Monday, February 25, 2008

OUT OF THE COMFORT ZONE...

The rotors are whirring at full throttle, and the sunlight filters through the spinning wings into his sleep-laden eyes. He’s never really liked small planes, but the fatigue of the past few days have made him immune to the claustrophobic environment of the tiny flying box. He’s stayed awake the whole night and now, even though his body is crying out in exhaustion, he cannot really get himself to sleep. There is a bundle of thoughts between him and his conscience that morning. He has a lot of things to prove, to himself, his admirers as well as his critics. The impending show in Dimapur, Nagaland is one with individual performances after a long hiatus. He has done well in the group performances so far, and it is time to prove his mettle in solo performances as well. There have been a few uncomfortable questions raised against his ability to hold a crowd on his own, and they’ve been justified ones at that. Having been a dentist, it hasn’t been in his nature to shout out loud or to jump left, right & centre and run across the stage so as to sway the crowd along with his moves. A Doctor is calm, composed & makes the patient feel at ease by putting them into a cheerful & relaxed state of mind. In Indian Idol & in Live shows, he has been expected to be the antithesis of this – He’s supposed to be wild, unrestrained, loud - a stimulant, an aphrodisiac! But he remembers what he himself had said during an interview – “The best thing about performing live is the unparalleled thrill of having the crowd at your control …the feeling of being God for an hour or so, and then getting back to being a normal person, one among all of us.” Show business requires certain traits to be picked up, and the mantra to success is adapting to new situations, creating new scenarios and coming out of one’s comfort zone. Over the past year, he’s broken many self-placed barriers & has slowly but steadily come out of a shell, all for his own good. His vow to keep learning with time has not gone unfulfilled. Today, the learning over the recent past will be put to trial, and this gives him some anxious moments.

As the plane starts descending, he sees a welcome change on the horizon. The appearance of mountains brings back memories of school & expectedly, a smile on his face. He’s had a few friends from Nagaland, and from what he knows of them; he believes them to be a humble & talented people. He’s heard other things as well, some of which, unfortunately, has not been very good. The showdown between extremists & the general populace is not something that makes headlines but is very much a barb in the fabric of his country. Since the North East is something that most know little about, it is almost another world altogether. The dialogues mouthed in Chak De India by the north-eastern members of the hockey team are not far from the truth… He tries to banish the thoughts from his mind as the wheels grind against the tarmac. At the tiny airport of Dimapur which handles less than 5 flights a day, he’s welcomed by the organizers with their children dressed as little angels. Their cherubic smiles & the pink of their cheeks melt him instantaneously. His face is drawn into a smile but that soon changes to a stoic expression of concern when he enters the city & notices the roads to their destination - tiny, broken & dusty. He notices many places where there’s not a soul in sight. Someone explains that this is mainly due to lack of planning & an impending change in government but he can’t help assuming otherwise. The organizers make sure his fears are unfounded by ensuring that nothing obstructs the entourage on their way by having a jeep full of armed soldiers precede it. There is armed militia patrolling some roads & this reminds him of riot hit areas. This is something he’s seen only on television and never in his wildest dreams had he visualized that one day he would find himself in a sensitive zone and be flanked by such a high level of security. When he finally gets to the guest house, he notices the sense of urgency with which the gates are opened, the vehicles moved in and he’s whisked in. The Guest house is something out of old times – airy, spacious and homely with high ceilings - a trademark of the British era and which in today’s date is a luxury not many can afford. The caretaker of the house is a bubbly young lady who is professional, yet so warm & caring that he takes to her immediately. Her family is extremely sweet and her brother has a literal avalanche of a collection of DVDs. Out of this, one that catches his fancy & occupies his next one hour is Westlife – Live in Stockholm. He loses himself in the flawless performance of the four member boy-band – replete with superb co-ordination and simple yet captivating dance steps. As the songs & performances whiz by, he is transported to another world, imagining himself & his band, singing & performing to perfection and getting their teamwork right. The thought pumps him up further to do well that evening.


Close to the hour of the show, there is palpable anxiety in the air. The short trip to the venue gives him goose bumps, both out of excitement & by seeing the deserted roads fast filling up. The stadium had been deserted when he visited it last for a sound check, but now it is teeming with people, clawing at the gates & pounding at our vehicle. It brings back fond memories of Idol days when the fanaticism was at its peak & such things were daily occurrences for him…

