Touched by MusicDecember 19, 2006 at 9:13 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
I shifted to Chennai in 1957, my sister having preceded me some months earlier. My parents had shifted from Chittaranjan to Chennai and we lived in Subadral Street in the Triplicane postal zone of Madras. I joined The Kellett High School and opted for the Engineering division. I dont remember whether joining the Engineering Course was in my 8th class or the 10th class. It doesn’t really matter because my acquaintance with Engineering aned Science ended with my passing trhe 11th Standard/class. I studied for one year in the Pre-University class in the Pachaiappa’s College in Kanchilpuram. Because I had a smattering knowledge of Engineering and Science, I tried to apply for a Polytechnic Course which I could not get and so opted for History for my Bachelors and also for my Masters, though I never cleared my Masters by a long yard Later when I was working in the Defence Accounts Department in Poona, Pune was so called then, I enrolled for a direct sitting for Masters in English but didn’t pursue that also. Then my life took a tumble. I shall come back to that after filling up the inte4rvening years.
Chennai is where I was really exposed tio music. My paternal grandmother used to play the Veena. She could also sing Carnatic sangeeth though I never knew how much of an expertise she had. My father’s elder brother whom we used to call Periappa in Tamil which means exactly that in English lived in the next street to ours and I always go there because my grandmother was there and she used to make coffee for me, give me tiffins, feed meals and give me presents of small coins. We were six in our family. our parents , me and my three sisters. My Periappa had a son and six daughters. We both were a very close-knit family. There used to be a music academy in my Periappa’s bigger house. Teachers were appointed to teach their students vocal carnatic music, and to play musical instruments like Veena, Violin, Mridangam. My next sister learnt carnatic vocal and the veena for around six years but my two other sisters didn’t have formal music coaching though they had all sweet voices. I learnt the rudiments of carnatic tunes just by aping my sister. I never had interest to formally learn music and so I could not identify even one Raga. I somehow evolved a very good ear for music and I can always pitch a note properly in the first attempt itself. Oh I forgot that my music initiation started in Madurai itself. Oh what a slip of memory.
It is like this. In Madurai our home was in a street called Chinna Kaka Tope Street and there is a longer and broader Kalka Tope Street. Every year during the Thiagaraja Aradhana, there used to be concerts there. I have seen great exponents like Madurai Mani Iyer, Alandur Brothers and a host of other musicians and instrumentalists whose names I never learnt at that small age. I never missed attending even a day’s concert throughout the music festival. So My first statement that I was initiated into music experience in Madras is not correct. See how I can ramble, forget and come back for the threads.
I remember one occasion sometime either in Chennai where I was in the audience listening to a concert and expressing my appreciation by clicking my tongue in what I then though was the proper rythm. Sitting just next to me was the now very famous Ghatam maestro Vinayagaram, who earned the nickname of Vikku later in his career. I am not talking through my hat about sitting next to Vinayagaram. We lived on the samestreet . His house was in Pilliar Koil Street and our Subadral Street at the junction near where Vikku’s house used to be. Vinayagaram must have observed my tongue clicking for sometime with impatience and when he could not stand it any more, he turned and told me that is not the way to keep time with the music. Actually Vinayagaram’s younger brother Subash Chandran was better known to me perhaps because we studied in the same class or school or that we were the same age group and perhaps saw each other more often. Subash is a maestro on his own, and as a matter their whole family is given to music because their father had been running for generations the other better known music academy on Pilliar Koil Street. Well, I shall call it a day now. I shall continue on the same strains or at least I shall pick up the threads. Bye for now. Oh the internet connection is trying my patience