Coming back to life

Sunday. Traditionally a day of rest and relaxation.


First of all, I slept in till 10:30am. Woke up to an empty house – apart from Judo and Honey (the latter being my cat, in case you didn’t know), I seemed to be the only living thing on the premises.

Turns out that wife and kid had disappeared to (a) have Anjali’s ears pierced (something I have resisted since she was born, believing the choice should be hers, not ours), and (b) to attend a dog show! As if they didn’t have enough of doggy stuff at home! Judo was going around with a hang-human (as opposed to “hang-dog”) expression on his face. ;-)

OK, so I was alone.

Goodie! (Picture a purposeful rubbing of hands, with slanted eyebrows and an evil chuckle on the soundtrack).

Before I could do any major damage, the electricians came in to finish the wiring of the den, which proceded at a satisfactory pace. As promised, the wiring is done, overhead lighting installed, separate earth and circuit-breakers in place. If nothing else, the place has now acquired a higher level of usability.

While the women were absconding, I sat down, finished email and surfing, sucked several megabytes of raw HTML from the web into my Palm Vx, then grabbed a guitar and learnt a few new (read “old” – I am stuck in the 60s musically) songs. Started with an old favourite of mine – “Learning to fly”. Then, inspired by Phenom, I decided to try “Coming back to life”.

As I did, I felt a strong itch developing, and it took a while to figure out what it was. Turns out that I was hearing a guitar sound on the speakers that rang some strong bells down memory lane – a particular sound that I knew long ago, when my jeans were still size 29….

Yes, that sound was almost identical to what an old electric guitar of mine (a Cochin-made Paloma) used to produce – a very trebly, middy kind of sound. I knew that sound like I knew the back of my hand – after all I played that guitar for almost a decade before I acquired my current Ibanez. (My bandmates used to call it “Frankenstein”, which tells you just how much customising I was doing on that thing).

Now, here was the cause of the itch – I still have that guitar, rotting in its case for almost a decade, completely non-functional. This needed to be fixed!

Gesagt, getan (you have to understand German to get this). I dug out the old Paloma, and got to work.

Within minutes, I had that old thing in front me, completely disassembled (a warm feeling in the tummy – I prided myself at being able to strip the old axe down and reassembling it faster than anyone ever could). Over the next few hours, the smell of industrial-strength cleaner, varnish, solder and metal polish filled the air, along with a selection of curses and grunts. Slowly, from under the “gunk of ages” emerged my old faithful Paloma. It even had my trademark “A” logo on the headstock, stuck there long ago by a former girlfriend of mine….

Took the old axe down to the garage, plugged in mixer, reverb, amp and mikes, and hit a chord.

To understand what happened next, pull out an old photo album, and leaf through it for a while. Stop every now and then and recall a particular memory. Feel that lump in your throat? Feel yourself transported back there, when you were young and carefree? Feel that moistness in the eyes?

That’s what I felt. I ran through a few Beatles numbers – and they felt just right. My fingers quickly remembered all those quirks that the Paloma had, and even knew to carefully avoid the sharp edge around the 12th fret. The sound was exactly the way I remembered it (and as I had imagined I heard on the speakers hours before).

Memories came flooding back, and closing my eyes, I imagined Mario yelling encouragement from behind his drums, as Robert manfully tried to cover for my goofs with sharp riffs.

The Paloma isn’t a classic Les Paul (my dream guitar – I hope to own one someday), nor is it a Fender Stratocaster. Heck – it isn’t even a low-end Givson. But it is mine. My first professional electric guitar. And it plays just as it did back in 1979 when I first got it.

I am sorry for ignoring you for so long, old friend. It won’t happen again.

Lost in thought and lost in time
While the seeds of life and the seeds of change were planted
Outside the rain fell dark and slow
While I pondered on this dangerous but irresistible pastime
I took a heavenly ride through our silence
I knew the moment had arrived
For killing the past and coming back to life

–”Coming Back to Life”, Pink Floyd