The show is a sellout, for there are people as far as the eye can see. Now the challenge lies in justifying the trust of the sea of people who’ve turned up to see their favorites. Little children greet him on stage with the traditional Nagamese jacket and the show takes off from there. The crowd is not only swelling in numbers, but in their involvement as well. Only once before, in Nepal, has he seen the audience in such fervor, lapping up every word uttered and every performance dished out. They are so fantastically encouraging that he attempts a lot of things on stage which he’s never even fathomed he would do. He puts together a small composition which is appreciated & draws a lot of cat calls (had never imagined cat calls would be so satisfying one day). He jumps around, runs across …. You name it! His body’s gonna be sore for a few days but it’ll be worth it. J F4’s co-ordination is fantastic & they are in sync throughout, even in some parts which they had never prepared & performed impromptu. The singing goes up another level and he’s glad that as a band they are growing with every performance. The crowd is completely involved, enjoying every moment – they sing with us, they dance with us, they stick on till the very end. He is overwhelmed by the enormity of it all. After Nepal, this is the only show which becomes satisfying in every sense of the word – the sound, lights & the musicians have been top-notch. The performance has been good, the crowd response - outstanding, the crowd density - overwhelming (more than 15,000 people showed up, with another ten or so waiting outside the gates. Another ten did not turn up because they didn’t expect to get any tickets!!!) . The hospitality is genuine & the concern of the organizers very real. After a long time, he’s met people who see him not as a performer but as part of a family. He feels completely at home. Post-show, a party is thrown to celebrate the booming success and it goes on late into the night. The next day, the people of Dimapur get back to their normal lives & their work in politics with a smile & a sense of satisfaction. He gets back to Mumbai, with a content heart – this has been his best Valentine’s Day ever! Apart from the adulation & respect he’s gathered, he returns with the biggest prize of them all – the best compliment he’s ever received in his life – “Meiyang, you’re an inspiration and a role model to all of us here.”

18 comments:

  1. Hi Meiyang,

    Congratulations for such a Successful start after you Nepal tour.

    The way you have described, I was recalling your magic and the adulation you got from the judges at the Indian idol in the song 'Mahi ve.' It must be something like this and better even and I am sure it is just a starting.........and you were quite correct when you referred the north eastern states as the deprived states and I really feel bad when I see or hear something like this about my fellow Indians......that because of some kind of discrimination their voices are not heard politically and resulting into a kind of incompleteness in their lives. I remember when I saw Amit Paul and Prashant Tamang going to their cities back...how people there, were fond of them and it looked as if they were telling that they are so very much like the rest and they desire to be in the main stream too.

    Till then.....keep your journey on......... who knows when and how new paths are created.......and this voice reaches were it is supposed to reach.

    Bye and take care.

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  2. Phew!! Finally there you are! Congratulations!!! ....on the success of your show as well as the satisfaction you derived from the experience. So thrilled to hear from you.
    Did you say it was the best "Valentine's day" ever? Hmm...you haven't turned gay on all those pretty girls out there, have you? 'cuz as far as I know, your boy band consists of only guys. Or let me guess, there was a certain someone accompanying you?! Or is it the modern style of eulogies over the cell phone. Well, any which way -- good for you! I'm happy if you're happy, I know I sound so matronly and a lil off my rocker at times but I guess that's because I'm a couple years older than you are, and kinda old fashioned to boot, hence the "behenji" act sometimes.
    But hey, Chang's back with a Bang!!!(darn so cliched, for lack of a better expression)
    The very best, sweetie!!

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  3. wow..honestly i hv neva read something like this before..not because of the vocabulary or anything...but mainly because i have neva seen someone translate an experience so well into words...watching you on ii3,following your blog,lookin up your videos on youtube....all of them see so worth my time when i see that you actually take the time to write out what you feel for the whole world to see.... :D

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  4. Meiyang,we luvya lots,U urself hv told abt d compliment in this blog.I totally agree with u coz whn a man born in this world...he has to achieve something in his life to get a compliment like this.Hats of to U my sweet chellam!!!!!!!!Iam proud of u n ur parents for givin such a wonderful child as UUU.there is a proverb in tamil,it goes like this
    A mother is really proud of her son when everyone say he is an Intellectual child,than whn he is born.

    hope u got my point.thank u so much 4 bloggin afte sooo loooooong.
    May God Bless U N U'll sure Prosper in Ur Career.ALL THE BEST,my Chellam.
    Iam proud to b called ur fan.

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  5. Yes chang!!
    You are an inspiration and a roll model to all of us.
    You are concern about your simplicity and easygoing but these are the factors which stands out and relieves your true personality which makes you different from other jumping singers. You bring freshness and melody to the music.

    BTW love this

    jaane kya is dil ko hua,
    jaane kyu hai yeh khoya hua..
    neend hai na hi chain hai,
    aur na dil ko sukoon hai...


    F4 rocks !!

    Keep rocking !!

