Growing up with the guitar

Growing up with the guitar

From the albums

Growing up with the guitar

This picture was taken in 1990 at Town Hall during the annual music event, organised by the employees of MICO and residents of the then MICO Layout (now known as BTM Layout). I was 12 years old and this was my first ever live gig.

The four of us in the picture went to guitar classes together, conducted by Bhasker Mayben (who unfortunately passed away a few years ago). We were his only students and he very sweetly got us a slot to perform in the programme. Each of us was besieged by conflicting emotions— we were both nervous and thrilled at the same time.

      We were supposed to wear coordinated outfits which was a white shirt
with matching black trousers and either black or grey shoes. Bhasker insisted that we dress in formals and I still remember that he got us a red bow tie to complete the look.

Standing on the extreme left is HR Venkatesh, who was a year junior to me in school. He and I were in kindergarten together but went to different schools later on. We lived in the same neighbourhood and every evening he would either be at my place or I, at his. We were both single children in our respective families. More than being best buddies, we were like brothers.

We did all the typical boy things together like learning the guitar and took almost the same subjects. We also went to Christ College together. He became a journalist but I didn’t take to it though it was my subject in college, and chose to be a musician instead. We are still in touch.

Next to him is Hitesh, who I met only at the guitar class. He also lived in the neighbourhood and I can’t forget him because his house had this very small but immaculate garden which consistently won the best garden award instituted by MICO Resident’s Welfare Association. This apart, he would always make it a point to read and play music while I was lazy to read music but enjoyed playing it by ear.

      Manish is on the extreme right. I didn’t know much about him and completely lost touch with him after the guitar classes. It seemed like he came to class only because it was fun and not because he was serious about it.

I was very nervous on the day of the performance simply because I had never been in front of such a large audience. There were only two microphones and one of them was placed before me. We had performed three instrumental numbers and I recall only two of them —  ‘Foot Tapper’, a popular song from the 1950s and ‘Vara Veena’ by Purandaradasa. We did well and before I could soak in it all, the performance ended.

I began studying music in school. I studied from grade one to five in the Home School in Basavanagudi and from class six to 10 in the Parent Teacher Association School near Ashoka Pillar. I went through school wanting more than anything to become a fighter pilot — and my father, KS Parameswaran, always told me to follow my heart, do what I loved, and to do it well.

 He was a great friend to me so when he passed away in 1993, my life turned upside down. Somehow, this interest in music came back to the fore and my mother, Mayuri, was extremely supportive. She remains a beacon of strength and determination for me even to this day.

   That’s how I found my expression and love for music once again and formed ‘Thermal and a Quarter’ in 1996. I’ve performed across world stages but the memories of this picture will remain with me forever.

Bruce Lee Mani
(Founder of ‘Thermal and a Quarter’)

(As told to Nina C George)

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