Coconut shells and Horse Hooves

In college,I was part of the Indian Music Club. As part of the cultural life in college, we had the Mount Holyoke competitions. These were basically inter year competitions. It was the time when juniors tried to assert their suzerainty over the seniors. And seniors of course, fought back aggressively. As you can imagine, the competition was stiff. Each year was determined to win Mount Holyoke. The club membership divided itself into first, second and third years. Club leaders went into overdrive choosing the best songs, choreographing the best dances, organising the best events and slave driving club members. Life for a week was all about club meetings and rehearsals.

IMC in the second year stands out in my memory. All the second years in the IMC congregated and the assistant leader (elected from among the second years) took charge. We were going to do one Hindi and one Tamil group song. Then there would be a duet and a solo.

My gang and I were the 'Hindi gang' consisting of two tamilians, one mallu and one bengali. We were asked to come up with a fantastic number that would have the audience up and dancing to our tunes.

So what was this great number to be? It had to be catchy. It had to have melody. Should sound good when sung in a group. And it should also have that special something which was all 'US'.

After much debate and disagreement, we decided upon the song 'Yelo Yelo. Yeloji sanam hum aa gaye' from the film Andaz Apna Apna. It was the song of the moment. The movie had been released recently, it had AAMIR KHAN (drool! drool!), had that lovely O.P.Nayyar feel without being old and was totally US! What a wonderful idea.

There was a small fly in the ointment. Our pianist was in the first year. This meant that she could not play for us. No one else among the second years could play an instrument.

We were crushed. That song begged instruments. The original had the beautiful strains of a violin, guitar and castanets. In the movie the song was sung by the hero on a horse drawn carriage and the castanets gave an impression of the clomping hooves of a horse.

But never let it be said that we were defeated by this. We were a creative bunch and we hit upon a creative idea. That is to say, I hit upon a creative idea and the rest of the group thought it was a fabulous one.

"We can use coconut shells na?" I said. " We will beat it rhythmically to the required beat and it will sound just like horses"

"Wonderful! Wonderful!" A day ski in our group immediately volunteered to get the coconut shells. Everything fell into place and we started practice in right earnest.

The day of the competition arrived and we eagerly awaited our turn on stage. While we waited, I noticed that the second year group was the largest. I mean we had to be around 15 girls at least. Thats one thing about the second years, I thought. We know how to show solidarity. Look at us. Everybody is singing!! 'Everybody' is correct. When we filed onto the stage to sing, we were so many that the entire stage, some 10 feet wide was covered!

The song began. Out came the coconut shells and the audience collapsed with laughter. Yet another day ski had thoughtfully brought a tambourine (which she had omitted to mention) and she was cheerfully banging away at it. Oh yes. One more thing. We had not practiced previously with the coconut shells. So it was being banged away, in a valiant effort to imitate horse hooves, the tambourine girl was still going strong and the audience was in splits. Added to the mayhem was the fact that the group was way too large. The right end of the line was singing faster than the left. The icing on the cake was when some of the girls in the group, seeing the mirth among the audience, started giggling themselves. I even have a photograph of this.

The song ended and we walked off the stage. The audience wiped its eyes and moved on to the next song. We left the auditorium for the post mortem. Once outside, there was a general silence in the group. We looked at one another not knowing what to say. Then everybody started laughing. It was too much. Coconut shells?!! 'Whose idea was it?' they wanted to know and I tried to make myself invisible.

We went back in to hear who had won. We knew there was no chance it could be us. And it wasn't. But surprise surpise! We got second place?!!! WHAT? HOW? WHY?

Maybe we got points for creativity. Maybe we got points for 'echo effect'. The right hand not knowing what left hand is doing seems to have worked well for us. My theory is that we got points for full wholesome entertainment!! What say?

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16 Responses to Coconut shells and Horse Hooves

  1. Sugar Pot says:

    Deepa......OMG!I can still remember this....and still can't stop laughing. Those were certainly good times....thanks for taking the initiative and for being creative.

  2. Mohan says:

    Woah! excellent narration of the real life story. This made me recall my college days too :)

  3. Very picturesque description, almost could visualize you jumping to the rythms of coconut shells....

  4. Creativity is your forte then. As is enterainment ... that was such good reading!!! I'll be back for more ... stumbled across your blog randomly while shurfing, the title caught my eye! Hello! :)

  5. "Full wholesome entertainment" has to be it... !!!

    Even I'm in splits reading your post!

    These are the stuff that make hostel life memorable... for years and years!

  6. aakash says:

    Haha,.. silly old college moments.. we look back and cant stop smiling at them...
    strangely, I also did a post on one funny past experience in college, today..
    nice read :)

    regards
    aJ

  7. Hilarious.I was wonmdering what could hv fetched the second place given the ingenuous improvisation,the mismatch between the left and right wings,the stand alone tambourine banging away and the absence of rehearsals.It must have been for the uncontrollable mirth and rib tickling laughter your item produced!!

  8. Deepa says:

    Hey Partha: We did rehearse! Only we didn't try it with the shells :)

  9. Purba says:

    I"ll say the coconut shells and loads of enthusiasm won you brownie points.

  10. rama says:

    Wow,it was fun reading. It was no doubt good entertainment with pure creativity.
    Those were the days when one had no worries, and nothing was impossible.
    I would like your email, for i have to ask you something, can you mail it to me: rama.ananth@gamil.com

  11. UB says:

    Coconut shells...what an idea. Wow. College days are the best no doubt!

  12. UB says:

    Coconut shells...what an idea. Wow. College days are the best no doubt!

  13. Hilarious.I was wonmdering what could hv fetched the second place given the ingenuous improvisation,the mismatch between the left and right wings,the stand alone tambourine banging away and the absence of rehearsals.It must have been for the uncontrollable mirth and rib tickling laughter your item produced!!

  14. aakash says:

    Haha,.. silly old college moments.. we look back and cant stop smiling at them...
    strangely, I also did a post on one funny past experience in college, today..
    nice read :)

    regards
    aJ

  15. Very picturesque description, almost could visualize you jumping to the rythms of coconut shells....

  16. Sugar Pot says:

    Deepa......OMG!I can still remember this....and still can't stop laughing. Those were certainly good times....thanks for taking the initiative and for being creative.