Going alone for kutcheris is a new experience for yours truly, being always flanked by parents on either side. This time, I had to brave the big bad world out there on my own. And I realised what every person between the ages of 18 and 24 goes through while going for a kutcheri all alone. Here’s a list of the ten people you’ll never miss in a kutcheri.
1. The screaming mama: An almost extinct species. These are the ones who’ll stand up and scream after a particularly good rendition. They’ll actually be praising the artists on stage, but their tone will be such that, one would actually think they’re cursing instead. Oh and they always scream only in English.
2. The raga-tala expert: It’s rare to find a combination of this in one person. Ever sat next to a person who looked like they were in a different world while listening? A moment after that they will turn to you and say “What a brilliant Todi that was!” The singer would’ve painstakingly sung for over half-an-hour, not Todi, but Bhairavi. The tala expert is the standard mama or mami shaking their heads vigourously and with the very same vigour, getting the tala wrong.
3. The tongue clicker: Oh them! They need to make that annoying tongue clicking sound once every phrase sometimes, once every swara. Their entire vocabulary consists of that one sound. They must’ve learnt Swahili in 30 days.
4. The starers: It has happened to me more than once. There’s always a mami/mama staring at you or at the space next to you. Why? No one ever knows. The truth is out there, I guess!
5. The foreigner in a saree/kurta: The cutest. The best part is the way they carry themselves, especially the women, in Indian wear.
6. The ones who always make their presence felt: There’s always at least one person who walks in after the first song is over and methodically says namaskaaram to all the artists on stage. Whether he really knows them or not is out of the question. Of course, the performers always reply politely.
7. The consistent bale-sayer: Bale, shabash are standard expressions used to show one’s appreciation. Sometimes it becomes an overdose. Once I was at a kutcheri where a mama sitting behind me kept sayinfg,”Beauty, beauty”. I had a vague feeling, just a vague one, mind you, of being in a cricket stadium.
8. The comparer: The singer would’ve started singing Saveri. The person sitting next to you would immediately turn to you and say, “Musiri oru saveri paaduvar paaren!” Give the young ones a break.
9. The gossip: “Did you know that XYZ refused to sing for free? How sad.” “Oh ABC is officially senile now!” Stop gossiping already and let other listeners have a good time!
10. The tani avarthanam leavers: The ones I truly hate. What is it about the tani that people just cannot stay put for another 5-10 minutes. If they’re getting late, they might as well have left when the musician sings the neraval! I mean, most people who attend kutcheris have a decent knowledge as to when the main piece is going to be. But, despite repeated warnings, these people continue to leave during the tani.
There were others that almost made it to the top ten list. These were – The mama turning to you asking if you learn music and then going on to expound the importance of practice; The person who always asks you to watch his or her bag; The kid kicking your chair from behind; The ones who always tread over toes (and that hurts!); and the sleeping elderly.
Ah! Us poor youngsters!