A CHILDHOOD SPENT BETWEEN LONDON AND DELHI. Before I was seven, I lived in Willesden Green with my mum and I went to a state school around the corner from our home. I have a lot of memories of spending time in the bank where my mum worked. They were really lovely with her. She used to be able to bring me with her, and they’d all sort of watch me in the back and let me play until she finished work. My parents got married when I was seven, and that’s when my dad moved in with us, and we simultaneously moved in with him in Delhi.
MY GRANDMOTHER PASSED AWAY WHEN I WAS 16. I was really close to her as a kid but then didn’t get an adulthood with her. She was a really wise and wonderful woman who was an amazing singer. She would visit us in London and I have lots of memories of singing with her in the mornings before I’d go to school. It was just beautiful Tamil Indian songs from the South Indian classical tradition. She was really knowledgeable about music.
I HAD A BIT OF AN OCD TENDENCY WITH NUMBERS. I was obsessed with numbers that I later realised were part of the binary code. I just loved even numbers like two, and then four, and then if four was great, eight would be better, and then if eight was good, sixteen would be better. I used to walk around saying these numbers up to the thousands. But the problem was that I used to then start walking and chewing in those numbers, so it got pretty mental. I had to wean myself off it because you couldn’t walk in 16-beat cycles without being really weird. A lot of it I still do subconsciously, to be honest. I still prefer to chew or walk in even numbers, but it’s not something that takes up space in my brain anymore.
THE MOMENT MY FIRST SITAR CAME HOME I was about seven. Kids’ sitars are not so common; you have to ask for them to get made. So, my dad had asked for one to be made for me at about half the size of a normal sitar. I remember seeing it for the first time and feeling excited and nervous because suddenly the concept that I might start to play was a bit more real. It was like, “Oh, here it is. Now we start.”
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