The phone rarely rings during my morning walk these days. There was a time when friends from Play520, the sports channel on World Space Radio, would call unfailingly. Now, when I leave home around 7-10 to drop Priya at the bus stop just outside our society, I pick up the phone so that it can occasionally remind me to hasten my steps and make the heart tick quicker.
So when the phone rang today as I was close to completing one 1.25km lap of our society, I was pleasantly surprised. I recognised from the number that it was a call from the United States. Who could it be, I wondered for a moment and then answered. It turned out to be S Srikant, my class mate of five years from 1974-78.
“Good evening, Srikant. How are you?” And, I nearly did not notice the eyebrows of a couple of senior citizens go up at my mention of ‘evening’. I kept walking at a brisk pace as Srikant replied. “I am fine. I hope I did not wake you up!”
I quickly assured him that I had been up for a while.
“Thanks for giving me Aruna’s number again, I spoke with her even though she was busy attending to her daughter’s wedding preparations. The reason I called you is to ask you her e-mail address. You had sent me her official e-mail address. She gave me her yahoo address but I seem to have misplaced it.”
“Ah! Srikant… I am on my morning walk.. give me half an hour or so and I shall mail.. I hope it wouldn’t be too late for you….”
“Raman.. Morning walk? Do you know which raaga is a morning raaga?”
“No yaar. I can appreciate music, if it connects with my soul, but I cannot identify any ragaa.”
“Bhairav. Have you heard it?”
“Hmmmm.. I see…. er… No…”
“Wait…,” he said, cleared his throat and promptly broke into song. As Srikant’s deep voice wafted through the phone, I became oblivious to the other walkers and grinned ear to ear. He completed a fairly elaborate alaap, lasting a good minute and a half or so. I could sense Srikant enjoy himself and that joy spread effortlessly across thousands of miles of oceans and land.
Srikant’s spontaneity reminded me of Khuda Ke Liye that I watched some days ago. In a memorable scene, the protagonist plays the piano and sings Neer Bharan Kaise Jaoon in the School of Music at the University of Chicago. The rest of the class is lured by the simple and beautiful composition to join in and the song ends up in an orchestration of diverse instruments.
Indeed, music has a wonderful, even powerful, way of touching our lives. Even if sometimes, we do not stop to listen.