AR, favorite music, friendship


Few months back, i was returning from Bangalore after one of the BITS exams. I cannot sleep on bus usually, so this time had taken a sleeper bus. But that also was turning out to be futile. Such sleepless nights are crazy, drifting in and out of consciousness, trying to force start new dream scenarios to invite sleep to take them on and try it out and the dreams become bizarre after some time. Huge headache in the morning is the net result. In this case, one good thing was the music – driver was playing AR Rahman’s Tamil songs – they must have played that entire night. Their playlist had some of the old songs too, long forgotten. I was thinking that it was incredible that AR can fill an entire night of lonely people with great music.
For past few weekends though, I was listening to AR again. There is a program hosted by singer Anuradha Sreeram, in one of the FM channels, 3 hours each on Sat and Sunday night. AR has created enough to fill multiple nights with great music. This weekend in between studying for another upcoming BITS exam and struggling with logical clocks, scalar and vector time etc of Distributed Computing, listened to songs like Enna solla pogirai, poongatrile un swasathe, anpe vaa en anpe vaa, mannippaya, uyire, snegithane, Evano Oruvan aasikkirai, kannukku mai azhaghu, Enna Vilaiyazhagae, Nenjukullae, Enge enathu kavithai etc.
Some of these songs take me back to old times, when I heard it first or when it was the favorite. I used to study with music on, cassettes on repeat – I don’t know how it worked, but it didn’t hurt badly in the long run I guess. Mix of Kishore Kumar, Enigma, Power Ballads, Metallica, Savage Garden and sometimes AR. Like Uyire Uyire – I remember repeat playing that in my mind and writing IIT entrance exams. I was alone for that exams somehow, none of the friends in that center or something. Fighting through the problems felt like discovering some of the medieval forests imagined by the likes of JRR Tolkien or CS Lewis. Standing on Govt Model School (Kris Gopalakrishnan’s school, the one he is trying to revive now) grounds on a rainy morning in between exams, with this song in mind – that surreal feeling will not go away.

I had a good friend in college in same class, from the neighborhood, with whom I went everywhere on most days. He was an AR devotee. He would wait for the release dates of next cassette by AR, buy it on the first day and listen to it nonstop for few days. Many of the songs would be like alien music those days. But his music was distinctive, it was creating almost a new genre, it grows on you and soon will become favorites. My friend never doubted like me and after few days every track in the new cassette would be his favorites. I was thinking about it recently again – had chanced upon “Kannukkul pothi vaipen” (not by AR) on radio, thought it was nice, heard again for one or two times later and finally it was an absolute favorite.

I don’t understand Tamil much, can make out the general feel and the emotion. I had another of such close friends in college who was from a Tamil family, settled in Kerala. Someone with whom I went to some Tamil movies until he got tired of live translation, especially after attempting to translate the funny scenes. He would come home most evenings, sometimes on a rented bicycle. We would play Carroms, talk about anything and everything under the sun – books read recently, philosophy, Aynd Rand. I will go out to see him off, end up talking at the gate for another hour and then decide to walk over to the other friend’s house. Listen to music, talk again.

I don’t think I have talked to anyone for hours at end for long time, someone who can listen to all the madness and not judge – there is no time for that and no one with the right frequency. A week back, old college class mates started the group in Whatsapp. Most of them exactly same even now, some lingos upgraded here and there, but basically the same. I haven’t talked to my two friends for more than 10 years now. One of them married a German girl, I don’t know how to face him and what to talk to him about. This is one of the regrets – not keeping good friends. Commitments, crossroads in life taking people farther and farther away, frequencies tuning out..

Few weeks back, I got introduced to a long timer in Infy, during the week he was leaving Infy for a startup. On his last day, I was standing in breakfast queue in front of him, for my usual Idli/Sambar. Lady at the counter put out a plate of hot Pongal, my recent acquainted asked me which part of Tamil Nadu I am from. I told him that plate is for someone else, but I would still like to try it out. I did try it another day and it was delicious..:)

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