billboard tunes

Once upon a time there was a shy little girl whose only wish was to read, and to be left alone. It didn’t matter what she read as long as she could sit with the print letting her eyes feast on the beautiful white and black dots in front of her, mind racing to paint pretty scenes with a creation of words and imagination. She’d feed off every piece of paper that she could make sense of. Ones she didn’t understand she’d read anyway, they were words. That was beauty to her simple heart.

Her mother would send her on errands, to the local store to buy vegetables, daal, semiya, peanuts..and the girls’ eyes would light up with joy and a shiny special sparkle could be seen from miles away. She’d skip off to the store, and gaze at the shopkeeper as he’d bundle her purchase.

See, those days, the world was still the simple place, where supermarkets and fancy packages were unheard of. The days when newspaper was actually recycled, and not just recycled into pulp, but actually re-used. News of yesterday discarded to bins. Stacks of paper bundled with string waiting for the monthly paper guy to buy them back for a tiny profit. The bundles eventually made way to various little stores that dotted the streets. Small businessmen, bigger fry, the pakora stall guy, the pan shop fellow. All needed to wrap their merchandise with recycled newspaper.

The paper had done its job. Served its purpose to spread news around and then hold valuables together until final destination. It would then be torn apart by the lady of the house and crumpled and thrown away. The contents carefully preserved, the paper had done its job. Thrown into the trash, the newspaper sighs its end.

But, our shy little girl couldn’t let that happen. As she stood watching the shopkeeper weigh her purchase, her eyes would dart hastily to the pile of papers trying to recognize the alphabet.

She’d say a silent prayer within “o god, please let it be english, please let it be english, any paper but just let it be english

Her eyes would follow the shopkeeper’s every move, his hands and his step, and the moment of triumph sweet as ever, when it was either The Hindu, The Hindustan Times, Economic Times. Sometimes she’d even be able to feed off the romances brewing in Stardust and Filmfare. That was a perk, a nice perk nevertheless but the essence was in the language. You see, she couldn’t read the local language. As her chances of landing a paper drew to a 50% probability, she decided it was time. Time for her to take matters into her own hands, and slowly but surely learnt the alphabets in the local language. Most definitely her choices grew tremendously.

Her most favorite part of growing up was to stand in front of the scooter her dad owned – a Vespa – on their weekly outings. Her dad was a nice husband and a good father. He liked giving his wife a break from the kitchen and so every weekend they’d eat out. So, a small family of four would hop onto the vespa and motor away into yummy foods and exciting atmospheres. The spot between the handlebars and letting her small behind rest on the edge of the seat, before her father was her space. She loved the breeze on her face, uninhibited view of the road and the best part of it all was that she didn’t have to ‘share’ the seat with her sister and mother behind. Voices floated 2 feet above her and she could live in her own little dreamy thoughts. Together yet alone. Perfect.

One day her eyes jolted up when letters jumped up at her from the sides.

Murugan Stores
Palaniappa Theaters
Sairam Coffee
Anupama tailors
Now running 100 days
Tiffin ready
Kumaran cut pieces
United India Colony
Morning Star Matriculation
Loyola College
Gangothri apartments
Railway colony
Indian Bank
Lyril soap
Leher pepsi – aha

That was a long list and a wealth of reading right there. She could practice her newly acquired language skills, and also continue to get hit by words.
Within a short time, she had memorized most of the stores that were in her neighborhood and longed to bring some drama into her routine. Thats when it dawned on her that she could make little jingles with all the words right in front of her. Of course she worried as well if someone would hear her, but to her glee she remembered her physics lesson on sound waves. The waves traveled in straight lines, not curvy wavy ones like they showed in the movies! So she rolled her eyes and turned a snooty nose at the movies and the nonsense her young mind could understand and kept singing. Her voice was stretching out in front of her, not above to her daddy’s ears. Bliss.

Reading, singing her own music and left alone. Heavens were just an inch away.

This was her precious secret. Yarning stories with billboards, store names and make unique little jingles that only she’d come up with. Guarding this secret was a perverse happiness. That she was not just another dark shy plain-looking kid with two long braids no one cared about, and that she was capable of creation, of art, of a masterpiece that she was positive no one in the world could ever dream of.

Until about a couple of decades later when she decided she’d switch on this movie that her husband brought home. Not a huge fan of the movies originally she changed herself a teeny bit to make herself compatible as a couple. She was a good girl, and she listened to her mother though she never really agreed. She had originally enjoyed some sensible movies, where logic, beauty and raw life was shown in a way that made her want to cry with the poverty and sadness, or laugh at the most commonplace of acting, simply because it was like it had happened with her, to her.

