28.10.2011 - 30.10.2011 24 °C
Standing amongst fifty thousand people watching the band play was one thing only to be seen and experienced. Words fall short. I can not describe it in one word or a sentence.
“Awesome” is the closest I can get and to add spice to the awesome word I can equalize that with the word “Aphrodisiac”.
“Yes I am going to the concert”, is all I told Nirav when we read, “Dates are out! Metallica India gig on Oct 28, 30. The band is slated to perform on October 28 and 30 in Delhi and Bangalore respectively during their inaugural India tour.”
Bangalore was the place to be. It was decided.
That was on a hot May day when I said I was all set to head bang. And in these five months I had a lot to do… my daughter’s half yearly exams, a great summer vacation and many birthdays to attend. And then there were the unexpected hiccups… short trips … the unending rains… mugginess in the air … all to be termed simply as this that and etcetera.
As days passed, from dry summers to the humid Monsoons there were a few more people who said they too were looking forward to attend this concert. And this would be the only topic we’d discuss during weekends – binging on grilled chicken and cooling off with Budwisers. So it was six of us who’d finally go together. And it sounded so much fun!
And in these five months not only the excitement swelled but some people I trusted without a doubt showed that they had a nasty side too. For example there is A. An ardent Metallica enthusiast he took the responsibility to get the tickets done. At that point of time we had no clue that the tickets would be available online. He happily took the cash and till date I have not seen his face or heard his voice. But that’s one story we will continue later on.
The day the courier came containing the concert tickets I was thrilled… excited like a teenager who just saw her crush pass by across the street. I looked at it for a long time. Read each and every word over and over again and it took good amount of time to let that feeling sink in.
Two days before the concert we reached Bangalore. But instead of six we were four now but that did not matter. As long as we were ready to rock and roll I knew this would be an experience of a lifetime.
But a tragic thing happened on the night of 28th Oct. We were unaware of it. It was a phone call from Lioness. She asked me to switch on the TV and just browse through any of the news channel. My heart roughly missed a beat when I learnt that the Metallica gig that was to be held in New Delhi got cancelled. There was a hell lot of mud slinging. Blame games. Angry people ransacking the stage. A near stampede.
We were all silent. We just did not want to talk or discuss anything nasty and negative. I just whispered a silent prayer to God. All I asked him was a perfect 30th … a Sunday I’d always cherish. But there were a thousand people propagating too may things everywhere; be it in the social networking sites, TV, elevators, malls. I just shut myself up amidst some good books, family and rum. For I know if nothing else work, rum surely does the trick!
Slowly the time was drawing nearer. And I was hoping everything would be right.
The night before the concert – it was a Saturday and I was to meet up my cousin and that planned collapsed too … well almost if I may say… we were supposed to meet at some pub over a few drinks and that was all. But he got stuck with his work and the next best thing I said was “let’s postpone our meeting.” Meeting him was also very important to both of us as we’d see each other after twenty two years. The last time I saw him was when I was in class six and he had just cleared his twelfth. After that we have been in touch either through mails, phone calls and texts.
But the sweet fella he is, he took directions of the place we were staying and he drove 25 kms. just to see me. Meeting him after such a long time has been another experience again.
And we spent the whole night talking and sipping scotch (for a change I shifted my loyalty) by the balcony. We were so engrossed in our conversation that we did not realize slowly it was dawn! He left at 6.00 a.m in the morning.
After he left I knew I had just an hour of sleep. Nior would be soon awake and I would get busy with her. But nothing happened as I planned. Nior woke up and she never disturbed me (my sweet-heart… I don’t know how come she understands me so well)… & Nirav was awake too. Infact the entire household was up and into their own devises and the sun rays falling directly into my eyes would not let the sleep come. So I too got up and a big mug of tea was all I needed.
By noon we decided to move. I made Nior understand that I would be out for some work and that she should behave like a good girl and stay with her aunt, uncle and elder sis and also Shamima (the girl who stays with us)… and she said she would.
We met our friends at a junction and headed for Palace Grounds. There was a slight drizzle but nobody cared a bit about it. The queue was a rather long one… and this was just to step inside the Palace Grounds.
