My `big dream of the decade’ came true…in a most unexpected way.
It was around 4.30 p.m. and I was chatting online with my sister, telling her how depressed I was because I was going to miss another chance to see my `Hero’ – A R Rahman – who would be attending an award ceremony 350km away in neighbouring Belgium.
While we were chatting, the doorbell rang, making me jump, so I logged off and went to see who was at the door – it was my good friend, Dinesh.
Opening the door, he gave me a big hug and greeted me with “happy birthday and may all your dreams come true!” I thanked him but told him that I only had one dream and no way was that going to come true! Dinesh asked me what I was talking about.
“My Guruji is attending an award ceremony in Belgium”, I replied. Dinesh was a little upset and said, “He is not only your Guruji but mine too!” I apologized to Dinesh and told him that all the tickets for the ceremony had been sold the previous week – I have known that since two days before. I didn’t have a car – or a driving license, for that matter – and if I went by train, I would not be able to get back home as the ceremony didn’t finish until 11.00 p.m. What’s more, I did not know anyone in Belgium, so had no local support.
“Sorry”, my `Rahmaniacs’, I didn’t tell you what the ceremony was about. It was the `World Soundtrack Academy Awards’ and was being held in the city of Gent.
OK, back to how I could make my big dream come true.
Dinesh suggested that we call the place where the ceremony was being held and ask again about tickets. “OK,” I said, “I’ll do it” and dialed the Awards office number.
“How may I help you?” the receptionist asked.
I told her that I was calling from the Netherlands and asked if there were any tickets available for that evening’s awards programme. I didn’t need to tell Dinesh that the receptionist’s reply had been, “I am sorry to say that all the tickets have been sold” – it was obvious from the way I looked at him.
I did not hang-up however but told the receptionist, “Look, I am A R Rahman’s craziest fan – I don’t care if I don’t get to talk with him – just to see him would be enough. At what time will the guests be at the entrance? Is it possible just to stand there to get a look at him? Please help me madam! My home is 350 km away from Gent and it will take me almost 3 hours by car to get there. Dinesh could hear all this as I had switched my `phone to `speaker-phone’.
After a while, the receptionist said, “Look, I know how much you guys love A R Rahman… let me talk to my colleague”. – my face got brighter – “The show is going to start around 8.00p.m. but the doors will be open between 6.00p.m. and 7.45p.m. and that’s when all the VIP’s will arrive; then there’s a break at 9.00p.m….oh, just a minute” she said.
After a short time, she came back on the line and told us, “you guys might just be lucky…you might get two tickets after the break but I can’t promise anything because it depends on whether people stay for the second part of the ceremony.” That last sentence left our hearts racing and I could hardly form my words to thank her. She laughed and hung up.
Now, the next problem was the car! Dinesh had a license but did not have his own motor. “I’m going to `phone a car rental company”, he said, and by the time I was going to remind him that today was a Saturday, he was already being told, “Yep, we have a car available” and Dinesh told him that he would collect it in 5 minutes. I couldn’t believe our luck.
I looked at the clock and saw that it was 5 minutes past 5.00 p.m and my mind could think of nothing except getting the car and driving straight to Gent. Dinesh told me he would collect the car and be back to pick me up in 10 minutes and that I should be ready and waiting on the street!
Although my stomach was churning and my nerves were on a knife-edge, the thought of the ceremony in Gent helped reduce the tension. I just wanted to see my hero’s humble face and tell him, “Guruji, I love you, jai ho!” even if it was some distance away from him. That’s all I was thinking.
Out on the street, I saw a new Nissan approaching, with Dinesh at the wheel. I was jumping up and down as though I had taken the winning catch in the last cricket match of the season! Dinesh knew that I was not feeling well so suggested I got in the back seat and try to sleep.
To get there at the time the receptionist had advised us, Dinesh had to `put his foot down’ and at times, I saw we were doing 170 kph! After 20 minutes driving, we hit a traffic jam and my nerves started to get to me again.
“Don’t worry”, Dinesh said, “we’ll soon get through this”…and so we did and were once again cruising at 170 kph while most of the other vehicles on the road were travelling at around 120 kph. Our high speed, my iPhone and Dinesh’s `SatNav’ all played a part in helping us reach Gent in 3 hours.
I had fallen asleep and Dinesh woke me to tell me we had arrived…in the city but not the ceremony venue! The `SatNav’ had `gone on the blink’ so we would have to stop and ask someone how we could get to our destination. As I was feeling refreshed from my sleep, I told Dinesh that I would go and ask someone how we reach our target. It was 8.25p.m. and the interval was at 9.00p.m. Then I thought, “why not call the ceremony office?” As luck would have it, the same receptionist answered my call and I told her that we were in Gent but didn’t know how to get to the venue.
