The invitation took me back to the time I was studying in Fergusson College (Pune) where Milind and I were batchmates with some common classes and practicals. We were not close friends or belonged to the same ‘group’, but were more of acquaintances with some common friends. All through college, I had no idea of Milind’s music and got to know of it only in my third year of college. How I got to know is a story worth sharing, but I request for a little patience from you.
Milind and I re-connected many years after college when I joined Facebook in 2007 and over the next few years, remained in touch via Facebook. I followed his concert announcements and tours and listened to the snippets that he would share, but never managed to meet him or make it to one of Milind’s live performances. The invitation was a chance to remedy that. 🙂
The invitation was doubly attractive as it was taking place at Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, where I learnt Hindustani Classical music. Every Wednesday morning, for 2 years, I attended vocal music classes before college. I loved everything about my music school — my guruji, the traditional architecture of the school building, the cool whitewashed halls and dhurrie-covered floors, the music rooms lined with tanpuras, sitars, harmoniums and tablas… Those musical mornings were magical and after a world filled with Bihag or Kaafi or Yaman or Patadeep or whatever raga I would be learning at the moment, it would be difficult to concentrate in my college lectures.
In other words, it was musical heaven and one that I had not visited in 22 years. And after I receive the invitation, I could not wait to visit it again after all this time. So that Wednesday in January, I took the afternoon bus to Pune to arrive well in time for the evening concert.
You know that feeling when you are about to meet someone or return to a place after a long time? That feeling of mounting excitement? That’s what I was feeling when I got off the rickshaw and walked towards the entrance to Gandharva Mahavidyalaya.
Within minutes the excitement turned to confusion and then frustration when I couldn’t find the entrance. I walked up and down the crowded street paying attention to every single shop sign, every marker, every signboard for a clue that would direct me to the school entrance, but in vain. Granted it was 22 years since I had last been here, why couldn’t I find the entrance when the address remained the same? Was my memory wrong? Misplaced? Was this a sign of ageing?
Finally, I asked a shopkeeper and was directed to the school. And realised why I had missed it. Gone was the old building with its traditional architecture; in its place was a modern, concrete building. The changes continued inside as well with a reception, tiled floor, notice boards, an office… it no longer felt like the cozy heaven I remembered. I felt quite dazed and if it were not for the sounds of students learning music, I would have thought I was in the wrong place and fled.
Instead, I made my way to the concert venue and waited for Milind to arrive and the concert to begin. There was a percussion instrument concert before Milind’s concert with Nitin Satav on the Djembe, Rohit Kulkarni on the Keyboards, Uday deshpande on the Tabla, and Sukhad Mundhe on the Pakhawaj. I’m glad for that as it helped to get me out of the dazed feeling I had got into.
By the time Milind’s concert began, I had also stopped bemoaning the changes that had taken place in my music school. Milind played Jog and Bhoopali and was accompanied by Sridhar Parthasarathy on the Mridangam and Charudatta Phadke on the Tabla. It was wonderful to finally hear him live after all these years. The small audience at the concert hall in Gandharva Mahavidyalaya was an appreciative one and it was a pleasure being part of that experience as well.
As I watched Milind play, and listened to and absorbed his wonderful music, I couldn’t help recalling an incident from 22 years back.
My final year exams were over and I had come to Bombay (now Mumbai) on a day trip to meet my brother who was working in the city at that time. I literally bumped into Milind, who was running to take the train to Pune, at Victoria Terminus (now Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus).
Both of us expressed surprise at meeting each other at Mumbai of all places. And I remarked how I hadn’t seen him for quite a while during classes and practicals, blah, blah, blah… And what was he doing in Mumbai? Milind replied that he had come to buy some “flu…”. Due to the constant announcements and general din, I didn’t hear what Milind said. And before I could ask him again, he excused himself and ran off to board his train.
Now, Milind used to be very thin and lean at that time, and with his irregular attendance this was the perfect combination for my overactive imagination to take flight. Was Milind ill? Unwell? Did “flu…” mean fluids ? Were there special medicinal fluids?
I brooded about this for quite a few days. When I went to college to collect some document, I sought out Vaishali, a common friend of Milind and mine. And then asked her if Milind was unwell.
To say that Vaishali was taken aback is an understatement. When she asked me for details, I told her about the Bombay incident. Vaishali laughed herself silly first and then told me, “Flutes, not fluids. Milind went to Mumbai to buy flutes. Don’t you know that he plays the flute, and that he is a disciple of Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia?” I don’t need to say how stupid and foolish I felt then, do I?
It doesn’t take much to trigger off old memories, does it? All kinds of memories too — nice ones, warm ones, embarrassing ones… 😀
PS: I wrote this post after attending Milind’s concert in January 2013. Yes, this post is a year old. And I don’t know why I didn’t publish it immediately.
Earlier this month, I had met Milind when I had gone to Pune and we had a great time discussing among other things photography, blogging, tablets, and music. That’s also when I remembered this piece lying in my drafts folder remedied it by posting it with some modifications. Hope you liked it.