“Mother of fucking God!”
If words were food, these would be the staple Diet for me .On the 2nd of September 2008, though i was having a eat(swear)-all-you-can feast. It was pouring cats , dogs, zebras and what not . for 2 effing hours. And I was stuck in a leaky ass photo studio near Juna bazaar for 2 hours. As if being drenched was not enough, I was given a lesson in drip irrigation by the ill made roof of that shop. No electricity. All I could do was have my Diet (:D) and think about what went wrong when all seemed to be going right.
We had practiced our hearts out on this one. After 3 failures we had to earn some respect out there. Skepsis had to have some recognition. We jammed , we fought, we pondered. Everything , every action that goes into the process of creating and playing some music (ok, we did not create any originals…..so only played) , we went through it all. A whole truck load of emotion. The night before we were going to supposedly set the stage on fire, everything seemed to be working fine. All seemed to be in order. I left for my flat thinking on the theatrics I would dish out on stage. Reached home. Went to sleep.
Next day, bright sunshine. Good day, I thought, for a performance. Strapped the guitar to my back (I don’t play guitar, just carry my friends guitar to show off…….:D) and went to work. Every eagle eyed chap at the office noticed the guitar. Why not. Half of them had just seen it on the tube or in their dreams. Lolz. Left my desk at 4:30pm, well before time. All seemed perfect till this point of time. Until I reached Shivaji Nagar, where all hell broke loose. It was raining like no tomorrow.Diet. Managed to reach that God forsaken photo studio before the rains became too heavy and I became to worried to carry on. You cannot destroy a beautiful Samick Greg Benett (sunburst orange surrounded by cherry red ) guitar by exposing it to the elements as such. And it would also be a 10k kick up my backside. No sir, thank you very much.
So , back to the photo studio. 2 hours. I was completely drenched. But still waited for the rains to slow down. In the hope that I would perform the songs for which I had busted my ass in practice. In the hope of the lime light, the applause. but not to be. The rain did slow down. At about 7:10pm. And so did the traffic. In fact the vehicles were not moving at all. Monumental traffic jam. Diet again. Had to happen now? Diet. Diet. Got my bike , of the stand, punched the starter and entered the moving labyrinth. Diet.
The maze was moving, and then as always , I did not know the directions to the venue. So I had to ask some punk on a bike, where the BJ medical college grounds were. And he pointed to some direction he was not looking at. And I did not care to confirm it. Took that direction , I did. And then kept moving in circles for the next hundred trillion gazillion years. That’s what a traffic jam can do to the engine and your head. One look at the watch. 7:45 pm. Diet. We were on at 8 pm. And I still did not know where the medical grounds were. Did not bother to reason out that such competitions are not held on open grounds cause it is the rainy fucking season. Did not bother that I had kicked 2 people in the process of getting ahead. Did not bother that I reached Nucleus mall when the place I wanted to reach was the other way round. I just wanted to get out of the traffic. So I left the bike at the mall, guitar on back and my drum kit bag in hand, started running. Took my cell phone out. A hundred million missed calls. And could not reach anyone cause all the networks were congested. Diet. I kept running.
Met Ketan on the way. He was as confused as I was. And in all this chaos he kept shouting at me, “dude where is Sasoon hospital?”. I wanted to kick his ass, but I did not have the time. The cell phone buzzed to life. It was Chirayu. And he had an Airtel connection. I think that should say enough about the voice quality. All I managed to decipher out of the noise and shouting was “venue, Sasoon hospital Audito….”. Diet. Diet. How can they change the venue? No I wasn’t thinking then. Picked up an old man on the footpath, asked him where sasoon was, grabbed Ketans collar and ran. Hell I was possessed. Another look at the watch..................8:00pm.
My heart skipped a beat. And then a searing bolt of pain shot up my left foot. Diet diet. A desperate biker had climbed the footpath , lost control of the throttle and straight onto my foot. I let out such an anguished cry , that I think he peed in his pants. Diet. Swore at him. No wait . I did not. I was running as soon as I managed to extricate my foot from under the bikes wheel. Kept running. Like a demon. No I cant be late. Cant. Just cant.
