When I Walked with a cool Man

I am the dude super cool, I walk around the campus humming tunes in the ears of cool guys & gals. Be it soft romantic melodies, rap or hip-hop, I play you songs that make your hearts flutter, your feet tap joyfully, and your lips whistle. Be it walking around the campus, hanging out in the canteen, sitting under a tree, studying in the library or just sitting quietly in your hostel room, I am your hip companion who sings you your favourite song. From my huge collection of music cassettes, I choose one that suits your mood.IMG-20190222-WA0000.jpgWalkman, the dude super cool I am, the most aspired gadget of all the cool guys & gals. No matter what, they never part with me, they are unwilling to share me with their friends and peers. I am forever stuck to their belts or waistband, with my stylish friend Headphone stuck to their ears or hanging around their neck. Together, we make a deadly pair!  The cassettes change hands, they are passed around, but Walkman & Headphone, no way, get your own pair!

Then one day I wasn’t so cool anymore. I lay ignored on the study table or bookshelves while cool gals & guys rushed in and out of their rooms. “Didn’t you hear the rumour,” whispered a hip-hop cassette in my ear, “kids are moving to CDs now and the much cooler Disc-man.” I raised my eyebrows in disbelief, “Don’t pay too much heed to such rumours.” But soon the shelves were flooded with CDs and the haughty Disc-man adorned the waistbands of my cool friends.  I sat there sulking with my friend cassettes, to be drowned under the jazzy CDs.

IMG-20190222-WA0002.jpgTo my surprise, the haughty Disc-man came and sat next to me one fine afternoon. I turned my face in disdain, “Oh chill! I am just taking a break. I will be soon gone.” “Haven’t you heard,” said a CD sounding alarmed, “the cool kids are moving to iPods now, CDs and Disc-mans will be soon forgotten.” “Stop spreading such malicious gossips,” snapped the Disc-man angrily, “Kids are busy with their mid-term exams, they will come back to us soon.” Exams got over, kids went home, leaving the sulking Disc-man and the CDs behind and came back with smart and digital iPods!

“What’s happening?”, the Disc-man yelled, “Who’s that? Why aren’t they looking at us?” “Oh, stop whining,” chided a CD, “Music has gone digital, can’t you see? We are too bulky and outdated, they don’t want us anymore.” The Disc-man looked around in disbelief, as he sat listlessly next to me.

Yes, music has gone digital indeed! There was a whole line of cool iPods that the boys & gals proudly owned. Then one day they dumped the iPods for even cooler iPads and mobile phones! Chic kids today download music & music apps, create their albums and listen to music on their super cool and hi-tech mobile phones, paired with sleek and stylish ear plugs. Walkman, Disc-man, cassettes and CDs are relics of a time gone by!

Melodies in Vinyl

If somebody in your family has been a music lover, a connoisseur of music, chances are you may have been handed down a collection of vinyl records. You may have wondered for a while what to do with the huge collection – they are heavy, they take up space, and gramophones and record players have long ceased to exist. You can’t junk them because there’s huge sentimental value attached. But, thank god some good old things do come back! Yes, I am talking about the Vinyl Turntables with USB Digital Conversion audio that are now available both offline and online, making it possible to enjoy the retro melodies with a modern twist.IMG-20190125-WA0011-1.jpg

When I went home last year, I was bequeathed with a huge collection of vinyl records – a rare collection put together by my late uncle to which my mother later added, now lying locked in an almirah. “Your father wants to throw these records away, such great music,” my mother complained. “They are just taking up space, your gramophone doesn’t work, and you don’t even play them anymore,” retorted by father. “I will take them,” said I, to my mother’s great relief.

The sight of those records brought back memories of my late uncle, a music lover, an amateur poet and an actor by passion. Though he had a regular job, he was fairly well-known in the literary and theater circuits. The ‘Radior Ghar’ or the Radio Room in our ancestral home, the cultural and entertainment hub for the entire extended family, was carefully put together by him. The long table along the wall had a Murphy radio and an HMV record player lying next to each other. In a shelf the vinyl records, both the smaller and the bigger ones, were carefully arranged. The room also had a book shelf with volumes of poetry, English and Bengali classics. That book shelf was my first window to the world of literature.

My mother often talked about the ‘Radior Ghar’ and the lively gatherings in that room every evening. My uncle and his friends, many of whom were connected to the world of literature and music, would get together in that room after office. The HMV player would play yesteryear greats like S D Burman, Bhupen Hazarika, Hemant Kumar, Manna Dey, and the list went on. There would be music, poetry, laughter and discussions over numerous cups of tea. A newly wed bride from Lucknow, a brilliant singer and a music lover herself, my mother was warmly welcomed into that circle.

After my uncle’s untimely demise, the ‘Radior Ghar’ and its collections fell into disarray. Some of his vinyl records and books were borrowed never to be returned, some were broken, and many got damaged. The shock of his sudden demise was too much to bear and for a while nobody cared for his vinyl record collection. Finally, my mother took over what was left behind and added to it. Growing up I remember listening to the yesteryear greats playing on the HMV record player. My taste for music, that developed in those days, is still tilted towards the melodies of the yore.

The HMV record player one day gave away. By then there were tape recorders and cassettes, and vinyl records seemed old fashioned. Soon there were two-in-ones, the much-coveted Sony Walkman, fancy music systems, CDs and CD players. When I started working, I bought myself an expensive music system that played cassettes, CDs and FM channels, with fancy speakers and all. It was my prized possession for a while. Then suddenly one day music went online, and nobody cared for music systems or cassettes or CDs anymore. When my music system started giving trouble, I didn’t even bother to get it repaired, just gave it away to the society care taker (maybe I will regret this one day).

IMG_20190126_123329.jpgAs a music lover, I am glad for the range of music that is now available online, but listening to ageless strains of  yesteryear’s masters’  on vinyl LPs was a different experience all together, something that I had long forgotten. The very mention of vinyl records during my home trip, brought back those memories. Thanks to my new vinyl turntable and those magical vinyl records which my mother carefully kept all these years, I can now recreate the immortal melodies of my childhood!