The Lost Art of Downloading Music and Compiling Mixtapes

Pop Culture

The Lost Art of Downloading Music and Compiling Mixtapes

Illustration: Shruti Yatam


n 2003, I had two best friends. Nakul and my computer. While Nakul was imaginary and could be quite flaky sometimes, my Windows XP kept me company during most of my teenage years. It bore silent witness to my Road Rash marathons, embarrassing MSN Messenger screen names, and constantly changing Winamp skins. Despite running on a decrepit Pentium III, there was an inherent fluidity to the XP’s UI which effortlessly blended robustness with synchronised efficiency. No Windows operating system since then has quite managed to emulate that precision (Come at me, Windows 7 Fanbois!). But mostly, I love it so much because it introduced me and my fellow ’90s kids to the internet, which has played a huge role in who we are today.

The internet was still brand spanking new for my peers and I. We hadn’t quite grasped the magnitude of it and were too busy being the last generation to enjoy outdoor recreation without digital interruptions. While 12-year-olds today are “building their brand” on Instagram, we were spending our summer vacations picking up rubber balls from gutters and trying to fix clearly out-of-shape shuttlecocks. And spooling a cassette tape into shape with the help of a Natraj pencil.