Friday, December 07, 2007

Savai Gandharva Music Festival

Yesterday, SGMF kicked off here at Puné, on a coldish December evening.
This is the 55th year running that this behemoth of a music festival has swung into action.
My 12th year running, having hardly ever missed a session.
I may bunk a concert or two, for my musical tastes may not match the organizers'.
But bunking a session is unthinkable.

The reigning deity of this city musically speaking is Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, a vocalist who looks and sounds like a lion amids a zoo composed of many beasts. His personality, singing style and individuality are all so towering that he has failed to produce a single disciple who could come within earshot of his resounding reputation. "Nothing grows beneat a banyan tree..." so goes a saying, and he epitomizes it.

There may be a hundred explanations possible here but I like mine the best, ahem. I strongly feel, all his disciples, including his son Shrinivas Joshi on whom the mantle of Chief Organiser of SGMF has fallen this year (who likes Pink Floyd too, a bit of trivia worth pondering upon) are so much in sheer awe of this genius, they have failed to allow their own style to grow. Indian audiences are way too finicky -they cannot stand a musician imitating another. One who gets fame and can sustain is one who is original. I have heard six or seven of his disciples and believe me none of them sound any different from the grand old man himself. Some of his disciples, tend to copy his mannerisms, his wild repertoire of facial expressions, his forceful hand gestures, his total involvement in performing... one feels overpowered by a sense of deja vu when listening to any disciple. Thus one knows, none of them will reach the first heaven, if he is sitting on the seventh, reputation-wise.

All these years, I have been very chirpy on the first day, but yesterday was an exception. The place seemed dull somehow -except for the chilling breeze coming over from the river within shouting distance, nothing major seemed amiss. The concerts kick off with a Shehnai player, at an ungodly hour (musically speaking) of 1600 hours (4.00pm) -and that is too late to be day and too early to be night. So I end up giving the first concert a miss. Yesterday as I lazily prepared myself for the ordeal of eight hours of non-stop music, I gave he second concert a near-miss too.

Whilst I hugged myself to keep warm, despite the absence of chiling wind, there was a foggy sort of cold evening setting in, the sun had just set. I heard the most melodious voice of a youngster, sounding startlingly like Pt. Narayanrao Vyas or Pt. Vinayakrao Patwardhan. It brought to my mind the incredible voices of Vidhyadhar Vyas or Prabhakar Karekar -something very 'old world' and charming about them all. I mistook it for the voice of Shrinvas Joshi, since Pt. Bhimsen Joshi was attending the festival despite his frail health -he is nearly fully paralyzed and a couple of brain surgeries have left him weak. He sits in his car, which is driven close to the dais, and the camera manned by some music lover who worships him, keeps worrying him too often.

I read in the papers that the last twenty minutes of that vocal recitals were by Anand Bhate, a new vocalist singing for the first time. He had been buoyed up enormously by the fact that Pt. B. Joshi himself was watching him. I felt sore about having missed the khayal... and had to contend with only a natya sangeet snatch.

What I had come especially to listen to, was next. The famous Gundecha Brothers. The famous duo who sing the old fashioned Dhrupad Dhamar style with a high fidelity. How time passes, I too wondered, sitting on a thin rug spread out over a long distance. I had to sit because this sort of serious music is no fun when one is shifting weight from leg to leg, and casting longing looks at the urinals behind the main shamiana. I sat quietly next to a young lady whose hand gestures gave her away as a music teacher -they all keep a tab on the rhythm religiously, tapping their right palm on the right knee, once facing upwards, once facing downwards. This is a vey 'South Indian' way of keeping track of 'taal' to my mind. After all Puné is 'dakkhan' meaning south in Urdu or Hindustani which the Britishers corrupted to Deccan... the gateway to south. Thus one who has not spent a lifetime here in this music studded city nor in south, all these south Indian mannerisms are very obvious, as obvious as a foreign accent.

