While my guitar gently sweeps

Kapil Arambam *

Leisure activities teach us several things. An awareness is being instilled, which otherwise would not have been possible in our mundane life. The knowledge that soaked consciously or unconsciously in our pursuit does a great deal to make us understand things.

It does not matter what you do, but how you do it. In solitude or in company, there are several things we can pursue for recreation. These activities in our life are provided with several doors, which lead us onto large rooms for exploration as well as discovery.

For the past ten years, we have been playing guitar for fun. This hobby has fine-tuned our receptory veins, enabling us to split the best piece from the better lot, and the better one from the good collection.

You cannot call me an expert because I still don't know how to read music on staves. But the years that I have spent strumming my Signature semi-acoustic instrument, have been quite an experience. One of the most remarkable experiences is gaining the knowledge to critically appreciate music.

The world of music, which many people have been traveling along, transforms into a familiar valley of wild orchids, streams, and sweet melodies when my guitar started sweeping gently. In our teens, it was our deep interest in rock n'roll that gave us a hitch to this place.

Our seniors had then advised if we could play A-D-E, we were done. We improvised on those simple chord progression, fingering techniques, and further graduating into groups ' playing easy Led Zep and Dire Straits riffs, or anything short we could make out from the dizzying spells of Yngwie Malmsteen, Michael Angelo, Eric Clapton, Richie Blackmore and their ilk.

Finally, we found there was something more hidden in between the notes. Music is life. Everybody has the desire for making it big some time but, unfortunately, it does not count anymore as far as our guitar is concerned. However, the journey has enabled us to feel the intricate emotions of every musicians.

Our frames of reference are broadened and we got newer perspectives to view the world. Especially, when we were growing up in a chaotic place like Manipur, our guitar was a useful weapon. It had provided us a space to get rid of boredom in the listless Imphal atmosphere, a solution to ease our frustration caused by the moronic and megalomaniac leaders, and a means to excuse those eye-soring activities of the numerous self-interest, social psychopaths.

In other word, this weapon doubles as a medium, allowing us to mend the emptiness of life in our hometown. It is a pain to relate our guitar to these political trash but we know more than meet our eyes in reality. This is just one aspect, and not surprisingly, there are still several lessons that we have learnt from the six strings.

On the cultural front, playing guitar and listening to different forms of music have made us more open to accept the various social mores. People have different taste, choice, and it varies as much as there are different societies with their own backgrounds -- be it social, political, historical, geographical or whatever.

Technology has shrunk the world into a global village, but we are still living in a big bad world, where it takes sixteen hours to reach the nearest railway station. Ironically, we are not village-dwellers though our town may be quite rustic. The experience takes us out from the familiar social terrain to the unfamiliar.

Many people counters us western music is a mere hole-in-the-wall hoax, cashing in on our deplorable weakness for anything with a foreign name. For any critic, there are always reasons and drawbacks in any thing, well, for criticism's sake. I'd say if you argue correctly you are never wrong.

In fact, this magical instrument has become our identity. Many people in mainland India are surprise how every north-easterner could play guitar. It's in our blood -- we are creative, crafty, and have a 'soft' hand.

No doubt how we find so many of our mayang friends and their siblings, who want to learn the tricks of the trade from us. These things apart, we have been able to find a place in the mainstream.

One of the chief causes of the turmoil in Manipur is the lack of identity. We are humans, and we love playing guitar 'this consciousness is sufficient to give us an identity and make us a better person. He who stops being better, the famous British politician Oliver Cromwell said, stops being good.

As in our personal life or in proffesional field, a simple instrument like guitar teaches us to keep up with the rapid pace of change. The Black Sabbath could do wonder with a distortion effect but we have to improve ' that's the only way to survive.

We need to update our awareness about new gadgets and accesories to commit ourselves to continual improvement in life. Whenever we embark on our way to improvement, we begin in small manageable steps, like learning Bach's Sonatas, to make room for long-term success, such as in playing Malmsteen's solos. It further accentuate our conviction that we can easily improve.

Oh, while my guitar gently sweeps...

* Kapil Arambam (working in a publishing firm in New Delhi) contributes to regularly. The writer can be reached at kupelderanged(at)gmail(dot)com
This article was webcasted on 06th July 2009.

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