Skip to main content

The Moonwalker's Fan

I wrote this post on 6th May was my first year in Mumbai on my return from Melbourne, a time when everyone was still learning to live in a post-MJ world.

On the sunny Australian morning of June 25th, 2009, this is what I remember waking up to - "Oh no no oh nooo...Michael Jackson's dead!" The hyper, high-pitched voice of my housemate travelled through the air, journeyed past my thick wooden bedroom door and sailed its way into my ears. Slightly peeved that my slumber was untimely disturbed, my tired brain cells tried to process what her squealing was all about but I soon gave up the trouble. So, while the other dwellers of the house on Mincha Street began their morning rituals of fixing up a diet breakfast or drafting the day's to-do-list, I went about mine by logging into Facebook. I was stunned. Mourning Facebook-ers bombarded my entire news feed with "R.I.P. Michael Jackson :'(" status updates. Suddenly the Man that created history became history. 

It is interesting to note how we think that legends and icons live forever. Overwhelmed by their mighty and purposeful existence, we tend to place them on so high a pedestal that we forget there is no mortal the good ol' Mr.Grim Reaper will not hunt down. Michael Jackson was the undisputed living legend and a world without his music and moonwalk seemed unimaginable. Millions of people have grown up emulating his singing, dancing and dressing style, barring one individual - Me. The universal fascination with the 'Silver-gloved Man' always eluded me. My exposure to and comprehension of the 'Jackson phenomenon' was limited and deprived. However, when someone scales popularity peaks higher than the Andes, one way or the other we are bound to cross paths with his great expeditions. Likewise, by virtue of being surrounded with Jackson fans, I was compelled to hear his songs and watch some music videos. 

I confess, what the rest of the world hailed as 'music', I deemed it as 'noise'. Sheer noise. Allow me to share why. His songs - most of which bizarrely contain the sound of shattering glass - are just too deafening for my liking. Only if I concentrated hard enough on the song, would I finally comprehend the lyrics MJ was singing. To add to that, his voice always made me second guess if it was really him singing or in fact a woman. MJ's face changed colors and shapes that baffled my understanding of nature. Moreover, tales of his eccentric personality and lifestyle reinforced my belief that it is imperative to attain certain craziness levels in order to become an unparalleled and successful artist. As you can see, the King of Pop never impressed me. 

With the spectacular reaction of my housemate to the news of MJ's death, I too felt a magnetic pull towards this ripple-generating occurence. So, famished as I became for more Jackson news, I made a wise switch from Facebook to the infamous 'idiot box'. Luckily for me that day, the local Australian news channel was in a mood to report stories more deserving than the sad demise of Shelly The Sheep at the Melbourne zoo. On TV with the dismal and near-cracking voice of the news anchor in the background, images of the dead Michael Jackson were being unforgivingly flashed. Striking details were emerging of how he died, where he died, when he died and even what he ate before he died. Faster than lightning, channels competed in churning out numerous 'exclusive' Michael Jackson documentaries and one-hour (even bumper two-hour) specials - each one promising more drama than the other. CNN apparently turned into a 24/7 MJ channel with stories from the troubled Iraqi region gladly taking a backseat. With bated breath, millions of fans were watching, people (like myself) who had never cared for MJ were watching, the aged couple living next door to me were watching, their pet kitten was watching, even the fly on my window was watching! Further heightening the sensationalism were conspiracy theorists who stated that MJ was actually alive and in hiding. While some fans chose to commit suicide, other gullible fans continued living in hope that pictures of the dead Michael Jackson might have been forged. But what really took the cake was a video that emerged proudly boasting the presence of Michael's visible ghost gallivanting around his Neverland mansion! Now really, how could I have missed all that drama! 