It has always been difficult for me to slip into a raag easily when someone is singing the leisurely laid out alaap, so the raag they were singing sounded like Jayjaywanti and Jhinjhoti to my muddy ears.... and miraculously turned into Adana in their Dhrupad rendition with rather a forceful bandish 'Shiva Shankar Mahabali'. The raag was Shree, chosen rather aptly since it is a sandhi-prakash raag, sung during the twilight hours. Though their faces have not changed much in the last 15 years, one of them has a mottled grey head. The younger one still looks youthful. The last time I heard them and drove them from their host's place in the University Area in Baroda, to the Music College where they were performing, it was in 1992. nearly 15 years ago. Due to the increasing rush, and the higher level of security for the performers, it seemed nearly impossible to approach them, so I dropped the idea of meeting them.

I didn't stay long, after they had brought the house down with their rendition of raag Shree which is rather a dry and abstract melody. The next performer turned out to be a sarangi player Murad Ali with links to the legendary Ustad Sabri Khan of Delhi. I somehow failed to get into the skin of the performance, listlessly wandered around and walked out several hours earlier. The main performer to follow would have been Arti Anklikar-Tikekar whom I have heard very often at Baroda, and who has never seemed five star material to me at all.

On the whole, a satisfying visit. Friday I am bunking, but will surely go on Saturday.


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Living Out Of A Suitcase

Life teaches us a lesson every single day.
Most of us disregard each lesson since we led mechanical lives.
I have written elsewhere that most of us sleepwalk thru' a life.
That's a fact.

The more stubborn you are the more stupid repetition of a
lesson will re-occur. Some of us are stupid enough to defy God,
or Nature if you like because Life that perpetual prankster acts
like beer on an innocent. One may feel smarter, handsomer, richer,
more powerful.
Less inhibited, and dangerously reckless.
This reckless part fascinates me no end.

Recently I put up this question at my Facebook Wall where
people ask weird queries mainly with the intention of gauging
the smartness, depth and wit of the friends who may choose
to reply. Why are people so aggressive whilst using emails?
Very few replied and the general tone was that most people
safe from physical attacks on email circuit...
however, my feelings are slightly more 'expansive' here.
The scenario is not as simple as that. The older you get, the
more complex scenarios get. Nothing remains as simple as the
world used to be through a school-kid's eyes.

There's an element of 'intoxication' involved here... not in the
wine-drunk sense of the word but 'power-drunk' sense. Just as
twelve- year old boy may feel if the controls of a twin-engined
Cessna were in his hands. Or a twenty-five old Simian mind-set
owning adolescent may feel with a Formula 1 car under his command.
Or an older one with an automatic rifle in his hands. That sense of
power, and a sense of total invincibility brings out the animal inside.
We as very prim and proper citizens keep this animal under multiple
wraps out of sheer habit.

But boys in Sri Lanka who grew up with rape arson killing and
marauding have a tattered rag for a wrap. So do the boys who
grew up up killing killing - have heard stories about school-age
boys who have never seen school, go to 'the mountains' to relieve
themselves, with loaded rifles for company.
These boys shoot to kill the moment they spy a movement.

I deliberately used the adjective 'Simian' because the adolescent
mind at times is too 'monkeyish' to be human. Thus the same
recklessness you can find in a youth busy writing and shooting
off reckless emails, as you find in the youth in LTTE areas or
Afghanistan, heavily drunks with gun power.

Women have a civilizing effect on men. Some wag very rightly
said : when women have nothing to do and are bored, they go
shopping -when men have nothing to do and are bored, they go
and invade a country. It's too true. Because women are the first
to get dehumanized in war, they are wary.

Are there women designing new weapons of war? A better
bullet with a hollow space inside so that it collapses on itself after
piercing the flesh of the 'enemy' and then going berserk? Or a nuke
bomb with much more devastation power? Or chemical agents?
Are women adapt at drumming up a frenzy to declare a war on
the neighbouring country in the name of national pride?
Do they covet the strange men they have never seen whom they could
rape, maul, maim and then hang from the nearest pole?

