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Ghazal-ing TTE

For someone doing something as mundane as checking tickets on a train, serious music is difficult to come by, but not in Raghuram's case, finds ANJU SARA JACOB

A moving train has a rare musical symmetry about it that can seldom go unnoticed. A remark such as that scarcely lets in arguments because anyone with an ear for music is destined to end up on the same note - he will get off the rail car with melody in his heart.

But for Mr.Raghuram Krishnan, music is always in the air, whether he is in the train or not. In fact both the train and the music are evenly woven into his life. Raghuram is a Train Ticket Examiner (TTE) with the Southern Railways and has recently added himself to the roll of ghazal singers in town.

The 29-year-old is not just another ghazal singer who appeases himself reproducing renowned artistes in humble mehfils. Neither is he a vagrant singer who just happened to stray into the world of ghazals. Mr.Raghuram is a scholar of Carnatic music and has been a light music artist with Akashavani for years. Besides, he has taken lessons in the mridangam and has bagged scholarships twice at the national level.

Raghuram has been learning Carnatic music from an early age, but it was only a few years back that he chose to make a cautious, but difficult switch-over to Hindustani.

His mother Ms.K.Sowbhagyawathy, who is a music teacher at the Central School and an artist with the All India Radio, was all prepared to disagree.

``The resolve to abandon Carnatic music met with strong disapproval from my mother at first. She wanted me to stage concerts in Carnatic and never liked the idea of my becoming a Ghazal vocalist.''

But, Raghuram did shift to Hindustani and has been learning it for a couple of years. He is quite comfortable with Hindi and Urdu, enabling himself to render the lyrics of Ghalib, Mehdi Hassan and Hariharan perfectly. Since the job of TTE demands odd work schedules, consistent sadhakam is just not a part of his daily agenda. He often has to make compromises with his job and to make arrangements with his colleagues, to keep up his musical assignments, but none of the troubles worry him much.

Raghuram is happy that his mother, who was keen on Carnatic has begun to appreciate his present line of music and has accepted him as a Ghazal singer.

He hopes that sooner or later the rest of the Ghazal loving community too will consider him seriously.

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