Sunday, March 22, 2009
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
“I don’t think I can do this Bikram!....I think I am gonna throw up….and my hands are so shaky…!
Iceman gave me one of his forced smiles and waddled away. The poor guy was in no less of a nervous breakdown-ish situation himself to dole out any courage. His teeth chattered and his voice was quivery. Our man on the rhythm guitar hadn’t taken his instrument off his shoulders all morning, I think he carried it to the bathroom too.
Jeetu was nowhere to be seen and neither was Sam. They must’ve wandered of somewhere with Lenold, although I hoped both the guys wouldn’t go and blow their vocal depths up in swirls of smoke, the chances were far from bleak. Both my vocalists needed to save that vocal pitch for the day.
Karan sat in a corner talking to the girls and Mayukh worked with the soundmen near the rings.
The fourth swig of whiskey backstage was clearly a bad idea. Although the freeze of the early February mornings in Pune made it more of a requirement than just ‘a rock thing’, we needed the buzz and what could do the job better than neat whiskey on an empty stomach? As the massive crowd roared outside, I paced up and down the backstage area going over all the cues and fills in my head over and over again, over and over again, I had to give this one gig my two hundred percent and if possible, three hundred and fifty percent!! Funnily, no matter how many times I rubbed by fingers against my jeans, they continued to be cold and frozen, both traits fatal for drummers, I couldn’t grip properly and my wrists locked.
“Firecrakers!” exclaimed Karan as loud reports echoed into the early morning sky outside indicating that the event had finally commenced. We watched as a group of dancers shot onto the stage one by one waving gold and silver pom-poms, the grandeur, the colour, the noise was absolutely intoxicating, captivating!
Our show being the main event for the evening wouldn’t start for another hour or so, as per plans a few speeches and dance performances were lined up before we’d get to take the stage, the sponsors had to be pleased. I saw it as a massive relief. I was in no state to go and start whacking away at those skins right away in front of all those people.
Speech after speech followed, followed by dreadfully elaborate dance performances and cheesy displays by sponsors. We sat in the pitch darkness at the wings nervous, waiting, watching.
And all of a sudden, it was time!
My stomach turned to water as all of us stood up facing the doorway leading into the stage; this was it!
A faint ray of light from outisde fell on the floor illuminating the threshold. As Jeetu and Sam appeared out of nowhere and bounded ahead, Iceman and Lenold exchanged last notes on chords and riffs, Karan, lost in his own thoughts walked slowly towards the doorway, head hung low. I walked by his side, drumsticks in one hand and my heart in the other. None of us spoke a word to each other.
Here I was at the brink of what could potentially be the biggest manifestation of our collective aspirations, the one objective we had cherished for years, nurtured and protected from numerous nay-sayers, circumstances, fate, criticism and our biggest nemesis, our own dissenting selves. The minute I walked out through the doorway crossing the threshold that divided the stage from the backstage area I felt like being sucked into a vacuum chamber of sorts. The massive crowd of a few hundreds roared as bright beams of light blinded us completely, my ears blocked out and all I could hear was a faint buzz in my head, the air was full of whistles, balloons and confetti. It was astounding how different the temperatures were just across the wall that divided the backstage and the stage area, it was freaking hot on stage and the lights made it worse! A few more loud bangs went off here and there and in the bat of an eyelid there we were facing a massive throng of raised hands, signboards and faces. An ocean of human beings.
As we headed for our individual weapons, I saw mine. She reclined on a raised platform placed right in the middle of the stage waiting, still and quiet, waiting to be stroked, to be turned on, to be brought to life. Canopied by a virtual encyclopaedia of gleaming golden metal she resembled a behemoth mechanised chariot, a massive amassment of detailed percussive paraphernalia comprising of metal, wood and skin. A brute bearing the power of a thousand horses yet the felinity and beauty of a jaguar.
Iceman plugged in his guitar and played around with the strings holding his plectrum between his teeth and Lenny made last minute adjustments to his distortion pedals. We took our positions like soldiers behind trenches waiting for the approaching enemy, as the warm rays of the morning sun emerged from behind the hills and washed up against the stage, an eerie silence fell among the crowd.
Almost as if heralding the new day, the warm sunshine, an electric guitar cried out loud sending echoes resonating into the morning sky and chills down my spine. Immediately like a hurricane after a prolonged lull, the crowd acknowledged Lenny’s statement with an applause of explosive nature. Iceman looked up into the sky one last time. As I raised my sticks high up in the air, I shut my eyes, memories trailed in leaving my heart bursting with a mad mix of emotions; exhilaration, trepidation, passion and unremitting love, this was going to be it, this WAS it!
As Jeetu and Sam grabbed their mikes, streaks of pyrotechnic fireworks rocketed across each other from either side of the stage with deafening reports, I grit my teeth and brought down my arms on the cymbals with all the physical might I could summon, then a series of bright, recurring flashes…. 24/B and the High-Bhais…Symbiosis garage…The Mag 7…Aarambh 1…Aarambh 2…Not Just Jazz…Battle of the Bands…Ehsaas...Laanat….the verandah in my old and now demolished house, There were violins in the air…NCC…the jams at Barista…Apache…the World Youth Aids Day gig...mom’s face!!
“Rono wake up…you’re getting late for work…get out of bed RIGHT NOW…its such a beautiful Monday outside, mummy has nice Quaker Oats and bananas for breakfast..now GET UP you lazybones..!"
I rolled out of bed like an overweight, disgruntled sea lion and tottered towards the bathroom. It was going to be a very bad day!