"Wow. What about me? Was my cry melodious too?" I grinned.
"Errr...." was her reply.
Fine. Apparently it was more "WAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!" than my sister's gentle "OooOOooO".
So I didn't have a great start to my vocals journey. But unlike my OooOOooO-ing sister, I have loved music and singing ever since I was a kid. Mom used to sing on radio when she was young, so it was a dream for me to do that some day. Except that my music teachers at my primary school didn't quite think so. The male teacher was still okay, but the new female teacher couldn't stand me. Once, we all auditioned for a singing part for the school function. I'd barely sung 3 words when she put up her hand and dismissed me with a pained expression. Her final pick was this girl called Desdemona (parents must be fans of Shakespeare, methinks). Fine.
A few months later, we had a chance to do a musical play on radio, and the story was that of the rabbit who fooled the lion into thinking that there was another lion in the well. And guess who was chosen to sing the parts of the rabbit? MOI. Not Desdemona. MOIHAHAHAHA! I still remember the song. It was very jingle-like and it went, "Is bhayaanak sher se humko pana hai chhutkara, is bhayaanak!" Radio dream? Check. Of course, my mom sang 'Raina beeti jaaye' while I sang 'Is bhayaanak' but still.
That was the high point of my 'musical career'. The song never left my head. Even when we had some random minister or school inspector visiting the school and we had to wear saris and sing, "Aap aaye chaman mein vasant aa gaya, kokila gaa uthi swaagatam swaagatam", in my head, I'd be looking at him and singing, "Is bhayaanak sher se humko pana hai chhutkara, is bhayaanak!"
In high school, I did sing for inter-house and inter-school competitions, but my real exposure to singing came during my university days when I successfully auditioned for NTU's Indian musical band. For four years, I worked with highly trained people and learnt a lot. Of course, they were very supportive and tried their hardest to camouflage the shortcomings of this amateur singer. Some songs were too high-pitched for me, and nobody could hear me sing. Well, dogs, perhaps. And they literally used to lower the scale for me. (I know some of them are reading this, smiling and nodding their heads. Hi, guys!)
Then in 2005, I had a chance to audition for Antakshari. Here in Singapore, in front of Annu Kapoor. It was just the first round, so all he was asking people to do was just sing the mukhda of one song and go. He asked me the same and I started with 'Mera kuchh saamaan'. I was about to bow and leave after my mukhda but he asked me to sing another one. So I sang, 'Tujhse naaraaz nahin zindagi'. Surprise surprise, he asked for another one. So I sang, 'Tere bina zindagi se'. He seemed lost in thought for a while, and then said, "You like Gulzar songs, don't you?" I nodded. Then he said something like he didn't think I'd do justice to 'energy wale songs' and dismissed me. I didn't make it to the next round. Obviously. See, how I planted the axe firmly on my foot because of my dukhi aatma songs?
Fast-forward 10 years. Music is still forever playing in our home. I'm either listening to songs or singing them. All the time. So Xena has been exposed to it since a very young age. When she started talking, I couldn't wait for her to start singing. I'd sing the opening lines of a song and let her provide the ending word. Of course, sometimes she'd just say 'POOP' after my enthusiastic "It's the time to..?" Of course now, she's a lot better and sings along with me. For some strange reason (and to my delight), she seems to like old songs. Mera naam Chin Chin Choo, Kajra Muhabbat Wala, etc.
Last year, I briefly entertained the idea of finally taking formal music lessons. But then the idea of learning Mandarin appealed to me more, and I only had space for one class in my water-tight schedule.
Besides, why stress myself with formal lessons when I'm having so much fun just singing, especially with my new singing partner Xena?