During our good old school days, we were obsessed with making and gifting mixed music cassettes to each other. The cassettes would invariably have silly titles like “Rajiv’s Soulful Mix of Bollywood Romantic Duets” or “Priyanka’s Collection of Jhankar Beats”, obviously referring to the person who compiled it. The plastic cases of the cassettes would be adorned with hand-drawn sketches, pictures of flowers, hearts, bells and stars or even silly stickers, gleefully sourced with half of the month’s pocket-money. We were almost fanatical about our prized possession of mixed cassettes and took great pride each time we were able to gift each other with an ‘original’ collection.
Whenever we re-joined our school after a holiday, we exchanged notes with each other on our little ‘conquests’ and sometimes even dished out invitations to classmates, for them to have a sneak peek into our ‘scintillating’ collection of R D Burman Classics. When it came to the gifting seasons and boys were obliged to impress the persons they were dating, emotional currency took precedence over costly gifts. Hand-crafted flower bouquets, self-drawn scenic posters, a collection of self-written poems or even a music cassette, sensitively loaded with a touching compilation of Hindi romantic ballads with a cute love-note were preferred, over expansive gifts purchased from the most happening shop in town.
So has the good old gifting idea of mixed music gone out of style? We don’t buy cassettes any more. Many of us choose BRDs and DVDs over rapidly out-of-fashion CDs. Most of us, I guess, these days source our music from the Internet. But do we still get kick out of gifting someone with a compilation of soulful melodies? I am not so sure. May be youngsters of this era find the idea a little hackneyed or too painstaking and time consuming to even consider. Well, I know for sure that the long hand-written letters (sometimes soaked in blood) are passé and are considered corny and possibly a ‘waste-of-time’. Time of course comes at premium in today’s world!
During our times though, we probably were blessed with ‘more’ time at hand! We considered a personally curated compilation of music to be one of the most romantic gestures that one could put up for the special one. We believed that music, the universal language, could express virtually the most intimate of emotions that would have been left unexpressed otherwise. Even at the risk of sounding like a fool, let me share something with you – many in our generation got far more overwhelmed by a collection of heart-wrenching melodies gifted to us than a costly pack of goodies or anything fancy, that may be extremely useful for daily ‘practical’ purposes. Songs brought back memories. Songs reminded us of people. Songs helped us express. Songs helped us understand others. Songs helped us bond. Songs helped us forge new relationships. Songs helped us forget pain. Music meant a lot. Music, especially ‘cassette mixes’, was in many ways one of our most celebrated gift idea and easily inspired an entire generation of youngsters. For us, a sensitively compiled collection of poignant music was a symbol of ‘emotional currency’. Though it cost us very little, it was sweet. It was considerate and it made us all feel very special. It made our day!
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