Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Kannan breaks a record ....

Days in Bangalore are always fun. The walk through the brigade street or a visit to the cafe's on the sidewalks, the cool breeze, the smell of roast corn on the cob, the street vendors selling cheap jewelry, fashion accessories, belts, jackets and purses and a lot more. Kannan loved Bangalore as there is a part of his infanthood associated to the city, which was much more greener then. Since the time he remembered Bangalore winds had a special smell. The aroma of fun and frolic. Laid back attitude of people who would live enjoying their lives with a smile on their face irrespective of the strata of the society they belonged to. The streets would satisfy the low, the sidewalks for the middle and the cafes, pubs and restaurants for the high class. There was something for everyone.

 Though he does not remember much, the Kannada he heard from his mother, a few vacations and his personal visits had made the city close to his heart. The banners and hoardings on both sides of the road, the shops, the cars, and the people who loved living their life enjoying it were all sights worth a look more for Kannan. Bangalore was more of the Rio of India if Mumbai (I would prefer to say Bombay) was the New York and Delhi was the London. Every evening most of the streets would have the fervor of a carnival. 

Kannan's eyes were stuck on the first look on the sidewalk where he saw a man dressed in the usual vendor style with his Khaki pants, blue sweater and a strange brown monkey cap. The evening breeze was cool and he was trying to bear the cold and hang a few LP discs, the name popularized by the Long Play Vinyl discs, on the wall on to the hooks he had arranged on ropes. Old LP records for gramophone and record players. The age of the LP discs and the juke boxes are gone and the prospective clients the man was looking for were the ones who vouch the quality and the grains of the vinyl discs or those who would like to have a part of the history on their walls as antiques. Kannan walked towards the guy

"Namaskara Sir... enu bekku" He asked to ask what Kannan wanted
By instinct the reply came out "idera LP disc bele Eshtu" with the eyes shining excitement.
"Aivaththu rupya" was his reply 

50 rupees per disc and was excited at the best bargain he could ever get. He started searching through the whole bundles of discs. Old ones, classics, devotional.... the collection was so huge, Kannan knew in his mind, that if he let his mind into buying, it would cost him a fortune as all of them were so luring.

He saw a particular disc 45 rpm Short Play disc with red label in the middle. The black shellac disc had the name "SHOLAY" written on it. He remembered the songs so well. He had the disc and started smiling to himself. 

It was a regular event at home when Venki mama used to come for vacations to dance to the tunes of the songs played on the record player. Appa always played MS Subbalakshmi classical and devotional songs, but Venki mama and the four year old Kannan always chose film songs and the few English Discs of Usha Iyer, later who became popular as Usha Uthup. The black Odeon Discs knew the time when they would be picked up by Venki mama and carefully placed on the turning disc on the record player. Then he would catch hold of the needle arm by its ears and place it on the shining black groove after switching the rpm knob and started the player. The needle when it rests on the groove, it starts moving towards the inner circles of the record and the song would be heard after the initial silent hiss of the player. Then it was dance time for Kannan and Venkimama. 

It was another vacation for Venkimama and the usual dance sessions where on when Amma was returning from her tailoring classes. 

"Venki... here is a disc of Sholay... I borrowed it from my teacher" said Amma
The name of the teacher sent shivers down the spine of Kannan. He was scared of the tailoring teacher who used to come 

home for tea sometimes. It was a big black mole on her face that scared Kannan.
"Great ...Kanna... time for a new dance" said Venki mama to Kannan

He played the record and Kannan heard the Hindi song which even remains close to his heart till date

"O0000 ....Mehbooba ... mehbooba ...."

They danced to the song over and over again till they dropped exhausted laughing and dancing. For the next two weeks the record found its top position at home for Venki and Kannan.

That morning it was time for Venki to leave and bags were packed. Kannan stood there by the door with a sad drooping face that his playmate was leaving. He had tears in his eyes, when Venki came and hugged him tight. 

"Don’t worry, I will be back soon" said Venki to Kannan which brought a smile back to his face.

Venki mama left and Amma had her tailoring classes.

"Kanna... be a good boy, I will be back soon, if you want anything ask periyamma ... okay?" said Amma waving to him with her black two fold umbrella and her brown floral pattern saree and black oval bakelite spectacles. 

As Amma walked out of sight, Kannan ran to the cupboard where the records were kept. He pulled the Sholay Disc to play and it slipped from his hand. Kannan's heart started pounding seeing the edge of the disc break and a piece fall apart. The face of the tailoring teacher came to his mind. Her anger was so evident in Kannan's thought, when she would come to know that her disc was broken. For the next hour, Kannan could not do anything. He kept running from room to room trying to find a place to hide. His heart was still beating fast

"Oh what have I done ... Amma will scold me ... no she will be furious... no... She will beat me... what will Appa say... what will the teacher say" thoughts ran wild in Kannan's mind. 

It was then the sight doubled his fears. He saw Amma walking towards home with the tailoring teacher

"Why did she have to come today itself.... Oh she is coming to take her record back... now what to do?" Kannan started sweating. His throat went dry, heart beats were more like drum beats at its crescendo. 

Amma and her teacher walked into the home to find no one around and the door was open. 

"Kanna ...." called Amma

Kannan could hear the muffled calls but did not respond. Amma kept calling finding no response. 

"May be he has gone to his periyappa's house" Kannan heard Amma telling the teacher

Amma seated the teacher in the hall and walked into the room to keep her bag. 

"Teacher I stitched the frock, you taught me.... please come inside... I want to show you"

Kannan heard the footsteps and the heart was in a roll. Amma opened the cupboard to take the frock out and she screamed. 

She saw Kannan crouched among the clothes on the second shelf inside the cupboard with the broken record clenched in his hands. Amma and teacher had a laugh when they realized what had happened. The record breaking attempt was successful and since then the memories of the dances and music also had a companion.... the record breaking attempt. 

Kannan thought about his antics in the childhood while he decided the LP discs he would buy. The man in his monkey cap counted the discs and took money from Kannan. Kannan walked with the white plastic bag with the LP records with a smile on his lips. He brushed his long hair with his fingers back which flew in the breeze and kept smiling. The cover had the record which brought back the sweet memories on the top and it read .... 


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