Maeri, Dhoom Pichak Dhoom, Gully - these songs that evoke a sense of nostalgia. And Euphoria is a glowing symbol of the 90s indie pop scene that had us all in its grasp. The band, formed by Dr Palash Sen and his friends, released its first album in 1998, and continues to rule our hearts even 20 years on.
A true vagabond at heart, Palash Sen lets us in on his deep love for travel that took roots during his childhood.
Tell us a little about your hometown. Any distinct memories?
My father was a Bengali, originally from West Bengal but four generations back, the entire family moved to Benaras. My mother is a Dogra from J&K. So my hometown was Jammu, till I was 6 years old; I was brought up by my nana and nani. Jammu, Srinagar and Varanasi are my hometowns. Interestingly, I was born in Lucknow! So I will always be a small town guy.
We had a huge family in Jammu and Srinagar. My grandfather had a house with a big lawn and kitchen garden. For the 6 months that we would be in Jammu, every evening involved a 5-km walk with my nana. I lived around greenery and came to love that life. My childhood memories revolve around my maternal grandparents who treated me like a prince for all measures (laughs). Once I moved to Delhi is when my parents gave me a reality check, and brought me back to ground.
How would you describe yourself as a traveller?
I believe the word I’d use is Hodophile; I am absolutely a person who loves to travel. I would travel in buses across J&K, so my love for road travel comes from my childhood. My parents were both in Railways so we would get rail passes every summer and winters, when we’d go for vacations. I am sure I’ve seen every square inch of this country.
When I grew up and Euphoria happened, we again travelled across the world for performances. So my life has been intrinsically tied with travelling all along. I do have a small problem though. I feel very reluctant to leave the house whenever I need to travel, but once I’m out, it is a breeze and I totally immerse myself in the culture and place.
Even when you look at any video of Euphoria, it always tells a tale of travel. I bring the same emotion to my music; whether it's Maeri, or Dhoom Pichak Dhoom, every song is a tale of a journey.
Does Euphoria as a band like travelling together? Any great memories?
My band is the best co traveller. They always take care of me because I am very fragile (laughs), they know I fall sick easily. Whenever we have travelled as a band, the first part of the travel is always subdued because I am mostly worried about the gig. It makes me extremely tense. Once the gig ends, then wanderlust takes over and we can finally enjoy the city. That is when I take care of them, and take them to the best places. We are quite renowned for our appetite! We don’t drink so our entire focus is on food.
One of our best memories include playing at the United Nations General Assembly, then at the Great Wall of China. We played in Japan, China and in Dubai, where Strings and Euphoria played at the same concert on opposite stages. We played their songs and they played our songs. We have gone to places as a band, as a family and that is primarily what makes these memories special.
One of the (many) perks of being a musician is the opportunity to travel! What have been your favourite memories on the job?
People often talk about the perks and I agree, I have stayed at some of the best hotels in the world. But even then you’ll find me sleeping on the floor because I don’t like cushiony mattresses. There have been times I have slept in the bathtub because it makes me feel secure. I eat dal khichdi! Like I said, I’m a small town guy! I don’t like extravagant luxuries in life.
Your favourite place outside India
Japan is my favourite place. I saw the culture and I was completely shook and mesmerised. I believe I’ll always remember that place. If I have to choose to be in a place away from India, it would be Japan.
One place you wish to explore
If I have to pick one place that I wish to see, its South America. I’ve heard about its places but I hardly know anything about their food, culture beyond what we were taught in our school.
What destination in India would you recommend to someone visiting the country for the first time?
My hometowns! Discover the food, the culture, the sentiments that represent Benaras. And Jammu and Kashmir. If there is heaven on Earth, it is Kashmir and if there is Love on Earth, it's Jammu.
The song in your travel playlist that you’re hooked to!
Bawra, a song on wanderlust because that represents me. That is who I am.
What is the next destination on your list?
Goa, for a concert and vacation with my family.
But you know what I would want my destination to be? Mars, aboard Elon Musk’s SpaceX shuttle! Crazy good no?