Sunday, January 28, 2007

O embarassment of the person everybody loves to offer sympathy to

Yes, the tale of John Mindry will continue later. First, I must relate of an unfortunate embarassment of the humble author.

Regard the author:-

No, not the one with the nose. It's(I'm) the one on the right. Such a striking face, is it not? Such radiance, such innocence, such naivete, such profound stupidity, such stupid profundity, such a remarkable lack of arresting features, such curiously absent attractiveness. Indeed, 'generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this..' and all that.

Would you suspect this person, this evolutionary tchotchke, to have some sort of talent?

It is believed among a section of deeply eccentric people that he does. That, in many situations, is my bane. I seem to have made an impression, on some people, of being somehow intelligent and talented and capable of miraculous feats. The particular situation I am about to recount is due to such a misconception.

I received a telephone call from one Vemgal Raju(if I have spelt his name wrong, I don't care.), who said I had to play the flute at a concert his troupe was giving at some place. Now I believe I am not talented enough, musically, to give recitals and suchlike and I told him that, in a different manner. But he was insistent. He said some other person(a student of the same teacher who taught me how to play the flute, too) was supposed to be there, but couldn't do so now because of some problems he, the other student, had. So I had been recommended by that other student. When would this be, I enquired. January 27th, he replied. It was a Saturday. There were many things one could do on a Saturday, especially if it is preceded by a Friday on which one has a holiday(owing to Republic day). I said I would tell him later, but I most probably could not make it. But the man was insistent and, worst of all, desperate. Please, he implored, we have already said we will get a flute guy(literal translation of 'flute-navaru') and we had asked Sunil and he can't be there and he said you and please you have to come.

Plead long enough and I will grant your wish(I wish more women were this way); I'm stupid that way. I acceded and he seemed happy. The day intimated dawned. January 27, 2007. A healthy Saturday on which India took on the West Indies in yet another one-day encounter. One Robin Uthappa was playing remarkably well. But alas, having stupidly given my word, I had to go to the concert and fulfill my commitment. I trudged(it is no different on my Byk) all the way to Rajajinagar. The music was supposed to be at a wedding. You know how these things are.

No one has enough time or interest to listen to the music being played, unless it is a very famous artist. And even they sometimes get snubbed(ref:- Hariharan at the Cisco day concert in 2006. He angrily lectured to the crowd about how they were more interested in the food rather his music, the food of the soul) . I'm not saying the people at weddings are to blame or anything; you go to a wedding to wish the betrothed well, meet your relatives and friends and have a good time; not to listen to some unknown people experiment with music the way teenagers experiment with their sexuality(awkardly, if you're wondering).

Vemgal Raju(who, I now think, sounds like a Telangana warlord) instructed me to play 'freestyle.' Just follow what the keyboard and sitar play and then take it on your own for a bit. Just freestyle. I've been told you can play well. Just manage. OK, that's all right, I can do that, said I. It began. And O it was awful. For me.

Apparently, the sitar had been tuned to 'A440,' whatever that meant. This meant a lot of things to the sitarist and nothing to me; but the crux of the matter was that the key and pitch of the flute and the sitar were clashing awkardly, even though they were of the same key. I mean, even if I played on a flute(I had borrowed many from the other student) of 'C' scale(ondane mane) and the sitarist played in C, there would be an odd clash of the two sounds. It wasn't a soothing and aesthetic clash of cultures. So, the sitarist, Mr Srinivas, beckoned me toward him. Don't mistake me, he said, but the flute and sitar are clashing and it's making an odd noise. Could you please not play?

Now even before the thing began, I had warned Vemgal Raju that I had never played accompaniment to light music before. I had only practised Carnatic music, though I had played in our college music team(those were good times. The team won at many fests). I could do 'freestyle,' whatever that was. But, I told him, I didn't think I'd be able to get right what he expected of me. Which was to just play something. Sounds simple enough, doesn't it, 'play something'? Isn't when you have a flute that clashes sounds with a sitar and you have been instructed to 'play something soft in the background while they sing. Or just relax and take the experience.'