This `angel’ told us that we were quite near and gave us the necessary directions. She also said that she would send someone to escort us to the building where the ceremony was taking place. What a wonderful woman she was!!!
Sure enough, as we were parking the Nissan, someone came up to us and escorted us inside. Once inside, he said, “Have a nice evening and hope you might be lucky and meet with
Mr. Rahman”. We shook his hand and thanked him for his help and kindness, realising that the receptionist had told him all about us!
Making our way between Porsches, Lamborghinis and other top marque cars, we headed for the entrance and asked the security staff – in the politest way – where the Reception was. “Could I see your tickets please”, the security guy asked. Instead of showing him, I told him the entire story about our contact with the lady receptionist and our break-neck drive from Netherlands. He replied that while he recognised that we were devoted fans of A R Rahman, we could not enter without tickets but said that he would check with his colleague in Reception.
I told Dinesh that even if we failed to get in, we shouldn’t feel too bad, as we had tried our hardest for our Guruji. Dinesh agreed with me but said that we should not lose faith. I agreed.
The security guard returned and said, “You guys are really lucky as they have had two cancellations”. Dinesh and I could hardly believe what the guy was telling us. Wow…could it really be happening? He opened the door and took us through to Reception, where I noticed the clock showed 8.50p.m. – 10 minutes to the interval! Then I heard a voice asking, ”
Are you the two guys who `phoned me from the Netherlands?” It was our `guardian angel’ and we told her, “Yes, we are the guys” and thanked her for all her help and kindness. She laughed and told us how lucky we were, handing us the two tickets. The security guard showed us to a waiting area and told us that in a few minutes, the place would be full of famous people.
I told Dinesh how grateful I was to him for getting us here. “Yeah, yeah”, he said, “But now, we have to ask someone where our `hero’ is, in this vast place”. Big screens were showing live telecast but it was already 9.00p.m. and people were quietly making their way to the waiting area – where we were waiting!
I recognized some of the programme organisers, and I approached one of them and said, “Hello sir, we have come from the Netherlands and would like to see Mr. A R Rahman”. “Hmm”, he replied, “You have missed the first part of the programme when `A R’ received the award for Best Song of the Year”. “We just need to know where we can see him, even from a distance”, I replied. The programme organiser told us that at that moment, `A R’ and other VIPs were having their photographs taken but that he couldn’t let us into the VIP area. However, he showed us the entrance where the second part of the ceremony would take place and said we would definitely meet `A R’ if he decided to stay for the second session.
I switched on my iPhone, keeping my eyes on the people coming out of the VIP lounge with only one hope in my heart…that our Guruji would come through that door! As I stood there, my nerves were once again at breaking point – like a student waiting for his exam results. It was 9.40p.m. and the second part of the ceremony would be starting in just another 20 minutes.
After a few minutes, I saw someone in a blue coat and I called to Dinesh to look. Yeahhhhhh it was the man himself…
…the golden moment in my life
…the moment I had waited 13 years for
…the only humble face I had wanted to see in my whole life
…the Mozart of Asia
…the music miracle
…The One and Only A R Rahman
Yes, he was coming to the entrance for the second part of the ceremony. He is just 15 metres away from us. I said to Dinesh, “Oh man, I can’t believe this” – my whole body was shaking!
As his eyes met ours, I greeted him in the traditional Tamil way by saying, “Vanakkam Sir”, shaking his hand with one of my trembling ones, my other hand over my heart.
Although overcome by my feelings at meeting my hero, I was strongly aware of how much I missed my sister, in India. When we looked at each other and I took in his humble face, I felt that I was on another planet or, maybe even in Heaven!
I knew that Guruji had little time, as he had to return to the concert hall for the 2nd part of the show, but I asked him, “Sir, is it possible for me to have a photo taken with you?” Without a second thought, and in his typically humble way, he said, “Ya, sure”.
Although I was thinking that a photo of me with my Guru would provide enough pleasure for the rest of my life, I still couldn’t stop thinking about my sister. I am the only one who knows how much she adores Guru Ji and how much she would have loved to be with me at that time. Still, I thought, “one day, she too will meet our hero.”
Dinesh and I posed with the great man, while our photos were taken. Photos, which undoubtedly, will be the most memorable in my life! Then we had to bid our hero “goodbye” as the ceremony organisers and security staff was waiting to escort him back to the concert hall for the second session.
After this `golden moment’ many other unexpected things happened but not as important as when I met our dearest Guruji.
P.S. Dear Rahmaniacs, I know all of you dream of the day when you will meet our dearest Guruji.
After waking up each day, I used to wonder if this would be the day that I would see my hero, and that thought always gave me an indescribably good feeling. Finally I met him! So my advice to everyone is, “Stay confident and Keep The Faith…one day, you will all meet him!”