In the two months I’ve been in India, there is hardly a day that goes by without my meeting new people. I absolutely love it. I’ve probably had conversations with upwards of 100 new people since I landed in Delhi. But I thought to myself at one point — it’s funny that I haven’t started to meet people who know other people I know. Of course, I’ve been meeting people from all kinds of professions, all ages, and who are in all sorts of social circles, so in a country with a billion people, I guess this makes sense. I realized I would have to meet a critical mass of people before I was able to find any connections.
But on the train to Jodhpur yesterday worlds finally collided, and when I traced it back, I realized how many degrees of separation were involved. It’s astounding, and kind of entertaining to me, so without naming any names, I have to lay this out:
On the first day of tenth grade (a long time ago, though there’s no point in not just saying, because as a composer, my birth year is plastered next to my name on every concert program, and therefore, everywhere on the internet) I met another pianist who was also new at the school. We instantly hit it off, and are still close friends to this day. Let’s call her A.
So for a long time, A had this friend named B, who was an organist at her church. Over the years, it became clear that B and I increasing credentials in common, though we had never actually met. We had gone to the same schools at different times, studied with the same teachers, and each time, narrowly missed meeting each other. Finally after ten years, A decided that I should meet B.
Upon meeting B about a year ago, B told me that they had a friend, C, who was going to start at Yale the following month, and that I should meet this person. It turned out that C had rented the apartment directly above mine in New Haven, and though it is possible that without B, C and I might never have known each other (I certainly didn’t know C‘s predecessor after a year of living below her), we ended up becoming very close friends.
One of B‘s ideas was that I should share internet with C, since we lived so close. But then one day, C‘s nextdoor neighbor, D, put a note on her door asking her if she wanted to share internet. C explained that she was already using my router, but if the router provided a good signal to D‘s apartment (which was diagonally upstairs from mine), we would be happy to split it three ways. It worked out, and D shared internet with her.
D decided to have a party at her place a few months after that, and invited everyone on her and C‘s floor, along with some of her work colleagues. C also decided to bring me since I knew D from the internet sharing.
At D‘s place, I met E, a colleague of D, who had lived in New Delhi, and was interested in the startup Hindi a cappella group I arranged for and conducted at Yale at that time. We exchanged information.
When I realized I was moving to Delhi, a few months later, E was very kind, and since she had lived in Delhi for many years, she e-introduced me to some of her friends. I met with one of her friends, F, a few weeks after I got to Delhi.
F happened to know someone else, G, who was in town for a few days on business, but who had graduated from Yale, and decided to bring that person along to meet me.
G happened to be travelling with someone else who he knew from Chicago (I think – this is where I start losing track of the story) – H.
H was in India for longer than G was, and we hung out a few times after G had left. One day, H found out about a concert of music from his friend J (skipping I for obvious reasons), who found out about it from his girlfriend, K (I still haven’t met J or K, because as it turns out, they decided not to come to the concert).
Somehow K knew about this concert and knew people in this ensemble, which was a newly formed fusion group with musicians from Rajasthan. L was one of the main, I guess, promoters of this ensemble, and also a harpist in the ensemble (which was interesting – celtic harp in rajasthani folk music is like nothing I have ever heard). I spoke with L briefly at the concert, as I was interested in her collaborative work.
Ok. So I was on the train to Jodhpur, and I struck up a conversation with the person sitting next to me. He turned out to be an upcoming author, and a well-traveled and interesting guy. Then he mentioned something about his girlfriend and also something about Germany, and I asked him if she lived in Germany. He said no, in fact, she is a harpist who lives in Delhi and runs an ensemble with Rajasthani musicians. It was L.
The insane thing about this story is — in every case, there is little to no chance I would know the next person if it wasn’t for the person before. Though, especially near the end, I’m not sure who knows who, I can say for sure that until J, no one knew anyone besides the people on either side of them until after they had met me.