Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Music has this peculiar characteristic, it attaches itself to events, to memory. There are quite a few bits of music, and many songs which remind of particular incidents, or of a time in general, or even a portion of my life which is long gone. When I hear these songs or these bits I get all nostalgic, sometimes even downcast.

The other day my wife was listening to Pehla Nasha (translations kill, and this is one good example, “First Intoxication” hardly does justice to the evocation of the original!) from an oldish movie called Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander (“The One who wins is Alexander” – another example of translatory murder). The movie was released at a time when I had just cleared my Higher Secondary Council examination. The movie – loosely based on Breaking Away – was a huge hit. The song was heard everywhere. Our College Union Room had a PowerHouse – a music system – and the song was often played. Since one of our classrooms was directly above, there were a couple of times when attention drifted from lectures to elsewhere.

However, that is not the association that this song carries. Just after the Council Examination I had our first taste of freedom. I was allowed to go on a trip with close school friends. Puri is a seaside town very familiar to all of us. And since it was to be my nth time there, my parents had no objections. Four of us had many a misadventure in the temple-town, including a cyclone. The whole trip was wet with rain – we were not introduced to alcohol as yet (as a matter of fact we had our first cigarettes on that trip, well hidden inside our room, scared stiff that the elders might ‘see’ us). Asheshananda took a music player with him, and I had a couple of cassettes (CD and DVD were unknown concepts in the world then!). One of the songs that frequently played was Pehla Nasha. The cloudy sky, the infrequent drizzle that turned into a torrent, the powerless candlelit night which filled our room with rain, a night in which emergency Jam and Bread was dinner, four of us wet to the bones – we had the time of our lives.

Of the four Asheshananda is lost. The other two are still very much a part of my life still. One is in Bristol. The other is here in my hometown. He is a doctor now. To think this year we celebrate 22 years of friendship! I am lucky as far as friendship goes. I have friends with whom I have remained close for the last 30 years. Sounds unbelievable, doesn’t it? These people I know from the age of four! But number of years hardly matters. Even my college friends are as close, though I know them for a mere 16 years now.

In many ways I was truly fortunate because I found my college friends. When I joined Presidency College I was what a very good friend described as “A Babe out o’the Woods”. I could not speak English properly – nervousness is the reason, I am from a Bengali medium school. No one mocked me, the support I had from my friends and my teachers is something I shall cherish forever. I was a friend in need. The others proved that they were friends indeed. Mockery would have destroyed whatever little confidence I had. There are many things that seem to be amiss with my life – many things that people normally get that are denied to us as yet – but as far as friendship goes I think life has compensated for all the things that I do not have.

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