I’m sitting in a stranger’s house, on someone’s white sofa, in a room filled with quirky, colourful touches of some unknown mind’s whims. I’m listening to a band jammig. The bass guitarist is a friend. I don’t know the other three boys though I’ve met the singer once.
The band pauses for a few seconds. The drummer and the guitarist light up cigarettes and a faint sweet aroma woven into a more familiar smoky odour fills the little room. The others twang their instruments, chasing that elusive melody. They are testing their respective wings and feet in preparation for the joint flight.
He did say that it was a practice session and that they were not really ready for an audience as yet. And yet, they let us in. We’ve been watching music being born. It is indeed, as messy, as pulsatingly rhythmic and as overwhelmingly right as childbirth.
I’ve been itching to write for awhile but reluctant to take my notebook out. I’ve always been shy about other people watching me work. Perhaps that’s why I chose to write rather than sing. Still a performer but hiding behind a screen of words.
Then it occurs to me that in my sitting here, I’m experiencing such generosity. The boys have opened themselves up to my judgement, my indifference if at all…every artist’s worst fear.
At the end of the first song, I prepared to clap, to acknowledge that I’d been paying attention, to show my appreciation. But the band members don’t even look my way. They smoothly move into a short conversation about the last song and decide the next one on their playlist. I am filled with admiration at their unselfconscious immersion in their art. They sing, they play, they make music. And that is all there is to it.
The musician in each of them far surpasses the human being with his notions and inhibitions and distractions.
I take out my book and start to write. By the time I get to this line, Shirrin is watching over my shoulder, reading at intervals. I realize that the band has moved on to another song and my head is nodding in time to their music. And just as suddenly it occurs to me that I’ve been aware of her reading but completely unaffected by it.
It seems like the band being present in their music with no additional impressions…that very purity of creation has seeped through to me. I close my book and mouth silently to AmZ that I’m leaving. He smiles and with a faint nod, gestures for me to stay and listen to another song. We sit back and waft through another song. I owe the four of them a thank you for sharing this evening with me. An evening of music, of creation and expression unfettered by the self. It’s that missing piece I’ve been looking for, so vital for any artist. Thank you so much.
*I discovered a little later that the fun, quirky house is home to one of my idols, Sapna Bhavnani. The band is Airport and they are Arijit Datta (vocals), Vinay Lobo (guitar), Sidd Coutto (drums) and my friend Amit Ahuja (bass). They play next on December 9 at Del Italia, Juhu.