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!