Thursday, August 03, 2006


When I was in 8th grade (1988), my mum and dad finally relented and got me what passed for a hi-fi back in the day. It was a breathtaking experience to finally hear music the way it was meant to be heard, off an Aiwa deck, with a signal-to-noise ratio >75 dB (which was the best you could get in those days without selling vital organs), a Cosmic amp (local brand, dunno what happened to them), and 3-way bookshelf speakers made by goodness knows who. The sound of Herb Alpert's "African Flame" playing on that system in the night, with the windows wide open (reduces echos), and the lights dimmed (makes the dancing LEDs more psychedelic) used to bring a smile to anyone used to a 2W Hitachi cassette player made in 1978 ( i.e., me).

Along with the purchase, I persuaded the dad-man to buy me a tape of AC/DC's "Blow Up Your Video" - he didn't know who AC/DC was, though I doubt he thought it was anything to do with electricity. And starting with that tape, I learned the meaning of generation-gap. My mum and dad did not get why I liked AC/DC, and later, Pink Floyd, U2, and name-your-mainstream-rock-band. Their idea of good western music was Kenny G, Connie Francis, Cliff Richard, and Abba, though if they really were given a choice, they'd go with silence.

In 1993, when I moved to IITB, I took with me ... the Hitachi casette player, which had been serviced back into shape. In 2003, 6 years after I left India, and 10 years after I moved to IITB, the hi-fi was a distant memory, having been left behind in India, where it had disintegrated and been sold to the local electronics shop, and replaced by my parents with a boombox which probably sounded good enough. In my grad-student apartment was an Aiwa boombox, I hardly ever played tapes (and I don't even know where that AC/DC tape is), and most of my music is on the computer. The occasional CD I purchased was quickly transferred to the computer so I could loop the songs into endless playlists.

When I started playing music to my first-born (who was a few months old in 2003), I started her off with Creedence Clearwater Revival, Scissor Sisters, Beastie Boys, and, of course, AC/DC. Occasionally, I'd put KL Saigal on, just to change the tempo (a lot). And Vishwa Mohan Bhatt. This way, I figured that as she grows up, she'll be used to having my music as background noise.

But now that Kid A has turned three, her musical tastes have started asserting themselves. CCR is out. Scissor Sisters and Beastie Boys are out because of the language, ditto AC/DC.

They Might Be Giants (and the album "No!") are in.

Randy Newman (and the Toy Story OST) is in.

The Jungle Book OST is in.

And there is a marked preference for Toy Story (1 and 2), which are played every other day on the DVD player, as is Winnie the Pooh.

She sings the Winnie the Pooh song, the Tigger Song, 'Fibber Island,' and 'You've Got a Friend in Me.'

All her songs are in my head, and I hum them at work.

When everyone is asleep, or when I have a free moment at work, I listen to some old favorites, or indie pop (my current favorites are the Southern Arts Society's 'Turbulent Heart' and the Sprites's George Romero. (The use of apostrophe-plus-s is correct because Sprites is a proper noun.) I enjoy the Kid A's talking, singing, dancing - she's growing up too fast for my liking.

But when I get it, I revel in the silence.

Speck 42

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