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  6. Meiyang, this post actually gave me goosebumps! iv never read someone write feelings into words as clearly as this.. n it makes me realize ur as human as the rest of us! through are lives are worlds apart.. the anxiety, the stress, the workload can all be related to!

    from the singing-dancing dentist to this.. its an unbelievable journey im sure.. with lessons to learn everyday!

    this really was a wonderful piece of writing, kinda motivating too! wish F4 the very best.. u guys have worked hard to be where u are today.. enjoy the time :D

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  7. Cool nice work .... Keep sailing ... More adventures to come. Your truly :D miles away across the sea from Malaysia

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  8. Loved ur article to bits, but more than that loved the fact that u talked about Nepal twice.
    I'm really glad you felt comfortable at Nepal.
    Love,
    Nepali fan

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  9. Hurray!! After a long wait, there you arrive with the master-stroke Dr. Chang!! Congratulations to you on this spectacular victory of yours!!Indeed; you have proved yourself to be a role-model long ago. May it be during the first auditions with goonji si hai saari fiza or any else - you've been the heart-throb of millions with the magic of your voice!
    For me, you've been a role-model in a true sense doc - not only because you're back with a BANG; but also because, you've kept the essence of the real you: "Meiyang" alive.. Through your work - may it be music or script; you've let your talents flow out, bettered at them and turned them into a masterpiece of all times.
    Expressions of no language would suffice to express my thanks to you. Here's wishing you great glories, a grandeur success and pleasent moments of genuine delight, forever.
    Stay in touch, keep writing and finally just waiting to get lost in your voice.

    Loads of love,
    niyati... ;)

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  10. Ive never ever seen anyone write something with so much feeling.. wonderful!!
    N all the very best to you n the band!!
    ChEeRs!!
    -Jolene! :)

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  11. Hello the singing Dr whom I caught over youtube and online versions of the Idol in India ... if I might say for a non Hindi speaker - you bowled this old lady over :))

    I loved the voice and the passion you put into your singing and here's hoping that that passion never dies ... in everything you embark on.

    I like your writing - will be back to read all and the rest of it :))

    Like I told everyone here - you have to hear that chinaman sing hindi - he makes knees go jelly *ahahha* and that from someone like me who hardly blinks at the hottest celebs ...

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  12. Hey C,

    Congrats to you and the rest of the guys. I bet the fans got exactly what they were hoping for... a fantastic fantabulous show! :)

    I hope you guys come to Dubai. It'll be great to see y'all perform live. Btw love your first single. Haven't got the album yet... don't think it's released out here. The video was nice too... gustakhi maaf lekin the choreography was a bit cheesy. But hey it's still your first video. The Backstreet Boys entire first video was cheesy not just the choreography! hehehe I think even the lyrics were cheesy. Anyway.


    You and the guys take care and hope y'all keep having a great time performing and making records! :)

    - Farah

    PS: On a completely different note... what's more painful? A root canal or an extraction? I'm just freaking out over my first... tooth extraction that is!

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  13. It has always been nice to read whatever you write and I also felt good that you liked Nepal. You pour all your feelings in a different way and thats fantastic. I hope to read more soon and also hope to see F4 in Nepal. All the best to F4 for its future.

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  14. Saw the music video on tv...the song is lovely!But the name 'F4' sucks!:( so does the video...But i'm absolutely in LOVE with the song...very soulful and melodious...wish you all the best Meiyang!

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  15. hey you are a good write dude!!

    keep blogging!!

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  16. Chang-o!
    You're a busy man alright. How about posting some of your pics, some of us very much wish for a glimpse of the bespectacled guy that once was - or is he still so off camera?
    Caught your performance on some telly show by chance, abounding with telly soap stars -- the one with your band fellas along with four idol girls including Deepali and Charu. Nice work.
    However, it's mighty shameful that the Indian entertainment/music industry is so darn lame that it doesn't know how to launch/show off precious darlings like you (and u'r banda boys).
    U're a strange bloke u know, oughta delve into a bit of self-promotion and the like on u'r blog! Too self-righteous/modest perhaps, eh, and me right now being a presumptuous ass.
    BTW -- F4, whazzat? Fabulous 4; Freaky 4; Fantastic 4.....?
    luv,

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  17. Chang, I wanna sum up in few words..You rock in whatever you do. Wishing you all the best and keep on writing for we love to read your blogs.

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  18. Chang

    I love F4...I'm not joking...I love it! I was so excited when they announced the band at the grand finale of Indian Idol 3 that I called every one I knew and told them about it. ( They thought I was...and am...crazy to get so excited but what to do?) I was honestly very upset when you guys had to leave the II3 stage, especially you and parleen. Believe it or not but I cried....a lot? Its wierd-- though I have also watched Indian Idol 1 and 2...there was a wierd "lagao" to this past seasons contestants. Maybe it was because they were closer to my age...i don't know but there was something. So being able to see and hear you guys again is just great! Love the songs in your album --Samjho na, ek ajnabee, tu to na aayi, udd chale, and le chale especially. I am waiting eagerly for the next video...I have liked the past two ( tu toh na ayi more than udd chale) When can I expect another video? I wish I could see the band perform live. Any possible concerts in Michigan?

    Rhea

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