ME :)

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Bangalore, Karnataka, India
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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sarangi

      It was business as usual on a bright and sunny Wednesday afternoon. I packed my bags at 4 , left office and walked my way to the bus stop in front of the huge technology park or a small mall whatever people want to call it. The line between work and fun is getting thinner with malls coming up at all work places. Not much fun is expected right in the middle of the week especially when you have a baby looking your way at home. I usually don't even look at the mall while walking out unless I am forced to look around due to delayed buses on my route. I missed my usual bus by 2 minutes and stood there waiting with a heavy laptop bag and shrunk eyes due to bright hot sun. I could hear my favorite song being played on a violin perhaps. I looked around to find the source to see an old man in his 70s playing the song on what I googled to be a Sarangi. The instrument looked plain simple with two strings on a bamboo stick set into dry coconut and he was playing it with a bow. Wow! It was so amazing that he could play any song so effortlessly on that instrument. It took 15 minutes more for my bus to arrive and meanwhile he had already played 3-4 songs.
      Was he just playing as a hobby or was he expecting real business selling that instrument? Is the TechparkMall a good market place for his product? What is his earning per hour? Even after playing amazing songs for 15-20 min, he could not sell even one piece. Will people really buy it just because he plays well? Of course we all know our limitations and we very well know we will not be able to either play good music on it or attend 500 rs per hour musical classes for it. Why is he putting so much effort in vain? Does he have dependents? as I thought through these questions, a voice inside me said -"Instead of thinking, why dont you buy one? May be your cacophony will amuse your baby!" The opposition asked -" What will all the people/colleagues standing here think of me? Will they think I am mad!" "Why do I care? My bus is visible at the corner of the road. Let me decide quickly and buy one." I rushed to the old man and asked him "How much?" He said "50Rs". I dug my wallet to find only 52Rs. I told him I am ready to pay 40 as I need 12 bucks for my bus ticket. He smiled and said "Ok". May be even 40 bucks is too much given the raw materials and he might have thought he got a nice bakra to buy it for 40. But sometimes monetary evaluation is much beyond material cost. May be I paid him for his persistence in playing it for 20 min without break at that age in the hope of selling one piece. Or may be for the entertainment he provided and helped in making those 20 min fly which would have been a long boring wait otherwise. Or may be for he could go home  that day buying a few chocolates or biscuits for his grandchildren who would be as excited to see them as my daughter. Or may be just for the selfish motive of feelgood factor. Whatever it is, it did bring a smile on his face as well as mine. As i took it from him and started rushing towards the bus, he gave me a service tip :) "If the sound is not loud enough, brush the bow against this wax at the back of the head." That was awesome. First of all, I feel the instrument itself is an innovative one given the way it is built from the basic raw materials and then he had a service tip as well. 
     On the way back, I looked at it in more detail. Memories of buying it as a kid near Belur temple flashed before me. Smiled to myself when people in the bus gave a quizzical look as to why I was carrying it. When I stepped into the house, my daughter came running to me and I played this for her. I am not sure if my 1.5 years old daughter can differentiate melody from cacophony, but she definitely looked excited that a new member had joined her bunch of toys. She smiled in excitement and me in contentment that my act was worth it.

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