I have a place where I spend at least an hour a day. It is probably the only place that I can call exclusively mine. The stereo, which is the centerpiece of this place of mine, starts the moment I enter and sit down. I keep it stocked with all my favorite songs, which I keep within easy reach from where I always sit. From Deep Purple to Guns N’ Roses, Emmylou Harris to Jim Reeves, Mozart to Vivaldi, Youssou N’dour to James Blunt, Coldplay to Greenday, Bob Dylan to U2, Zaituokung to Daduhi – they are all there, just waiting to keep me company. It is the one and only place where I am the Boss, and anyone entering the place listens to what I play – and yours truly normally does not do requests – except for my daughter who has me wrapped around her fingers. In any case, with me, she doesn’t request – she just goes ahead and puts in whatever it is she wants to hear. I’m happy listening to what she wants to hear, as long as I have her for company.
I have the place to myself on weekdays. After a hard day’s work, I rush in to relax and find comfort in my music. I am often found lingering there more than necessary, especially after a tiring day at work, or when a particularly good piece is playing on the stereo. Friends and my better half occasionally drop in on weekends. They have all come to accept that listening to whatever music I play is a part of the price they have to pay to enter this place of mine – because the music simply never stops as long as I am there. Even the more religious minded have been serenaded by the likes of Jewel, Tracy Chapman or Cyndi Lauper in this place of mine. Depending on my mood, I am known to occasionally do some requests, or turn down the volume. The volume, though, usually returns to its original level after some time. I have perfected the art of returning the volume to its original level little by little by fiddling with the volume control whenever the person is not looking.
The place has all the comforts of modern life including an air conditioner, which is switched on only when my better half comes calling – for me it does not matter one way or the other, as long as the stereo is there and my collection within easy reach from my seat. The Delhi heat and my humdrum existence fade away as soon as the stereo starts, and I’m transported into another world.
If you happen to pass by Motibagh Crossing around 9:30 in the morning or 6:00 in the evening on any weekday, you will find me comfortably ensconced in this place of mine. It shouldn’t be difficult to spot me – I’ll be the one drumming my finger on the steering wheel, listening to my music, as I patiently wait for the lights to turn green along with the other drivers.
Delhi, 3 Sept 2006