Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Rhythmic Vibration

It's amazing how much insight a crowded bus ride can give you. When you are returning home after a hectic boring day from office, and you suddenly get up on a bus that is playing old Bangla songs. And you regrettably put aside your headset that's playing Robbie Williams coz there is little space to stand, much less hear music. And you see images, fragments..

A group of regular travelers. From the outskirts of the city. Not your usual polished kind. Enthusiastically talking about how good your bygone Bangla songs used to be. And how crazy your current Dev-Jeet-Koyel songs are! And you can't help suppress a smile. 

Kinda true..

And then slowly but distinctively you begin hearing the clamor of rings and fingers tapping rhythmically against the roar of the engine. Tapping to the songs. One, two, some more.... a tall man with a closely wrapped shawl taps his ring while holding on to the ceiling of the bus. An old gentleman sitting right beside you taps his unmindful fingers against the steel wall of the bus. And on the front, next to the driver, sits the group of excited passengers talking about the charm of bygone era. 

And it is at that precise moment that you feel.. rooted. Yes that's right. Rooted. The  tape recorder moves on to a remake of a Manna De song after the Hemanta Chatterjee one. You hear gasps around, "Ooff Hemanta". The song currently playing is "Se amar choto bon" ( "She is my little sister"), a great hit of the bygone era by Manna De. You can't help suppress a smile when you see everyone laden with emotions at the song. Like you. Reminded of the old times. The memories associated with the song. And then suddenly, the old gentleman asks, "Dada, this song, it's not the original, is it?"

You are kind of amazed. You realize most of the bus is quietly thinking about this song.

The conductor, a young lad in his twenties mumbles a reply. The gentleman repeats,

"These are remakes aren't they? For instance, Hemanta's song was sung by Indraneil Sen, but who sung Manna De's?" His question makes you wonder as well. Surely there couldn't be many singers who could duplicate Manna De's voice with such accuracy? Was it perhaps, then the original song? But the music...

The bus driver grumbles back, "Ooff, you like the song, listen to it. Why do you have to know so much?", making the gentleman shut up in an instant and making this flaneur feel bad instantly. This is what her teachers used to say, she wonders. Typical Bengali behaviour, innit?

And she observes the old gentleman. Perhaps she was feeling bad. Perhaps he had interested her. The way he sat resignedly with a hand on his cheek, silently staring out of the window. Was he perhaps thinking of his younger days? Perhaps this song had a special significance in his life? Related to someone very dear, perhaps? His heavy bag was on the floor. But there he sat, quietly staring out of the window in silent symphony.

The song ends and a "jhinchak" Dev-Koyel number begins. The group sitting infront laughs out good-humouredly, "See, it has started again...". Possibly realizing popular sentiments, the bus driver changes the song to something more old school, with better melody and lyrics.

A lady in her late fifties gets up. The crowd greets her, "Arey Didi, we were talking about you only.." Regular travelers. Like family. Almost. You take one more look at the old gentleman, kind of feel a bond with him, for no apparent reason and get down at your stop.

The bus continues to hum the melodious tune of old ages and trudge forward towards the fast flickering city lights. 

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