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Day 55: Rhythm

Rupnagar to Ludhiana, 83.2km

When Pat puts in his earphones it’s his universal sign for “I want to run alone”. At this point, unless you’re bringing him a cold drink or some important news, he doesn’t want to be disturbed.

Yesterday he had his earphones in for 40km as he ran through the city of Ludhiana, pushing himself an extra five-and-a-half kilometres above his usual 80km.

Music is a wonderful thing because it is indeed universal. Languages and tastes will vary across time and cultures, but it fundamentally remains about rhythm. Each cog in the universe moves at the same beats – from the radio pulses in the distant stars, to the start and stop of our hearts, to the electrical impulses firing from our neurons – and it all culminates into this wonderful symphony called life.

In the endless list of functions and performances Pat and the Spirit of India crew have been attending, the latest was at Ishmeet Academy in Ludhiana. The academy has about 200 students and train students up from as early as four years old. We knew when we walked in and there were only a handful of students and parents, and no press that it would be a different beast. While it lacked the grandeur, the spectacle – and the politics, which was a nice change – the kids made up for it with an immense level of talent. Every note played, every step taken was done out of want and love.

Here it was, just an audience and the performer and it was an extremely intimate affair, particularly as Pat’s wife Tania took the room by storm. She played the piano and sang and soon the band joined in with their own drums and strings, without overdoing it.

Although there is an engineering aspect to music and sound – why a song is happy but another is sad – it’s also deeply personal. Research shows we rate our favourite songs, not for their technical or aesthetic aspects, but for their personal connection to us. Our most beloved tunes aren’t the ones we think sound the best but the ones which remind us of our first dance with the love of our life or the ones which reminds us of our childhood.

Pat’s playlist when he runs might be Eminem one minute and then Neon Trees the next. Pat's music is curated by his own children. Back home in Maroubra, those same songs would be blaring through the doors of Brooke's or Dillon's room. Hearing them out on the road takes him away to a better place, away from the heat, the dust and the traffic.

He told the performers at Ishmeet that despite not being able to hit a single note, he loved music dearly and was incredibly grateful to all musicians.

“When I listen to music,” Pat began. “My legs lift a bit higher, I run a bit faster and I feel a bit happier – that is what you do for people like me.”

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