Yatra of Kashi – 1

The city is Eternal … Kashi, Banaras, Varanasi … any name you know it by, the city, and her magic remain eternal. For, unlike other cities, where different names denote different aspects of the character of the city, with Banaras, its just the Eternal City. Having been at Banaras for four years, there is a soft corner i have for the city. And its not just because i have been there. Banaras is, after all, the city which is topmost in the mind of Hindus the world over. In weddings in the southern part of the country, in fact, the groom is supposed to go for a Kashi Yatra, taking Sanyaas rather than marrying the girl (if only men were so intelligent as to carry it out), and the father-in-law-to-be and the brother-in-law-to-be need to persuade the groom to give up his designs (evil folks there) and marry their daughter or sister (double-evil folks), as Chetan Bhagat has explained in his book, 2 States. But when i talk about Kashi Yatra, i have a totally different meaning in mind. One with mushaayraas, fashion shows, theatre, JAM, rock music … the festival at IT-BHU. A couple of weeks back, i got the chance to go back for KY after more than 15 years. And what an experience it was. Not just being there, but the whole process from conceptualizing it, to the planning, jamming, and the show. And actually, it was the journey which made it so amazing … much more than the climax.

By now you must be wondering what i am writing about. For those not in the know, i was a drummer when at college. This year, some of the most amazing musicians i have seen or played with got together to play at the old college … of course, as we later figured out, it was also about giving the kids a decent rock education. But thats beside the point.

So, what am i talking about? A number of things. Which is why it would take more than one post to write about the entire journey. Because the journey begins at a point which is the dream of social computing evangelists. Now, those of you from IT-BHU, or music buffs would not be too pleased with that reference, but thats the way it was. Let me explain. How did the idea of an alumni band, with guys from across batches, playing at the college fest germinate? Simple … on facebook. How? Let me tell.

A few months ago … and alcohol does do wonders at times … having a discussion with the Old Monk … i came up with a wierd idea … something i never did when i was at college, and something i wouldnt be able to do now, given the girth … cycling from Lanka to Vishwakarma Hostel. I dont know the distance, but its much more than my waistline, or my cholesterol-ridden heart, or the bicycle, for that matter, can handle. But thats not the point. I and Shamik Raj Mendiratta got discussing about this idea. From here, me and Nitin Bhatt came up with the idea of jamming at KP (King’s Pavillion, for the uninitiated, is the home of rock in BHU, with some of the best amateur rock bands having played here). This was jamming for old times sake, to bring back memories (more about this later, but for the moment, i am just telling the story). From here, over the next week or so (again thanks to Old Monk) came the idea of playing at KY.

At this point, the entire idea remained there. It came a little forward with Jaya Sharma telling me that KY was happening in January, 2010, and me posting on the IT-BHU group telling guys about the KY dates, and asking guys what they think about the idea of playing at KP. These were tentative thoughts at this stage, which i was putting there, simply because i wasnt sure of where they would lead, if at all they would lead anywhere. This was in November 2009, and this is where Amit Pande took up the entire management of things. Pande was amazing. He took up the entire management of the journey to KY, starting from talking to people across cities across India (when Amit is in Singapore), getting people together on the same page. Pande got everyone of the musicians (across batches … oftentimes guys we didnt even know about) on the same page on facebook. He got in touch with folks, just out of sheer enthu to explore the idea, rather than to recruit guys for the show, and explored a number of possibilities from which emerged a shape which was seen at KY. This included connecting with guys, discussing their ideas about what we could do, and so on. Once this somewhat got organized, Pande took to the organization of things in a way i havent seen before. For example, this was the first time i had a conference call to discuss which songs we need to play at the college fest. Well, in a nutshell, from this point on, it was all about Pande’s managerial skills, managing the logistics of people (most important), getting ideas together from people (creating the group on facebook where everyone of the musicians connected), and getting their opinions about music, along with working out schedules, finding out who would be available when for jamming, and then working out everything from there on … Hats off, Pande.

This much for this … more to come!

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