Saturday, May 9, 2015

Happy Birthday Dadi Dadu - On Tagore's Birthday

Today, 9th May, we celebrate Rabindranath Tagore's birthday. There will be programmes in schools, colleges and even neighbourhoods across Bengal. Probashi Bangalis or Bengalis who live away from Bengal - in India and abroad, will celebrate with equal if not greater fervour.

I started learning Rabindra Sangeet when I was around three years old. We lived in Khar in an apartment building on S V Road, one of the arterial roads of Bombay. It so happened that there used to music classes conducted in a flat on the ground floor in the very same building. I was attracted to the music and used to often go sit and listen. I had to be lifted onto the chair and then I would sit content, swinging my fat legs to the rhythm. I heard this little story from one of my teachers many years later.

I was a student at Sahana for around 11 years and that is where my love for Rabindra Sangeet started and eventually Tagore's music became a part of who I am. We did an annual programme every year either with a themed based evening of song, or we did one of Tagore's dance dramas. The photo is of one of them. I was a terrible dancer (and still am) but what I lacked in skill I made up for with enthusiasm, and almost always had some part or the other as 'one of the boys' till I grew older.

My father was my biggest fan. I sang reasonably well and even won a prize or two here and there. He was always there to grin widely, full of pride, to see me receive my prize. No one was prouder when I was given the opportunity to sing on a programme for radio. He took leave from office and took me to the AIR recording studio. We must have spent a few hours there, I wasn't the only kid singing. And once it was all done I was given a cheque for Rs 21. The first money I ever earned! On the way home we stopped at Venus Bakery near the St. Aloysius school in Bandra and I blew up my earnings on cakes and savouries to be gorged on at home. I must have been around 10 years old. Such a fun day it was... and I remember it so well.

Every trip to Kolkata meant singing for relatives, especially my mom's family. In my teens I grew very close to my cousin Bipasha and we spent many afternoons singing together, flipping through the volumes of the Gitobitan and asking each other "do you know this one?" "have you learned this one?" "don't you just love this one?!"

Baba died many years ago and Bipu has moved to another continent. Life has moved on for me too. But Rabindra Sangeet binds me to those simple days of childhood, being the apple of my dad's eye, being his pride as I sang, and then the lazy afternoons in Bipu's room in Kolkata, days singing together later as grown women, the sheer enjoyment of the poetry, the music, and having someone to share it with.

Happy birthday Dadi dadu.


Kurush F Dalal said...

beautifully said :)

Unknown said...

Beautifully written and such an enjoyable story!

Aditi said...

Beautiful memories! I think you should celebrate by singing an old melody and recording it! :)