Song of Surrender

Friday, 25 October 2013

Protected by Semmangudi

By Rithvik Raja

Listening to pristine music while travelling or sipping on a nice hot cup of tea is something I’ve always been fond of. The beaches of Chennai, the scenic roads on the ECR and the lovely routes through the Ghats while on a train, were my favorite listening haunts. But my recent experience of driving through the terrains of Leh and Ladakh whilst listening to Semmangudi, Brindamma and Ramnad Krishnan, was something very different. The ice glazed mountains and the coral blue lakes provided an apt backdrop for the music I was listening to. The battery on my iPod was dead for the first few days and I was left alone with my thoughts while admiring the beauty of the mighty Himalayas. When I had the opportunity to charge it, I wondered if music would continue to keep me in this mind space and add to the pleasant time away from the crude reality back home which involved noisy traffic and an unnecessarily busy life. What followed were 7 days of amazing beauty, both visual and aural. I realized even more, how fortunate I actually was to be part of such wonderful art and culture.

There was even a time when Semmangudi Mama’s Todi came to my rescue. Leh is a city that shuts very early except for a very few shops and restaurants. It was about 10.30 at night when I had packed a bunch of cheese potato steamed momos for dinner to take back to the Home Stay. The market was about 2 km from where I stayed and walking was the only form of transport. As I started my lone journey through the forest road to head back home on a very cloudy night, the lights on the small path suddenly went completely dark. I had a meagerly lit torch and a bag of hot food, while travelling through a street that had many hungry dogs. When a journey through a dark, remote and deserted road with a bunch of unrecognizable sounds coming from all directions is all that’s left to look forward to, the kind of fear that engulfs you is unimaginable. I decided to switch off the torch, plug in my earphones, and listen to Amba Nannu Brovave by Semmangudi, Lalgudi and Karaikudi Mani and just walk. What followed was 20 minutes of absolute bliss. I had forgotten all about the dogs and the sounds and the scary scenarios that my mind had started making up. The music took over and led me home safely. I had a hearty dinner, thanked my lucky stars and slept. I might’ve still been safe without the music and reached home in one piece but the kind of mental ease that music provides in the most dire of situations is astounding.

True and honest music never ceases to amaze me. I did continue the rest of the journey with the music of these three legends, that made the mountains and waterfalls seem even more beautiful. But now, I sit in a coffee shop at Leh while waiting for my bus in a couple of hours to take me back home, which leaves me wondering if I’ll ever be able to experience music in such a wonderful atmosphere ever again. Is it ever going to be the same listening to music while driving through the narrow crowded roads of Mylapore or the innumerable glass IT buildings?

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