Unbidden, my mind went back to certain other evenings of fun. Perhaps, my mind went back to that because of the reports I had seen about the loads of money that had been in circulation for this whole “cricket” extravaganza to take off.
This post is not a “in the good old days” exercise. Nor do I make any value judgements. I just go down memory lane.
Two of my friends* would come home and we would have tea and some snacks. Then we would walk about three kilometres through the deserted streets of Mysore. The streets would be called deserted now but that would be a fairly normal state for the roads in Mysore then. Our destination? A magical shop called Chandru’s Sound Systems in Sivarampet.
When we reached the shop we would either find a few regulars there, perhaps, or we were the first ones to enter the shop. We would settle down on a bench and lean against the white washed wall. On the way to the shop, we would have come to some decisions, making sure that we had 50 paise among the three of us. The time had now come to execute those decisions.
Our decisions would be conveyed to the reticent, almost dour, Chandru. He would ponderously get up and go into the sanctum sanctorum and come back with two EPs**. The two songs that we had told him we wanted to listen to would now be played. Most often these songs were of Geeta Dutt, as both my friends were great fans of hers. Of course, there would be some songs of Asha (Bhosle), Hemant (Kumar), (Mohammed) Rafi and Talat (Mahmood) and others. One fairly common thread in these songs would be O P Nayyar.
By then we would have bought the privilege of listening to the two songs for a grand sum of 5 paise. (three paise if you wanted to listen to only one song). While Chandru was in the sanctum sanctorum fishing these EPs, we would have ordered tea, (at 20 paise per cup and we would have two-by-three) from the shop attached to Chandru’s. We would sip the tea, from greenish coloured glass tumblers with blow holes in them, and listen to the songs with great attention.
We would drink the tea very slowly with the hope that some other connoisseur would walk in and request some other songs that we liked. If no one turned up, we would spend the remaining 5 paise and listen to two more songs. If we were particularly rich that evening, that is, we had more than 50 paise among the three of us, we would loosen our purse strings and even ask for two more songs or have some more tea.
Once our coffers had run dry and no others had come to the shop to request for songs, we would reluctantly leave the place. We would then walk through Sayyaji Rao Road in the Mysore market area, still humming one song or the other we had heard that evening and return home after an evening well spent.
* The two friends are still my friends and are Chini and Suresh (Ramdurgkar)
** EPs are Extended Play gramaphone records with a song on each side of the disc.
Pssssssst: It was a bonanza if someone from the nearby Maharani’s (womens’) College Hostel came at the same time to listen some songs. There were a few, though not many.