Have to perform. Where? Where are we?Kept looking left right. Where was Sasoon? And then suddenly, with the bus departing , I stood still for a second. I was right in front of its gate. And between the gate and the me was an iron fence. Hell, whats that when I have come so far. Leapt over it. Even though I knew i couldn’t. Ripped my track pants. Wet track pants. Cant wait. Have to run. Akshay was standing at the gate. I had arrived. Handed him the drum kit sack, still running, we rushed straight to the auditorium. Managed to bump into a couple of girls . but did not do it on purpose. They were pretty though. Not now Manan, not now.
When I showed up on the door of that changing room, the people were looking at me as though they had seen a ghost. And then they were up shouting. 8:07pm. I threw the guitar towards Chirayu, who held it perfectly (surprise!) and ripped open my sack to get my drum sticks. And went directly on stage. To face a booing, jeering crowd.
I smiled. Times had not changed. Kalyani. Same crowd. Same setting. Only today I was in no mood to give up. I was hungry. I was wet. I was angry. I was desperate. For something. No not this time. This time we will break you up. A couple of paper balls hit Aldon. Some more hit Shrikant. But we were busy. Tuning guitars and adjusting the toms and the cymbals. And then Chirayu looked at me. It all stopped.
“manya, are you ready?”
Diet. I was. And I nodded.
Then those first notes, those legendary notes for the intro to Nothing else matters. Shrikants finger moved the guitar volume over the useless crowd. And the crowd shut the eff up. Yeah yeah baby, that’s it. And crash! It started. The storm was rising. Shankar screamed.......“..........And I know…………………”. I was drumming with my eyes closed till then. Till then. And when Chirayu raged into the final solo, it had come to fruition. The storm was rising. No quelling. No stopping now.
And when I stopped hitting whatever I was hitting, there was a thunderous applause. Kids clapping, bowing down. I felt like Lars Ulrich. Proud. Angry. Happy. Energetic. But now was not the time to rejoice. I had to be Guy Patterson now. And then all of sudden, one look at Shankar and one wink later, I blasted off. Elysium. Fast and heavy . groovy. As soon as people heard the first words of that song, their feet started moving, tapping. Hell , I wanted to dance. “You…….doing that thing you do……… breaking my heart into a million pieces……………..”
Hell broke loose after that song. People just wouldn’t have enough of clapping. There was this heavenly glow on everyones face. Even though we were wet, miserable and tired. And then Rahul took the microphone and announced in his simple mammas boy, slightly marathi accented voice, “ the next song is Khamaj.....by Fuzon”
And there was utter silence. Diet.
People were biting their nails. How can this dude pull off such a difficult song? How?
And sure enough when it came time for Rahul to weave his magic, he messed up cause of too much feedback from the amplifiers. But he was quick to check it and back on. And we dished out a silent killer of a track! No doubts! People were on their feet even before we finished playing. And they were flooding back to the dressing rooms to congratulate us .
“you going to win man. Amazing!”
“God dam it guys! awesome”
“Dude.bhaari. wed khech la tumhi!”
I could not believe I was hearing anything like this. Sort of used to the ridicule or at the most the formal claps after a mediocre performance. Not that night. We had set the stage on fire. Completely.
And when the prizes were announced, we stood third, cause we lacked stage act. Period. Diet. But the silver lining was that Chirayu was crowned the best axe slinger and rahul was the new vocal legend. We could hardly contain it.
We had done it. Time to go out and celebrate. Wet times, Good times! Oops me hungry man! All of us were.
Oh yeah, we did have chaos again that night, when Ketan forgot where he had parked his bike and we ran another bike dry trying to find his. But all that was quelled at 1:30 in the night when Vinay s name beeped on my cell phone. “Bike sapadli!” . Diet. That was it. Perfect end to it all. And I drifted off to never never land. With a smile.