Over the years, she decided that with enough drama in her life anyway, movies were meant to entertain. Her brain was fried thinking, planning, scheduling and working kinks out in her life, she didnt need to pay to think. So she settled for the run-of-the-mill ones. Where she could essentially box the mind out into the attic, laugh at the antics and meaningless love stories and when ‘The End’ flashed on the screen, she could go back to thinking, planning, scheduling and working kinks out in her life. She convinced herself “Now maybe my husband would love me more!”

So she slipped the dvd in and settled for a young movie. The reviews claimed that it would appeal to the youth. Thinking that at least she could revisit some of her memories she didn’t realize what would hit her until she came across this song.

Disbelief turned to anger to frustration and defeat. It was her song. Her idea. Her secret. She wasn’t unique after all.

As she watches it for the umpteenth time, her eyes light up and a smile spreads across her lips. That was her song. She was sharing it with the world. Sharing is good, she was told since she was a child. ..and so she shares.

The language is telugu, but you get the drift.



Movie Name – SYE
Language – Telugu
Actors – Nithin, Genelia
Music – Keeravani
A crappy review.
A sightly better one.

At the end of it, the idea was sorely missed!

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37 replies on “billboard tunes”
  1. says: madsies

    Ok when was it vespa – I thot it was something else (!)

    He He …

    Thanks for reminding me about Murugan Stores – was that next to Navaneetham????

    Reading all those are so cool..infact i used to close my eyes and say the spellings —- ok me a nerd πŸ™

  2. says: Archana

    That song has a very cute concept :-)! I learnt to read Tamil on my own – and yeah, even now, I love reading out aloud store names/notices etc etc in Tamil – somehow feels good!

  3. says: rads

    madsies – it was Vespa. Not Lamby. Or was it now.. argh thanks for doing this!
    yes, next to navaneetham πŸ™‚
    hehe, mom made u do spellings. :p

    archana – it does doesn’t it, nd it’s all mine ;-p
    yayy, now we are twins πŸ˜‰

  4. says: Ok

    Awwww there is still a 12 yr old girl inside your 84 yr exterior. It was a very well written post. Make it into a story. Just play around with the end a bit. It was simple and elegant.

    I am impressed.

  5. says: Anila

    This is really nice!
    Its a revelation that this is something everybody does!! πŸ™‚

    Nice blog!

  6. says: Wellingtonbala

    Well written. The song was intelligently made nonsense.

    Your description reminded me of my days with my daughter in Cehnnai in the early nineties, a Kinetic Honda instead of Vespa.

  7. says: W H

    Your writing is definitely improving.
    I, too, have this bad habit of reading anything that is available, including the warnings on medicine bottles, ingredients of potato chips, and month old news in the newspaper wrappings….
    Most of the times I carry a book with me, reading out of habit, reading not to get bored, but it is when I don’t have a book that I resort to this type of reading.
    It is a bad habit, because my primary object of reading is not to read, but to avoid getting bored.
    Aldous huxley wrote an essay about this, and he branded my type of reading the most abominable….

    Yea.. I too am not too comfortable with my native tongue, and somehow manage to stumble my way through the printed letters at 1 page every 15 minutes. My mother tried to teach me to read and write fluently, but I never wanted to do that. Now I wish I had listened to her, but now I don’t have the time nor the patience (I guess I still have time but not the pluck and patience. I know I’m lying when I say that I don’t have the time.).

  8. says: rads

    muni – Nice days those were eh? πŸ™‚
    Movies – definitely not as interested as I am in them now. Dad’s influence πŸ™‚

    wh – oh my! Honored! πŸ˜‰
    Well, I read books too u know πŸ™‚

    Tamil’s not my native language, but I’d say I marginally am better in my telugu than in tamil. I can speak both equally well, among others that is.

    Bala – thanks πŸ™‚
    Song was definte art alright.
    Dad’s are awesome – esp to daughters πŸ™‚

    anila – thank you! πŸ™‚

    ok – coming from you, am bursting with happiness! Will work on it and hope to impress you more ;-p
    Nungambakkam-loyolaCollege-GoodShe area

  9. says: leoNYdas

    Can relate to the part about the life cycle of news papers (strictly english papers ;).

    “she didnt need to pay to think” – thats why I started watching chick flicks. πŸ˜€

  10. says: rads

    leo – :))
    dushti – It sure seems like am not unique anymore. The relevation is not panicking me as I’d normally imagine. πŸ™‚
    There’s comfort in company πŸ˜€

  11. says: maverick

    I love tht song and all the songs of the movie and the movie itself.

    tht refreshed the memories of my childhood too, but thankfully i learnt telugu when i was much younger and the transition frm english to telugu was almost seamless. I still remember how me, my mom and my dad used to fight every morning to read the single newspaper tht’d come.

    n in case of movies i guess it worked the other way for me,first i used to like the mill of the run types until i craved for some sensibility in them n now nothing less than a rise-of-sparta-machines-come-alive movies excite me.

