Tuesday, July 26, 2011

pani vizhum malarvanam

It’s the first year in college and they have some event to celebrate the end of the year for the final year students. What started as an uncertain beginning has turned out to be quite decent after all, and you’ve made fair bit of friends, grades need work but there’s always the next semester. You walk by the event hall and see a couple of your college mates tuning their guitars. There’s another guy who looked quite stern at a chess tournament you went to but he is smiling now, maybe not such an aloof guy, you think. There’s alcohol in the eyes of these guys, and soon it will be in yours too, as you heard your classmates were going out to buy everything they could get and make a deadly cocktail. It’s still early, around 2 pm, so you hang around, making fun of lecturers and professors, talking about some movies, and someone seeks you and your friends out to give a glass of the mix. You drink it without asking what’s in it. It’s not too bad. Quite a few of this goes down, and you go back to the hall and they are playing this song.

andhi mazhai

The rain that started in the afternoon sputtered to a brief stop only to continue with more strength. It’s nice because the lights come on early, lending a festive atmosphere to the evening. The usual friends haven’t come today due to the wet evening. The working members come drenched with the handkerchief offering feeble resistance against the downpour. It’s decided that you will go and buy food from a neighbourhood ‘hotel’, famous for its sambar. You don’t mind the rain as long as you get to eat the delicious food from the restaurant. You go to your friend’s place and they have the same plan, so you share the umbrella, and walk to the hotel which is five minutes away, but tonight will take a bit longer as you will have to skirt around puddles of water and avoid being splashed on by speeding cars. You can smell the food already standing at the counter. You order your food and give the waiter a steel vessel meant for steaming hot ‘sambar’. As you wait, you talk of this and that, school and home work as you watch people who are waiting for the rain to stop, song comes on the radio from the cashier’s counter. Your food comes and you catch the second stanza as you near home. You’ve heard the song before and it will come again, unlike the ‘hotel’ food, with its idlis and dosas rolled in plantain leaves and wrapped up in rolled newspapers.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

kadhal oviyum

It’s around 4 pm on a fairly hot day. The ground has soaked up the heat and radiates the it through the soles of your feet as you stroll to the front of the house where the water pump is to see if it’s your house turn to get water. The other tenant and the owner are done with the pump and you go back to bring buckets and plastic vessels. The pump handle feels warm too as you start pumping. The residual heat seeps through the wet floors around the pump. As you start taking the buckets filled with water back and forth, filling the drums outside your house, a friend comes by to park his cycle, so he can go to a movie that’s becoming popular at a cinema near your house. He asks you to join him but you decline. The songs are on the radio already, and coincidentally, this song comes on the a transistor set from the neighbour’s.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Mayakkama kalakkama

The walk back from school in the evening seems longer than usual. The test results are out and you’ve just scraped the borderline score in math although there is redemption in other subjects in which you’ve scored quite well. But who wants more marks in history and geography? It’s the ominous red underline beneath the math score that’s going attract attention. As the house gets nearer and nearer, your mind gets more desperate trying to work a way out of this but to no avail. Almost on cue, as you enter the street where your home is, this song comes on from the radio at a tea stall. You’ve heard it a thousand times, but it gives you some sort of strength. A glimmer of hope. You lift your head and walk.

On the run

It’s Friday night and that means riding on the back of your friend’s bike or in his car and go with a bunch of colleagues and friends to the hill nearby to watch planes take off to this song. You stop off at the usual place to buy soda, someone has been assigned the task of buying rum or whatever they can get their hands on. A check has been and confirmed there are enough cigarettes. By the time you reach the top of the not-so-dauntingly-high hill, it’s past 8. Someone opens the bottle and mixes the drink, almost everyone lights a cigarette, you talk of office, the work done during the week, discuss which was good and before you know it, the quarter bottle has been empties. Time for another one. And, look, there’s the first of the jumbo jets, its screaming right above your heads, drowning out the song coming from the speakers. You wave, knowing no one will be able to see you in the semi darkness. You think you see the pilot. You watch the giant craft touch down, and wonder if you will ever go on it in your life. Time for refill.

Private investigations

It’s unlike any song they’ve played on Radio Australia, the source for all the latest songs those days. The programme started at 2.30 every afternoon, just after you come back from college. Perfect. You crank up the volume a bit knowing there won’t be any objections. The women of the house are chatting with the neighbours about the heat and kerosene prices. Your hands smell of the food you’ve had, it’s cool in the house. Someone selling small mangoes is in the small courtyard which has attracted more people. You are wondering how come the song is so different. The singer is actually talking, but there’s something surprising about the number, like the roll of drums that comes on when least expected. Or the guitar pieces that are so unusually varied from other songs. Nice.