People who live in Austin seem to view SXSW like us Brits with marmite.
Either you love it, or absolutely hate it. There is no in between.
For me SXSW is both crazy and insane, but incredibly fun 🙂
I was fortunate enough to have 11 showcases this year, all of which were with awesome people who I adore.
During SX, downtown traffic becomes a bit of a nightmare (to say the very least). There’s usually not a ton of time between showcases and in order to make life a wee bit less stressful, I get Lyfts so I don’t have to worry about parking.
For the most part, my Lyft drivers are courteous, polite and hard working individuals who work their asses off. Some of the most interesting people I’ve ever met are rideshare drivers. However, in the past year I’ve had a couple of rather unpleasant experiences with super creepy dudes. One guy incessantly suggested we go straight to a bar to hang out so he could become my new boyfriend and another was high as a kite and part way through our drive attempted to reach over and put his hand on my leg (#metoo). So now when I order a ride and hit that ‘Confirm’ button I’m always a little apprehensive as to who will arrive, and when I discover my driver appears to be vaguely normal and not a super creeper it’s a huge relief.
A few days ago I ordered a ride from east Austin to downtown and was picked up by Arjun, a jolly Indian man with a larger than life personality. He was around 6ft tall, wearing a cream and brown striped shirt which looked as if he’d been wearing it for the past few days. It was crumpled and worn, but suited him perfectly. He also wore a pair of loose fitting dark trousers and brown leather sandals. He had a small beer-belly, a bushy moustache and scruffy black hair. I almost didn’t notice any of this, because his positive energy was so unbelievably infectious. He had the kindest eyes and greeted me with a big beaming smile.
He helped me load my gear into the boot (aka trunk) and I sat myself in the back seat. I instantly felt as though I had some how been transported from Austin to Bombay. The rear view mirror had dozens of beads of all shapes, sizes and colours which clattered together noisily as the car went along. Pictures of Ganesh adorned the dashboard and Bhangra music was playing over the stereo. The interior smelt like a mixture of body odour and incense. It was awesome.
During our ride I chatted with Arjun about where he was from and how he ended up in Austin. Indian people always feel like home to me. British and Indian cultures are so connected to each other. Ask any Brit what their favourite food is – most people will reply with some sort of curry or korma dish.
He asked me about what I was doing in Austin. I told him all about my musical activities and he seemed suitably impressed.
‘Oooooh!’ he said excitedly with a big grin on his face, ‘I have a famous person riding in my car!’. This was an incredibly sweet thing to say. I laughed and very quickly explained that I’m not famous by any means, just a local musician doing what I love. He looked at me in his rear view mirror,
‘That’s not true’ he said, ‘you are a famous person, it’s just that no-one else knows it yet’.
That was quite the statement. Before I had time to let that pearl of wisdom sink in, Arjun continued;
‘Think about it, when people get to hear about you, are you going to suddenly become a different person? No! Of course not! You will still be Katie, the only difference is everyone will know who you are. So right now you ARE a famous person’.
Wow. That’s some deep stuff right there, stuff I definitely needed to hear.
I don’t know if it’s because I’m British, or a creative, or a girl, or some other reason, but more often than not I am plagued with self doubt. Some days it’s harder to shake off than others. But like Arjun said, it’s not that I will become famous and magically change into someone else. It’s simply that more people will know who I am, that’s all. I’ll still be me, in this body, with this annoyingly-analytical-creative brain 😉
After another 10mins or so we arrived at our destination. I would’ve loved a longer conversation with Arjun as he was such a fascinating character, but sadly our time was up.
His simple words and perspective had such a profound affect on me, and from now on I will always remember:
I am a famous person, it’s just that no one else knows it yet.