Well what can I say about “thatha” or GRANDPA, I don't know if there is any one else as crazy as me. If so, welcome to the club. I am a member of almost every MF Fan club, web site and blogspot that I have ever come across on the web. At work all time I am listening to jazz player radio, even my PC had a MF theme and at start up of MS windows a voice would say "Hi, I am Maynard Ferguson"...
This madness started during Christmas 1995 when thatha had come down to Prashanthi Nilayam. It was my 1st year of college and two of my roommates were in the band. My room was just below the band room in the boys hostel. I could hum almost every tune the band played - I longed to be in the band, be as close to thatha as possible. The first time I got to see and hear him play was when he performed for all the hostel students in the dining hall.
I was the happiest of all when I got into the band the next year... I was waiting for Christmas. DJ was crowned as the new band leader and I was very lucky that Sampath and me were "chauffeurs" to MF. We guys had the unique opportunity of picking up and dropping thatha. I have had innumerable golden moments with beloved thatha during these trips.
One day in the year 1996, I remember I had read in the morning newspaper about Hollywood actor Sylvester Stallone’s 50th birth day which was celebrated on June 6th. In continuation to these celebrations, that weekend was being celebrated as the 20 anniversary of the movie Rocky. A gala celebration happened in Planet Hollywood Hong Kong.
As usual, in the evening, Sampath and me take the hostel car and reach the round block in the ashram.
Pa-papa-pappa-pa, I knock on the door.
I can hear MF say, "Flo it’s the band boys, my chauffeurs are here".
MF once said that all his band guys (Big Bop Nouveau) knock with the “Gonna fly now” intro rhythm whenever they are at his door. So from that day on I did the same!
MF welcomes us at the door with his MF-brand laugh!
"Wow thatha is looking cool and summerish", he is in his shorts and V neck vest. We go in and sit while grand pa has his snack and coffee. We start to chat with him - a regular thing of 10 to 15 minutes everyday. I tell him about the 20th anniversary celebration of Rocky and about Stallone's birthday.
MF says, "Flo, did you hear that Rocky turns 20 ? It’s a long time."
Then MF shares an anecdote, something that happened during the shoot of Rocky. There is a scene in the movie where the background music score is heard as rhythmic hard punches on the punch bag (it was actually supposed to be recorded live). MF was not sure if this was possible but Stallone volunteered to sit with MF while MF actually taught him the rhythm and helped him do the punches in the same rhythm! A live recording was done !
The next such instance was one evening on a similar chat. Mrs. Ferguson was narrating some funny moments that had happened in their daughters band. At the end she commented, “Mind you it was an all girls band”, and she added, "Isn't it dear?",turning to look at MF.
MF with a "Hmmm", quickly turns and asks “Sorry what did you say?” She repeats "Wasn’t it an all girls band - our daughters - honey?" Then MF quips, "Oh yeah I suppose all our daughters are girls!" We all laugh aloud and MF hugs madam Flo and both of them continue to laugh more...
"She is funny", says MF with a wink.
As we are ready to leave MF says,"Bye Flo" and starts to walk. From inside she reminds him that he is forgetting his flask and the coffee mug.
"Oh yes thank you",says MF and turns to me, places his hand on my shoulder and says,"You see, she loves me a lot and cares for me so much, just as how Swami wanted her to be in our interview."
Mrs. Ferguson comes and hands over the cup to MF and both of them kiss. MF actually puts the cup in front of his face. With a warning gesture and a MF-brand laugh he says, "Not in front of the schoolboys!"
We all laugh leave for band practice ...