[ Pokhara, Nepal ]
A couple of days ago, riding my bike, I heard a loud “hey!” and turned in the saddle to find myself pursued by a shaggy-haired, swarthy man with a thick, untamed black beard. He was carrying a large plastic bag, running after me with a crazed smile on his face. Naturally, I stopped.
The fellow’s name is Oğuz Tan, a touring cyclist from Istanbul on an indefinite tour of Asia. A touring cyclist will always recognize the bike of another, and Oğuz was no exception. He had seen the bike and was flagging me down to exchange information—to ask where I’d been and where I was headed. (These random encounters are common, and one of the nicest perks of being on the road.) Turns out Oğuz’ next destination is Ladakh, where I spent last summer; we have lots to talk about. We make plans to meet up later, then go on about our business.
At the appointed hour on the appointed day there’s a knock at my door. Oğuz is standing there, computer in hand. We punctuate our lengthy discussions of routes, supply availability, gear requirements, and other cycling minutiae by exchanging music, movies, general life stories, personal road philosophies, and blogs, emails, and social media identities. The usual.
An hour or so into this, he asks if I know anything about African drumming. I do. A little bit. I had been a dabbler and remained an appreciator. He wants to know if I have seen a video called “Foli?” I have not. “It’s eleven minutes long,” he sez, “nothing but rhythm.” Smiling broadly, he wonders if I’d like to see it. (Oğuz does this smiling thing a great deal, and it’s rather contagious.)
After a quick search, we find the link. Oğuz clicks play.
For eleven minutes I sit, transfixed by ever-increasing joy—the kind of joy meant to be shared; infectious joy; a lust for life too unvarnished and pure to be hoarded or hidden away. I was so transfixed and so transformed by this music and these people that I hesitated to broadcast my new discovery. I felt stupid, somehow: “this is such an incredible gem; surely everyone knows about it already! You’re just sooooo out of touch with the world that you’re going to be telling everyone what they already know.”
But that’s bad thinking anyway, isn’t it?
Anyone who already knows the film will understand my elation and won’t hesitate to watch it again. Anyone who doesn’t know it deserves their own chance to be enchanted; their own opportunity to smile hugely at…what? “The indomitable, irrepressible human spirit?” Is that saying too much? Too cliche? No. I don’t think so. Moments like this are precisely the moments those phrases were crafted to accommodate. It’s just that good. So…if you belong to the unitiated, as I did, do yourself this simple favor:
- Free up eleven minutes
- Get undistracted, disconnected, and comfortable
- Experience this film; hear its music
- Be nourished by its thousand beauties and abiding joys
It’s a rare thing, this little quirky butterfly of a film; it respects and loves and captures its subjects’ essence without intruding or sanitizing or looking away. Director Thomas Roebers made a beautiful, precious thing. Don’t take my word for it, though, watch it.
My heartfelt thank to Oğuz, for enriching my life with this film. You can find Oğuz Tan online in the following places (for starters). Check him out: