Monday, July 9, 2007

The Disappearing Diary of an Incurable Amateur

It is a true mystery. Where did it go?

I made the silly mistake of taking my diary to my friend Abhi's place, three weeks back. Left it there. Called and told him to find it and keep it carefully. And he looked for it - and it wasn't there anymore. My precious diary is gone. Sob.

I half jokingly told Abhi that we should cut open his big dog, Dash, to retrieve it. He promises he has been carefully checking his poop (Dash's poop, that is) for the last three weeks, but no sign of my diary anywhere. I think I will finally have to let go of any hope of ever seeing it again. And it's not exactly very easy to do.

The thing is, it's not just one of those diaries in which you scribble a few notes - it is a few year's worth of reminders that I have tried (and failed, in various degrees, at) different things apart from working, eating and sleeping.

Four years ago, when Vijay and I were just married, I got all enthused about Dance Classes. So we joined up Mridula Martis's dance classes. These weekend classes - Salsa and Jive- were real fun - but I wasn't real big on 'fun' those days. It was all about perfecting the steps so that Vijay and I would move in complete unision, and with unparalelled grace. Now, I kept my end of the bargain - but Vijay would insist on forgetting the steps and 'improvising' (shocking!) - further, he kept accusing me of 'constantly trying to lead'. Every class would inevitably lead to an argument between us, and a massive sulk. Mridula was rather partial to Vijay, claiming he was the best of the male dancers (which wasn't saying much, let me assure you), and very quick to pick up the steps (Even quicker to forget them, I mumbled to myself). Once she came to break us up and use him for a demonstration, simultaneously asking him 'Is she bullying you again?'. Hah.

Anyway, the classes ended - we forgot all the steps subsequently but I had them all carefully written down for one fine day when we decide we want to try it again. But till now, we've been happier doing arbit dances to any kind of music, especially what Vijay calls the 'Macchar dance', an uncontrolled flailing of limbs in all directions. My mom watched a video I have taken of him dancing recently, and between laughs, she gasped in alarm 'His head is going to fall off'. I will not post the video here because I still value my marriage.

Then there were my Drum classes. Three years ago, in an another fit of enthusiasm, I bought myself a set of drums. I didn't have the foggiest notion of how to play, but they looked fairly impressive - a real drumset! I decided it was time to take lessons, and I found myself the great Ryan Colaco as an instructor. Ryan (full name Ryan Crispin Mario Colaco - isn't that beautiful? I hope I spelt it right) is the drummer of the Bangalore band Kryptos and a really funny, offbeat (ha ha..offbeat..drummer...get it?..never mind!) character in real life. (If you see the picture in the link, he's the shadowy dude whom you can barely see, right in the middle - now, while he is not exactly tall, he's not that short - must be sitting at his drums or something...) At the time I met him, he had some kind of a regular job in accounts or finance or something, which he quit soon after. A good thing, considering he seems to have no idea how to make money. He quoted me a really ridiculously low monthly fee for the drum lessons, which I thought was the weekly charge, and tried to pay accordingly. His eyes bulged when I tried to hand him the money and he blurted 'No, Da! Why you paying me for so many months together?'. He good-naturedly kicked himself later for this -and I hope he has since heeded my advice of raising his fee.

He was a great teacher and clearly incredibly talented - and banging on the drums was the most amazing release for me, especially combined with his constant clowning and 'No, daa...'s. Sadly, I was not a disciplined student and my enthusiam predictably fizzled out after a while - so my drum set is currently used to hang and dry my washed clothes. But my precious diary also had Ryan's scrawled instructions in it and I had resolved 'one day' to pick up playing again...

More recently, in Bombay, I decided I would rise above 'strumming amateur status' and took guitar lessons at home, from a young man named Pradeep. Pradeep is a very nice person, but takes a while to figure out. He, like Ryan, had the necessary rock-band long hair, ponytail and ready grin, but that is where the similarity ended. Pradeep spent a lot of time in my first class telling me about how he loves soft music, and is a big fan of Abba, and really not into the heavy metal scene. I was quite encouraged by this confession because I'm really not into heavy music myself - here I thought, is a guy with whom I can musically relate. When I asked him the name of his band, he replied poker-faced 'Demonic Resurrection'. I had a hard time keeping a straight face and suggested we jump straight into my first lesson. I looked it up later, and as you can see, this band is described as a 'Death Metal Band, a big name in the country's underground music scene today'.

Pradeep was also a nice, patient teacher, but at times he would really puzzle me. One time, I think it was around the World Cup, he asked me if I was interested in cricket. Now, I am one of the roughly ten people in India who really doesn't care about this game and I told him so, in no uncertain terms. He gazed right through me as if he hadn't heard me, and proceeded to deliver a long lecture on the sad state of affairs with the Indian team, going over each player's performance in detail. When he said 'Sachin' and 'Dhoni', my glazed eyes lit up briefly as these names were familiar, but he clearly took this as a sign of my unqualified enthusiasm - and went on and on for the entire hour that I was supposed to be learning the guitar.

