When I first arrived in the US, I used to be amused seeing everyone walking with their hands inside the hoodies (jacket pockets), two wires emerging out of their ears and vanishing somewhere in the pockets. I always wondered how did the walkmans or the CD players here looked, especially given the fact that I never really spotted something huge and rectangular peeping out. Soon, the dehati in me was to find out that there were no walkmans or CD players, these were ipods and mp3 players, slim rectangles about one index finger in length, 4 cm in breath, and perhaps half a match box high.
Soon, I found the Greek Gods and Goddesses in the gym using those stuff as they worked out. For a lazy person who could make up excuses ranging from karwa chauth to shivratri to not to go to the gym, I told myself that it was un-cool not to carry an ipod to the gym, so when I have enough money to afford one, I shall start working out. Soon, G was engaged in her favorite pastime, looking for deals on the net, and soon, I was the proud owner of an mp3 player. My first mp3 player.
Buying something is easier than learning to use it. For a person who is as tech challenged as I am, I was too scared to open the packaging without G being around. So for the first few days, my mp3 player lay unopened and neatly packed beside the photo of Goddess Kali, the same photo dad had given me while leaving home and had asked me to keep on my study table and bow in front of at least once a day. Well, it was fun standing by the study table post shower and bowing first to Goddess Kali, and then to my new toy, something I was too scared to start handling on my own.
And then, the toy was taken to G in her office, and instead of explaining me how to use it, she started to make fun of me, asking me to go figure out things myself. Frankly, I did not even know how to charge it with this USB post on my laptop, until I was told to use the extension cord. G, I hope I got it right.
G must have taken pity on me, for she promised me that she would download some of the popular songs for me for a start. You see, I still do not know, despite her curt instructions, how to use Google and download songs for free.
So I was overjoyed that the devil had finally decided to meet me half way, stop laughing at me, and download some songs for me. Here, songs for you – was what she said sweetly, winking at me.
Uh-uh, so soon? Why thank you !!!!- I had exclaimed with all my innocence.
I did feel grateful, and all excited that I would finally get to use my toy. I wish I had broken a coconut on the floor and smeared some red vermilion on my mp3 player, just so that no “buri nazar” made it play song backwards or in an alien language. I made a mental note of getting it as a gift for someone on my next trip to India.
I would never know how I figured out the tiny buttons. I must have just guessed and pressed all of them, not knowing how to play, rewind, or fast forward songs. I was waiting for the bus on my way to the lab. I had hours of mundane lab work ahead. Alas, I’d finally get to hear some music while I performed the arduous task of running gels and buffering solutions.
I sat at my desk all excited, pressing every button on my toy, not really knowing which was the play button. Well, I must have hit it at some point, for suddenly there was loud, clear music. The best quality of music I have heard in a while. Silently in my head, I screamed- Sunshine goes Ammmmerrricannn.
It was some English rap music I was not familiar with. Well, since G told me these are the latest and the most happening songs, these must have been good. For a person who has no idea of non-hindi music, I did not even know if it was pop or hard rock I’d be listening to.
The first few seconds of heavenly music filled up my senses. Expecting some English song soon, I was surprised to hear a male voice singing words I had no clue about. Must be a really cool song. So I tapped my toe and rocked my head to the opening lines of the so called latest English music-
Macchham macchham macchhaam de…
Pucchhaam pucchhaamm puchcham de….
Manja sanja ganja linja tonja manja jaja jaja
Errr….. was this English rock? I rocked my head harder to understand the music.
Di di di, jaga jyoti jyoti jyoti.
Why did it remind me of jag ka jyoti (light of the universe)?
Sensing something is wrong, I got to the next song. And then…… Shit! G had downloaded all the Tamil songs for me. I quickly flipped through the other songs. These had to be songs in Tamil. The reason? Every song I listened to reminded me of mustached and half dhoti-clad men, and buxom women from the soap Suryaaaaaaaaaaaa Suryaaaaaaaaaaa. I did not need to know Tamil to identify the language G abused her pati parmeshwar (hubby dearest) in.
So all day in the lab, I have been listening to songs I wouldn’t know a word about.
As a protest, I refused to turn the damn player off and listen to my type of songs from raaga.com or dishant.com. Every time someone passes by, I rock my head even more to show that I am thoroughly enjoying my music. And snippets of all I’ve been able to make out is-
Ada ada ada asa dada istyle
Dadada seri pada vistyle
Gada gada gada ada ada istyle
Kumpava Aambal aambal
Munnadayo Mavval mavval
Vaji vaji vaji in jeevan sivaji
Why did most sentences end with the word maadi?
I know, this is a ploy of G to make me listen to Tamil songs all day. By the end of the day, I did pick up little bits of Tamil after all. I wanted to ask,
Aadi paavi ari o kyun tuney mera peecha maadi?
And that needs no translation.