It happened 6 months ago or maybe more… Myself and Falguni were discussing if we could do a meetup for our soldiers. And as it happens the entire world conspired to make it happen. Aparna provided us the connections and we got some amazing support from Rajeev in AirForce. So here we were on a train to Jodhpur from Mumbai. I was joined by Shammas from Bangalore and Falguni, Bapa, Chakrabarthy Da, Mangla, Akanksha, Raju, Kiran and one and only one Alok joined us from Mumbai. Always great to be on a train but what happened in our 19 hour journey was something unbelievable. We were carrying laptops and USB speakers and music was just waiting to erupt. And it did…. All of us are anyway used to singing anywhere and everywhere but it took some time for others around to open up but then we ended up having one song after another for hours together. Akanksha as expected was most wanted but all of us pitched in. People from all over the train were giving us their requests and enjoying the songs. All of us even got free Pizzas from our neighbours. That is some journey. The evening was sealed by some nice sandwiches by Kiran and we reached Jodhpur next day morning. And Aparna also came over from Delhi.
And as we reach the Army area, we were feeling great. Army band practiced few songs with us and we saw the place where we were supposed to perform in the evening. Zaheer had arrived from Bangalore and then we had amazing practice sessions in the hotel. I was so glad to see how all the singers helped each other with singing. Lot of people who are on the other side of stage never realize that singing is such a team work specially when you do duets. I also had a song and I made lot of mistakes and I was so scared of Mangla. She is an encyclopedia of music and when she says something, all of us listen. Finaly Shammas helped me with the song I was singing much better, at least compared to myself. I had to do a Veeru/Basanti as me and Aparna were hosting the show and I was so so nervous. Aparna is a stage artist and she made me a little bit comfortable by talking like Basanti to me. And then the amphi theater started filling up. It was a huge place and we probably had 1800 people there. We started with Aye mere watan ke logon by Akanksha. When she sings it, almost everybody gets goosebumps. And the songs kept pouring and the audience applause also. Lot of kids came on the stage and danced to their heart’s content. It was an amazing feeling performing in front of our soldiers. Expressing our love and gratitude by singing for them. I loved my gig with Aparna as Veeru/Basanti. My only worry was not to get beaten up by her husband someday as he is also in Airforce.
The music did not get over even after the concert. We continued till late night in Airforce mess. It was almost 1 when we were done. And it was not done even after we were back in hotel. All of us sat in a room and saw all the pics and videos on TV and Alok’s comments had all of us in splits for over 2 hrs. I am sure most of us have not laughed like this for ages. The next day started with a trip to Mehrangarh fort. And music can never stay away from us when we are together. It started as we were going around in the fort and then we met some amazing musicians sitting in the fort and the jugalbandi sessions we had with them were just out of the world. Large crowds gathered around as we sang. We adjusted our styles of singing to the musical instruments and the artists in the fort also matched us song to song. The overall experience was just amazing.
After the visit to fort we hit the famous Janta Sweets and as you might expect, music erupted again. It was so nice to see everybody in the restaurant enjoying it and 3 girls who were engineering students joined us. We asked them also to sing few songs. This is the best part of our musical journey. People join us in the most unexpected ways and we become friends for life.
And then the evening held for us something even more interesting. Dhanno ( not his real name but I am in Sholay mood ) had made arrangements for us to visit a village 40kms from Jodhpur and we reach 100 acre baajra farm. So nice to see so much greenery in a place which is assumed to be a desert. A traditional Marwari family was our host. We went around in the farm and plucked moong dal and had it directly. And as you might expect, music erupted again. In this amazing place with background of birds chirping, we had an awesome time. Besides music, amazing comedy by Alok just stole the show. And the music ended only when the women of the house asked us to have some amazing Daal Baati. All the women of the house served us with so much love and affection that we were blown away.
And as I return back to Bangalore, I am thinking how music has taken us to so many places. Brought happiness to so many people and also to lot of us. And I am telling myself again and again, our non commercial journey to spread happiness via music will continue on and on and on…..