Monday, July 6, 2015

To sell a tune

      The oval shaped joggers’ park has always got a rush hour. People normally start coming when the Sun is somewhere behind the mangroves, daylight is still there and the pavement bulbs are no lit yet. As the sunlight keeps dying, the flow of people keeps growing. This rush stays for at least two hours, people of all ages come and form the crowd that sweat its way to be healthy. The last few weeks I also have been trying to be there during the rush hour and be a part of the sweating crowd. 

     There are many kinds of people that come to the park. It will take only a few days for you to observe and identify different types. There is a group of middle aged ladies, at the wrong side of forty .They come daily, act like they are here to lose some calories, but in reality what they do is to discuss topics that all other middle aged women discuss when they meet; the only exception being that they take a lazy stroll while they talk. There are a few whom you see only once or twice, they come in all kinds of dresses. Some of this one timers come in jeans, some girls come as if they are almost ready for a photo shoot ( with make-up and hair dressing already done , if you ask them they will be ready in jiffy; perhaps they come with a hope to meet some celebrity by chance). There is the bodybuilders group, who come in their oversized vests showing the cuts and biceps they possess. I have never seen them running, some of them hang on to the parallel iron bars and others keep advising them. Another type even comes in formals; I wonder why they come at all. 
       Then there is one kind which is serious. They come regularly, they stretch lot longer than the others and when they finish stretching they run. They sweat, they humph but never stop running early. If you are regular, you can recognise them by faces. There is one curly haired girl who always comes with the same pouch – her hair neatly tied with a new multi-coloured scarf every time. There is short guy who does not look like a runner at all; rather to me he looks like a delivery boy of any one of the many delicious restaurants from the nearby market. There is one bald, strong man who wears a solid golden chain, who keeps babbling to himself while he runs.
This serious lot always come with a full package, sports tee shirts, light weight running shoes and a mobile or some other music device like a ipod, either strapped to their arm or kept in their pocket. All of their ears are plugged in with music that help them to set up a nice rhythm or to sing inspiration to their ears to keep going for that extra mile. When I see them, I always wish if I would have been like them, so fit and so lean they all are. I also started to visit the park, sometimes twice, sometimes thrice a week. I can’t be like them but at least I got my ears plugged in with those kinds of music. This gives such an impression to any passer-by that they will definitely take to be a part of the serious lot.  Thus I started running; however the fact is that I run less and stroll more, observing and identifying the types of people that visit the park. 

     The last time I visited the park, I forgot my earphone. I had my mobile, but it’s of no use during the rush hour. I felt odd, thought I should return home and get that earphone, but other part of me (the lazy part) biased my decision. I stretched a little, and then I started strolling, surrounded by all decibels coming from the street, from the mangrove beside the park and from the crowd of the rush hour. The oval shaped park has a shade in the middle, with a few benches to sit when you are tired, to stretch when you are fresh.

When I approached the shade that day, I heard someone playing a very melodic tune on the flute. An old melody which I heard so many times, but somehow I could not remember the song. Anyway, I strolled towards the shade looking around for the source of the tune. Just opposite to the park, across the road, there are a few tall luxury apartments. Upon the gate of one such apartment, there was a flute-man. With around hundred flutes of different sizes and scales stuck on a bamboo pole, he was the one playing the tune .Without my earphone to sing me a song; I liked the sound of the flute very much. Keeping my stroll ahead, I thought lets quicken up a bit, the faster I comeback near the shade, I earlier I would listen to the flute-seller. I sped up a little, converting the stroll into a jog only to listen to the flute sooner. On my next approach to the shade, he was still playing the same tune. 
    I wondered looking at the apartments, would any kid from these buildings buy a flute! I took another lap, approached the shade again, this time the flute-man was moving. He had just finished his earlier song, played a brief random piece. That didn't sound familiar. I crossed him, crossed the shade, he began to play same earlier tune again. He was moving away slowly, perhaps he realized that it’s not the proper sale point for him. My light jog converted to a run to come back to the tune which was fading away in a distance faster. I completed another lap, sweating on my way; I could hear the same tune becoming louder with each of my step over the running pavement. He had stopped at the end of the park, trying to lure the commuters to buy a flute. I thought it would be nice if he plays a different tune now. Trying to attract people with the same banner would definitely not help him with the sale. I decided to go for another round, to see whether he plays another or not. Deliberately my feet were moving slow, to give the flute-man time to finish his tune and pick up another. This time when I got back the end of park, there was no tune, the flute-man was nowhere to be seen. 

    Tired by now and sweating, the lazy me woke up again. I called it a day, stretched back a little bit, like all the serious type does. When I got out from there, I remembered I had to withdraw money from the ATM. The nearest working ATM was a bit far, towards the other end of the market. I walked to towards the ATM, slowly getting my breath back. I wondered what song the flute-man would have played next. Did he know a song for each mood, could he play a happy song if I request, could he play a lullaby, my train of thought was not leaving the flute-man real soon! After withdrawing the money when I was about to return, then again I heard the same tune. This time it was near the Coffee shop. I couldn't resist myself from heading towards the Coffee shop. I met him, an old man with dark screen but clean clothes. My approach brought a smile to his face, probably the thought of a prospective customer. He said," Take any one Saab, small ones are for fifty a piece, the larger one for eighty. All scales are available, for cinema songs, for bhajans, all are there." I never had any skill for such things; neither was I there to buy a flute. I was there to find out and advise him, why he played the same tune. I asked him," Bhaiya, why do you play the same song, if you want to attract people, you have to play other tunes also. I have been listening to you for last one hour; you played the same over and over again".  

     He said," Saab, I have an old wife waiting for me to bring food tonight. I have not sold a single flute in two days. This is the only tune that I can play. If to sell a flute I have to play the same tune whole day long, I will do that. I will do that till my breath holds. I can't beg to feed my wife." He started walk playing the brief random piece towards the market, probably in the search of his lone buyer of the day. 

      From the coffee shop, I watched him lost in the crowd. Only his long bamboo pole with hundred flutes was visible over the countless black heads and the same tune was spread on the air. I thought,perhaps I played the flute.

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