I’ve been one of the fortunate few in the world whose lives have been almost always inspired by music.
Being a single-child in a Bengali household, music is something one cannot escape from – it is crucial to be trained in vocals or an Indian classical instrument and to display one’s ‘talent’ on every visit to the motherland.
I distinctly remember returning from school in the scorching middle-east sun in the afternoons, grabbing a quick lunch and an even shorter nap to wake up in time for my music instructor (respectfully called ‘Master Ji’) to arrive. Three times a week, for more than six years, I was made to sit through the nuances of the innumerable ragas, taals and playing the harmonium (which was my personal loathe factor). I loved the vocals, have always been fond of singing – even though I found the training restricting my freedom. I grew to appreciate the spirit of hindustani classical, as it commonly referred to and with time, small-scale audience performances became quite the regular affair.
To bring world music into the picture, Baba is an ardent admirer of western classical and I literally grew up listening to Mozart and Beethoven with a pinch of Chopin and Tchaikovsky which were his favourites. His passion is so unshakable that my usually photography-shy father requested for a picture with a bust of Mozart at the London Madame Tussuauds! I also feel particularly blessed to have been able to witness full-fledged symphony orchestras from a very young age. Around twice a year, the Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra performed to the public at the elusive Al Bustan Palace Hotel and Baba ensured we always attended. Despite the exorbitant ticket prices, I would never see him think twice about being there; he would be of the opinion that good music is what hones a person’s character – makes them what they ultimately grow up to become. It was probably from those days that I began to fall in love with the violin. Despite my father’s belief that one can only learn to play the instrument if they begin from an early age – I have huge dreams to enlist at The Yehudi Menuhin School and train. For the same reason, I was extremely excited to read that Oman had built the the region’s first opera house – Royal Opera House Muscat and the likes of Yo Yo Ma were going to visit during the inaugural week.
Stepping out of home, the environment changed drastically – I came to India and heard genres of music I wasn’t exposed to before – classic Bollywood. The Bengali classical and Rabindrasangeet stopped completely, guess there was an overdose in the first 17 years of my life! People around me knew old hindi songs and I felt lost more often than was acceptable. Then I was introduced to radio in Pune which served as the best learning experience ever – I listened to it on my phone, in the hostel room, while travelling and even had a small portable radio for the bathroom! Within a year, I had watched what were the legendary movies in Indian cinema, was aware of the famous music and could even sing along – booyah!
My iPod has seen a lot of changes with the years – from the time of Coldplay, Green Day accompanied with Hindi-pop to the blast of A R Rahman excellence in the 2005 – 08 period, the blast of punjabi craziness, my post-graduation obsession with Tamil music to the most recent sufi and house mania!
However, I thoroughly grasp the relevance of the medium in my life – be it my alone time on the verandah at nights or memories of the select few songs Abhishek would play on loop when we worked late nights. Even a psychological analysis I once took declared that music makes me emotional and I directly connect it with happenings; quite the direct hit. Music on several occasions has brought smiles, tears, reminisces and a lot of memories; it does not amaze me that a few of my greatest treasures are my music stash, ipod and Youtube favourites!