SHARING THE EXPERIENCE OF UMESH MEETING UP WITH A R R
17TH October 2009.
Diwali – the Hindu Festival of Light.
My Birthday too.
My `big dream of the decade’ came true…in a most unexpected way.
It was around 4.30 p.m. and I was chatting online with my sister, telling her how depressed I was because I was going to miss another chance to see my `Hero’ – A R Rahman – who would be attending an award ceremony 350km away in neighbouring Belgium.
While we were chatting, the doorbell rang, making me jump, so I logged off and went to see who was at the door – it was my good friend, Dinesh.
Opening the door, he gave me a big hug and greeted me with “happy birthday and may all your dreams come true!” I thanked him but told him that I only had one dream and no way was that going to come true! Dinesh asked me what I was talking about.
“My Guruji is attending an award ceremony in Belgium”, I replied. Dinesh was a little upset and said, “He is not only your Guruji but mine too!” I apologised to Dinesh and told him that all the tickets for the ceremony had been sold the previous week – I have known that since two days before. I didn’t have a car – or a driving license, for that matter – and if I went by train, I would not be able to get back home as the ceremony didn’t finish until 11.00 p.m. What’s more, I did not know anyone in Belgium, so had no local support.
“Sorry”, my `Rahmaniacs’, I didn’t tell you what the ceremony was about. It was the `World Soundtrack Academy Awards’ and was being held in the city of Gent.
OK, back to how I could make my big dream come true.
Dinesh suggested that we call the place where the ceremony was being held and ask again about tickets. “OK,” I said, “I’ll do it” and dialled the Awards office number.
“How may I help you?” the receptionist asked.
I told her that I was calling from the Netherlands and asked if there were any tickets available for that evening’s awards programme. I didn’t need to tell Dinesh that the receptionist’s reply had been, “I am sorry to say that all the tickets have been sold” – it was obvious from the way I looked at him.
I did not hang-up however but told the receptionist, “Look, I am A R Rahman’s craziest fan – I don’t care if I don’t get to talk with him – just to see him would be enough.
At what time will the guests be at the entrance? Is it possible just to stand there to get a look at him? Please help me madam! My home is 350 km away from Gent and it will take me almost 3 hours by car to get there. Dinesh could hear all this as I had switched my `phone to `speaker-phone’.
After a while, the receptionist said, “Look, I know how much you guys love A R Rahman… let me talk to my colleague”. – my face got brighter –
“The show is going to start around 8.00p.m. but the doors will be open between 6.00p.m. and 7.45p.m. and that’s when all the VIP’s will arrive; then there’s a break at 9.00p.m….oh, just a minute” she said.
After a short time, she came back on the line and told us, “you guys might just be lucky…you might get two tickets after the break but I can’t promise anything because it depends on whether people stay for the second part of the ceremony.” That last sentence left our hearts racing and I could hardly form my words to thank her. She laughed and hung up.
Now, the next problem was the car! Dinesh had a license but did not have his own motor. “I’m going to `phone a car rental company”, he said, and by the time I was going to remind him that today was a Saturday, he was already being told, “Yep, we have a car available” and Dinesh told him that he would collect it in 5 minutes. I couldn’t believe our luck.
I looked at the clock and saw that it was 5 minutes past 5.00p.m and my mind could think of nothing except getting the car and driving straight to Gent. Dinesh told me he would collect the car and be back to pick me up in 10 minutes and that I should be ready and waiting on the street!
Although my stomach was churning and my nerves were on a knife-edge, the thought of the ceremony in Gent helped reduce the tension. I just wanted to see my hero’s humble face and tell him, “Guruji, I love you, jai ho!” even if it was some distance away from him. That’s all I was thinking.
Out on the street, I saw a new Nissan approaching, with Dinesh at the wheel. I was jumping up and down as though I had taken the winning catch in the last cricket match of the season! Dinesh knew that I was not feeling well so suggested I got in the back seat and try to sleep.
To get there at the time the receptionist had advised us, Dinesh had to `put his foot down’ and at times, I saw we were doing 170 kph! After 20 minutes driving, we hit a traffic jam and my nerves started to get to me again.
“Don’t worry”, Dinesh said, “we’ll soon get through this”…and so we did and were once again cruising at 170 kph while most of the other vehicles on the road were travelling at around 120 kph. Our high speed, my iPhone and Dinesh’s `SatNav’ all played a part in helping us reach Gent in 3 hours.
