Perceptions. Tastes. Sensibilities. Beliefs. How they change with time. At least in my case they have. When I now think of the days when I was, say, twenty-five, I cringe with embarrassment.
When I was twenty-five, I believed one should marry only a virgin; considered it my birthright to know all about the past lovers of my lovers; was happy wearing Titan watches; drank only rum; always wore formals to work; hero-worshipped Khushwant Singh and envied Shobhaa De; disliked Bengali women; and hated the singer Bhupinder Singh.
But Exposure and Introspection are two angels who hold your hands and lead you out of the darkened cell where society had condemned you to live. Under the sun, you see things in a different light, besides seeing new things.
Take Bhupinder Singh, for example. The ghazal singer started his career in the film industry as a guitarist for the music director Madan Mohan (Bhupinder played the guitar in Tum jo mil gaye ho from Hanste Zakhm, the famous car-drive-in-rain song featuring Navin Nischol). He also sang small bits for Madan Mohan and S.D. Burman before he became a guitarist for R.D. Burman, who gave Bhupinder his first real break as a singer in Gulzar's Parichay, in which he sang the immortal Beeti na bitaaye raina.
Somehow, I could never bring myself to liking Bhupinder Singh. To me, he was a singer who suffered from a perpetual nasal block. I often felt like holding out a handkerchief to him: "Please blow your nose, you will sound better." And being a fan of Kishore Kumar, who threw his voice straight out of his lungs into the microphone, there was no way I could like Bhupinder. I pitied his fans -- including my father, who loved the song, Do deewane sheher mein.
That was then. Today, readers of Ganga Mail know what a great fan of Bhupinder I am. If there is ever a fire at home and I am allowed to save only 10 songs, the top two would be Bhupinder's: Raat banoon main and Aawaz di hai. Kishore Kumar's songs I can find anywhere, but these are two songs I had to work really hard to trace. They have entered my bloodstream and I simply cannot do without them.
So what brought about the change of heart? How did a singer, who I thought always suffered from a bad cold, come to possess a voice that I now think is silky and lilting? The answer lies in the song you see at the bottom of this post. The song, written by Gulzar and set to tune by R.D. Burman, changed forever the way I listened to Bhupinder Singh. Only Gulzar can write poetry that can detect sensuality in the commonest of things; and only R.D. could have whipped such static verses into a song.
And today, fifteen years after I first heard this song, it has also changed the way I look at women.
Women are the most wonderful thing to have happened to mankind -- we all know that. From time to time, poems have been written about the depth of their eyes, the lusciousness of their lips, the fulness of their breasts, the curves of their hips, the warmth in between their thighs, and so on. But are they really poetry or just lessons in anatomy?
The woman deserves greater tribute. How closely have you observed her when she:
Wakes up in the morning;
Makes you breakfast;
Comes out of bath, her face glowing and hair wet;
Pulls out a set a set of clothes from the wardrobe to decide what to wear for work;
Turns to you for advice when she can't decide what to wear;
Waves at you as she drives away;
Chops vegetables for dinner;
Changes the bedsheets;
Arranges the flowers before the guests arrive;
Buys nothing for herself but something for you whenever she visits the mall alone;
Takes ownership of the child so that you're not distracted from work;
Is pally with your drinking buddies;
But frowns when you drink too much;
Forgives you even if you get drunk?
A man is all about reality, but a woman -- even in reality -- is poetry. You just have to observe her -- the smallest things about her -- like Gulzar did in this song: