Friday, February 20, 2009

This old guitar

Finally.... Test 1 is over and after staying up for five nights straight, trying to figure out how to find whether a vector space is homogenous or not and mugging up theorems whose names I can barely pronounce and don't know how to spell,(you can imagine how I did in my exams with that!) I finally am sitting in front of my laptop with a plan to stay up for the sixth night in a row and watch a couple of animation movies. I don't know if you have the capacity to imagine the happiness and relief that spread inside me as I submitted my answer paper today morning. I ran up to my room after that and opened my guitar case as soon as I reached there. Not that Iwas'nt playing while the exams were going on, but you know, there's this feeling, which swells up inside you, when you know that there is nothing, absolutely nothing which is going to come in between you and your guitar now. And this feeling is precious. I always play my guitar whenever I come back from some exam. I don't know how, but it makes me feel better. I play it whenever I am depressed or tired, and it heals me. Chinmay knows this, so whenever I am in a bad mood or something, he's like "Go play some guitar dude!" and I do that. And I feel okay! Its been about a year since I started learning the guitar. And I got my own after I came to campus. I still remember how much I roamed about in Goa to get my guitar. Now the closest town from campus is Vasco. It takes about 45 mins to reach Vasco via the local buses. Now this is not as easy as it sounds. The buses here are a sight. I never have had to wait for more than....let me see...about seven seconds on the bus stop before a bus came up the road. You see them, rumbling on the road swirling dust as if it were mist about the roads which just about wide enough for the bus to move. With its murky brown body which you strongly suspect was actually green, once upon a time, and patches of paan stains and indecipherable graffiti(sometimes graphical), both which are byproducts of the passtime of generations of Goans, you start having thoughts about reconsidering your descision to board this thing. This feeling doubles when the bus comes close enough so that you can actually hear the quality and quantity of sound this machine can produce. Every movable part vibrates. every immovable part is engaged in a fierce srtuggle for freedom from its binds. And so, somehow, all the parts of the bus reach some sort of a resonance so that the whole bus vibrates with the same frequency. Its weird, more so if you are sitting inside it. Now, you can seldom sit inside the bus. You never get a seat. And let me tell you, its a relief, because the seat is not at all compatible for a 6 foot 1 inch guy like me. Its total space management. Find out the maximum number of seats you can fit in a given space. Find a way to add in a couple more, and you make an interior of the bus. That is not all, because the top is so low that you have buckle your knees all the time and every bump on the road gives a bump on your head. people are filled in like grains in a sack, and are made to stand in the aisle, each facing the opposite side, holding the bars of the overhead(?) luggage compartment somewhat like the way convicts are made to, in America. The conductor glides through the mess of people, handbags, wicker baskets, infants and an occasional rucksack of some bemused tourist like a seasoned swimmer in the rough sea. And you look at the sign on the saying '11 standing' and wonder why its there. I personally had stopped counting after 21. The point is, its a rough ride. Somehow, I reached my destination. Now it was time to find a guitar shop. I walked and I walked; in two hours I covered nearly every road in Vasco; taking instructions from people just to end up right in front of them in five minutes until I found out that there was no guitar shop in Vasco. So I rode another bus to Margao, which is a much bigger city. this time I was sure there was guitar shop here. I even knew its name- 'Fertado's'. So I scoured the roads of Margao asking for Fertado's. Now this is quite a common surname in Goa. So, in an hour, I found myself in front of a Fertado's book store, a Fertado's gift shop, and somewhat awkardly, a Dr. Fertado's gynaecology clinic. Finally, I found the shop on the second floor of an ancient dingy building, and all the frustration I had evaporated. There's this thing about a guitar shop- the scent of the wood, maybe. But it feels great. The only other shop in which I have been equally fascinated is the Art Shoppee in Panjim, but more about that later. So, I got my Hobner spanish acoustic- the most beautiful thing I ever own. Its black, with a whitish green design on the soundbox. And I loved it on the first sight. It has been with me since then. I play it day and night. Sometimes Eagle's Hotel California or Clapton's Layla or Pink Floyd's Wish you were here, sometimes chord sequences or sometimes just musical gibberish.... I play for hours and hours, until the skin of my fingers tears out and they start bleeding, then I put on a bandaid and play on. Let me tell you the story of my first public guitar recital. There was some programme in college and I called to play there. I had learned this guitar instrumental called Slash by Acoustic Alchemy, and I planned to play it. So, the day arrives and I am called upon stage. I plug the pickup wire to the guitar port and strum some chords. No one hears a thing. I check the connection on the guitar port, the amp port. everything seems just fine. But its not at all being amplified. the crowd is getting impatient. I figure out that there must be some problem with the pickup wire itself. Great! My first solo recital and I can't play because of some silly wire. The guy onstage gives me a mic which I place on my lap near the soundbox. Its awkward, but its ok. so I say this is it, and I close my eyes, and I start the damn song. Slowly, I get into the rythm and I forget that I am in front of a crowd. I smile a silly smile with my eyes closed and let my fingers do the job. The exhilaration reaches the peak as I near the end of my performance. I end with a really fast riff and slowly open my eyes, ready for the applause. There is none. I look around, and people are talking, laughing, doing everything but looking at me. And I am like, what the hell, people? Then I do something really demeaning. I shout ' I'm done!' That catches some attention. People look around, as if they just remembered there was a stage in front of them. Some of them clap. Some of them are completely clueless about whats going on. Some don't even care. And I am sitting onstage with my guitar and the mic perched precariously on my lap trying to figure out what went wrong. And then, the guy onstage comes, picks up the mic, looks at me and says, " Its supposed to be turned on, you fool!" I don't remember anything after that. There's this one song by Neil Young which I really love. Its about a guitar. It goes something like this-
This old guitar ain't mine to keep, just taking care of it now Its been around for years and years, just waiting in its old case Its been up and down the country roads, its brought a tear and a smile Its seen its share of dreams and hopes, and never went out of style The more I play it, the better it sounds, It cries when I leave it alone Silently it waits for me, or someone else I suppose!
And this old guitar of mine has been with me in some of the most defining moments I've ever had in my life. It has laughed when I have laughed, and it has wept with me. It is fascinating that something inanimate can be such an important part of your life. Sometimes even more important than some people. And then one day I will get a new guitar, maybe because it will be better, or because this one will be too old to be played, when the strings and the knobs will start rusting and there will be dents on the soundbox and it will start taking ages to tune, and it will just be cast aside.... But it knows this, maybe all the guitars do. And it understands. It won't get too attached to me even though I may. You know why? Because- This old guitar ain't mine to keep, just taking care of it now........

1 comment:

  1. awesome post yet again but stop making goa sound so like a third world country....and ya...the name of the shop is Furtado's with an 'o' and not an 'e'.:-D


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