March 23, 2009

Two things happened last week that prompted this post. Coincidentally, both events happened on the same day and this kind of reinforced my resolve to put pen to paper.

I have a very strong aversion to visiting the shopping malls that have cropped up all over Bangalore. I am told by shopaholic friends that, thanks to the slowdown, the crowds in these malls have been dwindling. Fortified by this observation, the other day, when one of my colleagues from out of town was looking to buy a digital camera, I volunteered to take him to one of these malls and soon enough I realised first hand that the place was indeed relatively people free. Anyways, my friend quickly decided on what he wanted, bought it and we proceeded to make a hasty exit. On the way out, a music store caught my eye and on impulse we decided to stroll in and take a look. It was not that we were looking for anything in particular. Mercifully it was a small little store and the choice was limited. After browsing for a few minutes, my trained middle class eye sought out and gravitated towards the bargain section. I saw a few Hindi music CDs which were going at a 50% discount. Given that we were running out of time (my colleague had to make his way out of Bangalore the same evening) I quickly decided on a CD which claimed something to the effect that it was a selection of Hits of the 90s by the “discerning” editorial team of Filmfare.

The same evening, after dropping off my friend, I had occasion to spend some time in one of Bangalore’s more popular watering holes. Again, it was after a fairly long hiatus that I was visiting one of these trendy upmarket places. The place, by itself, has very little character (not a patch on my Carvalho’s Nest in South Goa), the patrons are typical cosmopolitan Bangaloreans and the snatches of conversation that you are forced to listen to, given the way people are packed into the limited space (slowdown or otherwise), never rises beyond the spectacularly banal. So this is what I had to endure for the rest of the evening and I was steeling myself to make the best of it.

Going back to the CD that I had purchased, my colleague and I, both being, more or less, of the same vintage decided to play it in the car on the way back. Much to our surprise, it happened to be a fairly good collection of film songs from the 90s. Some of the songs in the collection were from movies like Hum, Sapnay, Baazigar, Darr, Kahon na Pyar Hai, etc. For a change, we did not rave and rant about the traffic in Bangalore as this gave us enough time to run through the entire CD and for about 45 minutes, we were transported back in time. It was as if each one of us had got into our own little time machine and travelled back in time. And what was amazing was that each one of us had our own, unique adolescent dream to go back to. It was almost as if we were travelling in the same coach but were being taken to different destinations. For some time, the talk was all about Kimi Katkar and the fact that she seemed to have gracefully faded away from the limelight after her marriage to Shantanau Sheorey. We were unanimous that given the less than honorable memories we carried of her, it would be devastating if she were to have played mother to the Shah Rukh Khans and Aamir Khans of the world. Then the topic moved to how ugly Kajol looked in Baazigar and then there was animated discussion on when women (or for that matter men) look their best. It was uncanny that the lasting impression that all of us carried of Kajol from Baazigar was the small matter of her grotesquely hirsute upper lip (at this point my colleagues helpfully pointed out that even Karishma Kapoor had to brave such ignominies before rising to the top). Uugh !!!. And to think that it was THE movie that launched the careers of SRK, Kajol and Shilpa. And the faithful, dyed in the wool Tams that we are, when the Sapnay song (Awara Bhawre) was mid way through and all of a sudden, Malaysia Vasudevan started crooning something incongruously in Hindi, there was frenzied speculation as to his current whereabouts. Before we realised it, we had spent nearly an hour within the confines of the car and were none the worse for it. We spent a few minutes extolling the therapeutic virtues of nostalgia and how music seems to trigger memories that are confined to otherwise unreachable confines of the human brain. At that point, little did I realise that in another few hours time, I would be experiencing something more potent and effective in terms of reaching even deeper crevices of the mind.

In the evening, at the watering hole or the lounge bars as they are referred to these days, the kind of music that was being played, at least initially, before the teeny boppers started trooping in, was definitely “retro”. The kind that Priya Ganapathy so magically dishes out every Sunday morning on ….. Radio Indigo is it??. The kind of music that I grew up with. In fact when REM was being played, and thankfully by that time I was a couple of beers down, I did a whole lot of memory stringing. I kind of associated REM with the tennis player of yesteryears, Jim Courier (I had read in one of his interviews that REM was his favorite band), and how in one US open he annihilated my all time favorite John McEnroe in straight sets and how after winning an Australian Open in Melbourne, he jumped into the Yarra river and swam his way through the muck as part of his celebration. What started out as a trickle became a veritable torrent of memories. There was the standard Chris Rea, Steve Winwood (Back in the High Life), Hall & Oates (Out of Touch), Men at Work (Down Under) Tracy Chapman, so on and so forth. Virtually each one of the songs had some quirky, funny, poignant, romantic or unsavoury memory attached to it. The mood was intoxicating to say the least. In terms of walking down memory lane, I was once again reminded of what a potent combination alcohol and music can be. This is a combination that marketers of F&B services have honed into a fine art and honestly thank God for that. But for this heady concoction, there was very little else going for the place. When we finally decided to leave the place, helped in no small measure by the fact that the music had suddenly become very trendy, I was literally in a nostalgic bubble. Like most bubbles, this one also had to burst at some point, which it did. Suddenly it was all over and the Nostalgic spell cast on me disappeared. Given the intensity of all that happened to me that day, I could not but help wondering – Is the best behind me ?