Once inside the grounds there was no queue whatsoever. But there was a heavy rush of people at one direction only and we too stood somewhere close to the massive crowd. Then we heard the guys standing infornt of us say “Gates have opened”. I cannot tell you how suffocating it was, to stand in that crowd which was swelling every moment. You really did not have to walk, you could just move as you were being pushed. At one point I thought I’d pass out. I looked into Nirav and said, “hold me as tight as you can”. And I asked one of the guys infront of me, “how long will it take us to reach the gate?” He scratched his head; pressing on to the shoulders of another guy standing infront of him he arched himself up and replied, “Roughly two meters”. Those two meters seemed an eternal journey. It took about forty five minutes to reach that two meter mark. I saw a very small “gate” through which only one person at a time could enter. The whole area was full of these huge and frightfully morose looking bouncers. Dare you create any nonsense! We walked for another few meters and there was another ordeal to be passed. This time around there were five rows. People were being frisked lest we smuggle alcohol, cigarettes, lighters and cameras. And finally…finally I could see the arena.
I looked up my watch. It was 5.00 p.m and as I looked up on the stage there was Nikhil (Chinappa) introducing Guillotine a Delhi based band. As they took the stage it prompted a tongue-in-cheek “Delhi Sucks” chorus from the audience, the Delhi chaos and no-show still fresh in memory.
Once they wrapped up a Scottish alt-rock act Biffy Clyro's took the stage for an hour and the crowd stood expectantly in the pouring rain.My back was slowly hurting and I sat on the ground… I was lucky to be standing near the barracks. I had some clear place to sit… the rains had made the entire place slushy.
Soon they were off the stage the crowd was getting frenzy. The wait was finally over. We would see Hetfield & Co. in any minute. But to everyone’s surprise there was this man on stage giving a sermon on safety. He urged the audience in front to look to their “left”, “right” and “behind” and then take “three steps backward”.
And as obedient school children the crowd adhered to it without fuss.
At about 8.00 p.m as the band came finally took charge the whole Palace Ground got euphoric. Hysteria set it and finally it was happening. I am sure everyone present there had the same feeling like the one I had. This was it… it took them so long but they finally arrived… the wait, the pain, the rain, hunger and thirst everything was forgotten.
From CreepingDeath to For Whom The Bells Toll people sang in chorus. Nothing matter at that time. Seemed we were all one. Standing their in unison, head banging and enjoying each and every moment and soaking it all.
The LED screens behind the two storied stage and on the sides is where you could see them giant size and the fire works added sparks to the whole ambience.
And then there was the anti-war song One when a fleet of doves flew above in the dark night sky and all I could say was “they were so well trained.”
As they belted out one hit after another I could not have thanked God enough for making this so perfect for me and another few thousands too.
And as they sang Master of Puppets, Hetfield gave out that evil laugh much to everyone’s delight and there were so many like me I noticed who clutched their foreheads in utter disbelief.
And then the time came I was waiting for… after a solo by Kirk Hammet for about fifteen minutes the music seemed familiar. Oh yeah… It was Nothing ElseMatters. The entire Palace Ground with fifty thousands metal heads singing that song was amazing. People came from every corner of the country and other parts of the world too. There were people of all ages… there were people in crutches, bandaged arms and heads too. But all were there… to see the Gods of Metal perform live. The finale was Enter Sandman… as he Hetfield chanted “And now I lay down to sleep… “ I just told myself, “this is insane… I can take no more”….
I has been truly all the long travel… the back ache and all the wait …. I never thought I could see these guys ever … but Jasoon Newstead you were sorely missed…Lars seemed to have gone mellow… age suits him and what can I say about Hetfield… he is just too much!
As we decided to walk back to the nearest taxi stand I still could not believe what I had just seen… I knew it would take a hell lot of time to let that feeling sink again… like it happened to me when opened the courier and saw the concert tickets.
As we were heading home I knew this was definitely a pilgrimage and also realized that I had not slept for the past twenty four hours.
So much for Mr. James Hetfield & Co.