That the western women today 'power dress' by wearing manly suits,
and claw their way up the corporate ladder with more masculine
aggression than was drilled into their genetic material -makes sad
reading / watching. Women cannot be expected to bring about long
-lasting peace between fighting neighbours. Golda Meyer, Margaret
Thatcher and Indira Gandhi fought wars and caused more harm to
peace than their male predecessors. Women politicians can be equally
cold -blooded in eliminating their adversaries, as if ordering a snake to
have its head crushed by a paid commando.

Long term abuse of human body (which is intimately connected to the
brain and hence the human mind) may perhaps bring about fundamental
changes in human DNA too. Two or three centuries down the line in future,
males and females if they are around, may be born with the 'kill kill kill'
instinct uppermost in their minds.


No cheerz.

(c) Max Babi

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Inspiration can come in from any direction...

My associates at Nashik, as a company, must seem to an outsider like me, a gangling teenager, full of itself and usually unable to learn much from the daily knocks that life deals us all regardless of our power, prestige and station in life. They are indeed at a delicious juncture in life.

I have often discussed the vital importance of HR -creative approaches, incentive, motivation and all tha jazz which generally fail to impress a small scale industry -regardless of its position, potenital and potency, if that is the word I seek. Hmmm, yes -that's it.

Frankly I had several friends in the corporate training world who may have shown a keener interest in doing to this company what I would have certainly loved doing, if I were not positioned as a technical wizard offering consultancy. No matter how creative I am, howsoever intuitive, insighful and even effective in 'prognosis' (ahem, a word I picked up from my friend Dr. Ram Chattopadhyay, one of the pioneers in advanced surface engineering, now teetering on the last phase in retirement... once a deadly foe with blind power who refused to help me -but then, what's the point. Past is relevant only if it brings a smile to your face. The rest is junk. Unless you are a masochistic junkie.)

So they gave me a pleasant surprise by showing me, along with 70+ other colleagues some with kids in tow, the new hit Chak De India! I whiled away the Saturday by doing odd jobs like getting my prepaid 'e-charged' and wearing my shoes out in the process. Yesterday was uncharacteristically hot and humid, with a fierce sun showing off its unmatched power. Today it is back to dark clouds and occasional showers, the sort of weather I have come to love very much.

I have a poor memory for faces, and of late my short term memory has been shot. Reaching the cinemahall Fame something like 45 minutes early was a 'faux pas' indeed. I got embarrassed umpteen times by strangers smiling, saluting, even offering a hand to shake... for they were all workers from the Precise group. Out of context, I didn't recognise a single face! Their dark green overalls and bright yellow helmets were missing, and they all looked 'scrubbed' free of oil and grease and worse, that their hands show me. Like Benazir Bhutto the ex-PM of our naughty neighbours, I generally hide my dainty hands behind my back to avoid getting greased. Wilson, came early too. He is a truly kind soul whose help to me in fabricating a complex piece of machinery has been precious. When the boss is away, it is this shy-ish middleaged man who drives to the Nasik Club, by now my second home, and picks me up on the dot. Once he found me a laundry too, when I had extended my stay and ran out of clothes.

Now he has a college going daughter whose name I didn't catch but she reminded me (again lets blame my short term memory having deserted me wholly) that she was a final year student in mechanical engineering. Thus we had a nice little tete-a-tete, I had to keep telling her to do some post graduation in CAD/CAM i.e. computer-aided design/manufacturing. She stressed her drawing is good, which on her third repetition, I had to dilute a bit by saying drawing is the language of engineering. I think she wasn't sensitive enough to take umbrage, indicating how simple a soul she must be. We had to chat for a long time, for the show seemed delayed. Well, in good time the show started.

