Music

Birds are not musicians; they are songs

White-Throated Kingfishers sound like a jackhammer in the hands of a jazz drummer. Asian Koels can be mistaken for star-crossed Shakespearean strangers cooing goodbye one last time. Black-Winged Kites shriek as though they are auditioning for musical satires. If the world was any crueler, music labels would hire poachers to hunt down Malabar Hornbills, and steal their summer playlists.

The most beautiful bird call I have ever heard belongs to a whistler in an electric blue coat. Found in the Western Ghats, it is the Beethoven of alarm clocks.

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A train song

We have lost people to distance. A part of us gets up, packs up its bags and leaves. However sweet the goodbye. Or brief the quota of time we had with them. It’s still as though something is broken. It can’t be fixed, no matter how hard we try. We may know that things will be better soon. And we may move on quicker than what we think is possible. It doesn’t mean that we can forget the sound of it.

Whenever someone important to me disappears from my life, I hear the passing of a distant train from a bygone era. Even if they are taking the bus, going to the airport or walking down the road, the squealing of an old steam horn beseeches me. And I feel safe and warm.

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A symphony of decyrption: Mind over Madonna

In a perfect world, nobody would feel guilty about listening to any sort of music. But we do. And it’s not just because the world we inhabit is, at best, a tragicomedy. Music isn’t an art form anymore. It is a business unit in the entertainment industry. Success has as much to do with talent as it does with marketing budgets and social media strategies.

I do more push-ups when I listen to Madonna’s Ray Of Light. When she sings “and I feel like I just got home”, I am inspired to work out a little extra. But I feel terrible after it. I want to cleanse myself in unicorn milk, button-up my shirt, backcomb my hair and be a good boy.

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Songs for stringless kites

A kite soars,
sans a string, above
crowded streets and
the wind whistles a lengthy tune,
steering it over curry leaf trees
that cough up a stiff, browning
breeze to caress its paper- mache 
cheeks, rerouting its soul
to wild, weightless worlds.

Black Kite, Chennai

Black Kite, Chennai

I think I can commute long distances without listening to music. I am also confident about typing a full sentence using just my big toe. But these are things I don’t want to find out. Music has, during my weekend trails, made a long-distance swimmer out of me. Only while birding for bonuses through bus windows or striking up a conversation with a passenger do I put my headphones away. I have forgotten to pack trekking shoes, towels and torchlights on several occasions; never my precious headphones.

I no longer have favorite bands or songs or albums. I have plenty of time for any form of good music . And I have playlists. They are like a favorite pillow, whether soft cushions or the gently-aching belly slopes, on which I can sleep peacefully.

A 15-track playlist for the silent bus traveler in you.

Alt J – Tessellate Llive from the Africa Centre)

M S Viswanathan & TK Ramamoorthy – Viswanathan Velai Vendum

Sigur Rós – Olsen Olsen (Live from Heima)

Hundred Waters – Down the Rafters

Ilaiyaraaja –  Punnagai Mannan Theme

Blue Man Group (feat Dave Matthews) – Sing Along

Alu – Martian Rendezvous

Patrick Watson – Lighthouse

Caribou (feat Luke Lalonde & One Little Plane) – Melody Day 

Ilaiyaraja – Background score for Pallavi Anu Pallavi

Lynyrd Skynyrd – Free Bird

Carter Burwell – Exercise In Darkness

Rolfe Kent – Abandoning The Wedding

Ilaiyaraja – Thendral Vanthu Theendum

Branches – Chim-Chim Cheree