In the year 1978, I was on my way along with Dad to attend the Good Friday mass at a church at Broadway, Chennai. Our bus was making its way and stopped somewhere close to Sowcarpet. The conductor announced that it had broken down. We got down and had to walk a little distance to get to the next bus stop. As we made our way through the busy road, I noticed that a portion of the road had been festooned high up with coloured flags and flowers. There was some function coming up and preparations were on in full swing. A group of young boys, younger than me, were dancing passionately while the popular song ‘Oh Kaike Paan Banaras Wala’ from the Hindi blockbuster Don, was being played through loud speakers. Dad in front was walking at a steady pace looking out for the next bus while my pace slowed down every time my eyes looked at the footwork of the boys dancing. At one point in the song after the interlude, the song stops fully while the playback singer takes off with the next paragraph. It was so beautiful to see the boys stop and gesture exactly like Amitabhji and take off with the dance again.
Realizing the distance that had grown between me and Dad, I hurried a little and caught up with him while my mind was still fully into the dancing. I really wanted to dance with abandon but I knew that it would be something that Dad would never approve. And so, I kept walking, went past the dancing scene and still moved on looking back while heading for the bus stop.
There came up another situation years later, while I was at college,. Our batch was returning to Chennai after a day long trip to Neyveyli. After dusk set in, there was singing and revelry inside the bus. A few of my batchmates, mostly friends from the North, started dancing to the tune of a Rajinikanth Tamil song. My feet kept tapping to the tune of the songs that followed and the temptation that grew inside me was so big that I could not sit quietly. Towards the end of the trip, to the surprise of all my batchmates, I was there up and dancing. Once we got down from the bus, a few commented saying “Hey man, I cannot believe that this guy danced”. Their expression made me feel as though I had done something I should not have done.
Many years rolled by and I had got into a job with my first employer in Chennai. My colleagues and I were at a marriage reception in Chennai. We had got in there pretty early and were waiting for the bride and the groom to arrive. The guests were slowly coming in and I could see the seats getting filled up. My friend Soumitra from Kolkata sat beside me. In a flash he was up and dancing to the tune of the popular song ‘Ek Dho Teen Chaar Panche Saath’. The crowd seated there were mostly South Indians and almost all of them were surprised seeing this young man dance in the middle of a silent crowd. Soumitra was in full flow initially and then soon realized that not one in the crowd were clapping or supporting his dance. His energy drained and as I was sitting close to where he was performing, I could see the embarrassment that was slowly dressing his face. He was almost on the verge of giving up and some kind of gloom dressed his face. Soon my Divisional General Manager, who was from Mumbai, got up and clapped for him. At that moment, I got up and joined him and danced along with him. I could see the relief on Soumitra’s face. We continued and danced for two more songs and then went back to our seats. He shook hands with me and gave a sigh of relief. I could see it on his face that day. Thereafter, I got a few chances to dance with him on other occasions. I wouldn’t say that I performed without any embarrassment during these times. I was certainly conscious about the crowd around not being in approval of the same.
Dad never knew about my dancing nor does anyone at home know about this either :)