Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Sweating as if I were in Chennai, I laid the receiver down gingerly. Out of reverence for the person at the other end. More out of relief, actually. I had just conducted my first interview completely in Tamil. This was the only language that my late maternal grandmum could speak and I speak it everyday with various people. With my flawed grammar and laugh out loud pronounciation I'm more than a source of amusement for these people. But I never thought my broken sentences and stuttering phrases would have to reach the ears of T.S. 'Vikku' Vinayakaram.
I've heard his fingers drum an unflinching tattoo on the ghatam too many times to count, solo, with Shakti and others. I've been held in thrall as he raced through the most unforgiving time signatures with the same noncholance that the rest of us channel surf. All those times I never dreamed I'd one day speak to him, let alone in Tamil.
He was every bit as affable as I had imagined. Carnatic musicians usually are in comparison to their Hindustani cousins, with exceptions of course. He even refrained from laughing at my more feeble attempts at translating my questions.
A few years later as I sat, almost at his feet, taking photos of his flying fingers and his characteristic ghatam toss finale, the events of that interview rushed through my brain. Luckily, this time, I didn't have to say a word.