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My son’s summer hols start this Friday. Madhya venal avadiyaayi…now that is a famous ‘70s song. Come end-March, all kids of my generation would be humming that tune, but never me…

One summer, many many years ago, while running around in our backyard, I tripped on something, fell face first on a concrete slab, lost four of my front teeth and conked. After the mad rush to the hospital, extraction, stitches, etc., while I was lay groggy, my mouth full of sugar, the radio blithely started up… Madhya venal avadiyaayi. From that day on whenever I hear the song, I taste blood and sugar in my mouth.

OK, now about the pics. My mom’s brother, Koshy John, a national award-winning photographer (more about him later), used to live with us and we kids were his fav subjects. (The pics appeared in Kudumba Deepam, May 1974)

We grew up on a rich diet of diverse sounds – Bryan Adams, America, Beatles, Bread, Clapton, CCR, CSNY, Dire Straits, Purple, Doors, Dylan, Eagles, Elvis, Hendrix, Marley, Floyd, Queen, Santana, Simon & Garfunkel, Status Quo, Stones, Rod Stewart. Original cassettes were difficult to obtain and if you wanted to own a piece of music, you had to, um… pirate.

Stop, fast forward…I found a job, bought a lot of cassettes, happy…till the CDs came along. Then I started buying CDs, the usual suspects… Bryan Adams, America, Beatles, Bread, Clapton…there is a very fine line separating hobby and obsessive compulsive behaviour.

Last week I picked up Bob Marley Africa Unite Singles Collection. Started playing it and couldn’t stop grinning…lemme explain.

Many years ago, we were regulars at an LP-to-cassette joint on Broadway. Once, after getting Bob Marley Hits copied, I was noting down the song titles and I noticed the pretty shopgirl intently watching me write. Hmm…good…I wrote ‘Could You be Loved?’ and looked deep into her eyes…she blushed, and I bolted. But for many years after that, I could never walk down Broadway without humming, ‘could you be could you be could you be loved’.

Buffalo Soldier was another special track from the period and a concert staple, and it was Bobby who deciphered the song…

Buffalo Soldier uppu chaak uppu chaak
Dreadlock Rasta uppu chaak uppu chaak
There was a Buffalo Soldier uppu chaak uppu chaak,
in the heart of America uppu chaak uppu chaak

Serious! Listen here. The Sangham singing harmony…uppu chaak uppu chaak, now that is my fav concert memory.

Vaal kashnam: A Pullepady bhai sitting stoned on the rail track lost his legs to a train. Asked if he didn’t see/ hear the train coming, the loco drawled, “No, but loved the Rastaman Vibrations”. BHH.

Sangham at Mercy
Jose, Shibu, Biju, TV, Babu, Bobby & Diji.
We keep jamming at Mercy, but meeting Shibu after 25 years made this jam very special.
Below are our Maharaja’s College Ooty trip pics.

TV, Jose, Aby, Biju, Babu & Mookkan

TV, Jose, Babu & Shibu

Remember reading in the Reader’s Digest when I was 16 an article on the ‘power of goals’, about a guy who made a list of things he wanted to accomplish in his life and how he went about blah blah blah typical inspirational stuff…Anyway, it inspired me to make a list of my own, don’t remember much about that list except that Brooke Shields was in it, and for some strange reason ‘run a marathon’.

A few days after this, my neighbour Pookka asked me if I wanted to jog with him in the mornings. (Detour: Pookka is 13 years senior to me, he has two brothers – Aakka, who is my age, and Ani, 10 years younger to me. Many years later, when I told a friend about the age-gap between the brothers, his response was ‘the fun never ends in Pookka’s house’, sung to the tune of the Black Thunder jingle)

I bought a new pair of shoes, wrote 42195 on one shoe and 2:8:13 on the other (marathon distance in metres and the then world-record time of Alberto Salazar respectively) and started my marathon quest. Within a few months we were doing about 5 km with coupla breaks and in real good time – then I moved to REC, quickly build a reputation for being physically uncoordinated and had to stay off the track to protect my rep. But even today I keep track of the marathon scene, and am sure that one day I will run a marathon, even if it takes 14 hours, 24 minutes and 36 seconds, like the Maruti Suzuki K Series engine.

Maruti Marathon

TV Ad. Check out the display on the finish clock when the ‘sprinter who can win the marathon’ finally does it.

Ammankovil Road. My room was a 7 feet x 5 feet cell, with just enough space for a cot, table, chair and a book-shelf. It was in this room that i discovered s*x, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. Below is a SketchUp reconstruction.

bk-room-120209’80s – Maharaja’s, REC
Lennon, Boss, Knofler, CSNY
Cowboy, Spiderman, Godfather, Abstract Art – Amerika phase




Bobby, Rojo, Top (top) and Mookkan


Late ’80s, Early ’90s. So many women, so little time…Anupama Varma, Mallika Sarabhai, Michelle Pfeiffer, Amala, Neelam Kothari, Brooke Shields, Anuradha Kapoor, Meenakshi Sheshadri, Mehr Jesia, Debra Winger, Poonam Gidwani…


Check out the survivors here


After two years in exile we are back in Ammankovil Road. Do drop in…

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April 2021