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November Rain

I know it’s not November, and it’s definitely not raining. It’s in fact really, really hot.

I was listening to November Rain, and I was taken back in time by a memory – one of the happier ones I have associated with the song.

It must have been 1993 or 1994. It was November, and Coimbatore being the cultural backwater that it was (is still?), we hardly got any rock bands playing gigs there. We usually had to make do with college bands miserably belting out Hotel California and Heartache Tonight. Some of them even thought screaming drunkenly and calling it Judas Priest or Ozzy would fool us, but we kind of drew the line at that.

Anyway, to get back to the story, for once, a real rock band called 13AD was going to play a gig at the CIT open-air theatre, also known as the football ground. Tickets, though incredibly cheap at a hundred bucks each, were way beyond our means then. The only two hardcore music afficionados being me and the oh-so-misleadingly named Thayumanavan (also called Mark, but that is another story for another day), we decided to catch the concert from the side of National Highway Seven, peering over the wall of the campus at the distant stage, which was, to our joy, dwarfed by the two giant banks of speakers on either side of it.

As we waited impatiently for the show to start, rainclouds started gathering. It was about half past five in the evening, and the weather in Coimbatore on a November evening at half past five must be experienced to be believed – it is incredibly good, and perfect to be anywhere with anyone. The band did not seem to care about the weather, and got on to the stage and were tuning their instruments. The concert was to start at six, and only handful of people had turned up till then. At about ten to six, the band started playing – yes, you guessed it, November Rain! About a couple of minutes into the song, it started pouring – we were drenched in a few seconds, but we really did not care. The band kept at it, and did not stop playing. And we stood in the rain and watched.

A while later, when the rain had slowed down into a light drizzle, we found that no one was checking for tickets and we could get in. So we did, and joined a small but enthusiastic crowd standing right in front of the stage. The next few hours were a blur of musical bliss.

November Rain holds many memories for me, but this one is by far the best of them.

Today was bittersweet – the memories of that mad musical evening seem to be mocking me. That kind of raw, pure experience is something that I have not had in a long time. Everying is planned, scheduled and timed. Nowhere in life today is that element of surprise, that chance that anything can happen. I know that this is my own making – the so-called security, surrounding myself with things that protect me from every eventuality. In the process, I seem to have killed the ability to be spontaneous, to be impulsive, to just let myself get wet in the rain and enjoy a good song.

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