I began to sing along, I instinctively felt that this bare, stripped down version of the uplifting melody fitted just right; the simple harmonies merging with the contemplative calm that had settled outside. As we finished, the colours in the sky seemed suddenly vibrant, before beginning to soften at the edges as dusk tiptoed in.
In that small German town tucked away in the middle of miles of green, open fields and fairytale houses, we – about eight of us – went past geographical, cultural and even language divides to create a lovely moment in that room with the smell of varnish, with the one lamp illuminating all of us standing, sitting, half-leaning against freshly painted walls; a heart-felt, spontaneous part of our souls left behind.
© Anushree Nande.