Home Reflections No Music = No Life

No Music = No Life

by Vidya Sury December 11, 2013 29 comments
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Without music, my life would be empty.

I wondered, when I saw the prompt “Music”, where to begin. Should I talk about a favorite artist? Should I talk about a wonderful experience? Should I ramble about how I am an 80’s music buff?

Each song I’ve heard and know holds a memory for me. It may not be a great song, but it could take me to a happy place. Some songs simply get stuck in my head and play in a loop, refusing to let go.

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” – Plato

I have fond memories of my first music teacher – who tutored me in Carnatic Classical Vocal music. Her name was Sita and we called her Sita Mami (aunty). I was five years old at the time and attended classes at her house from 5 pm to 7 pm and she would teach me while she carried on with her cooking. Smells of sambar, mustard sputtering as she added the vegetables to cook into a curry would be wafting in her kitchen. Her daughter, Girija was around 16 or 17 and seemed far older to me. She was kind and loving to all the kids in the building. As I repeated after Sita mami, Girija would iron her clothes on a large plank. Not with an electric iron though! She would hold a flat bottomed vessel filled with boiling water with a metal grip and run it over the cloth to iron it. Very tedious and I would desperately want to iron something like that. So she would fill a small cup with lukewarm water and let me iron a handkerchief.

Every year, during Navratri, I would feel very excited to visit the houses we were invited to, and sing the songs I had learned. When Sita mami was out or busy with something else, Girija would take me through the routine to sing whatever I had learned.

On Sundays, after lunch, my Uncle would get the record player out and play a lot of Cliff Richard songs, followed by Carnatic music and songs by M S Subbulakshmi, one of my favorite artists. We played a lot of Meera Bhajans and sang along, too.

Life is a song, love is the lyrics

Years later, when I was in the fifth grade, I won a school competition and was stunned when I was awarded the princely sum of Rs.100.00 along with a couple of books.

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In the seventh grade, I moved to a different school and had the pleasure of learning some lovely songs. One of them went like this:

I am a shrimp, I am a shrimp
And I live in the sea
I’ve lovely long whiskers
That twinkle with glee
With other shrimp babies
I skip hand in hand
We play with the seaweed
And hide in the sand
We swim in the pool
In the hot summer sun
But Father shrimp tells me
Be careful, my son
For someone will come
With a net and a pail
To twiddle you up
By the tip of your tail
And then you’ll be taken
And put in the pot
And fried in the kitchen
Until you’re red hot
Then someone will swallow you
Up in a glimpse
So remember the sea
Is the best place for shrimps!

I love that song. I remember performing “Edelweiss” from The Sound of Music at a school program. One song my Mom never tired of me singing to her is “Mother of Mine” and of course, my uncle’s favorite was “Nobody’s Child”

We would have powercuts every day back then and we all looked forward to sitting on the stoop outside our house and singing and playing song tag (anthakshari) – a game where one sings a song and the next person to sing must sing a song whose first syllable begins with the last syllable of the previous person’s song. Great fun!

During Grade 7, to continue my music where I’d left off, my Mom enrolled me at the Technical College for Music. I had no option but to join the first year students as they wouldn’t admit anyone at the higher levels. I remember being bored to death singing the same beginner’s verses when I had learned a lot more with Sita mami. Luckily, school activities became a priority and I was very happy to quit that place. It was during Grade 8 that I started listening to a lot of western music – rock and pop.

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In High School, my classmates and I loved setting those mythological stories to modern Hindi film songs. For example, we would take the Ramayana and fill it with songs. I think I still have the notebook where we rewrote Shakuntala with appropriate songs for each scene! In fact, just yesterday, I met this particular friend and classmate of mine.

Once audio cassettes came into my life, I had great fun singing and recording songs. Among the three hundred odd tapes I still have, I am sure one of them has some homemade music.

​Music literally rules my life – I have a playlist for every routine task, I have a song for every situation. And fortunately, I am blessed with a son who is equally crazy about music of a different kind. He enjoys music from the 1930s to the 1950s​
​ and is in his seventh year of learning Hindustani Classical music (vocal).

Our mornings at home begin with listening to the radio, tuned into VividhBharati and enjoying old Hindi songs from 7 am to 8 am when it is time for everyone to leave. During my childhood, it was Radio Ceylon. How I used to look forward to the Binaca Geet Mala compered by Ameen Sayani on Wednesdays.

