… and you’re never too young to mosh.
Children get introduced to the music their parents like inadvertently and early, and that gets flung in my face often enough when the Brat is in one of his dark moods. The OA will groan… “I told you not to listen to so much Floyd when you were pregnant…”
And so our kids wake up to country music, the house rings with classic rock through the day and the sun sets over the balcony with jazz on the radio. But with rock shows mostly held in pubs and smoky clubs, it’s not really easy to take them for live shows, to say nothing of the music being too loud for kids. Over the years they have visited the venue while the band is setting up, if friends are playing but not stayed on once the show really kicked in.
I’ve seen lots of people who work in the music industry bring their kids as young as two months to shows and I appreciate that. I just don’t have the guts to do it myself. When this convenient open air festival came up I jumped at it. We got there fresh and early with Oye Pancho, a music promoter. He is of course over-enthu about his niece and nephew being introduced to ‘good’ music early – whatever that might be. So we went for the Rocktoberfest in the Garden of Five Senses.
The OA and I wondered how we’d manage them when we reached the venue. An amphitheatre with no real seating …just a mud slope with boulders and a few benches scattered around. I sat my ass down and told the OA he was on his own. My knees were not feeling too good after scrambling up the slope and the thought of running up and down for the rest of the evening sent shivers down my err.. knee. The OA girded his loins for the challenge that lay ahead and I shifted around on the gravel realising that my aged butt wasn’t as comfortable and unconcerned about what it was seated on as it might have been ten years ago. Yeah, this is where you shoot me. Or I shoot myself.
We needn’t have worried really. The kids figured out soon that their big, burly, long haired uncle, Oye Pancho (henceforth referred to as OP) was the man in charge, that this was his turf. We were irrelevant almost immediately. They stuck to him like leeches and followed him around like puppies. To be honest, the OA and I did try to keep them with us (not too hard!) but he was so enthusiastic about taking care of them that we gave up bothering and enjoyed the music. That on stage, as well as off stage.
Some of the highlights of the evening were him panting out, “Now I know how papa (he’s always called the OA papa) stays so fit!” At another point he admitted to realising how eyeballs can move in two different directions at the same time. “One of them went up the slope, the other went down and I didn’t know which one to follow. So I tried logic. Which one will gravity effect more?”
He took them backstage to check it out, they shook hands with all the musicians while on stage and I will never forget the image of my little son sitting on the shoulders of this burly man, waving out to me from the spotlight on stage. A little boy around the Bean’s age (his father was a drummer) took a fancy to her and wanted to keep her with him. The Brat didn’t take to that idea very well and dragged his sister back. The OA groaned – here was his one chance to have some drumming connection one way or another. It was one of his dreams and I keep trying to shoo him out to learn but it doesn’t seem to be happening.
And all this while I sat there with my heart in my mouth, watching the Bean trip up and down (she has my sense of balance or the lack thereof) the rocky hillock, willing myself to breathe and let go. The Brat took off by himself a couple of times and I was so proud of my little man who was willing to head out and explore and clamber up and slither down without whining or troubling us for anything. I looked around for familiar faces and found few. Most of those who I hung out with in the good old day have either moved on or been at too many of these to come anymore. There were mostly people who were atleast five years younger.
I did feel like a bit of a has-been until I noticed a bunch of other parents who are dragging their similar aged kids around and going nuts chasing them. That and the fact that there were older people, grey, balding, limping, sitting in chairs unlike the rest of us on the ground, all sipping their beer, taking a drag… Old rockers never really die..
Ustad Amjad Ali Khan was playing that very evening at a park and most of our friends with kids were going to that event. We’d considered it because it is also something we’d appreciate. But then we realised that our first love is this sort of music and I’m glad we made that choice and stayed true to ourselves. At one point both kids were dancing to the music and were down in the mosh pit when I started laughing. They’ve started way earlier than I did and I love it. Just as much as I don’t appreciate little kids doing the pelvic thrust to Bollywood numbers at parties. I guess we’re all frauds deep down!
The music was fantastic and I have never seen the Raghu Dixit project live before. They were better than I’d imagined. You must hear Hey bhagwan if you haven’t already. And then Gudgudiya sedi nodo – a Kannada song that an all North Indian crowd soaked in and enjoyed to the hilt. The kids were fascinated and calmed down when Mrigya came on. They’re simply fantastic.
I was hoping they wouldn’t get bored and they didn’t. It was partly the live music, partly the excitement you could feel in the air, partly the venue and partly the fact that they were just instinctively at home. A fact that tickled me no end. By the end of it, the Brat lay down on my outstretched legs and the Bean fell asleep in my arms while I sat there holding on to both with super human effort. Having had a good feed of biryani and without troubling to go to the loo they curled into me without a word and closed their eyes. And thats the other part of being a parent. No matter how tired you are, or how uncomfortable you are, you can still stretch yourself to make your child comfortable and I think the beauty of it is that they never know uncomfortable you are with half your ass hanging off a bench, your arms aching with their weight and your neck twisted into an odd angle to support them. Finally the OA lifted the Brat off me into his own arms, I shifted into some semblance of ease with the Bean in my arms and Oye Pancho relaxed over a well deserved beer! Just three adults (who in their head were at that moment back to being 18!) enjoying a beautiful evening.
I think OP needed the beer after the nth person looked at him in shock and stuttered, “When did you have kids? And not one, but two?!” There are those who worked out a neat sign system too. A shocked raised eyebrow, two fingers up in the air… After two comments on how like him they looked he began to promptly introduce them as nephew and niece before anyone had time to react! It’s amazing how people will find similarities if they imagine you are related!! The OA, fortunately, was rather amused. To me its just nice to see someone love two children so much that he wasted pretty much an entire evening of music just caring for them, entertaining them and preventing them from sliding down rocks and killing themselves.
Sitting there, holding two sleepy, exhausted content babies in my arms, my butt soldered to the floor, my knee stiff, the breeze nippy, the crowd swaying, I was suddenly mommy, rocker chick and girlfriend all at the same time.
I felt this deep sense of satisfaction at having shared something that is important to me, with the little people who are important to me. People often talk of passing on their culture to their kids. I wonder what that means because most often nothing of what they talk about rings a bell with me. And yet as I sat there, watching the little brother and sister gambol around literally, the music in the background becoming a sort of soundtrack to their lives I realised this is what I am passing on to them. Waking up to country music and hymns. Hindi music and classic rock through the day. And jazz in the evenings while they chow down their dinner, whining away in time to it. I am passing on to them my love for music of every kind. It made me feel grown up all of a sudden. I had something to pass on?!
Sometimes you can go through days and months and years feeling unfufilled and incomplete. And then something small happens and you get locked into that little circle, that little bubble where everything that ever mattered to you is in one place and you realise that sometimes it does take others to complete you and its not always from within yourself alone.
Some pictures from the evening. The slope on which I sat, and the stage up ahead.
The brats hanging off their father.Well they couldn’t entirely give him a break, could they?!
Because you guys keep asking for pictures of me. Well – I was there. With the red band on my wrist. OP got the kids bands too because they were so darn excited!