I must have been 6. Maybe 7.
Certainly too early to fall in love.
But, as Shah Rukh Khan says, I saw God in that love. Yes. Rab.
I may have been too young to know it was love. Looking back, now I think it mighthave been the real thing. A ‘thing’ so real that it put me in perpetual state of dizziness. So potent that I have since gone through life in a state of an absent minded daze, drifting along all the events that were critical, supposedly, significant and important to any South Indian Tambram middle-class boys life (- you know, Calculus, Cricket, Athimbers, Poonal, Physics, Brilliant Tutorials, IIT,…)
School exams, report cards, ranks, cricket matches, never really mattered, even though I went through it all, even worrying over them from a reluctant periphery of the mind, from a distant, detached, uninvolved observing state of consciousness.
I may have worried. But I don’t think I ever really cared.
An existence that maybe had my body all into it, but not quite my soul.
Nothing else that happened in my life mattered. I think. For I never really felt sad, or ecstatic, never felt disappointment, or exuberance, never felt shattered or broken when things – good or bad – happened – the things that would normally mean something significant to any average South Indian Tambram middle class boy. I went through none of those ‘teenage’ phases and rebellion and awkwardness. I never ever understood why teenage was supposed to be a challenge for the teenager, parents, school and society. Whats really all the fuss about anyway?
Maybe it helps being an observer and a reluctant participant of your own life.
Yet, I am not claiming it was love. For I knew not what Love was.
And honestly, I didn’t care.
What I know is how I felt. How I’ve been feeling. And how I feel now in moments like now – when I hear Baghishree.
Back off now before I pound your face for thinking Baghishree is a girl.
She maybe. But I am referring to the Raag.
And then another powerful moment came when I was perhaps 12. When I heard a Jugalbandhi between L.Subramanium and Ustad Amjad Ali Khan. In Sindhu Bhairavi. 10 minutes of string sounds that created an emotion so vivid I have relived each second over and over several times.
And over all those years, steady yet passively administered doses of Madurai Mani, Semmangudi, Lalgudi, GNB, TVS, MLV, DKP, DKJ, Ramani, MSG, etc, and then the predictable phase of Pink Floyd, even The Eagles and The Beatles, have only etched that state of mind deeper into my mind(or call it consciousness)
This weekend brought some of that rush back. I dusted off my speakers and set up a sort of an acoustically agreeable mini theatre and played a few solo concerts of the one and only Zakhir Hussain and it all came back rushing like one huge out-of-control avalanche.
And the more I write, the more futile it all seems trying to describe, narrate and report what happened. I’ve made a few futile attempts earlier – here , then here and then a few more. But don’t even bother clicking those links until you have read through this whole thing and have visited the links below.
For now, let me just leave you with some Youtube links – something you should simply find time for. If you really want to relate to this whole post, here is what you should do. Get a pair of headphones. Sit alone, close your eyes, and totally submit to these sounds. Embrace them and let them lift you.
Let them take you to the state of an unbearable ecstasy of existence.
Then read this again if you really care to.
Gateway of India Concert (9’55)
Srinivas and Zakhir Hussain (1’46)
Zakhir Hussain TeenTal (4’24)