Sahana, Santana and beyond.

It all came back in rushes, that one doomed day.

It was either the fact that I was up since 4AM (somehow reminded my brain of the old Diwali days, I guess) or a recent conversation that I had with pEePeE, that got me hooked on to a totally different wavelength of music. Definitely not a genre new to me, since it is customary for every Iyer household to make sure their daughters learnt carnatic music or Bharatnatyam and their sons knew how to play the mridangam. But I surprised myself by listening to M S Subbulakshmi, K J Yesudas, and the likes, all day, reeling in the memories attached to each of those songs.

The earliest memories are brought to life by Yesudas’ rendition of Harivarasanam and SPB’s Aayar Paadi Maaligaiyil. They some how remind me of early days in the Rock City, when I was too young to comprehend good from bad. These “had to be” the tunes the Gods sang to put us to sleep each night, tired from vandalising the neighborhood. It is the same tranquilizing calm I feel every time I listen to these songs. I close my eyes and see myself running through tiny rooms, the walls distinctively highlighted by our crayon artwork. There is a baby-swing hanging bang in the center of the bedroom with the life size mirror in one corner. Bang Center? Wait! Where would that place the fan? Interesting! Heck that’s how I remember it, so it stays. I run out into the make-shift portico and stare out of the grilled partition. God’s Yezdi stands under the neem tree, three, or was it four, floors down. Or was it peepul? Was there a tree at all?

Pancharatna Kritis, unquestionably, remind me of days in the Garden City. Summers in the at-home summer camp, with mid noon walks up to the temple, only to practise for the umteenth time. I remember all the coloring books, action figures and the ingenious games waiting for us, with dimple studded faces, while we sat there singing the same lines over, till we got the perfect twist and got it in unison, as a group. Those gruelling sessions definitely helped the ones who eventually took their art to the stage. But for poor disinterested me, they were but distractions, the bridges between me and my interests; surprisingly similar to work in today’s mindset.

Entharo gets specific mention among the others in the set. Not as much for being the sweet kriti, marking the end of the long and tiresome lineup, as for being the one that reminds me of God, every single time. I can still picture him in every other place that he would tune it up and sing along, head rocking in every direction, hands zestfully tapping along.  We could see him get the same degree of pleasure listening to it, as H would out of Santana. Or is it Metallica now?

Snap! and I was back to triage calls and post deploy validation. The wheel keeps on turning doesn’t it! This is where the day stands clear in my mind. As I listened to each song, humming along and redoing some of those almost forgotten tricks with the tunes, I realized that deep down inside I missed it. All of this felt like an integral part of who I was, what my upbringing was and I was worried that with each passing generation, this rich tradition was going to slowly fade away. Would that leave me with grand children in thrash bands?

Had I listened to God’s Ma’s wishes and given up studies to take up her passion, would I have made it big? Would I have had records to my credit and a fan following to live for? We would never know. Would I have had the pleasure of turning to something apart from the lame work I go to everyday? Would this have kept me going through some dark, gloomy days? Would this have earned me a new boy friend? We would never know that, either.

Would all these questions stop me from listening to them again? No. That much I was sure; for at the end of the day, I had enjoyed myself thoroughly, not once missing the Maidens and Metallicas of the other world.

So I live a king’s life indeed; Vishnu sahasranamam to wake me up and Dire Straits to lull me to sleep. Rich in all the music around me after all. And who is not!

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Homeward bound

I’m sitting in the railway station.
Got a ticket for my destination.
On a tour of one-night stands, my suitcase and guitar in hand.
And ev’ry stop is neatly planned, for a poet and a one-man band.
Homeward bound,
I wish I was, Homeward bound,
Home where my thought’s escaping,
Home where my music’s playing,
Home where my love lies waiting
Silently for me.

No, there was no love; there was no silent waiting, there was no… But wait! I had it all wrong. What I was heading to was not ‘home’. It was not even in the vicinity of being close to home : ) That explained there being no love and no silent waiting. It was a room, me living in that room, a few rooms around this room, a person living in those rooms around this room, it was an arrangement. Far from home!