I found this movie quite good -it's rare that I find a movie so good I don't sleep thru' it... I am banned by wife and daughter from snoring thru' movies, so they leave me tinkering with the computer and assault quite a number of movies. Chak de India, has been directed well, and Shahrukh Khan the current heart-throb about whose movies I have never been too encouraging, seemed to have executed a complex role well. One lives thru' the story, as it were, and that's saying a good deal indeed.

I was more astounded to find a serious meeting at the factory next day, and even another day after that. Six workers had to get up and speak for 90 seconds, too brief I thought, but many struggled after 30 seconds flat and had to give up. Public speaking does not come to most folks. Period.
More later... as this practice continues.
(c) Max Babi

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Not Being Able to See The Mountain

When Dr. Murray Banks, one of the top speakers on psychiatric problems, who combines his wit and acting talents amazingly said : eight out of ten Americans are neurotics, it shook me up. Personally I would have put the figure at four at the most -but reality is always waiting round the corner with a sockful of sand to hit me hard at the medula oblongata and knock me out.

Now the logical corollary to this finding would be : if the average person is mad (sorry I am not using 'neurotic' to be politically correct, for this sounds to me like a catastrophy rating 9.5 on the much-abused Richter scale, God help those poor two, who think they are sane. When a majority thinks you are mad, even when the majority itself is quite mad -you have the chance of a snowflake in an overheated steel plant to survive. It can be so darned hot there people often remove their shirts and vests, and walk out in the mid-day sun even if it is the Mid-may scorching heat. It is a relief beyond the pale or words and phrases.

So when a mad world, or a representative chunk of the world declares you are mad, just because you happen to be one of the two sane persons being judged by an overwhelmingly insane crowd, what do you do? Rather akin to facing a murderous crowd of people hellbent on killing you, and not in the mood to listen to logic or explanations or prayers or pleading or invoking the name of God either. You get killed.

Some really great scholars have been butchered this way by a transient wave of insanity that goes through like horizontal lightening through a crowd of good for nothing rioteers : and no city in the world has the mesmerizing fascination for rioting than Ahmedabad. Some celebrated Gujarati journalists cum authors have admitted, gloatingly, that the public there loves a riot now and then... given a free hand they could have a year long orgy of attacking, maiming, killing, raping, shoving impossible objects into the genitals of a person (this shocks you? Then you don't know much about our illustrious past. The Hindi saying 'Shooli par chadhana' always foxed me till I asked my good ole mother about it one day. She said in her matter of fact tone that it was a punishment where the offender was made to sit on a sharp pointed cone of steel. With his -never heard of a woman having suffered this ignominy- own weight, he would feel the point piercing his anus and slowly sink downwards. The crowd of idle onlookers, and there has never been a dearth of them anywhere in India at any point in time, would cheer lustily as the slow progress to death would go on...the more he writhed the faster he sank, the wider his arsehole got. I nearly retched -but reality has managed to stay a step ahead of me in this respect. The brutality, the cruelty and the raucous laughter at someone dying shorn of all human dignity seems to have fascinated mankind above all pastimes. My head usually hangs in shame, every single day, because the TV channels today are showing much more shocking reality with a benign sumptuousness, a smug orgy of reporting minus emotionality. Tchah!). Riots have their own un-pretty history.

Why do people fail to grasp the enormity of a catastrophe close at hand?

Like most of us are least bothered by scientists warning us about the ozone layer depletion or worse still, the global warming. I have been sneaking into seminars and reading up material on all this and as a human being capable of thinking, I am disgraced every moment by the smug callousness of a wide majority of people. No one seems to think it is right to believe that because the arctic snow is melting, or the Ganges Glacier is melting, there could be floods devastating enough to destroy millions upon millions of people.