I had fallen asleep and Dinesh woke me to tell me we had arrived…in the city but not the ceremony venue! The `SatNav’ had `gone on the blink’ so we would have to stop and ask someone how we could get to our destination. As I was feeling refreshed from my sleep, I told Dinesh that I would go and ask someone how we reach our target. It was 8.25p.m. and the interval was at 9.00p.m. Then I thought, “why not call the ceremony office?” As luck would have it, the same receptionist answered my call and I told her that we were in Gent but didn’t know how to get to the venue. This `angel’ told us that we were quite near and gave us the necessary directions. She also said that she would send someone to escort us to the building where the ceremony was taking place. What a wonderful woman she was!!!
Sure enough, as we were parking the Nissan, someone came up to us and escorted us inside. Once inside, he said, “Have a nice evening and hope you might be lucky and meet withMr. Rahman”. We shook his hand and thanked him for his help and kindness, realising that the receptionist had told him all about us!
Making our way between Porsches, Lamborghinis and other top marque cars, we headed for the entrance and asked the security staff – in the politest way – where the Reception was. “Could I see your tickets please”, the security guy asked. Instead of showing him, I told him the entire story about our contact with the lady receptionist and our break-neck drive from Netherlands. He replied that while he recognised that we were devoted fans of A R Rahman, we could not enter without tickets but said that he would check with his colleague in Reception.
I told Dinesh that even if we failed to get in, we shouldn’t feel too bad, as we had tried our hardest for our Guruji. Dinesh agreed with me but said that we should not lose faith. I agreed.
The security guard returned and said, “You guys are really lucky as they have had two cancellations”. Dinesh and I could hardly believe what the guy was telling us. Wow…could it really be happening? He opened the door and took us through to Reception, where I noticed the clock showed 8.50p.m. – 10 minutes to the interval! Then I heard a voice asking, “Are you the two guys who `phoned me from the Netherlands?” It was our `guardian angel’ and we told her, “Yes, we are the guys” and thanked her for all her help and kindness. She laughed and told us how lucky we were, handing us the two tickets. The security guard showed us to a waiting area and told us that in a few minutes, the place would be full of famous people.
I told Dinesh how grateful I was to him for getting us here. “Yeah, yeah”, he said, “But now, we have to ask someone where our `hero’ is, in this vast place”. Big screens were showing live telecast but it was already 9.00p.m. and people were quietly making their way to the waiting area – where we were waiting!
I recognised some of the programme organisers, and I approached one of them and said, “Hello sir, we have come from the Netherlands and would like to see Mr. A R Rahman”. “Hmm”, he replied, “You have missed the first part of the programme when `A R’ received the award for Best Song of the Year”. “We just need to know where we can see him, even from a distance”, I replied. The programme organiser told us that at that moment, `A R’ and other VIPs were having their photographs taken but that he couldn’t let us into the VIP area. However, he showed us the entrance where the second part of the ceremony would take place and said we would definitely meet `A R’ if he decided to stay for the second session.
I switched on my iPhone, keeping my eyes on the people coming out of the VIP lounge with only one hope in my heart…that our Guruji would come through that door! As I stood there, my nerves were once again at breaking point – like a student waiting for his exam results. It was 9.40p.m. and the second part of the ceremony would be starting in just another 20 minutes.
After a few minutes, I saw someone in a blue coat and I called to Dinesh to look.
Yeahhhhhh it was the man himself…
…the golden moment in my life
…the moment I had waited 13 years for
…the only humble face I had wanted to see in my whole life
…the Mozart of Asia
…the music miracle
…The One and Only A R Rahman
Yes, he was coming to the entrance for the second part of the ceremony. He is just 15 metres away from us. I said to Dinesh, “Oh man, I can’t believe this” – my whole body was shaking!
As his eyes met ours, I greeted him in the traditional Tamil way by saying, “Vanakkam Sir”, shaking his hand with one of my trembling ones, my other hand over my heart. Although overcome by my feelings at meeting my hero, I was strongly aware of how much I missed my sister, in India.
When we looked at each other and I took in his humble face, I felt that I was on another planet or, maybe even in Heaven!