  12. says: The Pilgrim

    Nice post Rads, Almost ‘Dil Se’ as you would say. Going down the memory lanes are surely nostalgic.

    Still think about those days, early morning when the newspaperwaala delivers the papers.

  13. says: Twisted DNA

    The idea is still unique. I am impressed that you thought about it even before the movie.

    Instead of praying for the paper to be English, you should have learned to read Tamizh πŸ˜›

  14. says: rads

    tdna – thanks, but looks like most girls did that, read above πŸ™‚

    Pilgrim – Good old days huh? Thanks πŸ™‚

    Maverick – good for you. We [sis and I] were taught Telugu at home. Tamil we picked up on our own.
    Your drift in movies is normal. I guess I was a precocious kid growing up.. what can I say ;-D

    Nice of you to link me πŸ™‚

  15. says: Anonymous

    I read your blog regularly but this is my first time commenting. I like the way you write.
    Have a question,what is the name of the movie.Seems to be a good one, want to watch it.
    take care

  16. says: sinusoidally

    Your mention of sitting on the tiny edge of vespa brought some memories back. πŸ™‚ what a cute story.

  17. says: rads

    schmetter – oh no, well, the song’s in telugu, so lemme explain it to you?
    The song had lyrics with all names of stores and notices, and has been craftily done such that there’s actually irony in it.

    For ex – If the 1st few words go
    “Do you want to lose weight”, there’s another store sign saying “nellore meals ready” – which is quite the irony and sarcasm.

    Did that help or did I completely miss your point? πŸ™‚

  18. says: Schmetterling

    rads: it did, lol. thanks πŸ™‚ It doesn’t matter how southie I am, i still can’t speak telugu. grin.

  19. says: Anonymous

    point taken about “lurking”:)my further comment about that in the “de-lurk” post

  20. says: Sri

    hmm… was nice readin thru this one.. now i kno wat else i ve in my hand on my spare time! u ve written quite a few. πŸ˜€

  21. says: rads

    sri – lol, yes, it is fun alright! Vetti folks write quite a few πŸ˜‰

    SK – it is right? Yes, I came up with the idea but so did a bunch o girls who rode their dad’s scooters while they were kids too! πŸ˜€

    anon/p – πŸ™‚

    Deepa – Yeah, didn’t realize I prattoled on that much. Thanks πŸ™‚

  22. says: L

    Hmmm… that is SO like me ! I did that as a kid too. And what is more, my three year old daughter does that – ofcourse, she can’t read yet, but asks me to read notice boards and makes up stories later with the names.

  23. says: Lakshmi

    Oops, made a mistake while posting my last comment.
    What I said there is that I did that too as a kid ! And my three-and-half year old does that ! Of course, she can’t read, but asks me to read out every notice board and spins yarns with them later….

  24. says: Nandita Mundle

    hey..i used to read the newspaper wrapped packages too… I had this need to always be reading something while eating…my folks used to take away my enid blytons during lunch/ dinenr/ breakfast..coz I was supposed to talk to other people during I found a work around..I’d read the packing/ labels of ketchup bottles, jam bottles, cornflake boxes…anything that was in front of me, that I could read… The bad habit of reading during meals hasn’t stopped, nor has my parents need to make me converse…

  25. says: rads

    Nandita – You’ve surfaced! I used to get yelled at all the time!! Seriously tho, I didnt see much point, it wasn’t like I was a talker, and once I got yelled, I sulked my way through the hurried meal.

    Thank heavens mine don’t read during meals, or we’d have that drama added on as well. :))

    Lakshmi – hehe, it feels good passing on the gene eh? πŸ™‚

  26. says: Usha

    The song made more sense to me than some of the nonsense one hears today. At least it is just pure joy being expressed ina child like way with nonsense words. The mood is captured so beautifully and the kids dance so well.
    And that is a very very sweet story,very well written – you should have it published.

  27. says: Bharath

    Wonderful post ! Nice style , u have got..

    My God , u mus b quite a dreamer/ thinker ! my reading at that age was limited to comics πŸ™‚

    The post brings me amazin childhood memories..! Wnderful times , ain’t it ! Wish I can still live in a place like that.. (But salary shud be in US $ :P)

    I actually saw this movie.. 2 yrs bac when it was released..horrible movie.. Wondered if genelia cud ever act.. She has improved since then.. Hasn’t she ?

  28. says: rads

    Thanks Bharath. I shall take ‘dreamer’ – thinker is to ambitious for me. πŸ™‚

    Yeah, that’s what my intention was to go back the memory lane, looks like most who read it did too.
    Re movie – well, it’s the usual, but what appealed, at least to me was [apart from the song, of course] was the young theme and the carefree attitude with which youngsters portray and are portrayed. Genelia is known for being charming. You want acting you should look at Natalie Portman πŸ™‚ Young, beautiful and can act!

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