An unseen passion for music

Unique Hobbies

An unseen passion for music

When a blind man could learn to play a harmonica faster than he could pick up Braille, it speaks volumes of his love for music. 

R Sudhindra, who works at HAL, is unlike any musician one could come across. Though he doesn’t know how his collection of musical instruments looks, his fingers and ears are more than adequate for him to continue his passion for them. 

Self taught since the age of three, he reminisces about the first instrument that came into his life. “When I was really young, I used to be uncontrollable and my father bought me a toy harmonica to keep me occupied. I would listen to ‘Boney M’ and Rajkumar and just started playing their tunes without knowing how,” recalls Sudhindra. He has a clear memory of the first ever concert he played at his school, Tunbridge High School, at the age of seven. 

Sudhindra has come a long way since, and his collection of instruments has grown manifold, with additions like the brass flute, keyboard, recorder (Chinese flute), morching (jaw harp), banjar, Morocco (an African drum), melodeons and even an Irish pan-flute to now boast of. 

“A few years later, the harmonica got replaced by the Indian bamboo flute. Soon after that, I visited my cousin who owned a keyboard and as soon as I put my fingers on the keys, I started to play Que Sera Sera. I didn’t even know the notes!” he adds. 

It’s not only a love for instruments that keeps him going; he sings in multiple languages too. “I can sing over 250 songs in English, three Persian, four Arabic, and numerous Hindi and Kannada songs too. I’m now trying my hand at Japanese songs!” shares the 31-year-old.

“I listen to a lot of English and Western music. But I also enjoy the Kannada bhaavageethes, Hindustani classical and fusion music. I have tried to compose songs myself, but have not been very successful,” he confesses. His favourite three songs of all time, he says, are ‘Wake Me Up’ by ‘Wham’, ‘Leaving on a Jet Plane’ by John Denver and ‘Vincent’ by Don McLean.” Talking about his experiences with other instruments, he says, “I once went to a shop to buy a clarinet.

But the first time I tried it, my head started spinning and I knew it wasn’t the right instrument for me. I casually asked the owner if he had a melodeon and he did. Since it was broken, he gave it to me for free.”  He also remembers how he once heard Bismillah Khan playing the shehnai in a Kannada film called Sanadi Appana and pestered his father to get one, which he learnt in just two days. But string instruments have never worked out for him.  “I tried the guitar at the age of 14, but I only broke the strings,” he laughs. “Even with percussion, I can play it for the heck of it. But it doesn’t extract the same feeling as my pan-flute does.”  What is awe-inspiring is the ease with which he plays his instruments, seemingly unaware of his ‘disability’. “Feeling is more comfortable than seeing because I can visualise the instrument and play it how I like. I know it is day when I can feel the sunrise. In the same way, I can touch a clarinet and know it’s not made for me,” he jokes, pointing out that it is too big, has to be tuned and consumes too much energy to play.  If not busy with his instruments, Sudhindra can be found penning down poems. “I have written more than 300 poems and am inspired by the writings of William Wordsworth, H W Longfellow, Lord Alfred Tennyson and Walter de la Mare. I write in their style about nature, love and practical situations,” he notes.

On a serious note, he adds, “More than poems, music is my friend whenever I get bored or unhappy. I’m a jack of all trades, master of none. But as soon as I place my hand on an instrument, the song comes out,” he smiles. 

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