Digitizing Memories with a Techno-Bhajan Mix

The year was 1995, the place, Berlin. The Berlin Wall col­lapse was still in pub­lic mem­o­ry, and a per­son­al wall was col­laps­ing for me in the form of my first stay abroad. As a twen­ty-some­thing year old young man, this trip opened new doors for me — explor­ing the WWW, devel­op­ing per­son­al friend­ships with Euro­peans, attend­ing live clas­si­cal con­certs and an Opera, and buy­ing 50 west­ern clas­si­cal music CDs to bring back with me (as they weren’t avail­able in India then).

There are many unfor­get­table mem­o­ries of those days. My part­ner from India was a Jew, and we once searched for the only syn­a­gogue in the cap­i­tal of the Nazis. On wan­der­ing unsuc­cess­ful­ly in the area near the address, we final­ly gath­ered courage to ask a cou­ple of secu­ri­ty guards out­side a gov­ern­ment build­ing. The guards were hold­ing the most lethal weapon I had ever seen up close, and since my part­ner couldn’t speak Ger­man, I had to do the deed. We final­ly dis­cov­ered that that build­ing itself was the syn­a­gogue, and it was closed on a Sun­day, and the guards were part of rou­tine 24x7 secu­ri­ty.

I made many friends dur­ing my stay. Wild week­end par­ty­ing with a cou­ple of graph­ic artists who spent half the year work­ing in Ger­many, and the oth­er half par­ty­ing in Goa. A French col­league who pro­grammed, cooked, sailed his yacht in the Atlantic, with whom I dis­cov­ered com­mon inter­ests like astron­o­my, phi­los­o­phy, and quan­tum mechan­ics. A gen­tle Ger­man friend who played the Moon­light Sonata for me in his liv­ing room, and showed me videos of Her­bert von Kara­jan rehears­ing with his orches­tra. Tech­no music was the ‘in-thing’ in Europe at the time, with all the pubs and dis­cos groov­ing to it.

Anoth­er col­league, Ste­fan, told me that he too played the Tabla, and I was tak­en aback. It turned out that he had it as one of the instru­ments on his syn­the­siz­er, which he had also hooked up with his PC. When I vis­it­ed him, I fid­dled with the key­board and soon my Dhu­mali bha­jan taal (rhythm) had his curios­i­ty piqued. He added a cool tech­no beat to it. I then added some Tamb­o­ra with a twist, and he added some drums. A flute, some vocals, and some tech­no sound effects com­plet­ed the track. It was Ste­fan who final­ly used soft­ware to edit and give struc­ture to the track, but this was my first (and only) exper­i­ment with com­pos­ing music!

I recent­ly played a real tabla after a very long gap of over 20 years, and real­ized that if I want­ed to play any­thing worth­while, I’d have to give up work­ing and blog­ging!

This is a low fideli­ty MP3 ver­sion cre­at­ed from a 1995 audio cas­sette, using the record­ing and noise fil­ter­ing tech­nique described in my first arti­cle on MakeUseOf.com. Now, I couldn’t pass up plug­ging that could I? 🙂

Dis­claimer: This tech­no-bha­jan is not meant to offend the reli­gious sen­ti­ments of any ultra-con­ser­v­a­tives, includ­ing all types of human or ape ‘Dal’s and ‘Sena’s. Click­ing the Play but­ton absolves the author of any moral trans­gres­sions.

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  • If it is tru­ly the only track ever, then this is a part of a rare col­lec­tion. 🙂

    I doubt if you will have to give up work­ing and blog­ging. Just work­ing should be enough! 😉 You will need to blog about it, won’t you?

    Hope you find the right group soon, to make some­thing new!

  • Dev

    That was very good music! Liv­ing in Ger­many in 1995 must be fun and very dif­fer­ent, I sus­pect. Thanks for shar­ing.

  • Mahen­dra

    Wow, that was more than just a mp3 file. Real­ly cool mem­o­ries and all.:) Did you say 1995 and WWW? Boy, I had seen a com­put­er once by then!

    I thor­ough­ly enjoyed the first 3 min­utes. After that it just got too much Tech­noish. 😉

    And its great that you are play­ing again. Real­ly cool! Won’t you ask for a rat­ing? LOL


  • Mahen­dra

    That you had to write that post-script makes me sad and angry at the same time. (in Eng­lish I doubt there is one word that cap­tures the Hindi/ San­skrit “kshob­ha”…).

  • //This is a low fideli­ty MP3 ver­sion cre­at­ed from a 1995 audio cassette…//

    Ok, I’m rel­a­tive­ly new to this whole blog­ging thing, so at the risk of sound­ing com­plete­ly *d-uh* — where’s the file? Is there an “attach­ment equiv­a­lent” or some­thing? I read this post 3 times only to look for a link; last resort clicked on those pic­tures (don’t laugh)!

    From your descrip­tion, it sounds very inter­est­ing; would love to hear it.

    On anoth­er note, Pune + Ger­many in ’95 — do the names Rajeev D’thali & Aparna P’kar ring a bell? If you know them, I’m sure you’ll know exact­ly who I’m talk­ing about 🙂


  • I through­ly enjoyed read­ing this post.. more than the music, it is the mix of cul­tures and the open­ing of a whole new world, the awe of which you have so apt­ly cap­tured, makes the post.. i dont have the speak­ers and couldn’t lis­ten to the exper­i­ment though.. 🙁

  • Mahen­dra, nice to get a glimpse from your past. About your want­i­ng to play the tabla, it’s strange isn’t it how many things blog­ging pre­vents us from doing!

  • bendtherulz

    Loved the music, but then I love fusion a lot. LOL @ dis­claimer.…. !!

    ps — wild week­end par­ty­ing hmm­m­mm .….!!