Comfortably Numb

Sheila Kumar's Storehouse

Published on: 05/25/13 12:44 PM

Humour: After the Jethro Tull concert in Bangalore


The visit

The ageing rock star smiled. He liked what he saw of the Garden City.

Balmy weather, with the plush hotel’s air conditioner taking the biting edge off the heat. Masses of exotic greenery.  Lots of exciting food offered every few minutes by his hospitable hosts.

He continued to smile as he surveyed the motley crowd of press people in front of him. A bit subdued, this lot, compared with some of the paparazzi he had tangled with in his long and illustrious career, he mused.

Earlier, he had given them an abridged version on surviving in the fast lane of rock and roll for 25 years. Now he was waiting for questions.

The press people seemed a biot distracted, earnestly exchanging information between themselves. Ah, they were probably awed by his reputation or maybe his Scottish brogue had been tough to follow.

Words like `RDX,` `satta Don` floated back to  the legend. He decided they were framing some toughies for him to answer. However, he was beginning to tire of this waiting, so he also decided to get down among them and mingle

Surprises were in store for the musician from the West. He met crime reporters, sports reporters, corespondents from the regional desk.  In this country, maybe these were the people who covered rock shows, he thought a trifle bemusedly.

They were beginning to thaw, though and questions came his way. He was asked about the prospects of the English cricket team, the current marital status of the Prince of Wales. He was asked, somewhat belligerently,  if his prowess with the flute had anything to do with training under someone named Chaurasia.

Nonplussed, the rocker stared at them through tawny eyes. However, there was no let up.

A pretty young thing sashayed up to him and gushed, “Oh, it’s such a thrill having you here.“ Even as the man started to smile his killer smile, she continued breathlessly, “I have always been a huge fan of Genesis.“

Stunned, the rocker shot a furtive look at himself in the giant mirror on the wall to his left. He knew he was losing hair but surely he hadn’t started to resemble Phil Collins?

Have you met Madonna? Have you played the flute for Michael Jackson  Or collaborated with the Red Hot Chili Peppers? Does your wife play music? Are you religious? Will you play the guitar for us?

The questions came thick and fast, each one leaving the star of the interview speechless and wincingly so, at that. Noting his dazed expression, an aide stepped up and whispered, “The real fans are outside.“

“Good, I need to see them,“  the rocker muttered and put a speedy end to the Press conference.

Outside , a crowd of about 400 people jostled, shoved and craned their necks for a glimpse of the legend. Many sported T–shirts with `Led Zeppelin` and `Deep Purple` emblazoned on them. Some carried wooden flutes. The star felt another massive wince coming on.

As he stepped out on the patio, a roar went up. Two seconds later, the rock wonder decoded the words of that roar and the smile was wiped off that famous craggy face. “Come on Jim.“ “Long Live the Doors,“ went the crowd lustily.

After a full minute, the ageing rock star smiled. Jim Morrison. The Doors. You guys are remembered, he thought to himself wryly.

It would take him a long time to forget this city. But he would try; by God, he’d try.

This ran in DECCAN HERALD of sometime June 1994.

Ian AndersonJethro Tull

Sheila Kumar • May 25, 2013

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