I grew up in a very typical rasika household. Many have asked me if my family was a musical family. Yes it was but then it was not a musician family! My parents were crazy carnatic music buffs. I was born on 21st of January and my mother attended every concert during the Music academy’s festival that December. The joke going around the family was that my mom would deliver in the lobby of the academy!
As a kid my exposure to music was terrific to say the least. My grandfather Thyagu (maternal grandfather S Thiagarajan 1918-2006) was always singing ragas. Never formally trained he could just sing Todi for half an hour! Many of my colleagues in the music field have heard him sing and can testify to his ability. There is a story that once my grandfather went to meet GNB after his concert the previous day. He told GNB that the Todi he sang was very different and special to the ones he had heard in the past. So GNB quietly queried “What was so special yesterday?” My grandfather immediately sang a few phrases that GNB had sung in the concert. A beaming GNB remarked to a nearby disciple “See! This is the difference between my fans and the fans of others!”
Another story was told by a distant uncle of mine called Ramudu. This uncle was an aggressive personality who ran a tempo service. He hardly had exposure to music except for his personal friendship with TT Vasu and his own admiration for my grandfather’s singing. Once they boarded a bus/train and found GNB sitting there. After some courtesies and small talk, discussion turned to music and my grandfather is supposed to have sung an elaborate Todi. GNB congratulated him and said “Andha ‘curve’ yenakku varalai!” (I am not able get that ‘curve’) My uncle in his inimitable style exclaimed “Namba Thyagu todi kitte GNBiye vizhunduttaan!) (Even GNB fell for our Thyagu’s Todi)