The man I call Ringo

Ever wondered how they come up with these exciting stories and plots in the movies and books? I believe that most of these "great" stories are loosely based on real life situations and characters. Life is always stranger than fiction. Interesting ideas for a story are there all around us, we just need to keep an open eye. Spot those characters, observe what they do, fill in those missing details, use a little imagination and you have a great story!

I have been doing a small experiment on these lines, trying to profile someone I met during my morning jogs. As I don't yet know his real name, I call him 'Ringo'... I have seen him a few times in a Beatles T-shirt. I first noticed him a few months back as both of us were wearing the same model shoes. He should be in his late twenties or early thirties, with short hair and occasionally wears an Arizona State University pullover. He had an air of carelessness about him, the way he run, the way he sing loudly, the way he wave his hands in the air with the music as if he is conducting an orchestra.

Ringo was one of those joggers I meet everyday, just that he liked to play his music loud. But then one day as he passed me, I could recognize the piece he was playing... Slash's guitar solo from November Rain. 'Guns N Roses so early in the morning.. interesting', I thought to myself. Then on, I used to pay attention to his playlist every time we passed each other. As the time I get to recognize a track is too short when we cross each other, I decided to change my pattern. I started jogging right behind or ahead of him, than running in the opposite direction. I used to switch off my mp3 player once I position myself by him, but keeping the earplugs intact. Soon I figured out that he plays pretty much the same set of songs everyday. Over a period of time, I managed to identify some of the songs in his playlist.

Guns N Roses - Patience, November Rain, This I Love, Don't Cry
Placebo - Every Me Every You, Song to say goodbye
Breaking Benjamin - Diary of Jane
Duran Duran - Ordinary world
Aerosmith - Amazed
The Verve - Bittersweet Symphony
Roxette - Crash Boom Bang
The who - Behind Blue Eyes

I don't know whether you can re-engineer a person's life from his playlist, but I believe it might open a window to his mood or state of mind at a point in time. Yes, you can argue what if these were all the songs he had... or what if he borrowed the collection from a friend. I agree, but from the point of view of my experiment, they are irrelevant questions.. I am going to assume that the list was indeed put together by Ringo himself! One look at the list made me realize this is no random list... it had a common thread - melancholy, grief and lost-love. Oh, the list isn't complete without the track which I took a while to identify. This was one with a nice rhyming verse which goes something like ...'out of my life.. out of my mind.. out of the tears we can't deny..". I recently got hold of that track as well - 'Fairytale gone bad' by 'Sunrise Avenue'.

I put together these tracks and listened to them, and trust me, the effect was terrifying.... I felt miserable for a long long time after that. Memories and faces I was trying to ignore and forget all this while, suddenly started gushing to the forefront. You have to feel it to understand what I am talking about. If you ever nursed a broken heart and wouldn't mind revisiting those days, pick up your music player, load these songs and take a walk. The only addition I would have done to make this THE BEST playlist for the broken-hearted, is the track 'Where the lost ones go' by Sissel.

Coming back to Ringo, the playlist portrayed the picture of a young man trying to get over lost love. But then, a simple playlist isn't sufficient evidence to pass a verdict. There was another peculiar thing I noticed about him. Everyday on his way back after the jog, he used to pick up a red flower, one of those lying on the pavement, fallen from a tree called 'the flame of the forest'. All those typical movie scenes came to my mind - the hero picking up a flower every day for his beloved, or the Devdas dropping a flower in front of Paro's house, after she was married off to someone else. I followed him to see what he does with the flower.. it was easy as both of us had to walk back in the same direction. I saw him dropping the flower near a temple, like an offering. I had noticed him walk across another temple in total irreverence everyday... so this action of his did not make any sense. Later I found out that he does not drop the flower in front of the temple, but beside the temple.

He repeats this flower delivery everyday, dropping it at the exact same spot every time. There are no houses in the vicinity and I even waited around to see whether anybody comes for the flower... nobody picked it up ever. Now I got a gap in the story. It was all going smooth in the Devdas direction, the dejected lover trying to sooth his injured soul with music, and dropping a flower in front of his beloved's house as a gesture of his everlasting love. But then, now I am in need of a new twist to continue the story. Perhaps, that is the spot where he met her for the first time? Or it is the temple where they exchanged wows of trust and commitment for the rest of the life? It even might be the place where she told him that she is going ahead with life, as he doesn't seem to care about taking up responsibilities any time sooner. Or is it the spot where they spent some memorable time together? I have to choose one of the options above to take the story forward... but I have somehow decided to wait.

I tried to talk to Ringo a couple of times, but the conversation never progressed beyond monosyllabic utterances like 'Hi' and 'Hello'. We smile at each other every day, but looks like he is not interested in spending no more energy than that to entertain me. Who knows, perhaps one day we will start a conversation about Labradoodles and Unicorns, then might meet for a drink and I get my story! I can wait.

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