I grew up on a substantial daily dose of Hindi music. With parents who shared a love for singing in the face of fantastic but endearing ineptitude, I discovered Hemant and Rafi. I remember watching the weekly dose of Hindi songs on ‘Chitrahar’, aired on Doordarshan, peeping from under my quilt because it was way past my bedtime. In the face of painfully idiotic ‘Ruk Ruk Ruk’ there was ‘Bekarar Karke Hume Yun Na Jaaiye’; for every ‘Ajja Meri Gaadi Mein Baith Jaa’, ‘Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas’ saved the day. ‘Main Laila Laila Chilaunga Kurta Phaad Ke’ made me blast ‘Chhor Do Aanchal Zamanna Kya Kahega’; ‘Ek Chumma Tu Mujhko Udhaar De De’ was survived because of ‘Hoothon Se Chu Lo Tum’; ‘Aap ki aankhon mein kuch’ outclassed ‘Akhiyon se Goli mare’.
The cherry on the cake- ‘Rain is falling Chamma cham cham’ was met with a semblance of equanimity but I was doubtful about the adult world. Why were these people gyrating so enthusiastically to a rhyme? Won’t ‘Bheegi Bheegi Raaton Mein’ or ’Rim Jim Gire Saawan’ have served the purpose? So, that is how I survived the mortifying music of the 90s, with melodies from yesteryears and blindsiding whatever was the ‘It’ thing then.
My forays into music from the West were painfully awkward. I heard a bit of MJ, discovered Backstreet Boys later and till I went to college, U2 was the summation of my music inventory. I graduated from Bangalore, the city of pubs. Rock music runs as much as blood in the veins of that city. That is where my true music education began.
Surrounded by people who literally were born wielding the guitar, who discovered AC-DC before the alphabet, who discussed songs in terms of chords and riffs, I found myself sucked in the whole thing. It was not something that I took to immediately but thanks to my friends, who cared that I appreciate their good taste, introduced the softer notes before plunging me head on into the more intense depths of this genre. The first ‘Rock’ song I heard was ‘The Man Who Sold The World’. Needless to say, I was hooked. There was no better background score to getting off my high horse.
Akin to a kid in a candy shop, I began devouring songs after songs. I had so much to discover, learn and there wasn’t enough time. I would be told trivia about songs in passing conversations. There was more, as there always is. An avowed bibliophile and therefore such a paradox, I found Huxley through The Doors. I listened to Tool and found poets I could relate to and System Of A Down taught me a thing or two about melody. I still cannot write any piece without some Pink Floyd blaring in my head and Gojira is the one when I am looking to vent out my anger.
While working as a journalist, I found a perfect balance between my roots and my wings. By day I interviewed Manna Dey and Anushka Shankar, my most prized interviews and came home to the strains of Radiohead and Staind. My music list was a mishmash of Swarathma, Parikrama and Led Zeppelin. By the time I was about to move out from Bangalore, my education was almost complete. As a parting gift, Guru Dakshina if you will, I introduced my friends to Porcupine Tree. Life had come full circle.
My dog especially is fond of Eminem, my daughters love Bob Dylan and I still need to get my dose of Bollywood numbers. With a husband manning the borders of the country, I turn to Blues to take the punch off his absence. It is a genre that I am still stumbling around in.
Perhaps the most important lesson I learnt from my student days was that it doesn’t matter what genre you listen to, music has a universal vocabulary. No one should tell someone it is not music or not the right kinds. Everything said one must know there cannot be a better song than ‘Vicarious’ by Tool.
Music is more than what we give it credit for. A companion, a muse, the language of our feelings, the meaning of our existence, soundtrack to memories, inflicting pleasure and pain, an evening by the quay, syntax of our desires, a bit of happy and sad, music is at the heart of love itself. Or as Nietzsche said, ‘Without music, life would be a mistake’.