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Five women in my life – part 5

August 1982, the corner of Boul Mich and Boul St Germain in Paris. Vivek and I were waiting for another friend, Raju, to come in from Düsseldorf. While waiting, we were window shopping the book and record shops in the vicinity, and there was this large poster of a woman shot in the late 40s Hollywood tearjerker style, with huge eyes, dressed in what appeared to be widow’s weeds, with some really dramatic makeup, and somewhat excessive makeup, even by late 40s Hollywood sensitivities.

The legend said EDITH PIAF.

Back in my childhood, I had heard La Mome Piaf over AIR Calcutta – this radio station was run by a bunch of people with catholic tastes, and a superb sense of quality. Imagine playing a French singer, singing in French, to a bunch of Bengalis who worshipped their Rabindrasangeet. Must have taken quite a lot of gumption, but the station chaps played a whole bunch of great music, and I am thankful to them for being adventurous.

My acquaintance with Piaf was revived when I moved to Mumbai in my early twenties, and met Vivek. He had Piaf LPs, which I didn’t, and what was more, he knew French, which I didn’t. That helped a lot, for now I did not just have to admire the passion and intensity in that voice, I could slowly but surely understand some of the things La Mome Piaf was being passionate and intense about.

I wanted to know more about her, her recordings, her life, her loves, and I read as much as I could find about her. And I wasn’t surprised to find that her life was as extraordinary and intense as her singing – in fact, I realised that the intensity and passion of her singing was fuelled by the intensity and passion with which she led her life. I loved this thing about her. So much so, that many years ago, I adopted her song “Non, je ne regrette rien” (I don’t regret anything) as the anthem of my life, if I could live up to it.

Non, rien de rien, non, je ne regrette rien
Ni le bien qu’on m’a fait, ni le mal
Tout ca m’est bien egal
Non, rien de rien, non, je ne regrette rien
C’est paye, balaye, oublie, je me fous du passe

Avec mes souvenirs j’ai allume le feu
Mes shagrins, mes plaisirs,
Je n’ai plus besoin d’eux
Balaye les amours avec leurs tremolos
Balaye pour toujours
Je reparas a zero

Non, rien de rien, non, je ne regrette rien
Ni le bien qu’on m’a fait, ni le mal
Tout ca m’est bien egal
Non, rien de rien, non, je ne regrette rien
Car ma vie, car me joies
Aujourd’hui ca commence avec toi

If I can live by this till the end of my life, honestly, without causing harm to anyone, and by giving joy and pleasure as much as I can, I will be proud of myself when I die.


About thecrestedjay

I am passionate about football, jazz, classic rock, classic movies, crime, science fiction and P G Wodehouse. And also about NBA, western and Indian classical music. Since the wife will also read this blog, I cannot reveal my other passions in public. Have one son who plays the guitar, spent some time as an animator and now works for a digital marketing and advertising company. I also have one (1) wife. I spent a lot of my time on my music and books collection. I also have a passion for travelling but not a great deal of time and money to spend on this. Hopefully, in the future, I'll be able to do so.


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