Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Of Memories And Musicals

Hungama hai kyon barpa, Thodi si jo pi li hai
Daaka toh nahi daala, Chori toh nahi ki hai…


These are lines from a very famous Ghazal by Ustad Ghulam Ali. I don’t remember when was the first time I heard it…but I do remember my father pulling out that Ghulam Ali gramophone record on these Sundays when the household would decide to go on a cleaning spree. After finishing off with the major chunk of furniture, we would pick these small artefacts that needed fabric attention and settle down. That is when he would first lovingly wipe the record with a soft cloth akin to a priceless antique (which is how all the gramophone records at our place are treated, because that is what they are – priceless and antique) and then put it on the record player at 33 ½ rpm. We would proceed with the cleaning, everyone humming along with the mellifluous voice wafting from the speakers. At this point, my mother would be making us all a refreshing (and much needed) cup of tea (probably the second or third in the day). As we took a break from the cleaning to savour the tea, she would tell us the (quite romantic) story about how they acquired that record. My parents were connoisseurs of the Ghazal.

(In retrospection, I think it was rather queer for a South Indian family to be so interested in Urdu Ghazals when some of our clan does not even know such an art form exists. But then, we never behaved like a typical South Indian family (thank Gawd!))

Other memories related to Ghazals are returning home from school or Basketball practice on some evenings and finding either yellow or no lights in the drawing room. Even as I would enter the door Jagjit Singh’s dulcet voice would greet me. Usually something like Woh Kagaz Ki Kashti or Ahista Ahista…my father had an enviable collection of Jagjit Singh’s records that he reserved to be relished on such evenings when he was in a mood for some mellow music. As usual tea would be brewing and hot pakoras could be a bonus as we enjoyed the music. I grew up listening to Ghazals and the maestros lived in our home.

But then my father lost his hearing and the maestros became quiet. Nobody wanted to hear them when my father could not be an audience. After he passed away, those records became painful memories and the Ghazal had no patronage in the house…only in memory.

So when I went to the Jagjit Singh concert in Bangalore on the 1st of December, I was awash with mixed feelings. It was like being back in 1996 or something and hearing his soothing voice welcome me home. I was inundated in the music and the memories for the three hours. I knew most of the songs and it felt like I had found an old friend again. The 2nd of December marked three years since my father passed away and I wanted my attendance at the concert to be a personal tribute to his love for Ghazals…the same love that he infused in me.

The concert was to start at 5:30 PM but they only started letting people into the Koramangala Indoor Stadium a little after 6. There was quite a crowd that had assembled and one was glad to see youngsters in the queue. We entered the stadium too and waited anxiously upon taking our seats…it was close to 7:30 PM. Then Jagjit Singh arrived and transported us to heaven.

The audience regaled in the timeless classics like a parched soul who finds water in the desert. Kiska Chehra, Kal Chaudhvi Ki Raat Thhi, Tera Chehra, Who Kagaz Ki Kashti, Hoshwalon Ko Khabar Kya, Kabhi Yun Bhi Toh Ho, Hazaron Khwahishein Aisi were just some of the pearls that rolled out. Ahista Ahista was conspicuous by its absence though. The last two Ghazals – Jhuki Jhuki Si Nazar and Hothon Se Choo Lo Tum had complete audience participation. And then came the surprise – a bunch of Punjabi folk songs and that was the best part since I saw a completely different aspect of Jagjit Singh’s singing. It was three hours of good music – just like the old times.

I don’t know why I enjoyed the concert so much – because I am a Ghazal fan myself or because there are so many good memories I have about Ghazals. Was it the music or the comfort zone that I was relishing? Why was I able to overlook the obvious unsuitability of the venue, the bad sound arrangements and the utterly ill-mannered crowd (something that would have irked me no end on a normal day) and take away the best from the concert? I am still looking for a rational explanation for it, for the way memories and sentiments have this effect on you that is hard to explain and makes it possible to put up with this planet…but then who wants a rational explanation anyway…I am happier with this heady feeling.

7 Thinkers Pondered:

Vinni said...

lady, u outdo urself everytime! this is perhaps the best bit of writing i have come across in a long time. maybe it even outdoes the ghazals u have been talking about.
well, with my limited outlook on ghazals, thats all i got to say. :-)

Anupama Kondayya said...

Hey Vinni,

Thank you so much for the compliment :). You really made my day...

sanchapanzo said...

yeah.. me too think so...
i think the mention of your father really lifted the quality of your writing.. i think it is the personal tinge which truly makes this post a fantastic one.. maybe other posts end up having the small amount of 'sophistication' or 'superficialness' which i guess some readers cant really relate to,
but not this one. i think your conviction on something that you are writing about is directly proportional to the quality of the writing.
keep these coming, thought it was a beautifully honest write-up.

anyway, can't really figure out what this line means
"But then, we never behaved like a typical South Indian family (thank Gawd!))"

also, leave a ping when you are online, would definitely pick some of the best-pick ghazals from you and give it a try. me not really into it and i had just heard 'Hoshwalon Ko Khabar Kya' thanks to amir khan's movie 'sarfarosh'

Utsarg said...

Hey, never realized that concert meant so much to you.

But I should say that you have transported those Ghazals and the pleasures of having their company to a completely new world with only bliss around!

As Vinni says, the way you have put this piece really outdoes all the ghazals and probably the singer as well. All the feelings and emotions in those ghazals come alive here. Reading this was indeed a pleasure. Thanks for this post!

xunz said...

Great to know that you are ghazal fan cuzz ghazals are also my favourite and i also like it cuzz of my father... ur post struck home.
i mostly listen to nusrat fateh ali, tina sani, mehdi hassan tu jo nahin hai to kuch bhi nahin hai.... ;)...i also read poetry like ghazals of ghalib, iqbal and faiz are amazing!

deepocean said...

What a fantastic piece of writing! I enjoyed reading each and every word. Thoroughly relished the sumptous meal of ghazals. To add that, a personal note from your own life makes it even more beautiful. Its so sincere, simple and sophisticated - just like you. Even I'm humming..honton se choolo tum....

Pradip Somasundaran said...

Don't know why......tears rolled down my eyes....as I read your post....music does make me cry.....but now even somethings about music can..do that...