Image from Terapeak.com
As soon as I tuned into FM this morning I caught the flag end of the English music hour.
For some reason it is assumed on this side of the world that no one knows a word of English!! Therefore 94.3 and 95.0 FM play English songs only after you reach Delhi ..as soon as you come back home your ears are subject to the most truck-driverish Punjabi singers belting out raucous lyrics about ‘gedi routes’, facebook updates, ‘dunalis ‘, LV and thars!!.. interspersed with some melodious numbers too for a change!!
So while I listened to Killing me Softly and then Does Your Mother know by Abba , I was quite pleasantly transported to heaven and back to my childhood days!!
Growing up in Kenya I was introduced to the most interesting mix of songs! My mother was a very clever one with gadgets for that time! My parents were extremely fond of music and one of their most prized possessions was an Akai Spool Player/recorder that Dad bought when posted to Singapore in 1964…my birthplace!…we had umpteen spools at home with the most varied of English and Indian music one could imagine! What a collection my mother had amassed right from their tenure in Singapore onwards…from the Beatles and Elton John to Mukesh , Rafi and all the other legends to Pakistani singers popular back in the day ..Mussarrat Nazir, Noor Jehan , Benjamin Sisters etc belted out soul touching renditions early in the morning even before we left for school!
Simple days when music made the most deep rooted impression on us.
We couldn’t speak a word of Hindi or punjabi but could sing in the language, every word memorised, every beat engrained within us , albeit a bit out of note but who cared!! Our American accents were nowhere in evidence when we were the soul of Indian weddings as we noisily rolled out one punjabi wedding song after the other..words written in English in a most treasured diary and rhythm supplied by me on an upside down plastic bucket..perfect typical taal and a lot of enthusiasm!!
Even today when I hear these songs Childhood memories bring back a tear.. crazy fun days when every song was accompanied by a story , every story still as vivid as it was 40years back.
Some songs still bring back simple emotions.. when I hear ‘Blowing in the wind’ I can see mom in her perfectly tied saree elegantly sifting through her other spools looking for the songs she knew I loved and had recorded for me while I was at school trying to fathom multiplication!
Gloria Gaynor gives me strength to survive, Carole King and Simon and Garfunkal remind me of my second sister ..not by blood ties but ties of the heart..Neeraj, who introduced me them..dancing with abandon as she played them on LP’s in their Mombasa living room.
Whenever we dance to punjabi songs today I feel as if I am joined by my sis Aashima and our innocently wild ganghood with the Bashir sisters reminiscent of how we used to scream with laughter and gay abandon.
The Ghulam Alis , Munni Begums, Mehndi Hassans and Jagjit Singhs bring Dad’s face before me as clear as the day I sat fighting with him as a youngster to play something that at least had a beat!!
His switching over to Pankaj Mullick, CH Atma, KL Saigal , Jyutika Roy apparently to pacify me etc only served to enhance the fact that he clearly didn’t understand a word I had said for the past hour!!
Abba, Boney M, Marvin Gaye, Neil Diamond, Englebert, Paul Anka, Frank Sinatra, Cindi Lauper, Madonna , Bee Gees , MC Hammer, Wham, dear Bruce, Eurythmics, Boy George, and God knows how many more were responsible for making the jam sessions during school days so much fun……we danced with boys just sprouting the first sign of a moustache while stealing a glance out of the corner of our eye at our latest crush boogieing away with our worst enemy!!
When the Carpenters began to croon we stood on the edge of the dance floor , waiting with thumping hearts for him to come over and ask for a slow dance, while desperately trying to act disinterested and failing miserably!!
Memories are made of this!!!
However many Sias, Chainsmokers, J Los, Biebers, Timberlakes and Sean Paul’s and Meghans we may listen to now, there is no way they can match up to the feeling behind the songs whose lyrics we knew by heart, whose beats we knew to the T, whose every line evokes a lifetime of sentiments..some happy some sad!!
Those were the days my friend I wished they’d never end!!