11.30.2007

Sound of my Music

Arjun's post inspired me to write this.
Before returning to India I insisted that T take us to a Dwarakadisha temple in Parlin, NJ. The temple which is managed by Gujaratis has a live band or should I call it live solo performance of vocals along with the noise of harmonium. I have never seen much good with that noise. While we waited for the curtain to be raised and reveal God to us I had this uncontrollable urge to go and fiddle with the harmonium. T, unable to bear the haunted look in my eyes, encouraged me to run fast in front of all the wee toddlers who had thronged the temple and "koyon-koyon"-sify the instrument and come back but shyness took over me and I declined the tempting offer. I then proceeded to tell him the story behind the urge. Ho hum...but it did make waiting for God interesting!
Once upon a time, there lived me in Hyderabad in a house which had a long and narrow balcony where I spent most of the time hopping at top speed.(I am not sure I can categorise it as hopping. It was a skillfully developed mechanism of putting one foot way out sidewards, then getting the other foot close to it and then moving the first foot far again always moving sidewards and very fast.) So there I was hopping away gloriously till one fine day my parents decided that I should do something more useful in the evenings. Without so much as a look see at my vocal chords they got me enrolled into a music class. A music class is like the esteemed learning centre albeit as a hobby in many of the South Indian families. Only with the advent of so many music competition shows on tv that parents now are willing to forego studies of a child if it would mean fame on the music stage. I am not sure if my parents had any high hopes for me to become a proficient singer, I feel that my mom kinda knew they were wasting their money. So there I was at the ripe (old for music) age of 9 walking down the road to my jaunt with singing. My teacher was a rotund,yellowfied-from-too-much-turmeric-application middle-aged lady. I remember always hesitating in front of her house's door, thinking of some vague reason which one could give and escape the torture of an hour. But when I thought of all the explanations I would have to give her and my parents my practical mind always forced me to go the easy way, bray. Once I was inside though it was easy. I would hand over my big fat music notebook to the teacher who would look at her previous notes and write the next lesson(I dont remember the distinctions like varna,keerthana and all that). I did not know to read telugu and hence my song book is in Hindi. (I still have it with me). Then she would ask me to sing to her the previous day's lesson and I would oblige. She would make me sing the same thing over and over again with varied speed which I looked at as fun time. Sometimes there would even be a fast paced chorus. Like a DJ-mix. I never dared to look at the other pupils for fear of encountering aghast faces. The only friend I made was a Langa Dhavani clad tenth standard girl who never talked to me about music. For me, the most intriguing part of the music class was the harmonium. They say a singer uses the harmonium for Shruthi. I have never understood why given that her harmonium always made jarring loud noise. I hated it. I hated having to sing along with it with my teacher clapping out the Thala loudly. One couldnt make out which was worse. But I always wanted to play it just for the fun of it. I was always intrigued abt the flap which could generate such a hideous (according to me) sound. I got my chance one day when the teacher went to serve evening snacks to her son. I was the only pupil in the class and I worked up enough courage to go near the harmonium and just as I was about to fiddle with it my teacher's voice boomed out "what are you doing?". She always spoke to me in English. I was so taken aback that I did not even blabber a response but came and sat back in my seat scorching under her glare. That class we sang angrier than ever. In between all this was our visits to Bangalore where my uncle and aunt would make me sing! It was always Lambodhara and it was always sadly out of tune. To top it all I had to sing it right after a melodious rendition from my much accomplished cousing. I could only hang my head in shame even as my relatives clapped enthusiastically. From thenceforth music was my nemesis. (Please do not start psycho-analysing my personality) One day I learnt that we were to shift to Bangalore on a permanent basis. My joy knew no bounds only for one reason. I decided then and there to stop going to the music class. Never finding a reason to, I did not inform the teacher about my decision till one evening I heard the same booming voice calling my name from our gate. We lived on the first floor but the decibels were booming. When I went to the gate I was asked why I wasnt going to the class anymore. I remember shrugging and telling her about our move and therefore having no need to continue since it would get discontinued eventually anyway. Small me thought she might be understanding. In return I got one of the longest and loudest scolding of my entire life! The teacher spewed fire at me and I stood there going red with embarassment as the neighbours listened. She even finished off the tirade with a redundant "never come to my class again". That was the end of all pretensions about music for me and all the dreams of my parents. They could never again convince or force me to learn music ever again! (No you still are not allowed to judge me)


Nowadays I listen to the Morning Raaga version of "Mahaganapatim" and also whisperingly rendered Bhagyada Lakshmi Baramma in front of people at our housewarming!
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