I got a similar feeling when I saw a forest fire for the first time, in the Saputara jungles, in south Gujarat. There was a raging fine measuring sixteen kilometres by six or so, and it was rapidly coming towards a settlement of tribals. The heat was so intense, standing two kilometres away we were feelng singed, but even then most of my friends refused to believe the fire could reach the village in a few hours. I believed the forest officer who predicted that. In fact, it reached much earlier, fanned on by a strong breeze.

I feel, this is rather a stupid human failing. If you walk in the shadow of a mountain, and if you have just been transplanted there without knowing even an iota of the local geography, chances are when I tell you : " Look at the mountain....!" You will whirl around and ask me the inevitable question : " Where, where, where?"

We have always failed to know trouble, real soul-curshing existence-smashing trouble, if it is standing next to us. Homo sapiens, after all.

Einstein rightly said : " Two things are infinite. The universe and the human stupidity. And I am not too sure about the former."

Welcome to a mad mad mad world, getting madder by the moment.


(c) Max Babi
Nashik 230808

Friday, August 17, 2007 Calls This A Premier Blog...

Hi Folks! chose this blog as one of India's premier blogs !

I received this bit of glad tidings with a mixed bag of emotions, akin to slurping an icecream cone and banging your head against a low entrance. Frankly it came as a shot in the arms to a writer who had given up on the fickle crowd reading his raves and rants. No matter what you do, writers, your readers will not be faithful or loyal to you. Remember these prophetic words... it will save you heart-burn.

Thank you, I needed your support. I had been neglecting this blog for too long. Now I shall write more regularly. Hopefully.

It's been almost a year now since I relocated from Chennai, despite several warnings and oodles of well-meaning of advice, I continued with the name which surely is highly misleading for I haven't seen Chennai even once during the intervening period. Am likely to be visiting it very soon, but that's an another story. So the name shall continue.

There indeed are some loyalists amongst my well-meaning friends who tell me they enjoy reading my rambling thoughts about various travels. 'Zen Writer' aka John Mathew, suggested I call it 'Max Tracks'. My wife said I run into trouble every time I travel so the name 'Travel Travails' would be more apt. I guess so. Why travel travails, you will get to know by and by, there are stories crawling out from the basket like restless eel-like fish one sees jumping up and about in an open rectangular tray under a Pipal tree, on the road to the Anna Nagar East side Poonga (the park for the Tamil-challenged).

The latest story here, is my trip to Ambernath -where I had been in Feb. this year and written a detailed couple of blogs -never posted. The laptop that supported me brightly through my Chennai days, concked out in the cooler confines of the hill station-like ambience of Bavdhan, the valley wherein we stay, in Pune. It didn't die out like a man with a massive heart-attack. It died slowly like a chronic case of diabetes, funnily, it revived itself so often, I erroneously concluded it was a mechanical fault. According to several repairers it was not a loose connection or some such mundane thing. It was the 'motherboard' -I have become a bull to tht red rag of a tag, 'motherboard'. There are lusty swearwords prefaced with 'mother' and I know several of them in several languages but none makes my bile levels hit the roof like 'motherboard' does. God help the next pretender who wants to take my Toshiba Satellite laptop and come back saying the 'motherboard' has kicked the bucket. It can't I keep telling them.

The first such adventurer was a UP-ite running a so-called 'we do chip-level repairs' sort of laptop repairer. It took me hours to reach him and since I have done extensive electronics repairs, even manufacturing, something no one will believe, I could see they were under pressure. Under way too much pressure to be free to do chip-level repairs. It is an easy way out to replace whole cards rather than replace chips... it was plain to see. I left the laptop with this young dark and ugly specimen, who said he would keep it for four days minimium. We were to go to Goa for the X'mas holidays, so even a week didn't matter.

