Like every Juhu girl of the 1960s, I was brought up on the radio, LP vinyl records and EPS which would be played on the radiogram, Grundig, Philips, Bush, the brands hardly mattered, only the great songs of Shankar-Jaikishen, Sachin Dev Burman, RD Burman, and Laxmikant-Pyarelal Naushad did.
My sisters and brother were into songs, hit parades, spending pocket money on records and then cassette tapes.
There were English pop favourites, too: My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music, Connie Francis, Elvis Presley and the Beatles. In other words, our taste in music was normal.
Red Indian music, anyone? Years later, a brand new world of music opened up, I didn't know existed.
<b1>A friend gave me a CD of Red Indian chants, which had been synthesised, backed by drums and guitar flourishes. I was hooked. There were lyrics and although I couldn't understand them, there was a kind of feeling of freedom unleashed in them music, that the music spoke – words didn't matter.
Similarly, I was to discover that Tibetan monastery chants have such a strong calming effect that they serve as personal therapy .
It goes without saying that music always remains a constant companion. I may not be clued into the world of MP3s and downloading, but to spend some time in a music shop is equivalent, if not more gratifying than retail therapy .
The HMV and Virgin megastore outlets in London and Paris and the music sections of Borders in New York have always yielded new finds and new recordings by long-time favourites.
Also, I feel a tremendous sense of pride when I find world music compilation CDs featuring tracks by Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle. I am sure there will be more Indian singers on such globally distributed CDs soon.
Peter Gabriel started the Real World label to discover talent from across all borders and it's been tremendous that the label lionised late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, who became a rage with the use of his voice and music in Martin Scoresse's The Last Temptation of Christ.
This and dead: Not only store browsing but a shared experience of world sound led me to marvel at the mind swirling "dark wave" classics of Dead Can Dance, a two-member band comprising Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry. They formed the band in Australia, moved to London and became big on the alternative rock scene.
I would part with their self-titled album of The Serpent's Egg for love or money .
Eventually the two parted ways , it seems. Lisa returned to Australia and Brendan shifted to Ireland where he bought an old church and works.
Their music cannot be categorised but it has been described as an amalgamation of ancient music from all around the world, with Lisa singing "glossolalia".. a very distinctive style all of her own.
Who's that barefoot diva? Cesare Evoria is a Cape Verde singer, about 66, who is nicknamed "the barefoot diva" because she performs on stage without shoes.
She sings ‘morna' (derived from the word ‘mourn' – a local genre related to the blues. Story has it that she lost her father at the age of seven, her mother worked as a cook but was so badly paid that Cesare had to be given up to an orphanage – where she learnt to sing. Any of her albums is a treasure, especially the '92 work Miss Perfumado.
Another singer who has to be heard to be believed: Youssou N'Doour of Senegal. He's 48. To hear him is hear dance rhythms, guitar and saxophone solos and Sufi-inspired chants. He takes you through all moods – upbeat and sorrowful – thanks to eclectic influence ranging from samba to hip, jazz and soul. His CD Egypt is to die for.
Turn to Cheb Mami, 41, who's an Algerian-born rai singer. He sings essentially in Maghribi Arabic and French and was discovered on a radio show. He did the backing vocals for Sting's Desert Rose. And there's no way, you can be world music-literate if you don't exult over Baaba Maal, a Senegalese singer and guitarist.
The son of a fisherman, he studied music in Paris, and now combines raga, salsa and harp music that led to the formation of the Afro-Celt sound.
Last words To be honest, there's so much to discover, to hear and marvel at of world music. Brazil's Marcos Valle, Cameroon's Manu Dibango, Cuba's Son de la Loma… there are so, so many wonderful artistes.
The music shops here have been stocking compilation albums but the works of individual artistes from distant parts of the world are still a rare commodity. All I can say is that whatever the genre – pop, rock, jazz or world music – they are with us, 24 x 365.