Wednesday, November 16, 2005

GOD’s Concert - Details

Day 1:
I’ve heard a lot of people talk about how they felt that surges of something big waiting to happen. But no such thing happened. I woke up very early as I had to get to the concert venue for the volunteering activities. In fact, I was quite sure that if (a big IF) I were to get a chance to stand next to Rahman, it would definitely be the next day – the actual day of the concert. I looked at this day as just a mere formality to get over with, and then wait for my turn.

Of course, GOD had other plans. I’ll get to that in a moment. Before that I need to describe my encounter with another genius – Sivamani.

After picking up Mary from her home, and a quick breakfast, we landed at the venue quite early. In a few minutes, most of the entire fan group had assembled at the shamiana next to the stage. This was supposed to be our (volunteers) base camp. We began the day by doing a few odd jobs here and there. The management of the crew was left to Gops & Arun, who did an incredible job in sending the right guys to the right places.

So close!
One of the organizers wanted a volunteer to direct Sivamani’s driver to the VIP parking lot, and I was the one who was free at that point of time. I was elated! Not because I would be going with Sivamani, because he was practicing on stage, but because I would be going in his car. So off I trudged to the car, when I saw it coming right next to the stage, and I was told that my services wouldn’t be actually required.  So damn close!

Or was it?
So Mary and me were just walking back from the base camp to the stage…me still ruing my lost opportunity. When this guy walks up to me and asks me the directions to the VIP parking lot. Before I can begin, he takes me to his passenger who is standing at the door – Sivamani!!! And Sivamani now wants to know whether I could direct him to the parking space. :))))
And so I did. I rode in his car with him and we spoke for five minutes on…how late would the cops let them practice, which was my hometown, etc.

Rehearsal Time
It was almost 8ish by the time GOD made his appearance and we got seats that would be the equivalent of courtside seats in the NBA. Watching Him practice up so close was a goose-bumpish feeling. (Ok, if goose-bumpish really doesn’t exist as a word, there should! I plan on using it a lot of times in this post)

We got to sample the brilliant Aayo Re Saki from Water, Thee Thee from Thiruda Thiruda (sung surprisingly by Sadhna Sargam!), GOD’s own Azaadi from Bose – The Forgotten Hero, among a few other gems. Just as soon He appeared on stage, we guys decided to be at our boorish best, which was nothing but a huge loud cheer and waving of arms and banners. The decibels increased exponentially as He decided to wave back at us.

For the next hour or so (another small point – time had lost a lot of its significance by then. If I say “one hour”, I could mean one hour, five hours, or five minutes. You get the drift?), we just stood enthralled watching Him create his magic, roam around and rag the other musicians, singers, while His sound engineer H Sridhar was literally tearing his hair apart trying to reach perfection.

B to the L to the A to the A to the Z to the E
While this rehearsal was happening, two of our fans, Radha & Karthik, had the fortune to talk to Blaaze backstage. They told him about the gift from our group, how we would love to meet GOD, and he was quite receptive to the whole thing. He told them to quit worrying and assured them that we would be able to have our dreams fulfilled that day itself!! Karthik also managed to get a photo of himself with GOD.

The rehearsal was winding up, and all of us decided to wait at the food court close to stage. Well, what happened after that was…a blur! To recollect is…

That’s it. My life is done. Done. Absolutely.


I repeat. Paradise.
Goodbye earth!

You know how that went.

It was time to get back home and hit the sack, and get back early to the venue the next day.
Of course, it is a different thing that I really couldn’t sleep. No surprise there.

Day 2:
Despite the euphoria of the previous day not having died down, I knew that this day would be a hectic day in terms of a lot of hard work. And being gifted with the knack of complete laziness, “hard work” isn’t obviously something that really gees me up. But a man can change. Or rather, circumstances change a man.

The volunteers spent the first half of the day in doing a lot of tasks – movement of equipment, determining the ticket entrances, manning the VIP gates, etc. Through all this, a lot of excitement was building up. For many, it was their first Rahman concert, for others, it was a chance to watch it real close. Throw into this the possibility of rain, and we had quite a simmering situation.

First drops
I still remember the first drops that fell on my cap. It began at the same time the crowd at the VIP entrances began to swell. There was a fear that was writ large on our faces. We (Gops, Arun, Mary, Sharmila, me) faced a barrage of questions from a lot of 10000 ticket holders. While most kept their cool on being told that there wasn’t a shelter for any of the stands, others didn’t.

Notable was a bunch of elderly women who demanded a refund from Gops. But he maintained his customary cool, and told them that he understood his problems, to which the lady replied, “Good that you understand our problems. So you please give us our money!”

Prakash who?
The good news about being in charge of the VIP gates is that you have the opportunity to meet some celebrities.
The bad news is that you fall flat on your face when you do not recognize an important person.

There was this huge contingent rushing through the entrance, and so I stopped them to find out what tickets they held. They apparently had passes courtesy a certain M P Prakash. So, my obvious question was “ Prakash who?”. And the answer was the…Deputy CM of Karnataka. Yikes!!

Ok, in my defence, the current coalition politics in Karnataka is such a sham that I shouldn’t be blamed if I were to assume that Deve Gowda was the CM. When the CM himself is on such a shaky seat, who really has any clue on the Deputy CM!

Last straw
By 7 PM, the downpour had reached levels that I had never seen in Bangalore. I continued to stand at the entrance and check the tickets of anyone entering. As my dear friend Rajjo used to say, “After a certain point of time, you really can’t get drenched any more!” Hard rains prevented people from coming in, and this followed by the sight of “VIPs” actually using chairs to protect them from the rain did it. We people at the entrances decided to go to the front of the stage and see what was in store for us.

“Give us an hour…”
There we were all cluttered right in front of the stage, which was filled with artists covering their instruments, and a lot of policemen holding discussions with the organizers. Then GOD made his appearance and told us, “Just give us an hour. We will be back with music for you!”

Double Blur
After that one hour delay where Sivamani, Blaaze & Kaliash Kher entertained us with a few tidbits, GOD began with Fanaah and ended with Maa Tujhe Salaam. In between, I was somewhere else. Lost.

As I said. Blur. :)

Drove hard in the rains to drop of my great companion (Mary) throughout the two days of the concert, her parents, Pamsy. Then reached home with two pals from IIMB – Other & DD. Had a nice cup of Bournvita and stayed awake as my mind replayed the previous 48 hours.


[A huge thanks to Gops, Arun, Radha and all the other volunteers!]


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