In search of success…

Posted: November 2, 2016 in Uncategorized

Please read  my previous post before you get into this one.

I started looking for options to perfect some dance moves to “elevate” my social status. The only way to play music at my home (to practice) was an old tape-recorder. But the sound was too much, in case my mother would tip-toe and hear it from the other side of the door of our house. Do note that being from the lower middle class, I did not have a room for myself. It was at this time that I was gifted a Sony Walkman, along with a cassette which had remixes of popular English songs, one being “Everybody”, by Backstreet boys. I saw potential in that song for dance. I do not need to use “volume 1” in the tape-recorder anymore. Now that the problem of playing a song for practice was solved, I looked for opportunities to learn steps and choreograph my piece. Fortunately, my mother was a bit socially active. She participated in almost all of the social gatherings in our housing society, because dad worked abroad. Also, she did those chores which needed going out, like going to the bank. I took advantage of that and watched as many dances in the TV as possible.


I successfully choreographed and practiced for days. I grew so confident that I practiced it even when my mom was home. Once she saw me practicing, and was quick to comment that this will cause a lot of shame to me, as I dance as awkwardly as a giraffe with its right front leg cut off and torn ligament in other knees. But that didn’t bring me down, much against her expectations. I waited for a stage to experiment, to know if I will be accepted by the audience. I waited, like a warrior waiting to hear the battle cry. And then, the wait was over.


My first stage was a modest one. It was the annual pooja day (usually on the Indian Republic Day) in our housing society, an evening when everyone showcases their skills, be it art, sports or flirting. There were running races, musical chairs, sack races and the likes of it. I stayed away from them this time, because I wanted all my energy for my first performance. I waited patiently. It was just before the dinner buffet, when the dance competition was announced. There were only three competitors, other than me. The three were the usual ones who showed up, and had very mediocre performances (think of those trolls in Facebook which show adolescents dancing with distorted backgrounds and shitty desi music). Then it was my turn. My mother warned me from going on the stage. Am I someone to listen?


I was wearing my best jeans and t-shirt. The music started, and I stopped feeling the real world. I was back there, in my living room, with my headphones and determination on. I had a lot to prove, and I danced. Just the way I wanted myself to. At some points, reality tries to sneak in, and shows me the audience cheering their hearts out. They never saw such a performance on that terrace. People clapping to the beats, hooting and shouting to keep me going. And on one corner, I could see my mother, with her handkerchief in her mouth. The music stopped, and I stopped, with the finishing move I planned, exactly in the same way I wanted. The crowd cheered on, and all my neighbors coming to me, patting me, hugging me and shouting “Bravo. Everyone asked one question to me, “You never told us that you go to dance classes”. One of my neighbors, who was really close to my mother, opened her bag of rants on my mom for not keeping her updated of my family’s whereabouts.


My mother was shocked at the reaction of others. She simply didn’t expect this to happen. But she was quick to adapt. She said that I practiced all of it and it was a result of a lot of practice and inspiration from her that I could do it. And she had her hand on my head when she hugged me. I was feeling so loved, after so long, that I couldn’t shout out the facts.


The whole event made me very confident. I started pursuing for more competitions. I starting bordering over-confidence, which led to some shaming and an obstacle to my dancing “career”. Find out next.


I think I am going to be one of those people who get old and reflect, only to find their life worthless. They look back at what they did, and most importantly what they didn’t. They may get a smile or two when they think of their off-beat achievements, but those shoots go profoundly unnoticed as they sit in the roots of the rainforests of things they couldn’t achieve.

I was born in a middle class family with a to-heck-with-bread-winning attitude. Being such a “self-destructive combination”, I have always tried to fly higher, but I never seemed to use the “normal” way. My parents always warned that the way I am using to reach the sky is not “real and healthy”, and I must follow the “right” way! The biggest problem in my life as a boy were to stop playing, stop singing, stop dancing and start studying. Studying was the only point in my KPI for being a good boy – everything else was either a hobby or a waste of time. Hobbies were not quite encouraged though, as the child’s enthusiasm in it may eat up study time. Hobbies related to studies, like writing self-assigned homework, tidying study area, creating a weekly time table for studies, packing bags for the next day et cetera were  probably the only ones encouraged. Studying has be your ultimate goal as a child; or else, as the legend goes, you become a good-for-nothing tramp!


But I used to be a revolutionist (the first masala to the story). My parents barred me from singing, and I practiced for a competition for patriotic songs in the bathroom, (singers, ever practiced normal-high pitched songs in squeaky voices). Even though the results were devastating (was oblivious to that), I still remember spending half an hour each every time I go, just to practice. It may be normal for a boy who attained puberty to stay back in the bathroom for that much time (if you know what I mean), but I was still 9. This unexpected downtime did raise suspicion. I had to make something up. I used to take bottle caps to bathroom from the day I felt that my father wasobserving me. Once when he asked, I explained that I get late because I play in the bathroom with them. I used to make swirls in the water bucket with my hands and let the caps float in them, and imagine them as pirate ships caught in a swirl in the sea. And I sing songs to dramatize the scene. As they already had an impression that I was borderline crazy, they bought the story. But going back, I would never believe my child if she ever says that. Who sings Indian patriotic songs when a pirate ship sinks?


Thus, I never practiced in full range of my voice and I never knew my limits. To top that, I had no idea about song selection. No teachers to teach, no singers to guide, and my competition had all that. I lost fair and square in those few stages I participated. I never wanted to quit though, and my bathroom sessions continued. But then, my parents were not too oblivious about my participations. Slowly, and emotionally, they barred me completely from it.


I started growing up, and when I reached 7th grade, I saw around myself that a certain amount of social status must be acquired in order to survive the highly cosmopolitan life of a backward Mumbai suburb. And I saw an easy way to get a lot of it. A classmate of mine, who looks half of his age (imagine that), showcased a brilliant western dance performance and he got elevated to the alpha status overnight. I saw the real power of a stage performance right there. I wanted to become that rock-star which he is now. But hey, do I dance?


I thought of getting expert advice on it. But because that comes at a price, I thought of seeking some free advice. No free online forums or Youtube videos were accessible back then, so I sought asylum at the only social media platform that was available for free to school kids, the television. The problem there (the list of problems doesn’t end here) was western dance was available in channels banned in Indian families, namely the MTV and Channel V. Dead end? I don’t think so. I can never quit that easily. But I need to find a solution where I can watch channels which have “highly explicit sexual content” in front of my parents for hours. Will I do that, find out next…




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