3 Responses to “Rewind”

  1. Bennita Ganesh Says:

    This happens all the time…. A few strains of a familiar melody and you are back in time……..Heard “Goodbye” from Air Supply the other day after a long long time and it instantly carried me back to the day Ayrton Senna passed away and the airwaves were full of “Goodbye”. Since it also happened to be the first few days of our romance, it was a wonderful way to travel back in time.
    I however, dont agree with your pessimistic conclusion. When you know the magic of music, why dont you focus on building newer memories which you can then replay when you are lounging in your hammock 3 decades (or is it 3 months) later???

  2. R V Raman Says:

    Even in these times of conflict of opinion and ‘let’s agree to
    disagree’, most of us will accept (readily?) the fact that each one’s
    ‘school-years’ were amazingly wonderful. It just takes ten odd years
    after that period to realize this fact! As with most phases in life, I
    guess, one does not appreciate the joy and the beauty of the moment.
    When one is actually living it. And school days were all about LIVING.
    To the fullest. Because one was, fortunately, not mature enough and
    did not have enough life experience, the natural flow was to live and
    enjoy every moment – without too much of thinking or worry about a
    future that one had (again, fortunately!) not thought of. Sure there
    were worries, low phases and not too pleasant happenings – but these
    too got magnified to such an extent that there was no choice but to
    live such moments too fully. Reward was that when such moments
    passed (as they always do) the relief was so all powering that one
    experienced a greater level of joy. Home-work not completed could lead
    to a sleepless night and the fear of being embarrassed (or was it the
    pride of being a hero) in front of all those who mattered in one’s
    young life. Only to be replaced with a huge thrill and belief that God
    really exists when the concerned teacher was absent. Big worries and
    bigger joys. And that’s why (and this is guessing time once more) the
    memories of such times is so strong in most of us. If we were to
    somehow make those days a part of our present then the magic could be
    felt a wee bit. Even now. A wiser man than me would have simply said
    – don’t let the child in you ever die.

  3. Vicky Says:

    Decided to key after the reference to Priya Ganapathy! Someone referencing her I thought would have far higher searches! In music and life.

    Now to take the thunder away from Gani:

    I drove as I normally do on the Sunday morning listening to her. The car found its way to airlines. Treated to varying kinds of music chose to ignore her ( temporarily) about the Diva special on a World Women’s day. I recoiled a wee bit after the first song becos it was her playing!

    Music is treated differently by different sets of people, some by the music bands, the lead singer, the guitarists, the player, they drummer! Music is a whole.

    Try to quickly recall how many hindi singers you remember beyond lata and asha!

    With some people even replaying them even Billie Jean sounds melodius! Southerner by the grace of god! ( Using another song name) helps.

    She started ( I was a trifle late starting at 9.10 am) with Roaxanne, followed up with Maggie May ( Rod Stewart after the Woodstock), Suzanne, Alice, ( the decent original) Amanda, Sarah, ( Stievie Nix from Fleetwood Mac) Sarah, Lucie etc. The waiter trained to my timings there was genuinely concerned about my third coffee. ( like a barman in a club wanting to leave home) At 9.55 the pumiping up happened ( not the prime!) Billie Jean followed, Gloria ( Estefan), Kissing good ways ( Bonnie Taylor), rainy days by carpenters, Heart stop by Donna Summer, Conchita was it by Abba( even this sounded better than the original) at which point I assumed her range on the day was about Diva names in songs and wondered why Joan Baez didn’t figure?

    What followed was Joan Baez ( I did have goose bumps), Joni Mitchell, Tracy Chapman ( Bang Bang) etc. It went on and I decided to drive to shady Jayanagar and remembered all the guys – some who would pick up the lyrics first, the others who would remember them always, the guy who bought the albums first, the guys who would connect to the local bands, the guy who get those higher musical connects and tell you the next one to listen( they were all different individuals weren’t they?)!

    I deliberately chose to ignore some singer names while doing the three finger keying! Does it matter?

    Coming back to Gani – and remembering the guys who helped me with music they were no wizzs! They got he whiff, passed it on, u hold it dear as if it were your own ( remember that number by grateful dead) and pass it on. Just as in music so is life- Ask for help and it seems available.

    I wanted to close this by recalling that number that woke up many by Dylan – “ How many years does a man . … , before he is ……….. a man – the answer my friend is blowing in the wind!

    In our minds we appear far more distinguished than we possible are! Remember Peter Bernals comment – Man has two futures – One of his desires and other of his destiny, but mans ability to rationalize has seldom been able to differentiate the two!

    Coming back to Priya and my pet subject – Tune in on Sunday mornings 9 am to 12 pm – Don’t give the excuse of your childs guitar and singing or dancing classes – they might learn from a master for free!!!!!!!!!

    It wasn’t my sense of memory that got me here with all the songs, a generous tip to the waiter got me a clutch of tissue papers that I kept scribbling on as I DROVE and finally am junking them.

    Didn’t miss my family who were travelling ( Do u miss your wife, daughter on a Sunday morning! Give me a break.)

    Tune In! to Radio Indigo – on Sundays 9 to 12 pm~!!!!!!

    Sorry Gani – I chose someone more famous to context work your searches!


    Maybe – U should watch the next blog called – Southerner by the grace of God!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: