Right from childhood days in Shillong I’ve loved music. Around 1967/68, when I was around 11 and also a round 11 (I was fat and short), I taught myself how to play the drums. A battered old leather suitcase made a nice snare drum; a brass table top with a couple of nails on it made for an excellent cymbal; and for sticks I ‘borrowed’ a couple of Mom’s knitting needles (sizes 7 to 9 worked best, as they allowed a good rebound for rolls). My musical heroes in those early days were Brian Bennett (The Shadows), Mel Taylor (The Ventures), Ringo Starr (The Beatles), and Ginger Baker (Cream). In 1969 I bought a pair of teak drumsticks for the princely sum of Rs 1.50. I still have them; every scar on them brings fond and noisy memories. They worked well on my suitcase too, though I kept borrowing Mom’s knitting needles…
But the story of my musical eccentricities must wait for another time. Why I mention music now is, music has always been my refuge, it’s brought me solace and comfort and delight. And playing the drums elevates my spirits even in the darkest of moments.
Which is why, last week, after a gap of over five years, I picked up my drumsticks and went to a jam room in South Extension where there’s a nice drum set, and I practiced playing the drums for an hour.
There were no listeners to tell me how hideous it sounded, because I was all alone and the jam room was (mercifully) sound-proofed. I was rusty, stiff in bone and muscle and brain, I panted and gasped at the exertion, I missed a beat every nine beats on average.
But I loved it!
I emerged from the jam-room, exhausted but healed of angst, the words of Omar Khayyam blending weirdly yet sublimely with the words of Adi Sankaracharya in my haze-filled mind:
Alike for those who for TODAY prepare,
And those that after a TOMORROW stare,
A Muezzin from the Tower of Darkness cries
“Fools! Your Reward is neither Here nor There!“
Bhaja Govindam, Bhaja Govindam
Govindam Bhaja, Moodamathe!
I managed to record part of my solo cacophony, and place three short sections below – missed beats and all – for your torment, ferment and comment, O patient and long-suffering reader!
Don’t worry, I promise you I won’t post any more of my solo practice sessions.
Oh…and tomorrow I’m going again to the jam room. Do join in…it’ll be great!
16 thoughts on “Drumming away the Blues”
Time to join us in Neredu Valley Mannikins, and fill up our “temple of emptiness” with your cacophony…
Oh the Temple of Emptiness sounds so serene Uma…will warn thee before I visit, thanks!
Good to hear the drums. Your writing and musical talents manifest in tandem. Stay blessed.
Many thanks Randeep!
Keep playing and fill the air with the lovely beats!!!
Thanks, thanks Rekhship 🙂
On Sun, Mar 1, 2020 at 4:36 PM Wanderings and Wonderings wrote:
> Mani posted: “Right from childhood days in Shillong I’ve loved music. > Around 1967/68, when I was around 11 and also a round 11 (I was fat and > short), I taught myself how to play the drums. A battered old leather > suitcase made a nice snare drum; a brass table top with ” >
Thanks Bala…now tune up your guitar!
Hey mani! So i just missed your jam, when are you going next? P.s. we can always jam in VK. Got a nice roland e-drum for you…. I also spend some time listening to our fender jams just now, still sounds great.
Mani we probably haven’t met since you became an adult. I therefore remember only the shortish, plumpish, boy who wore fairly high powered specks, through which the bright, mischievous and humorous eyes showed..
I remember also the battered brown suitcase you used for practice. Even I had a go at it from time to time, although nothing came of it. I remember the day time music parties we had in your house, where we ate sandwiches made of butter and luncheon meat, and drank Coca Cola sometimes spiked with Lal Wala.. 😜
I remember the pink pants and the stacks of LP s your mum got from the USA. I remember that interschool music competition where your group the King Chickens came out tops.. I also got to read most of the letters you wrote to Bala from BITS Pilani…
So, yes, I’m very glad to know that you have rediscovered your childhood passion yet again.
Here’s wishing you lots of happy hours of hammering on the drum set in the sound proof jam room..
Aww Jayanta thanks for the memories and love – reflected in full! Hope to meet soon and reminisce at length…
Real old wine friend, if only sound bites could be tasted. WOW ! Who says you are out of touch. If thats what you call out of touch and off beat, just imagine what an in touch and in beat performance would be like. Keep it going.
Thanks Ranjan, overwhelmed!😄
I remember you drumming on anything and everything that made a percussive sound when you were in your mid-teens. Metal trunks, cardboard boxes, the study table and even cans. Everything was fair game! I remember that it sounded quite intriguing because it was unconventional but sounded good. Almost like Ginger Baker of Cream.That was in Pilani in the mid 70’s. With a bit more practice that mojo will return.
So nostalgic to reconnect, can never forget that suitcase, you drumming fireball and plenty of ice cream from US of A!!!!!
Hi Rajiv, so good to hear from you!! Aye, great times shared in Shillong, be merry and well, Jai Hind