Yes, he's a pretty absent minded guy. In my last class, as he was leaving my house, we were comparing our ages and I was a bit offended when he said 'Of course, you're older than I am'. I said 27 isn't that old, and he said it is older than 26. I had to agree there except when he revealed that he was born in 1979. I politely told him, in that case, he is older than me, considering I was born in 1980. He looked really puzzled for a long time and tried to work out the mathematics of the problem. Eventually, I had to gently shut the door in his puzzled face because it was taking too long. I like him - he's silly. But my guitar status stays at 'strumming amateur, now with the ignominy of having taken classes with no improvement'. And yes, the diary held Pradeep's careful instructions, too.

My last venture was into the art world, with Vani's classes, as described in a previous post. Now, the end result of these classes, my 'Mural' is something that I looked at with great pride - for a week. After that, I have decided it is the ghastliest eyesore that I have ever seen and I am planning to use it to scare unwanted guests when we have a house big enough for a guestroom. While people have been appreciative about it, I can see through comments like 'Oh, it's...Outstanding', and 'Wow, that's colourful', and 'Hmmm..very Space-Age, huh?'. The final straw has been my maid Zareena telling me that its latest admirer has been the Kabadiwala , who spotted it while buying our old newspapers. She bawled at me 'Woh Kabadi waala ne aapka Peenting ko Dekha....Bola Bahut accha hai...Bola wo pachaas rupaiye mein khareedega...Madam se pooncho...'. Now, considering I had paid Rs.300 for just the stupid wooden board base, I was understandably hurt by this - and moved the painting a bit further down the hall to keep him from eyeing it again. Anyway, this last one, the mural classes, had no instructions in the diary, I just went with the flow and threw it in for good measure.

Coming back to the original point - that diary was very dear to me -largely, because it held the promise of a brighter, more accomplished future for me, with myriad activities to occupy me, especially in my sunset, retirement years. I know I'm kidding myself - I would have continued to make notes in it on my bizarre attempts at learning stuff, and never have looked at the previous notes again, but it was nice to believe otherwise.

Anyway, I guess nothing stops me from eventually becoming an eccentric, dancing, drumming, guitar-playing artistic old lady - I will just have to be an amateur at everything till the very end - and that's fine by me.

So, here's to a lifetime of unadulterated, unabashed Amateurism. (Amateurity? Amateurness? What??). Dear Diary - I now officially let you go.

...At least it won't be a boring retirement. Hopefully, I will be a real embarassment to my future grand-children. That should be amusing.


  1. duh duh ... oh many things to say:
    1. awful to hear about your diary - really sad. sorry to hear about it. pore the duh duh.
    2. i know you enjoy the linking but do it carefully. you have forgotten a colon in your demonic resurrection link. tsk tsk.
    3. if it's any help at all, you have been embarrassing your friends for a long time. no need to wait till grand-children.


  2. ganjendra,

    1.leave us not mourn anymore. it is enough that we knew my diary for as long as we did. or 'i' did, considering you never saw it.

    2. i didn't think anyone actually bothered to check the links, was just doing it to be cool. have corrected it.

    3. thanks..'friend'.

  3. When I was learning Salsa last yr, I almost always got this back from my dance partners "Whose the guy here?! Can you let me lead you pls!"! So I totally understand! :)) And I think its cool to have tried out so many things, I keep doing so myself, though I've not been patient enough to keep a diary of it all..

  4. Hey, don't knock the macchar dance. It's fun!

  5. My first thought as I began reading your post was, "There she goes, pretending to have lost the diary, just because I'd said I'd like to read it one day."

    Then I remembered who 'she' was. NOT the most docile of damsels, NOT one that'd let you in on a big thing like that if she didn't WANT to.

    So perhaps it's really gone forever. Perhaps you'll find it again...these things happen.

    And my last thought as I finished reading? Some one, somewhere, is having THE MOST WONDERFUL READ OF HIS / HER / ITS LIFE...

    So you've made SOMEbody VERY happy!

    Some comfort in that, no?

  6. Hey! Thanks for dropping by and de-lurking... you have a nice, witty way with words.

  7. haha, that was funny.
    my six strings also sulked for like 5 years! and now i have started giving it some importance and for starters , my instructor was none less than , the prakrima guitarist, in hauz khaz ,delhi, well whatever, 2 classes and i was done...
    now i learn on my own, internets free tabs n chords being my perfect guide...

    good luck man.. for a guy like me who wants to do like a million things ,,this was an inspiring mail.

  8. Hey remember that beautiful tall girl who was officially allowed to lead me in the salsa class.. what was her name.... majhi or something.. She appears in Tele shopping netwrok now.. as one of those girls who swear that the steam belt works..

  9. Shome, her name was Naiyya. And she was allowed to lead you because she was twice your height. And on the second day, she asked you 'So, you grown any taller today?'..ha ha..

  10. ooh..and shome...salsa classes? we never took salsa classes together. those were the 'western dance hip hop classes' - where we quit after two classes because of the stupid fist pumping hindi movie steps they taught us. 'salsa' classes, it seems.

  11. She did not say, have you grown any taller.. she said so how short are you? and for how long.. ...I stepped on her toes so many times that day.. heh heh!

    They were disastrous classes.. what ever they were.. hip hop.. salsa whatever..

    But I won the chocolate!! For replicating that ridiculous Shakti Kapoor like step.. made my hip hop around alright..


Hi there. Go on, say it. Well? WELL?