The gang of twenty-five wannabe managers, when it entered the not-so-hallowed precincts of the University Business School of Panjab University, Chandigarh in the year 1974, was clueless as to the effective use to which the power of music could be put to practice the art of managing people.
Much later in their careers, some members of the gang might have woken up to the immense potential of healthy musical practices when it came to surviving in the corporate jungle. Some would have soared higher whistling the tune that their bosses wanted to hear from them. Others would have become great leaders based on the results their teams produced, much like an orchestra gets led by a conductor to produce mellifluous symphonies.
Some might have perfected the art of phasing out dissent from their team members by the sheer power of their vocal chords, not alike the way even soulful lyrics get drowned by loud music in some of our best movies these days. Others might have formed a Mutual Appreciation Team by bonding with like-minded colleagues, much like a group of star artistes who transcend man-made borders to come up with their own brand of fusion music.
When faced with a challenging task, an informal chat, especially when conducted in the presence of appropriate tissue restoratives, duly backed by some soothing music playing in the background, often helps.
Discovering the Music Society
Two members of the gang, however, stood out. Having spent much of their previous years in understanding and memorizing basic principles of Physics and Chemical Engineering, a course in business administration gave their grey cells some well-deserved breathing time. Soon, they discovered the presence of a Music Society on the campus. Prompted by another musical soul from the 1973-75 batch, they joined the music classes on offer.
One aspired to learn playing the sarangi, while another, yours truly, weakly attempted to master the art of playing a guitar. Friends and critics obviously had their doubts on the efficacy of our musical endeavours. Luckily, they are too busy with their own lives to continue to watch our progress with any interest whatsoever.
On a personal note
Allow me to digress a wee bit and divulge that since childhood, my parents had repeatedly failed in their attempts to get me trained in classical vocal music. Subsequently, a banjo was gifted, in the fond hope that I might make something out of it. Alas, that too was not to be. Since there was no Wodehousean kid character like Edwin around, using paraffin sprays to douse fires, the instrument never went up in flames. It merely got lost in the rapids of time.
Eventually, my parents gave up and resigned to my limited capability of belting out some movie songs at birthday parties and some social events.
The original singers of most of these compositions were such stalwarts as Hemant Kumar, Talat Mehmood, Rafi sahib and Kishore Kumar. Luckily enough, none of my attempts to copy them ever reached their ears. Had a calamity of that nature come about, they would still be found shuddering in their graves.
My crude attempts at singing were carefully planned at such locations where donkeys could not have ready access. This way, I avoided the risk of a bunch of them joining me in unison, overjoyed at having finally found a brother-in-notes amongst the Homo Sapiens.
Treks to Kasauli and nocturnal visits to Morni hills nearby provided several other opportunities for me to display my singular lack of vocal skills. I still admire the tenacity and politeness of some of my hapless batch mates who not only tolerated but also applauded such renderings.
The association with Music Society added some colour and spice to the otherwise staid life on the campus. The members were drawn from different departments of the University. During 1975-76, the group even decided to confer on yours truly the title of Chairman, though I still wonder what I had done to deserve the honour.
Two events readily spring to my memory. One was a grand cultural show, where Mrs. Bimla Paul, wife of the then Vice Chancellor of the University, accepted our invitation to be the Chief Guest. The show was named ‘Swar Gunjan’. It was held at the University Auditorium.
Some members performed a Tibetan Yak dance. My batch mate and I, more busy coordinating the back-stage gaffes and on-stage slip-ups, were part of a group which presented an instrumental version of an old song ‘Aayega aane wala…..’ from the movie ‘Mahal’.
Yet another highlight was a bloomer in the shape of a post-card handwritten invitation sent to the inimitable Amjad Ali Khan sahib, requesting him to play at the University. After some time, surely despite our invitation, he did come over to the city and performed at the auditorium of PGI, right opposite the University Campus. Needless to say, that was a veritable treat.
A tool for enriching our lives
Looking back, the key lesson was the importance of indulging in extra-curricular escapades in that unique phase of life. It broke the monotonous tyranny of a class room instruction. It came across as an instructive experience which broadened one’s mental horizons and provided one with a diverse group of people to interact with. One learnt the art of event management, a term which was not in vogue in those internet-less and smart-phone-less times.
One might not have learnt what exactly what one set out to learn, but the spin-offs have surely been a reward in themselves. Above all, a connection with music, howsoever tenuous, got reinforced.
Music is not only a food for the soul. It also nourishes our mind, cleansing it of all the negative toxins which dampen our performance. It enriches our lives in more ways than one. It helps us to have better interpersonal relations. It even helps budding managers and entrepreneurs to achieve their goals more efficiently!