I developed an interest in reading right from my childhood. Both my grandfathers were voracious readers, and I am lucky to have got their reading gene in me. My maternal grandfather had an insatiable appetite for reading – everything from comics to novels to magazines, were grist for the mill to him. My wife reads too, so we are happy to see that this erudite pursuit has been passed down to our daughter too.
The other hobby I developed a few years back, or rather renewed my tryst with, was singing – thanks only to my wife who pushed me into joining a music academy, for which I will be eternally grateful to her. The weekly two-hour sessions that I attend for singing, gives me a sense of elation, and transposes me into a world which has endless possibilities. When the music resonates within me, I feel sense of lightness that ignites the soul, enveloping me in a cocoon of bliss which insulates me from all the stress of the day. I have read somewhere that music can cure a lot of ills, and I can personally vouch for a fact that it does! Every time I drive, the playlist in the car has my choice of songs in shuffle mode (in a continuous, never-ending loop) – these consist mainly of retro numbers of different genres from old Hindi movies, rendered by stalwarts of our music industry. Of course, singing along as loudly as possible is par for the course.
As a part of its annual celebrations, our music Academy hosts a musical evening, wherein my contemporaries and I join our music guru to put up a grand show. We pool in our resources and put in our best efforts to make this show a success. This year’s annual show was held a few weeks back, and though I had wanted to invite my friends for this, as the auditorium was already filled with family members of the participants, and I could not procure extra passes. My apologies for this time friends, but there is always a next time! Coming back to the show, the preparations for it started a little over a couple of months back. We gave our preferred list of songs to our teacher, and she added a few of her own. After a few affable deliberations, the songs were shortlisted, and once finalized the practice sessions began in right earnest. I was given a raag Hameer-based classical song from the movie Kohinoor; I was paired with a friend for a comic duet from the movie Do Phool; for the disco medley, I got a fast number from the movie Karz and for the raag Yaman-based medley a semi-classical song from the movie Chitchor – all songs of vastly different genre. The practice sessions were great fun, with everyone who was available getting together and indulging in some leg-pulling and friendly banter, while seriously working on the songs allotted to us. The mood was so infectious that we would all join the main singer while he or she was practicing, many a times driving our guru to her wits end. But the patience and dedication she (and her daughter, who is also our teacher) showed was remarkable… imagine handling a bunch of over forty-year olds, who insisted on behaving like juveniles all the time! The delicate nuances of certain songs, which are not evident to an untrained ear, but glaringly obvious when our guru tutored us, were explained with immense fortitude and composure by our teacher, without once raising her voice or losing her cool. Subtle corrections in our method of rendering a song, delicate modifications to the tone and texture of our voices were suggested, voice modulation was emphasized upon, and we were made to repeat some portions of a song innumerable times, till we got it right. For non-professionals like us this was not easy at all, but the general sense of bonhomie during these practice sessions made the effort worth it. One of the rewarding moments of this show was that we were made to do riyaaz very early in the morning, which charges up the body while cleansing the mind, making it ready to take on the day ahead. This is something that needs to be experienced, and mere words cannot describe this feeling. For all these efforts on their part, a big thank you to our teachers.
On the day of the show, our guru was tenser than all of us. But, for non-professionals we put up a stellar show. The audience, suitably charged up by an effusive compere and notwithstanding the fact that they were family members, kept cheering all the singers. Of course we made mistakes, and the musicians being professionals covered up some of parts where we slipped, but each one of us cheered for the other, and made sure that all participants felt on top of the world! Music and camaraderie emerged clear winners on that day, reminding me of Lao Tzu’s famous quote, “Music in the soul can be heard by the universe”.