Published on July 29 2008 , Expresso Page 1
Whistling into record books
C IF one can recall and thus revel in the good old British music hall days when Ronnie Ronalde spruced up his opera voice with his restful whistling or the years of Guns n’ Roses and the subtle whistling prel- ude of the still admired Patience, it is only deemed that any listener will nod their head in harmony with this bunch of Indian whistlers. When they rewrote history last week, by whistling in unison, saare jahan se acha, making it the max- imum assembly (48) of whistlers so far, it is with pride that they call themselves whistlers, and their hobby, an art. Their record, if not broken before August 15, will soon go down in the Limca Book of Records. It was on September 19, 2004, in Lucknow that the Indian Whistlers Association was birthed, when a young whistler Rigveda Deshpandey having realised his dream to extend his whistling hori- zon to a wider sphere, invited like- minded people to his Yahoo group, now making it one of the few such communities in the world. Rigveda, 22, currently a student of the School of Audio Engineer- ing in Chennai is only in high spir- its, seeing the association burgeon- ing into a 350 member empire, em- bracing people from all walks of life, even as young as eight or as old as 75. “We are a happy group. I say that because I’ve noticed that whistlers are usually the happy-go- lucky sort of people. Have you ever seen anyone whistling when they are sad? You may sing, but you don’t whistle,” he explains. They take on, with fervour, new entrants, encouraging them to be more than just bathroom whistlers, meeting up regularly on every third Sunday, putting their skills into practice and zeroing in on their fu- ture campaigns. What was once considered a bad habit is perhaps shedding off its prejudicial nature, by what the association is genial- ly indulging in. “Whistling was once considered an ill-mannered act. I remember my father beating me up and making me go without food the whole day because I whis- tled,” remembers Arun Kumar, a devoted member of the association as two other patrons Jagat and Na- garajan nod in agreement. “We are glad to break that taboo,” they say. Everyone can whistle, in their opinion, sans a cache of musical expertise. “You need the basic mu- sic sense. That’s all. The rest is about practice,” notes Rigveda. For Rigveda, who has been whistling since the age of six, it was a college performance, in Luc- know, that got him to display his skills for the first time. But having set a pedestal for those passionate about whistling, be it pop, rock or classical numbers, what he and the rest of the members pine for next is an entry into the Guinness Book of Records and also to cut out an al- bum showcasing what they call, ‘flutes without bamboo’. For more details about the association, log onto www.whistleindia.org.