Before I narrate today’s incident, it would be necessary for me to explain why I spent 50k for a front row seat in an open-air live concert that lasted just a couple of hours.
Few years ago, when I was a teenager, every single moment in my day had his music as its background soundtrack. Be it getting ready for school, traveling in a crowded bus, savouring masala vadai* with friends in a roadside tea stall, playing basketball on the ground and even bed-time, none of it was complete without his music wafting in from somewhere. It became ingrained, akin to breathing.
The composer’s name is synonymous to god for an entire generation. His songs flowed from loudspeakers for celebrations of every kind. We danced to his music in colleges. His songs played cupid in many a couple’s life. They were the solace for saddened hearts.
Those were the days when we crowded outside electronics shops to catch a glimpse of his face on a television set inside.
After moving away from my hometown, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I had today to watch him perform up-close and I didn’t think twice before purchasing the expensive ticket. My friend Shakthi and I were looking forward to it from the moment the tickets were booked online.
We had nothing to worry about regarding the city’s traffic, as the concert was on a Saturday evening at 6:00 P.M and we would have an entire day to plan.
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Today, I woke up little earlier than on other Saturdays, right on time for my brunch. I called up Shakthi, discussed on which route to take and which ones of our favourite songs might be part of the day’s event. The conversation lasted longer than expected, so I had just enough time to get ready and hop into to my car. The venue was a one and a half hour’s drive from where I stayed. With a luxurious half an hour to spare, I started at 4PM, whistling my favourite evening tune, incidentally from one of his compositions.
Attracting migrants from all parts of the country, this city has grown exponentially in every possible direction. Every plot of vacant land or dry lakebed was converted into apartment complex, so the only place where they could arrange for a concert of this magnitude was near the airport, which was located in a city outside the city. Though my phone kept showing me the travel time as an hour and a half, I wasn’t moving. Time was. I was relying on the half hour reserve I had.
My car drifted through the parade in which everyone seemed to be heading to the airport. The chaotic lines at the toll booth entirely consumed the reserve time I had. I was directed to a corner in a parking lot which seemed like an ocean of cars. The entrance to the concert was nowhere to be seen. My watch said the time was 6:10. P.M. I had been ignoring Shakthi’s calls. I knew he’d be asking for directions and I would be of no help as I was already stranded, not knowing where to go from the gargantuan parking lot.
I spotted a bus which was ferrying fans to the venue and I managed to squeeze myself between two aunties, dressed heavily for the occasion. Their jewellery tickled me all over. I was thrown out of the bus when it came to a halt.
Guarded entrances christened as diamond, platinum, gold and silver flashed in front fo me and I hopped like a five-year-old towards the diamond entrance for which I held a ticket. The security guard scorned in reply to my broad grin and ushered me inside a checking booth.
I waited there for an eternal ten minutes wondering about the commotion outside. Then I heard chants with the chief minister’s name and was able to presume why I was made to wait. The security guard finally called me out and conveyed that the seats in diamond wing were occupied and suggested me to check-in through any other entrance. My rantings on the money I paid and the time I wasted went into deaf ears as I was threatened to leave the place at once by armed cops.
Shakthi came on line again just to say that he was already inside and the chief minister and his gang of men had taken most of the front row seats. Also, the concert was delayed by a few minutes because of the politicians’ unexpected entry.
Having rejected in platinum and gold, I managed to enter through the silver gate into an open arena which seemed like a heap of heads. The stage was at the farthest point in the horizon and from the whistles, claps and hoots I understood that the god had made his appearance. A giant LED display beside me was a lifesaver. Amidst the busy popcorn sellers, I could see men, women, seniors and children seated on plastic chairs chatting enthusiastically under the open sky unmindful of the cold winter evening. As singer Vijay Prakash started the first divine song of the concert in a high pitch accompanied by mesmerizing uduakkai* beats, the crowd went speechless as if they were possessed. What I experienced for the next couple of hours was absolute dedication of the devoted audience. The musicians on stage, the moms, dads, babies, and even the pop-corn sellers were enraptured by my god’s music that appeared to be flowing from the stars above. The timeless compositions made many of us feel nostalgic. I relived those moments outside electronics shops in my teenage days.
When I finally met Shakthi after the event, he complained that the politicians and press were on the phone most of the time and he could hardly concentrate on the music.
Not all storms come to disrupt your life, some come to clear your path. The caramel in the popcorn was the refund amount I received in my account.
Picture Credit: Nainoa shizuru
Masala vadai – Deep fried snack made of lentil and spices.
Udukkai – A percussion instrument (damroo in Hindi).