New Jersey has the highest tamil speaking population in the U.S.according to some guy I heard on T.V. the other day. So what do these tams like to do on a weekend afternoon? That’s right, listen to carnatic music concert and shout “Besh Besh”, doing the Thaalam so loudly, my dear friends , that an innocent onlooker would mistake it for swatting flies.

But I digress. Back to the “Besh Besh” phenomenon - Anyone who has ever been to a carnatic concert has seen this guy in action. He, ladies and gentleman is Mr.Besh Besh, sitting in the second row..Well, only because the first row is reserved for really old maamas clad in pattu salwais with hearing-aids – their vocal cords have decided to take a rest after years of screaming “Bale ba !”

Anyway so this guy is usually middle aged, bespectacled and with a moustache. Don’t ask me why the moustache matters, but it does, and it has to preferably adhere to the “Mike Mogan” style of the ‘80s. Our guy ,a fervent fan of carnatic music is usually found sitting in the attention position, craning his neck hoping to catch a glimpse of his favorite artistes. His hands are placed in the “go” position, ready to beat the crap out his poor thighs as soon as he hears the shruti.

Did I mention he has the uncanny knack of deciphering the raaga based on one or two notes? And feels the need to loudly announce the same to his embarrassed son/daughter who suddenly feels the need to turn away and look at their Nintendos in rapt attention. Anyway, if you are really lucky, you will see a very seasoned Mr.Besh Besh in display. And how do you find out, you ask? Well, it’s pretty simple.

It’s a three step formula – the rookies start off looking furtively at the audience, sizing up other potential candidates, even following the other guy’s thaalam on occasion. The good ones have their eyes glued to the artistes and will close their eyes on occassion - bliss, I tell you. They generally adhere the "paani" mentioned above with the Mike Mogans.

With the very best though, what you will see is a loud “Sabash” at the end of each kalpanaswaram, and as the Mridangist and Ghatam vidhwan launch into the thaniavardhanam, you will see violent head shaking, very loud thalams (poor thighs!) and for the theatric climax - a loud recital of the korvais themselves.. “Thangina thom thakka thathinginathom… Sabhashhh !”.

(To be continued…)

1 Response
  1. vats Says:

    ..the thunder thighs from all the ghee need some workout right? :)) am sure they'd also add stories on when they were in GMB/Mani Iyer concert..