I knew that Guruji had little time, as he had to return to the concert hall for the 2nd part of the show, but I asked him, “Sir, is it possible for me to have a photo taken with you?” Without a second thought, and in his typically humble way, he said, “Ya, sure”.
Although I was thinking that a photo of me with my Guru would provide enough pleasure for the rest of my life, I still couldn’t stop thinking about my sister. I am the only one who knows how much she adores Guru Ji and how much she would have loved to be with me at that time. Still, I thought, “one day, she too will meet our hero.”
Dinesh and I posed with the great man, while our photos were taken. Photos, which undoubtedly, will be the most memorable in my life! Then we had to bid our hero “goodbye” as the ceremony organisers and security staff was waiting to escort him back to the concert hall for the second session.
After this `golden moment’ many other unexpected things happened but not as important as when I met our dearest Guruji.
P.S. Dear Rahmaniacs, I know all of you dream of the day when you will meet our dearest Guruji.
After waking up each day, I used to wonder if this would be the day that I would see my hero, and that thought always gave me an indescribably good feeling.
Finally I met him!
So my advice to everyone is, “Stay confident and Keep The Faith…one day, you will all meet him!”
SHARING THE EXPERIENCE OF MANISHA MEETING UP WITH A R R
7th August 2009,
KMMC’s First Annual Day Function.
Honestly, don’t know where to start. Each time I replay the moment in my mind, it feels like it was a dream. I keep asking myself, ‘Did it actually happen? Did I actually see ARR Sir? Did I actually shake his hand? Did i really talk to him?’..YES!…and it was totally unbelievable and still gives me goosebumps even as i type this.
The day was August 7th, 2009; a day that will be special and close to my heart in this life and more. Actually come to think of it, this day would not have even happened as it did. My flight tickets were all booked and I was supposed leave to Mumbai from Chennai on 7th morning. Special thanks to my friend for talking some sense into me, saying that i should postpone my ticket, as 7th evening was KMMC’s one year completion celebration, and ARR Sir might be coming to the function. So I ended up cancelling my flight and re-booking it for the 8th.
So there I was on the 7th at KMMC’s first annual day function. Actually I felt blessed just being there in that music academy hall in Mylapore, just watching ARR’s students practicing and doing final rehearsals for the big night. All these years I have been following Rahman Sir, watching interviews, reading articles, and I knew how much this school meant to him, and for that school to be completing one whole year successfully was an amazing accomplisment in itself. Thus i was truly happy just to be present there and be part of it.
The show was scheduled to start at 6 pm, and the time was nearing. I went to sit closer (row 6) so i could get a better view of the stage. The stage was set up so beautifully and very ‘classy’, just as ARR Sir would have wanted it. So i was just sitting there quietly observing all the people (mostly friends and family of KMMC students) getting seated. Then saw all of ARR’s family including his sisters and family, ARR’s wife and children, and his mother taking a seat in the front row. One note to add is that ARR Sir’s wife looks even more ravishing and gorgeous in person than she does in the pictures I have seen of her. The time was almost nearing 7 and still no sign of ARR Sir. However, there was an empty seat next to his mother so I was positive that Rahman Sir would show up. And YES, he finally entered through the side door, wearing his simple white kurtha and radiating goodness all over. The whole auditorium stood to give a welcome ovation.
YES! Finally, I had seen the great man himself. What a feeling of pure joy and happiness!! And what was even more amazing was that I was sitting just 5 rows directly behind him and there was nobody sitting in the seats directly in front, so had a clear view throughout the show. Could see when Sir was watching the show in pure focus or when he was bopping his head for some of the songs, or when he was whispering something to his mother on his left or to the dean of Middlesex University on his right. The best moment was when his cute little son sat on sir’s lap, and ARR was happily talking to him. These were truly unforgettable moments that I feel soo fortunate to have witnessed. And of course with brilliant performances from KM students and breathtaking performances from the KM faculty, I was just in heaven. This was really a magical way to end my trip, with this blissful thing called music.