I cursed myself for agreeing to help that fellow out. This is the kind of stupid thing I get myself into, by not being sensible and saying "No, I don't want to ruin my Saturday." I sat there, after it struck me that the sitarist was right, after all, and the sound was rather odd and I probably shouldn't play too prominently, and listened to the singers perform. They were good, no doubt. Many 'light' songs, they sang, and I listened. It is very sad to sit up on 'stage' and do nothing. Unless you're playing a corpse(which also didn't matter, to Chinmay Hegde in our class in 11th and 12th. In a class play, he was a politician who gets killed and I was one of the bumbling cops who investigate his murder. Soon after the death scene, before the lights went completely off, Chinmay, still a corpse, got up and walked offstage to the green room, job done), you really don't want to be doing nothing. So I sent messages to a few people saying I was suffering one of the worst embarrassments of my life(one tried to be clever and asked whether I was getting married). A little while later, I began pestering Vemgal Raju about going home, since I was doing nothing useful here anyway. He said I could play something solo next. I wished to inform him, at this point, that I have been playing solo for all these years; but feeling he wouldn't quite get it, I desisted. I was asked to play something 'light' Carnatic. Which I did, and not too badly, I might add(I picked two songs which I love and can play pretty well). Purandaradasa and Patnam Subrahmanya Iyer, respective composers, would not have objected.

Then I sat still again. Except, of course, for playing in a 'low voice'(sic) with the keyboard man, as per the instructions of Vemgal Raju. You wouldn't have heard a thing, had you been daft enough to be there and tried to listen to the concert.

Summary:- flute key mismatch with sitar leaves author, most eminent flautist in the entire apartment he lives in, sitting mutely at a wedding reception of two people whose names he doesn't even remember.

I have now resolved not to be this stupid. I could have gone to Jayanagar, where Sandeep, Subba, Naveen Menezes(you will know these people from the Goa escapades) and some others were consuming pani puri like men possessed. I could have bugged some other people, especially Karthik, who said he commiserated with me, kind man, and Vidya Nadig, who called twice after I had informed about the embarrassment, to hear the story and derive great pleasure in my stupidity(I couldn't answer until the song currently underway finished and was forced to sit with an unsettlingly vibrating phone in my pocket, buzzing and leaping for all it was worth). I could have just sat at home, watching the disastrous match or some movie.

Instead, I chose to waste almost half a day of my life. Because I'm stupid. Judge me.


Harish said...

Sikkaapatte nagu bartide ma'a! Sakkataagide!

Anonymous said...

On "A comedy routine":

Overtaking instead of ovaries. ROTFL!!! Nice alliteration saar.


On "The tale of John Mindry":

ROTFL!!! Awesome. Just awesome. Another Asimov in the making! :D


On 'Goa V and VI':

LOL! Missing toe. Children of a lesser god. Ah, familiarity reeks in.

Accelerator instead of the brake anthe... ROTFL!!!

Now that you've enjoyed the Goa trip to the max, try riding all the way there. :)

Anonymous said...

Sooppar torture-u! (to you; comedy, to me.) :D

Purandaradasa yella naa? Genius wonly.

PS: For some strange reason, the water jug in the picture looks very appealing.

preethi said...

oh! taavu flute kooda nudistiro? santosha aaitu keli... bidi, bahala talented idira...
aadre..che, paapa hange aagbaardittu nimge.. hehe...

Parisarapremi said...

ಚಿಂತೆ ಮಾಡ್ಬೇಡ್ರೀ... ಕೆಲವು ಸಲ ಬದುಕಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಶೃತಿ ಸೇರಲ್ಲ. ಅದಕ್ಕೂ ಅಭ್ಯಾಸ ಆಗಬೇಕು..

ನಮ್ಮ ಸಂಗೀತವನ್ನು ಮದುವೆ ಮನೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಕಛೀರಿಗಾಗಿ ಬಳಸೋದನ್ನು ನಿಲ್ಲಿಸಬೇಕು ಅಲ್ವಾ? ಸಂಗೀತಕ್ಕಾಗಲೀ, ಅಲ್ಲಿ perform ಮಾಡೋರಿಗಾಗಲೀ respect ಕೊಡೋದೇ ಇಲ್ಲ, ಮದುವೆ ಮನೆಗಳಲ್ಲಿ.

