Inspiration can come from anywhere. Yes anywhere and actually everywhere. I am a volunteer recording books with the Blind School for more than 12 years now. I have actually always had a soft spot for the blind. As a young little girl when we used to distribute food or make any donation with parents, I used to ask them to give it to the blind. Maybe some kind of a past life connection and who knows? As a very small girl of just about 13 or 14 years old, I was so driven that I pestered my mom to fill out the form for me and donated my eyes. I remember we did not even have a permanent address at the time since papa was in a transferable job.
As a young adult of 21 years, I wanted to do a course in Braille. And spotted an ad in the paper for the same. My then boyfriend (now husband) and my mom talked me out of it since they felt it may become too overwhelming for me to be working with the blind students.
However, I kept getting this calling of “doing” something and all I could do at the time was donate some money and/or rations. Now I had become a mum with a toddler, when this movie Black by Sanjay Leela Bhansali was released and it inspired me no end. It is then, that I decided to visit the Blind School near Oberoi and talk to the people around. I came to know that I could do what they called voice donation. I was taken to the basement and an old gentleman who was then the in charge of the studio took my voice test. And to my utter joy I passed. I think another thing that really cut the deal with him was that I could read both hindi and English equally well. He did say that so many people come for English and not many are available for hindi. i had to confess to him, “I do not know hindi counting more than 30.” And he gave me the leeway of saying the years or wherever I encountered numbers in hindi in English, and I was good to go.
My tryst with recording began then in 2006. There was a huge hall and the gentleman used to prompt me with his hand gesture and start the recording in the audio cassettes. I used to read and only stop when Side A used to get over, and while he used to flip to the Side B. I only had that break when I could sip on water and get back.
When I came out of the studio after recording the first time, I can’t even tell how I felt, words are not enough, it was the most satisfying experience I had ever had. To record the books for the blind, copies of which would be made and sent all across india and other institutes! it was the most humbling experiences of my life.
Today the scene has changed, the recording studio has moved to the first floor, has an AC and a modern recorder that I can pause anytime I feel the grating in my throat, sip my water and continue recording. While so much has changed, what remains the same is the way Blind School treats its volunteers, with utmost respect and joy. I love working with them cause they so value me and my time and my contributions, even though it is just a drop in the ocean. They receive it so beautifully and this is when they really don’t have any dearth of volunteers. My bottle of water is ready in the studio, I am made comfortable, the AC temperatures regulated and I feel like an honored guest. Another thing that has not changed is how I feel after recording. It is like meditation. When I am in the studio I am in alert awareness and focused. I know any sound will hamper the quality, turn the page ever so quietly, remove my bangles, and what really comes alive is my voice. By the way any number beyond 30 I still record in English :p
When I do this I realize it is not me making any donation, infact I receive so much. I always tell Raja, that I have never experienced this kind of satisfaction even in high paying jobs.
For me it all started with the movie Black. For me in this case the movie is my hero. Have you been ever so inspired or touched by a movie that it created a lasting shift in you and moved you to taking inspired action?