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My husband also sings very well. Ah, that brings back a sweet memory. One of my all-time favorite love songs is “Tere mere sapne” from the revolutionary 1965 movie “Guide“, sung by the legendary Mohd.Rafi, starring my favorite actors, Dev Anand and Waheeda Rehman.

This song is very special to me because after Sury asked me to marry him on my birthday in 1996, he sent me a card with the lyrics of this song. Unaware, I sent him a card too, with the same song. We were amazed when we received each other’s cards on the same day and I knew life was going to be great, no matter what. And it is.

The Hindi lyrics are very beautiful – here is a rough translation for you.

Your dreams and mine
Are now of the same hue
Wherever the paths may lead
We’re together.

My heart and yours were destined to meet
Just as the flowers are destined to bloom when spring arrives
Oh my soulmate

Your sorrows are mine
My joys are yours
Your two eyes are my sun and moon

No matter what obstacles the world presents
We will never drift apart
Once your hand is in mine
It is forever

Of course, my all time favorite song is this one: from Do Aankhen Barah Haath

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Roshan R December 11, 2013 at 9:51 pm

Tere Mere Sapne… such a lovely song. Glad that its ‘your’ song.
I would honestly still choose to go to a Cliff Richard concert over any of the modern ‘stars’…
Roshan R recently posted…Sing to me

Sid December 11, 2013 at 10:26 pm

How do you do it Vidya? Just how do you do it? The way you write just takes us to a completely different place. Love the nostalgic feel of this. And I see MS had made an appearance here too – Legend 🙂

Vidya Sury December 11, 2013 at 10:30 pm

🙂 I do a rather good “Doe, a deer” (Sound of Music) a la MS, Sid. And you, Sid, know exactly how to bring on an instant smile! Love your comment – and LOVED your post for today’s prompt!
Vidya Sury recently posted…No Music = No Life

Aditi December 12, 2013 at 12:45 am

What lovely and melodious memories…I was in Chennai for 4 years…till class 6th and I used to go to a next door home to learn music, mostly shlokas…we called her ‘Mami’ 🙂 and on festivals she used to take us to temples to recite what we have learned!
‘Ter Mere Sapne’ is my Dad’s fav song! 🙂
Amazing post Vidya…re-lived so many memories 🙂
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Cathy Graham December 12, 2013 at 4:39 am

I loved reading about your music memories, Vidya. They are so different to mine and yet similar in many ways. What a cute song about that shrimp! I have enjoyed watching Bollywood movies on occasion. Usually I have no idea what they’re singing about and the subtitles don’t always help much. But I enjoy all the fun dancing, music and bright costumes. I love the sound of the Sitar and the drums. Only problem, it makes me crave Indian food since I associate it with going to an Indian restaurant. Hehe!
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Jairam Mohan December 12, 2013 at 5:59 am

Am going to say it again, I always love your walks down memory lanes, and this one was extra special as it involved music (one of my favorite pastimes) as well. Like Sid says in his comment, you have a penchant for taking us down on these lovely walks with you.

Awesome post as usual 😀
Jairam Mohan recently posted…The Confession – Chapter 5 – Travel

Vishal Bheeroo December 12, 2013 at 11:45 am

Beautiful poem, heart warming tribute to your teacher, mom and the love u share with your husband over music.

Shiva December 12, 2013 at 12:11 pm

And you did it again!! smile on my face and tears in my eyes … thats business as usual when i your posts.. What i love about this one is who music is the backscore and the story just flows …
Shiva recently posted…Beads of nature

Seeta December 12, 2013 at 12:44 pm

Melodious memories these Vidya 🙂
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Suzy December 12, 2013 at 1:16 pm

I love Meera Bhajans and my favourite is Mane Chakar Rakho Ji. You and your hubby are definitely destined to be together. Thanks for sharing your story.

Harini Ehtimex December 12, 2013 at 1:38 pm

beautifully wirtten..