ಆದರೆ, ಅನೇಕ teamಗಳು ತಮ್ಮ ಹೊಟ್ಟೆಹೊರೆದುಕೊಳ್ಳೋಕೆ ಇಂಥಾ ಕಾರ್ಯಕ್ರಮಗಳನ್ನು ಮಾಡ್ತಾರೆ. ನನಗೆ ನಿಜವಾಗಿಯೂ ಅನುಕಂಪ ಹುಟ್ಟುತ್ತೆ ಅಲ್ಲಿನ ಕಲಾವಿದರನ್ನು ನೋಡಿ. ನಾನು ಸಂಗೀತದ ಕುಟುಂಬದವನೇ ಆದ್ದರಿಂದ ತುಂಬಾ ನೋವಾಗುತ್ತೆ.

ಒಂದು ಮದುವೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಒಬ್ಬ, "ಹೊಡಿಮಗ ಹೊಡಿಮಗ..." ಹಾಡು ಹಾಡಿದ್ದ.. ಅದು ಸುಮ್ಮನೆ ನೆನಪಾಯಿತು ಅಷ್ಟೆ.. ಇಲ್ಲಿ ಅಪ್ರಸ್ತುತ ಆದರೂ ಹೇಳಬೇಕೆನಿಸಿತು, ಹೇಳಿದೆ..

nivedita said...

What's he sayin'?

Nish=) said...

you funny !

swaroop said...

"You staap, I play" anta heLi beesbekittu.

Or... Allinda eddu hogi, "Neevella solo play maadkoLi, Thu!" anta heLi, aa engaged couple ge "Neeven nodtideera, maneg hogi" anbekittu.

swaroop said...

Haage, aa Vemgal Raju gu heLbudu "Inmele nam manege phone maadbeda" anta.

tangled said...

Poor innocent!

Harish said...

In a sort of boring day in office, without being able to do much work due to technical reasons, reading this post for a second time was a delight. Alla, tumba nagu barutte! Sikkaapatte chennaagide! (oLLe redundant comment anta heLbodu neevu)

Arjun Sharma said...

[Harish]Thanks-appa! Alla, erderdu sala ella odidiyalla, enu annalva office-nalli? Oh adakke commitment-u...?

Maat-ge helde, ashte.

[arcane crapper]It's true, my father did teach me about the rules of overtaking and all that one day when I was thirteen. Near Goodshet road, if I remember right.

Riding all the way there? Want to do that, man. Especially after you've put the riding-at-120-to-Chennai-and-then-on-a-different-trip-to-Hampi-etc-with-the-tangled-person thing so well. Some idiots here are a bit conservative. Have decided to give them three months' time. If they don't get down and with it by then, I will start doing many cool things myself.

[arcane crapper]Ollle torture-u. Water jug-a? Strange fetish, kanayya!

[Preethi]Alva? Ella vidhiya aata.

[Arun]Neevu saha haadugarike ityadi....?

Houdu, kacheri ella erpadisodu swalpa jaastiyagide. Adarinda bandavarige nemmadi illa(idanna keloda, ellara jote harate hodiyoda anno gondala), sangeetagararige gourava illa. Yaak beku ee golella, alva?

Maduveyalli 'Hodimaga' haakiddra? Advice kodtiddreno bahushaha..?

[Nivedita]Read it and understand, no?


Jack Welch? How it is?

[Swaroop]He he, helbekittu "Saak maneg hogro!" anta, channagirodu!

Vemgal Raju inmel phone maadalla, no worries on that count. Namma astounding performance inda enondu effect aagide...

[tangled] *sniff* Thank you. I was sad that day.

Malaveeka said...


it's goodshEt road...

I always tought it was goodshit road...

No wonder my father looked at me funnily when I burst into hysterical giggles (I was 7, ok?) when he said the name of the road.

he he!


I remeber the time I had to sing a keerthane on stage.


forgot all the words and the flautists' rather shrill renditions drowned my inabilities.

Thyank Gaad!

Arjun Sharma said...

GoodShet, paapa, not GoodShit.

When was this keerthane rendition of yours, in school?