His 'take-it-or-leave-it; attitude, coupled with a superb arrogance befitting the Prince of Xanadu, that only easy money, ill-begotten wealth can breed, didn't go down well with me at all. 'The motherboard is gone.' he said when I met him next. He said it pontifically, a statement five other guys with very different looks and outlooks on life were to repeat as shamelessly as experienced street-walkers. The cost would be Rs.19,000/- he also added. Since i had bought the laptop at just Rs7,000/- more, it sounded like the engine of my second hand car had conked out. I tried every trick with him but he clung to this mother-freaking motherboard like a desperate lizard sticking to the outside wall in a cyclone. I gave up.

Next to get my goat was good old Lalit, my hardware man who fixed my PC so well, I sent him to three more friends. He avoided looking at my laptop the way one avoids looking at the luscious sister of a new friend on the first visit. Instinctively I knew something was amiss. When a guy doesn't look you in the eye there's mischief afoot. Something terriby dishonest. He sat on my poor laptop for another two weeks and finally rang me up : 'The motherboard is gone.' I whispered extremely naughty words beginning with mother- but he was deep into some hardware explanation that sounded like a fairytale.

The third torturer exists in Nashik. I lugged my heavy laptop -why does it get heavier when it doesn't work? And he came to the factory where I have spent months designing, assekmbling and now testing India's largest and most sophisticated plasma ion nitriding system -fully automated. He seemed in charge of the seemingly advanced 'bluetooth' multistation internet services etc. I gave him the laptop and it rotted further for nearly a month with him. Today, tomorrow he went onmakin excuses and giving false promises. Whenever I increased pressure he sent the laptop back saying he was not free to look into it. Finally he too rang up and told me what I didn't want to hear :' The motherboard is gone.'

Now the mother of all hopes is gone. I have learnt how to live without a laptop.


(c) Max Babi

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Here's Another Post... erratic as ever....

I am in Nashik.
Been here for nearly a week now. Came with wife and daughter who were free. They hung around for a while and then pushed off. They are back now in Pune -and am staying on for a while.

Pune despite its reputation as an air-conditioned city, has been boiling of late. Of course this is dry heat, not the pressure-cooker type that Mumbai or Chennai subject you to. Even Kolkata does that. For those not used to humidity, that
constant feeling of being soiled, is something impossible to get used too. Three baths a day don't help. I feel soiled the moment I emerge from the bath -it's horrid.

On the whole Nashik seems cooler than Pune these days, though the rains are a week off. This must be my tenth visit here in the last year or may be a shorter period... and the spacious roads, some times as many as three roads with good width, make me wonder. Pune's road building and maintenance went to the dogs many years back. With the building of flyovers and things, Pune has been torturing its citizens sadistically. A crying shame.

Hitched up with a local company for buildng a sophisticaed sort of surface treatment system, and now a Mumbai based environment preservation company wants us to develop a waste destruction system using very high temperatures, something which only thermal plasmas can do efficiently. But the development isn't a cakewalk either. The gas to be used air, which maks the design and runnng of the system pretty tricky. Have completed the first draft and enjoyed doing what I used to some 20 years ago... challenges like this are certainly the adrenaline pumping types and I do enjoy them.

May have to stay here for longer periods, it seems. So went around seeing houses, actually saw just one, and liked it. May not have to stay at the Nashik Club. The club, mind you is a peaceful haven. This time they gave us a suite
with a terrace and no other room could be sexier. However for the first three days there were weddings, and the club lawns were mauled just as our eyes and ears were too.

The first wedding was a real 'class' affair, meaning, the royal class type. No one made any uncivilized noises nor went around harassing others. The decor was tasteful, the guests were all polished and soft-spoken, even the body language seemed highly groomed. The next day, oh Lord! Some country bumpkins came by the busloads, and produced enough noise to split the skies wide open. Urchins went about pressing doorbells and mutilating the lifts, orgiastically. A garishly uniformed country band came with two pathetic looking Micky Mouse and some other horrid cartoon character dressed up to be eight feet tall. A genderless singer screamed like a Banshee on drugs, and the band-mates played mainly between the keys. To make noise was their aim, none else.

