music for the lonely
“Aap kidhar ho” I took a sip of hot ginger lemon tea, black, from Chai Point
“Mein Gate 11 ke bahar, Chai Point ke pas hoon”
“Mein bhi idhar hoon”
I was watching the backs of cab drivers standing, to see which one with mobile phone will turn. One turned and I raised my hand. He showed the hand written placard with my name that he was holding. I hadn’t seen that even though I had looked through all of them on the way out. But then I didn’t try to call immediately, had to buy a tea first. Chai Point tea is good, though MDP’s black and lemon tea has replaced it as favorite recently.
He didn’t like it that I had passed in front of him. He might have written out the placard, that didn’t come to use.
“Mein ne dekha nahin tha” I tried to apologize, he didn’t acknowledge. I now walk faster – to start quickly, to beat peak traffic of Bangalore. He didn’t hurry up though, was trailing behind me. I was irritated a bit about this slow pace. He was a tall fellow, heavily built. Had a beard, somewhat like French, hanging little longer from the chin. It may have been dyed black, the way you sense it without thinking about it – somehow the age and the blackness of the hair throws up an incongruity. On that count, I am greying, in my moustache and beard also now. But then I had started greying from age 16 onwards.
“Aap is ke us par wait keejiye, mein gadi leke aata hoon” He went to take the car from parking and I walked to end of the walkway.
I looked at the SMS to check car number, saw that his name is Nazir. Nazir pulled up the car and I got in the back. I have been in two minds whether to get in the front passenger seat. I didn’t want to feel like chauffeur driven. But sometimes they keep their papers, mobile chargers, folders in the front passenger seat – expecting no one will enter there. So made my peace to stick to getting in the back always.
He had an FM channel going, kept changing it. Bangalore has FM channels in Hindi. In one channel, a prank call program was going on. They were calling someone sitting in the loo, again and again to ask him some silly question. Nazir was smiling.
One guy in motorcycle crossed from right to left, Nazir had to break hard – he honked, called out to that guy. “Paagal. Dekha wo kya kiya”
“Aap Chennai se hai?” I must truly look like a chennaite, get this question often.
“Nahin. Kerala se hoon. Trivandrum” I was giving short answers. Never asking a question. It doesn’t occur to me, often until much later, that I should ask a question as well, that is how the social conversations go, especially with strangers.
He got tired of ads in FM channel and had put on one of his CDs. Hindi songs, some I hadn’t heard before. But it was refreshing. I was thinking that they don’t make songs with such good lyrics any more, singing with full voice, instrumental music even though typical, but not synthetic.
“Barish hain Kerala mein?”
“Haan. Jor se. Monsoon shuroo huva na” I saw from the plane that the landscape of Bangalore is also greener, hard land is clear brown, puddles of yellow muddy water in numerous quarries from which they scraped up rocks to build up the city.
One after the other similar songs were playing.
“Yeh saare ek film ke hai?” first question from me.
“Nahin. Alag alag hai.” It got him talking.
“Mujhe yeh purane gane bahut pasand hai. Drive karte vakt to, yeh gane hi ek vajah hai. Mein to yeh gaane kayi baar suna hoga.” Music helps to keep the sanity. Driving for hours and hours, taking strangers from one place to another everyday – it is not easy. I go to one barber for last few years – he has AIR Malayalam channel always on, hums along with even obscure songs, must have an encyclopedic memory by now.
“Aap ache hindi bolte ho. Wo kaise”
“Mere pitaji Hindi teacher hain, un se seekha tha” I am happy that someone thought I speak good Hindi. Actually I don’t. I haven’t spoken much. But my father will be happy to hear.
“Aap kidhar se ho?” My second. You have to ask me a lot of questions first and give me a complement to get me talking.
“Mein idhar se hi hoon.”
“North mein tha kabhi?”
“Nahin Idhar udhar ghoomta rahta hoon. Char panch bhashayen bol sakta hoon”
He talked about how Bangalore is becoming too congested, roads that can accommodate 15 lakh cars plying 80 lakh today, how in next 5 years city will be impossible to live in, people’s lives spent in commute. In between good songs, appreciating Rafee sahib, how he went to hear Lataji last year and her voice still the same, Anuradha Paudwal’s songs etc.
In office that day, some of the team members were complaining that Ola and Uber drivers are making it big, more than folks in IT, how we are underpaid, how they can afford expensive schools which we can’t think of etc.
He drove me back to airport in the evening also. 4 ½ hrs of good music for me, but for him it would have been 8-9 hours of drive back and forth from airport twice that day.
Some of the songs from that day – he had commentary for some..
“Tujhse Bichad Ke Zinda Hain, Jaan Bahot Sharminda Hain” – “har gane me ek poori story hai. Aaj ke gane me kya hai – sirf dance karne keliye hai”
“O Priya Priya Kyun Bhula Diya”
“Ja mujhe na ab yaad aa, mujhe bhool dene de”
“Meri Kismat Mein Tu Nahi Shayad”
“Nazar Aati Nahi Manzil”
“Teri Galiyon Mein Na Rakhenge Kadam, Aaj Ke Baad”
“Aaya Re Khilone Wala” - “mere sasur ko 6 betiyan hain, jab woh is gane sunte ho to milkar rone lagte hai.”
“Khilona jaan kar tum to mera dil tod jaate ho”
“Kuch Log Mohabbat Karke Ho Jate Hain Barbad”
“khuda bhi aasman se jab jameen par dekhta hoga”
“Kah do koi na kare yahaan pyaar, is mein kushiyaan hain kam beshumaar hain gam”
“Kya Hua Tera Vaada.. Bhulega dil jis din tumhe ,Wo din zindagi ka aakhri din hoga.”
“Mitwa Bhool Na Jana”