Robin's Ashes: A Continuation

Last night I played a show at Lagunitas Brewery in Petaluma, CA. It is not the most well-behaved and listening crowd. But I love playing there because Lagunitas respects the music and musicians so very much. For example, there was some SNAFU with the booking of the room and the only upgrade was to a luxury suite. No one batted an eye. I only received apologies that I had to wait so long. Respect.

It was fortunate that I received the upgrade. In the middle of the show, a tall young man wearing headphones and brandishing a shotgun microphone with a fluffy blue windscreen walks into the beer garden lost in the world of sound he was recording on his top-of-the line Marantz digital recorder.

He points the microphone towards me and I recognize him from his Facebook photos. He is Sharif Youssef, the son of Robin Snowden, the woman who’s ashes I carried to India with me in 2003.

Sharif is a podcast producer for 99PercentInvisible here in the Bay Area and recently a production assistant at NPR’s morning addition. Sharif is also a graduate of Yale and a touring musician. His dark curly hair and bespectacled Egyptian features framed a warm smile. We had never met before, but I liked him instantly. I have been a part of his life since he was about 11 years old. After the show we went back to my luxurious suite and had a 3 hour recorded conversation about family, life, travel, politics and of course his mother and all the details that my story missed.

In 2003, I took Sharif's mother’s ashes to India. I had never met her, but a complete stranger named Susan asked if I was going to the Ganges River, and if would I be so kind as to take a little bit of her best friend’s ashes with me. After months of travel and thousands of miles, I scattered Robin Snowden’s ashes one evening in the Ganges as per her last wish. Its a story that I tell often enough at my show. You can listen for yourself, here.

During that year in India, I was asked to write a story for an Italian yoga magazine that never actually published. I published it myself on my website several years later. Somehow the story was found by one of Robin’s relatives and correspondence ensued which ultimately lead me to this meeting with a bespectacled young man wearing headphones and asking me questions with his fluffy microphone in a luxury hotel suite in Petaluma, California.

Sharif told me that he was interviewing me for his own knowledge, perhaps a future project. For me, it is simply a continuation of an ever evolving story that transcends a life/death and several generations.

I now consider Sharif a friend and it seems we have lots in common. He loves to travel, is a beautiful singer and loves to record weird people. I am looking forward to more future conversations and revelations.

READ WINNOWING: Robin's Ashes here.

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