“Many people who tried to listen to the iconic rendering of ‘Vishnu Sahasranamam’….in the Margazhi morning of Tuesday… .” I read this article and you must forgive me for initially thinking it was a joke. (I am still wondering; are you sure it isn’t satire?)
While reading that line, the first thought that popped into my head was, “Margazhi has got to be my least favourite month.” Now, in order to explain what I mean by that, we must backtrack a little.
Thanks to some enterprising urban planning, we live in the kind of apartment that is hemmed in by other apartments on three sides, the fourth side facing the road. These buildings are so close that you can hear the various goings-on in other houses. For instance:
- Number of whistles the pressure cooker has to give out before someone decides to take it off the heat (thirteen on most days)
- Lady wanting to know who was eliminated in that night’s episode of Masterchef Australia (Son responds on some nights; on others, he is especially irritable and tells her she should watch for herself)
- Family that insists on recording every single thing their genius child utters or does
- Man who speaks for at least three hours on the phone every night walking back and forth in his balcony, until someone yells at him for allowing his dinner to go cold
And finally, waking up to a group of girls who insist on singing this. There is a lady who lives in the adjacent building, I am told she is a fairly famous teacher of Carnatic music. In the month of Margazhi, the music practice takes on an unprecedented vigour. They sing and sing, starting at an hour so early that it is almost cruel, all through the day, without a thought for their voices (and my sleep). Once, just once, I ended up asking my mother if we could complain about the noise (following yet another morning of having to wake up without intending to), and she looked at me as though I had asked her if we could eat beef. I haven’t asked her again.
Margazhi is also the month that reminds her of what a talent-less child she has managed to raise. She thinks back to how I refused to learn both classical music and dance, and how I must be the only one of this kind in the entire family (she might be forgetting my brother refused to learn too; that it isn’t made as big an issue is a fight I’m planning for days I’m bored). She wonders why I cannot like the vocal acrobatics performed by these singers, and when I explain to her that it is akin to demanding she suddenly like the opera, she looks annoyed. She feels disappointed that I don’t step into any Sabha, not even for the canteens that open exclusively during this time. But drinking filter coffee and eating morkali (which my grandmother always told me was what they fed people in Puzhal) and other assorted oily snacks isn’t my idea of a fun evening. And after saying this, if I step out for a bread omelet, she shakes her head at what the illustrious family has been reduced to.
The other day, I walked into a discussion that centered around something T.M.Krishna had said. The assumption that most people associated with Carnatic music are either Brahmin or “Brahminical” is not very popular in these parts. I don’t know much about these issues to form an opinion backed by sound reasoning, but I tried to reason that he may have a point. I was immediately shot down. And the gathering went on to list names of Non-Brahmin exponents of Carnatic music. That may well be true. However, I do not know (of) even one person learning Carnatic music or professing love for this art form who isn’t Brahmin (or Brahminical).