Saturday, September 5, 2009

The day I became a Radio-Jockey. Well, almost…..

WARNING: This post might contain topics that are socially Taboo.

Long ago, when Radio City was the only “Cool” radio channel in Bangalore, and All India Radio was still the most widely tuned-to channel, there was another Radio channel in places like Mumbai that was making waves. It was called ‘Radio Mirchi’, ‘mirchi’ being the Hindi word for chillies, synonymous with hot n spicy.

So it was not surprising when they decided to foray into the Bangalore bandwidth by advertising in all the major newspapers, asking for wannabe RJs (RJ = Radio Jockey or Rattling Joker, take your pick) to audition. I looked at it with passive fantasy. How cool would it be to put on a burst of energy as the countdown ended and take the listeners on a trip to where the RJ desired?

I was just recovering from a bout of bronchitis that was a result of a reckless outing in the Western Ghats. Also, Rang De Basanti had just released in cinemas and we were slated to watch it the next day on the big screen. Probably the inactivity of the previous few weeks and rave reviews about the movie’s portrayal of youthful energy spurred me on and I dialled KK’s number who was my then-partner-in-crime.

A few phone calls to the number provided by the radio channel, and we were outside the auditioning studio.

On entry, we were given a page-long prose, to be articulated in front of a microphone in a sound proof room. Voice is after all the forte of an RJ aint it? Piece of cake… Or so I thought.

As my voice trailed away at the end of my narration, I heard another voice in my headphone calling out my name.

“Your initials?”

Q: “As in Blood Pressure? Or Bed Pleasure?”

A: WHAT!!!!!

Q: “So, Mr. B.P., tell me, Why is Deve Gowda better than Narayan Murthy?”

Hmmm… Trying to do me with a googly eh? For the uninitiated, Narayan Murthy, the founder of Infosys, and Deve Gowda, the former Indian Prime Minister, are two extremely well known faces throughout the country, not always for the right reasons.

Their public spat was the topic of discussion for quite some time and it was now giving me a few anxious moments. I mean, why would any sane man think that a politician is better than a successful and honest entrepreneur?????

Q: “So, Mr. B.P., tell me, Why is Deve Gowda better than Narayan Murthy?”

A:“ Murthy might have given jobs to millions, developed India’s economy and so on and blah and blah, but at end of a long and winding day, when you switch on the local Television channel, it is Gowda who, with his drooping face sleeping peacefully in a Parliamentary Cabinet meeting, really brings a smile on your face.”

There you go. Not very good, but something atleast!

Q: “Why is chocolate better than Sex?”

HEY MISTER! Here I am, a middle class, 18-year-old young gullible Indian, with all his virtues and values in the right place, and you try to “outrage my modesty” just because it’s a soundproof room eh??

I almost said,” No Sex please we are Indians”.

But, a moment of silence and cackling static in the headphone before I said, "The other day I started having chocolate right inside the public transport and finished it right in front of my parents, but nobody said a word! Would that be the case if I substitute the word ‘chocolate’ with the word ‘Sex’?”

Q: “Why is a Camel better than a woman?”

A: “ The hump factor”.

That nearly shut him up.

Not so fast. A Hyderabadi style voice cackled into the headphones and I took a full minute to get the hang of it. It was something about mini-skirts and college dress codes. I shrugged and gave a full blast of my learning from bargaining for bicycle parts in bye-lanes of Shivajinagar, Bangalore.

It was a shame that just when I had warmed up for more fireworks, he decided that he’d heard whatever he had needed to hear.

Things looked ominous when three huge and surly guys entered the room and took the chairs opposite mine. I was hoping that I would be let-off with a stern warning and not charged with public indecency for my answers. If they really tried to do me in then I would even point fingers back at them. I was just 18! It was just juvenile rush of blood!

One of them began to speak, but all he said was “ That, was really impressive”.

Heh, I knew I was a teenager, but I was not a dunce. Give me the bad news. “That”, he said,” was spontaneous, fluent and exactly the way we need it to be”!!

Surprise, Surprise!! Before I knew it, I was made an offer – A monthly pay packet fatter than the cumulative pocket money of my entire Engineering!

It was downright tempting and exciting to accept the offer and say, “ So what if I will not be an engineer, I will be someone who did something out-of-the-box and enviable, eh?!”.

The bearded guy at the audition asked me to take 2 days to decide and parted with these words, “Even the most adventurous of us have a Basic degree under our belts. The world is not a forgiving place for people without it.”

Those words by him were the general echo of almost everyone who I met over the next 2 days. My head was buzzing with the pros and cons and ifs and buts and what nots, but that’s when a small voice in my head tapped the innards of my skull, coughed and made its presence felt. On further enquiry, it introduced itself and said, “ Mate, If you can see farther than others today, its only because you have stood on the shoulders of others”. The profundity of that statement sunk in and I decided that maybe it was just not the time to throw caution to the winds and jump into the party bandwagon.

I was 18, not yet aware of my deepest desires or greatest strengths. If I could be a smart alec at 18, I could be a smart alec at 30 too! And it was a fresh new world out there, Ol’ Hobbes buddy! The destination would surely reveal itself in times to come, but it was not time, yet.

I went back to classes at college a week later and bragged about “How my vocal brilliance enthralled an audience trained to identfy excellence”. Chucking the RJ job was not as bad as it had seemed a week earlier.

Disclaimer : This post is not intended to show any person or organization, including myself, in any kind of bad light.


  1. I finally get the entire story :) Simply brilliant!

  2. “outrage my modesty”.. I dint know u had some in the first place!! Hahaha.. Great read....!

  3. Its evident how much "you" love "yourself", since the "small voice" inside you calls you "Mate" ;-).... enjoyed reading it!! \m/

  4. The HUMP FACTOR eh???????????
    It was very amusing to go thru the entire story...On a second thought u shud not have rejected the offer :)

  5. the road less traveled is always that allurin !