Not surprisingly, my short-lived MJ fixation turned into a long relentless MJ obsession. I found myself pining to catch the latest that every TV channel, radio station or internet website had to offer on the deceased pop star. The number of MJ songs on my iPod catapulted overnight from 2 to 22. Blessed as I was with unlimited download, I would watch every MJ video uploaded on YouTube. Perhaps it was I that largely contributed to the many hits his videos received since he passed away. After intensive and extensive Googling, I even managed to find and read the online version of his 1988 autobiography 'Moonwalk'! At last, I was Jacksonified. Suddenly his 'noise' turned into 'music', the 'loud beats' turned into 'sweet melody', his face turned from 'damaged' to 'beautiful' and his voice turned from ‘puzzling’ to 'entrancing'. I was captivated! I discovered the genius that everyone had been harping on about all along. Sometimes, with much remorse, I repeatedly ponder over how I used to be so indifferent to the artist when he was alive. Indeed, you only truly realize the worth of someone once they are gone. 

By now, countless articles have been written and infinite documentaries created in tribute to the popstar. For me though, the real tribute was 'This Is It', the movie; I watched it twice in the cinema and both times, I sat mesmerized by the man in all his brilliance, doing what he did best - entertain. Who knows in a studio somewhere, Kenny Ortega may secretly be editing the sequel, which if I could, I would name, 'That was not it -THIS IS IT'! And finally, who cares if you were 'Black or white', no one can 'Beat it' like you are 'Invincible' Michael, and 'I just can't stop loving you'! 


Popular posts from this blog


Last weekend, I got a unique opportunity to visit Gowardhan Cheese Factory in Manchar district, a good two hour drive from Pune city. The owning home-grown company Parag Milk Foods brand portfolio includes Gowardhan and GO boasting of a range of dairy products that have been retailed across Mumbai and Pune over the last decade. I first started using their yoghurt when the local kirana store ran out of my usual preference of Amul, Danone and Britannia. One spoon of it and I instantly found it so fresh, light and 'unprocessed'.
I have always loved cheese but now I even prefer it over chocolate. So when I was scheduled to visit the GO factory, it bore semblance to winning the golden ticket and entering glistening gates to its factory much like the popular Roald Dahl's Charlie. Except that it was not all that dramatic! 

Touring A Once-Troubled Belfast As A Guest Of The Duncans

Belfast is the best place to visit in 2018 - Lonely Planet said it, not me. 

But why? 
Belfast, it was never a city on my must-visit radar, until I met a colleague from there. In the months leading up to my trip, I started researching about the city and learnt that for three decades, Belfast was ground zero of The Troubles, a violent territorial conflict over national identity and belonging. The city was fraught with rioting and bombings and was not considered safe. But it's 2018 and on the surface, people in Northern Ireland (part of the United Kingdom) seem to be going about life as usual. Outside of its political and religious issues, Belfast is a beautiful little city, a rising star on the traveler's bucket list, especially in the summer (quick trivia: Belfast usually sees 157 days of rain).
My Hosts, The Duncans
So there I was landing in Belfast one June morning as a guest of my wonderful colleague (let's call her Ms. Duncan). She is the daughter of a former national le…

Shashi Tharoor's 'An Era of Darkness' Illustrates the Rapacity of the British Raj in India

It was August 15, 2016, I was having lunch with someone. Gazing at the news on the television screen behind me, she asked, "It's India's Independence Day today! Independence from whom?" Independence from the British, I answered, shocked. Shocked, because this someone in question was British and she had not a clue about the crimes of her country's colonial past.  Like millions of Indians and non-Indians, I was left aghast and despondent when I heard the viral Shashi Tharoor Oxford Union debate (if you haven't seen it yet, you've been living under a HUGE rock, and I suggest you watch it before you proceed to read the remainder of this blog). Tharoor in all his articulate and intellectual glory spoke in motion for Britain owing reparations to her former colonies. Tharoor's well-researched facts on the brutality of British rule in India for over two centuries left me astounded, and a sense of shame dawned on me - I knew so little about my country's p…