Tuesday 14 July 2009
Three years ago my friend dragged me to a concert at the India Habitat Centre to volunteer for this “youth organisation” called the YP. Well, I thought the organisation was actually Silhouette, a branch of the YP, and the difference has since been pointed out to me more times than I can count. He told me there was a band called Thermal and A Quarter playing at the Amphitheatre, so called because they comprised four guys, three of whom were “mallu” and the fourth a quarter mal. Now I know you’re expecting me to rave about how it was a life changing experience, how I fell in love with Original Indian bands and the YP and decided to give my life to working for the branch I currently head. Well you would be sorely mistaken. In came final year exams and pressure from my parents, and out went anything that kept me away from the books. But where there is a will there is a way. I kept myself involved with the YP as best as I could, being called in once in a while to help with projects or lend my acting skills (humble though they may be) to a short film or two.
After I graduated from college I suddenly realised that I had a lot of time on my hands and no way to use it productively. I had joined the Law Faculty of Delhi University, where extra-curricular activities are pretty much non-existent. I had all this passion and energy and nothing to funnel it into. Around the same time The YP Foundation (or, if you would rather, TYPF), no longer the Youth Parliament I remembered, had its 6th Anniversary Celebration. I tagged along with some friends to the India Habitat Centre, a place I have come to see as a third home now (the second being the old Defence Colony Office). As my friends went through the elaborate exhibition, looking for their grinning faces amongst the sea of photographs, I found myself most envious. I wanted that. I wanted to work with other young people who thought like I did, liked the same music, and had a passion for the arts. I wanted to see my mug in an exhibition, take pride in a poster I helped design or the performance of a band I helped pick. So as soon as Raghu Dixit and Them Clones finished a brilliant set each, I set out to enquire when the next YP Induction was. I wanted to sign up!
It has been almost a year now since that day. I have experiences that have been enriching and draining; wonderful and also completely ball-busting. I have had the privilege to meet many passionate and exciting people, all driven by the common goal of working for what drives them, though the actual medium may differ. This past year has also been quite an eye-opener. Up till the TAAQ concert, I had heard of bands like Zero, Half Step Down and PDV but had never gone to any of their gigs. The closest I had come was downloading Bandeh off the net. Not because I couldn’t, mind you. Being in college, getting into bars or pubs wasn’t that hard (the fact that at this point I could grow a decent goatee definitely helped). I didn’t go because I didn’t think they were worth it. Like many of the people whose minds I am now working to change, I couldn’t be bothered to give artists like them a chance. I fantasised about bands like Metallica and Red Hot Chilli Peppers coming to India, and paying 1500-3000 Rupees for a chance to see them, rather than take a 15 minute drive to a pub and see these guys perform. In my mind, the bigger the venue, the bigger the band. Surely a band that performed in a small dark smoky bar couldn’t be all that great, right?
I have since been mesmerised as acts like Indian Ocean, Swarathma, Raghu Dixit, East India Company and Five8 have taken the stage. The last of these in fact is a band featuring two of my colleagues and friends from YP. It is an amazing realisation that talent like this has existed right in our backyards and yet so many of us have not given it a second thought, for whatever reason. Things are changing, slowly maybe, but they are. Every week I hear a new song by an Original Indian artist on the radio; I catch videos by Them Clones or Indian Ocean on VH1; I see an album by a Swarathma or Raghu Dixit in Music Planet. I wouldn’t think to presume that I have any great role to play in this evolution, but I am happy that I am trying to do my part. As a young “Music Enthusiast” I am proud that the people from my city, and from my country, are taking a chance to pursue their passion. And I am proud to support them in whatever way I can. Even if it’s just by standing in the crowd with a lighter shouting my lungs out.