Sunday, November 2, 2014

A little Jazzy

I went to this Jazz performance organized by the India Habitat Center as part of the Delhi International Arts Festival. That was last evening. A Czech quartet performed with the chelo and violin. An hour or so. I was late for the performance. Generally I am one who respects performances and always makes it a point to be seated well before the beginning of the performance. But an unforeseen traffic condition was responsible for my late arrival. Fortunately I had friends reserving a seat for me. They had even denied it to a pretty girl who had asked if it was available. It was a very hearty gesture on the part of testosterone charged young males fuelled by flamboyant “pick up” acts by suave Hollywood actors on screen.

But back to the point. The Jazz. The quartet. The amazing symphony in the air. From the moment I sat down, I was captivated. The music was enchanting. Alluring. Beyond description even with the difficult words that my English school teacher had taught me. I was transported to a different timezone and space altogether. With my eyes closed I suddenly found myself on the streets of Florence. The sinewy cobbled streets, the ancient stone buildings, the rustic iron gates, the narrow charming streets, dimly lit by the golden glow of the street lamps hunching over from the stony pavements or crooning from the tall houses. And I was walking in these streets. Like a hundred other beautifully dressed people. With smiles on their faces and arms around each other. And some of them even did a little jig with the music! And the pretty women had bouquets in their arms. The men all wore crisp shirts and had their arms through their partners’. And they leaned against each other. Some shared a cone of gelato. Some ate queer Paninis. And they all smiled.

And suddenly the rhythm changed. And I was teleported again. To a scene from very many years ago. I was inside a cartoon. A cat chased a mouse…to the rhythms of the quartet. A mischievous grey cat with a white dipstick tail and a diminutive brown mouse with pink ears! And a burly bulldog who was convinced that the cat was the cause for all his troubles. And they ran hither and thither, chasing each other, hitting posts, stepping on rakes, running into frying pans! It was a chaotic comedy. From years of the past. When tears were rare and jokes were simple. When comedy was not bounded by age. When father and sons sat together and shared a laugh over the same television show. Parental guidance was a term which we hadn’t heard of yet.

And then again the tunes changed. I was now in a ball room. The ones they had in those old Hollywood movies…set in Austria. And there were beautifully dressed women around me. They wore long satin dresses. That seemed to float as they moved. And they had blue eyes and they always seemed to sigh as they spoke. The men had very carefully set hair. And black coats. With shiny boots. And they danced with the women. Holding them at the waists and swirling them around in sync with the music. And the women sighed. That’s all they seemed to do. And smile. The music peaked and troughed and they danced to the tempo…floating gracefully around or bobbing with the beats. And there were was champagne being served…in quaintly shaped glasses on silver oval trays by men with white gloves.

The music stopped. There was clapping all around. Even a few hoots. It was a standing ovation. For the quartet who now stood side by side bowing to the audience. I got up too. Clapped. The show was over. People started to leave. As I left the auditorium with my friends I felt very light. The music was still playing in my head. All I had known about jazz was only a name that I had heard. John Coltrane. That’s just it. But now I felt very different. I felt like an enlightened soul. I did a jig up the stairs. A little tap of the feet too…

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