After the concert ended, ARR Sir was called on stage to say a few words, and then presented each of the students with certificate of completion. Then he soon went backstage, and the lights of the auditorium came on and everybody started to leave. At this moment I really had mixed feelings. I was extremely ecstatic that I got to see Rahman Sir just 5 rows away. But i was slightly sad that I could not capture this moment on camera, as no photography was allowed. But i was definitely not disappointed. I mean all these years I have only seen him on TV, internet or through binoculars, but now i just saw him in flesh and blood through my own eyes. So that itself made my spirit rise. But I never expected what was to come next. Never in my life I would have imagined the following would happen:
As I was talking to one of the most humble Rahmaniacs, i saw a crowd gathering on stage. Then my friend came and I asked him if ARR was on stage. And he was like YES…you can go up on stage and see if you can catch a closer glimpse of ARR. So he lead me up stage and there I was among everyone else and ARR Sir. At first I could not see him, but i saw many people taking pics, so I too pulled out my small Cannon Powershot to see if I can get a quick shot of ARR sir, to preserve this moment. The first attempt, I missed, as there were too many people in front. Then ARR Sir started to move, along with him the crowd moved, and along with the crowd i moved…
Then suddenly within seconds, i just found myself right in front of this great man in white! It was just me opposite A R RAHMAN. Oh man…I had imagined this moment only in my dreams. Used to always think about what I would say to Rahman Sir if I got the opportunity to meet him. And here I was right in front of him, only at this moment my mind just went totally blank and everything just froze. I mean I was standing in front of the human being who i have been following, admiring and looking up to from a far distance for years. And now he was right in front of me. At that instance i literally didn’t know what was going through my mind and body, just full excitement, joy, thrill, happiness, all thrown together. Then I just shook ARR Sir’s hand and said “Congratulations Sir, for all your work and accomplishments, you are really great.” and Rahman Sir said “Thank you”. Then I just said “I’ve come from Canada I think to just be here and watch this amazing show.” And Rahman Sir smiled and said “Oh is it! Good Good!”.
Then it struck me…’OMG what am I doing, I’m just here casually talking to ARR, when he probably has tons of things to do and places to go, and of course so many others who probably waiting for a chance. WOW! Then I immediately remembered and gave my friend my camera and asked ARR…”Sir, just one pic”. And ARR Sir happily posed and this picture manifested….
Each time i think back to this magical moment, I totally run out of words to describe the experience. I mean I’m not a singer, a musician, or a journalist. I’m just a random girl who is a great believer and admirer of his work and the persona he emulates. And just for ARR Sir to stand there and listen and respond to me for that moment when there were soo many people around him, and so many things going on, just proves what a magnificent being he is, and what kindness, simplicity and humility he embodies. At that moment of meeting him even between all those people, I felt like it was just me and Sir who were there. A moment that I will everlastingly cherish. A moment of sheer bliss, happiness, and excitement. I always felt like I am somehow connected to this great artist and human being. And after this incident I feel as though that connection actually materialized and proved that it existed.
I remember writing this in my journal when I first came to India on June 27th: “Some things I want to do in Chennai is visit an orphanage at least for one day, see the KM Music Conservatory, and hopefully get to meet some Rahmaniacs. Well seeing ARR Sir would be like a miracle, I was told that he will not be in India @ that time, so i’m not really keeping my hopes high up, but still not completely loosing my hope. We’ll see sometimes miracles do happen…”
And of course it did!!
They say life always throws you with surprises when you least expect it, and this is another example of just that. Also i truly believe that if all else fails, one should never lose hope. I believe that no matter what, you should always give everything your best efforts, and hope for the best for you and others. And in the end leave it to Almighty. If your wish gets fulfilled then its awesome, if it does not, then at least you have the satisfaction that you gave it your best.
Also I want to add that I had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know some Rahmaniacs in Chennai. Who are very genuine and the sweetest human beings. Who made my visit to Chennai more memorable than ever. Its amazing to meet these gold-hearted people, who’s common paths all lead up to one destination. And that is music. And its through ARR and his music that has brought us all together. He truly is a musical messiah who will connect this world and break all boundaries. And you can say that a new revolution has already begun…a musical revolution.
I’m so sorry for this lengthy note. Just wanted to try to put this whole experience into words, if not for others, mainly for myself, so I don’t forget the details, which i’m sure I won’t. Also, just returned from India, so having some major withdrawal symptoms. I just really feel blessed and sometimes question if I truly deserve all this….
Have you met A R Rahman ?
Tell us the entire story and get published. Please send in your story to firstname.lastname@example.org