Shilpa Garg December 12, 2013 at 2:15 pm

Aha! Tere Mere Sapne on a card by both of you… that’s so sweet and romantic! Clearly that was a sign!! 🙂 A fab tribute to your music teacher. Liked the way of ironing clothes… have never seen it that way!
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Sheethal December 12, 2013 at 4:56 pm

Power cuts was our fun time too. As always loved your post. Esp the tere mere sapne story… Romantic! 🙂
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Rachna December 12, 2013 at 9:03 pm

A beautiful post, Vidya! Life is empty without music.
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Richa Singh December 12, 2013 at 10:02 pm

Aye maalik tere bande hum was mother’s most favourite song. And each time I hear this song I have gooseflesh and yes cry a little too. Your journey of music was more like mine. I too had a teacher who would have her household chores intercede the teachings, what a magical world it was…

Karen Jolly December 13, 2013 at 12:42 am

Vidya – I’ve been looking forward to reading this post. You had my at the title!! 🙂 Just going through all the songs you loved through the years brought back memories for me. Every song holds a place in our memories of exactly the time and place when we heard it – such a beautiful way to remember the best times through life.

I just wrote about taking your best memories forward into 2014 and this just really hit me as one of the most beautiful ways to do that – through songs.

Thank you Vidya – you always lift my day!
Karen Jolly recently posted…How to Keep a Happy Mind in 2014

My Inner Chick December 13, 2013 at 5:07 am

Without music, my life would be empty***

You had me on the fist sentence, dear Vidya.

Can I be completely honest and tell you that I love you more than chocolate kiss cookies and Mexican wedding cookies!

My Inner Chick recently posted…1315 Days

Kathy December 13, 2013 at 8:28 am

I simply loved reading this. I smiled throughout and could feel your exuberance in every single word which only made me smile more. There is nothing that uplifts the soul quite like music. ♥
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Pixie December 13, 2013 at 10:28 am

You took me on a musical journey! 🙂
Nothing heals the soul like music! 🙂
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Rekha December 13, 2013 at 1:18 pm

I loved that card bit with ‘Tere Mere Sapne’. Yes, you were destined to be together till eternity. Lovely choice of songs/music you have. Loved all the different quotes that you have used. 🙂
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Corinne Rodrigues December 13, 2013 at 11:42 pm

Like many other things we have in common – Mother Of Mine and Nobody’s Child were often request songs for me!
I know this is a music post, but I’m fascinated with the ‘iron’. How ingenious!
I didn’t know the card story – the Universe conspiring via music. Lovely story!
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Robert December 14, 2013 at 9:34 pm

Hi Vidja – yes, I agree, without music, my life would be quite empty as well. Music always works for me. When I’m down or when I’m not motivated, usually one or two great songs are enough to boost my energy level.

And by the way, I’m also an 80’s music fan 🙂
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Dilip December 16, 2013 at 8:29 pm

‘Music in the soul can be heard by the universe’ ~ Lao Tzu

Group singing in sat-sangs,temples and churches create divine energy which cleans the heart and mind and makes one peaceful.

Cheers 🙂
Dilip recently posted…Always believe in yourself!

Judy Charlotte January 5, 2014 at 11:46 am

Me too. Music livens my life. Without it, my life will be sad.

The Effect Some Good Old Music Can Have On Your Mood - Vidya Sury July 3, 2014 at 1:24 pm

[…] can’t live without music. It literally drives my day and my mood. I have a song for every emotion I go through. Sad songs, […]

Harbu April 6, 2020 at 6:38 am

Beautiful article! dear Vidya Sury.
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vishal kumar July 28, 2020 at 3:12 pm

you can explore everything through music. I am music addicted

Arun Kumar February 22, 2021 at 5:41 pm

हाय विद्या – हाँ, मैं सहमत हूँ, संगीत के बिना, मेरा जीवन भी काफी खाली होगा। संगीत हमेशा मेरे लिए काम करता है। जब मैं नीचे या जब मैं प्रेरित नहीं होता हूं, तो आमतौर पर एक या दो महान गाने मेरे ऊर्जा स्तर को बढ़ावा देने के लिए पर्याप्त होते हैं। मै भी बिहार के गायकों के लिए भोजपुरी गानों का लिरिक्स लिखता हूं जिसने भजन निर्गुण प्रचुर मात्रा में होती है।
और वैसे, मैं 80 से 90 के दशक का संगीत प्रशंसक भी हूं

Vikram Singh May 27, 2022 at 4:58 pm

nice article music is love and love is life


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