Saturday, October 26, 2013

Idu Cutchery Illai

Idu Cutchery Illai

I landed this morning in Singaara Chennai (beautiful Chennai) and was informed I would be attending a T.M. Krishna concert at a hall close to my in-laws' home that evening. They live in the cultural centre of the City and today's concert was to take place at Dakshinamoorthy Hall on the near century old P.S. High School campus. The ambience was "pristine Chennai". Muggy, with fans overhead, plastic chairs, the open sides letting in the evening breeze with the ever present pesky mosquitoes which circled aiming for exposed arms and legs. The smell of jasmine suffused the air and large diamonds flashed on women's ears and noses. People of all ages gleaming with the characteristic Chennai tan, from weathering the city's intense summer heat year after year, filled the hall. These were hard core Carnatic Music fans who scoped the newspaper and showed up at concerts around Chennai, undeterred by the traffic congestion or weather. Predictably, I met a few of our relatives there.

These days T.M. Krishna has gained a reputation for deviating from the norm and I mused that this crowd be hard to crack. Any off the cuff singing that deviated from traditional concert protocol would be frowned upon, commented about and criticized by them. The concert began "normally" enough with an invocation of Lord Ganesha in Hamsadhwani rendered through a languorous Vathapi. Following this, he elaborated a raga aalapana in Saveri and following the violinist's exposition, did the same with Kamas. Then he confused us all when he began to do the same with Behaag, eventually ending up in the krithi SAramanai mAta. We were one hour into the concert and it was 8 p.m. He then said rather self consciously, to the somewhat bemused crowd, "Idu Cutchery Illai" and gave the violinist a cue to play Thodi raagam and followed it with a thaanam. When he abandoned Thodi after the thaanam to go into Kedaara gowlai and Saraguna Palimpa there was a shuffle of feet around the hall as one third of the audience left. Now that he had managed their expectations somewhat, the rest were willing to stay on his terms. At this point, taking cue that this was a "free for all" several shouted out their requests, as he continued at the same deliberate pace with a virtuttam in Sindu Bhairavi followed by the krithi Venkatachalanilayam. He then sang two requests Aramo In Mand and Krishna nee begane before concluding with a Mangalam at 9:30 p.m.

My mother in law very grudgingly said "he sings well, but ..." Our brains being so attuned to a format, we craved it and did not know what to make of this! We were busy trying to find structure, failing to fully immerse ourselves in the experience. As I left the hall dazed by the lushness of the music I had experienced, listening to an undoubted genius, I remembered this saying from Eckhart Tolle which keeps coming back to me time and again, as I meander through life...

"Non acceptance is resistance to what is.....the resistance is some form of judgement ...the intensity of our suffering is correlated to our own non - acceptance of the present moment..."

At that point, my judgement turned to gratitude...

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