The second day another country bumpkin lot came and occupied various halls for dressing and undressing - I ran smack into groups of ladies engaged in such activities and returned without reaching my room. Thank God, there has been no wedding for last two days.

More later.

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Friday, March 30, 2007

Things musical...


Music is one prime reason why I continue living in Pune, though at times, like millions of others well the city treads on my toes and yelps emanate at time with a gush of profanities... have had many fights uselessly. My silver beard lets me get away with reactive assaults on ill-mannered youngsters.

Baroda or Vadodara as it is called, used to be my nowhere-place, my private little heaven where for years I would have prospered in total anonymity for the city never had any pretensions of being a metro -and if that has contributed to my solitude-seeking nature, well... so be it.

Pune has often been described as a bigger and brighter version of Baroda. Not for nothing, that has been said often. Countless times I have parked my car or got rid of an auto-rickshaw to walk around aimlessly in the labyrinthine mazes of Sadashiv Peth or crumbling houses crowding Kasba Peth or Bhavani Peth with their indelible stamp of poor Muslim families herded together in sub-human conditions... and Baroda swings back in my mind like a steel pendulum and knocks me nearly unconscious. All the mazes of bylanes around Nyaya Mandir or Mandvi even parts of Champaner Gate area would be very similar to what I experience here. Nearly the same architecture, the same passion for a spot of greenery -which could be teeny weeny potted plants, a great amount of cleanliness, quite a lot of useless junk thrown in heaps in the courtyard or in a tiny veranda depending upon the size of the dwelling. People show the same friendliness to a lost stranger, and give very precise, correct and true answers.

'True' may be an odd man out in the sentence above, but I do recall several friends in the upmarket Alkapuri area who used to sit on compound walls to while away the hours every day from 4.00pm to midnight -colossal waste of time, but then does it matter, when you are an adolescent? Now it does perhaps, in our times it did not. Several of my cronies, otherwise good sons and disciples, good boys nicely brought up, used to be averse to stranger stopping and asking :" Which is the way to Baroda People's Society?" One of these boys would point in any random direction and send the guy on a wild goose chase. Many times, the same guy would be back sweaty, fatigued on his bicycle and with glowering coals in his eyes : " Waah yaar, aavun karvanun? (hey pal, why did you do that?) and with profuse apologies the same guy will direct him to another wrong lane... we would disperse long before the guy would return with loud abuse and intent to maul.

Baroda had its musical overflow -one could hear some singer or the other practising virtually in every lane. Some of my best evenings in that unforgettable city were spent listening to the heavenly voice of Ranjana Dharwadkar, then an All-India Radio artist and a huge celebrity for us to rub our shoulders with and exchange civilities. We were a bunch of unwashed college students, or guys who had just taken up jobs and the university still attracted us so much we would be spending most of our wakeful hours either in the university, either at Fine Arts faculty (now called Performing Arts) or in the Science/Arts section where we had buddies. Many of us would cancel appointments when Mrs. Dharwadkar was scheduled to sing on the radio. A borrowed transistor radio would be arranged and a hold-your-breath sort of silence would prevail. The occasional teas-shop boy with his loud voice and loutish manners would be violently suppressed into silence when the lady would be singing. Endless bidis and cigarettes would be rolled and smoked with rapture in everyone's eyes.... some of us were very knowledgeable, apart from yours truly and his music-crazy younger brother, for instance Simeen Punegar who had trained for 14 years under Pandit Dinkar Kaikini. She would do her own riyaz in the tiny cottage where Renjan lived -with his larger than life reputation of a painter who painted, not talked but really produced paintings... there was every year a profusion of young girls barely out of teens, who woud descend upon this ex-drug abuser who had seen it all, and spend days and nights at his place. Talented youngsters flocked to his place -soon we found out why. He could tell stories.

And that can be a huge attraction -it has been so for millenia. More about music later.

(c) Max Babi