18 Nov, 2008
Posted by: hammy In: Music and me
Second left, he said. The second left from the ATM machine, and then we have to take a right. Then we take the third right and follow it up with a second left. Or maybe it was the third left and follow that up with a third right. I don’t really know. My brother, Lewin, was at the steering helm of the bike. I was in charge of sitting in the backseat, squinting at street signs. That didn’t do any good, of course. We were cruising the dark, unlit streets at 11 in the night, and street signs seemed impervious to eye squints.. But I kept squinting anyway. I had to do my part.
The quest started today morning, when the kin got a message that somewhere, somehow, a guitar was about to be sold off. Some weary student had apparently gotten tired of the six stringed callus maker and had decided to focus on his job. Alert and agile as ever, Lewin sprang to his phone and called me up.
“Bro. Guitar on sale”
This would be the second guitar I bought this year; additions to the aging relic of an acoustic guitar that dad had given me a long time back. It may not strike you odd that a guy would start hoarding the instrument like squirrels gathering nuts for the winter. But then you don’t know that
- I’m not taking guitar lessons – I’m trying to learn all by myself; A DIY project. I have concluded, after hours of observation, that all you really need is the P, D, & D factors – Practice, Determination, and Dedication. As long as you have those, you don’t really need a tutor. You can get right on the guitar and start playing.
- I don’t really have the P, D, OR D - In fact, the only chord I can still play at ease is the C major chord, and I can’t even do that without inspiring latent homicidal tendencies within my immediate neighbors. My own version of the C major chord has a raspy, metallic ting to it that some people find annoying.
My history with the six stringed instrument has been interesting. My dad is a gifted musician, known to swoon captive audiences across generations with his deep voice and trusty guitar. He has always encouraged delusions that his first born had somehow inherited the talent through the genetic ladder. Dad’s gullible that way. His first born is not the ladder climbing kind; he’s still praying for the genetic escalator. One of dad’s encouraging tales about his learning the guitar was how he practiced in spite of getting his fingertips cut by the strings when he was young. Guitars, I had concluded, were dangerous. In any case, I was simply content being part of the clapping audience.
But I’ve always admired the instrument, and during my stint as an undercover MBA student, during which I mostly stayed under the bed sheet covers, I had Nash for a roomie. When Nash wasn’t talking on his mobile phone or making goofy facial expressions, he used to play a mean guitar. The trouble was, he was always talking on the mobile or making goofy facial expressions. He was a self taught guitarist and frequently commented on how he learned what he did in a span of two years. And he never bled his fingertips on the strings. This was very encouraging. “If Nash can, so can you”, echoed the grey cells, who, frankly, should have known better, and hence started my intermittent dedication to master the instrument.
The first step, as instructed by Nash after three cans of beer, was to play the C major chord. And I’ve been playing that ever since. Of course I haven’t been always as dedicated. Most of the time, I get distracted by movies, TV, or something really shiny. But from time to time, the Hammy blood gets revved up and I get back to retuning the guitar and returning to my trusty C major chord. Inevitably, the blood stops revving after a while and life gets reset to status-quo.
The true secret of life, as you know, is to hide failures behind a charade of excuses, and my favourite fall-back on this particular failure has been that I didn’t have a good guitar to practice on. It was a good one, too, was this excuse. Well, not anymore. Lewin had kept a radar surveillance on the market for second hand guitars, and it was natural for him to hear about the potential seller as soon as he posted the notice. And here we are, mere hours later; after navigating a maze of unlit street corners; after a three minute discussion on why the guitar was being sold – reasons I remember not, money in the sellers pocket and the guitar hung on my shoulder. Another guitar bought. Another plague of C majors gone wrong. Another vow taken to be meticulous and disciplined in my guitar practice.
Another barefaced lie.
But I know me. Oh, do I ever. It’s only a matter of time before I find a new excuse. I’m a genius that way. Only a matter of time.. Meanwhile, want to hear me sound the C major chord? Drop by. I have cookies.