It’s surprising, that this is the first time in the last few months that I’ve really taken a moment to sit and analyse the situation. When exactly was it, that it had stopped being home? When ideas took different tracks? When priorities in each rooms’ life chnaged? When the split in thoughts meant a split in interests and the being? When each ego available was working on means of ruling over the other? Or somewhere between the realization that it was a mere arrangement and the comprehension that it would not last for long in the same frame of mind?

Either ways, things had taken a turn for the wrong side; each today made me pray harder, to never see such a day again. I had taken it on me to make amends, and a slow process that it turned out to be, was squeezing all the energy out of me. It is indeed tough, to stay strong and stay mean. No wonder we are the ‘social’ animal. We’d rather want ourselves to fit into the cliche, and have the world think good of us, than choose the untrodden path.

So, while I live each day, one step closer to a changed me, about to breath my own life, I turn the volume up to the highest, sing out at the loudest and cry out to heaven the hardest.

Tonight I’ll sing my songs again,
I’ll play the game and pretend.
But all my words come back to me, in shades of mediocrity
Like emptiness in harmony, I need someone to comfort me.
Homeward bound,
I wish I was, Homeward bound,
Home where my thought’s escaping,
Home where my music’s playing,
Home where my love lies waiting
Silently for me.

Silently for me.

Nothing else matters!!!

I would have safely assumed it to be mere coincidence that made my iPod played “Nothing Else Matters”, (If you need to me told sang that, then please go back to school), at those wierdest and saddest moments, times when I needed a hand around my shoulder, listening to my rants. But the strange timing with which the song plays, beating all algorithms that the makers built into song shuffling, makes me think if my iPod had a mind of its own after all.

It had been a dream job, one of those things that drove you onward in times of hell and the cliched rat race that gets you into the system. What if I had another bread earner in hand, a compromise my mind called it. I was too naive then to realize what was it in this one that attracted me, the money, the culture, the brand, beats me! But it had been the place to be and having crossed three rounds of hurdles and having almost been there, with one last round between me and the offer, it seemed too good to be true. The call had to come mid day, an hour’s break in the hostel to let the nerves cool down. We laughed around in light banter, prepared for questions that might arise. The hour turned into two and four, till I eventually heard about the contemporaries who had made it. Clearly I hadn’t. Compromise had to be digested in now, for there might not be another chance afterall. iPod in hand, I let the company lose and walked out to the divine abode. Play – “So close no matter how farrr..!!”

I had let another man break my heart, I had shed my first tears for someone other than my closeknit family. A strange sense of helplessness arose as it sunk in, that I was vulnerable to the world and its plays. As I stood waiting for my ride back home, it hit me hard that the race does not end when one sun sets in. It is run with every rising day, it is a challenge to run for, day in and night out. Play – “Couldn’t get much more from the heart..!!”

A couple of years down the line, I stood at a similar juncture, hurt and pain steaming out of my eyes. As the train pulled in to the station, it dawned on the lame soul that it had become too much of a regular now. The tears rolled down as I walked out of the house, the mind wondering how I could hate someone from the heart, love the same from the pit and never manage to ignore. As each stinging word, demeaning me of going away, pricked, the heart stood there listening, numb to these worldly means of torture. The train pulled off the station, Play – “Forever trusted who we are..!!”

I had woken up a little too early, hadn’t slept at all to be honest. The ghosts had stuck along when I hit the bed, they had followed me through LaLa land and knocked me up in time for the sunrise. And yes, It can never be more perfect than waking up early to a cloudy day. God’s way of beating into you the truth that no matter how hard you try to keep the sunshine riding and the song in the air, there will be days of utter despair. The dull, gloomy ones where there will be no light at the end of the tunnel, the silver lining would be yet another delusion and even the birds would take their day off. I look up at the end of the horizon, for any sight of the much needed welcome break. A deep sigh and Play – “And Nothing else matters!!”