Thursday, October 23, 2008

My father and "The Loose Hinges"

I had briefly blogged about my father on his most recent death anniversary. The posting is here. At the time my friend Ananth had very kindly suggested I write more about him. Well today I was reminded of my father by a chance event - listening to old Simon and Garfunkel songs on my MP3 player as I strolled around IAS Princeton on a freezing cold autumn evening. So here goes.

To go back to the beginning - at the age of 12, I suddenly developed a passion for Indian classical music. And started taking sitar lessons. Around the same time my father (who had only ever listened to Western Classical before that) developed the identical passion. His way of enjoying music was to pick one record that he really liked and listen to it morning, noon and night until the rest of us could take it no more and there would be an official family protest. His first record in this genre was a sitar-and-shehnai duet by Vilayat Khan and Bismillah Khan. It's a true classic, indeed one of the finest recordings ever in Indian Classical music, though after being subjected to it day and night by my father I really can't listen to it any more...

Now, at age 14 I developed another passion, this time for rock music. It started harmlessly enough with Simon and Garfunkel, but within months I was listening to Led Zeppelin at full volume, and the peace and quiet of the house was shattered forever. Surprisingly this passion did not conflict with my previous one for Indian music, both interests survived and grew independently. Well actually there was one conflict I remember - my sitar teacher once entered our house at a moment when Robert Plant was screaming his lungs out... those were days when Robert Plant still had lungs... "Keep it coolin', baby, WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO"! And I can remember the shock on my sitar teacher's face - I was very embarrassed indeed.

Back to my father. He was aghast at my interest in rock music and kept hoping it would pass. But it didn't pass, and forced itself on his attention. The first thing I remember hearing in his presence was the live album "Get Yer Ya Ya's Out" by the Rolling Stones. At some point he gave me a withering look and said "all the songs sound exactly the same" (in retrospect, he had a point). But another time I was listening to Simon and Garfunkel's epic album "Bridge Over Troubled Water" - exactly what I was also hearing today, which sparked off this reminiscence. The song playing then was "Cecilia", and the line was "I got up to wash my face, when I come back to bed someone's taken my place". At this my father laughed uproariously. "Poor fellow!!" he said with considerable feeling.

But the group that really annoyed him, probably because of Jim Morrison's drunken howling, was The Doors. One day when I had been listening to them for a while, my father stormed into the room and said angrily "Why don't they just call themselves "The Loose Hinges"??

1 comment:

Anant said...

Sunil: very nice post. Have a nice stay at Princeton.