“I had to announce to the world that I am back in town… it is almost like starting over,” said Anshu Sinha, a 23-year-old singer performing in the open spaces of Khan Market.
Mr. Anshu had gone back to his hometown in Bihar before the lockdown but returned to his haunt in early October. “As fate would have it, I had gone back home before the lockdown and then got stuck there. I returned in October first week and realised the music scene has changed. Now, I am back on the Khan Market street to tell everyone that I am back in business,” he said.
Anshu is from Barh, a town in Patna district, where his father Pramod Kumar Sinha had a major influence on him.
Anshu’s grandfather was also a musician.“It’s probably in the DNA,” he said.
An ache, however, remains that his father couldn’t get a stage to display his talent or an opportunity to refine his skills. “My grandfather played harmonium and banjo. My father sings very well but he remained a bathroom singer. Unfortunately, he never got the opportunity to hone his skill. He is otherwise a teacher at a private school and has a law degree,” he said, adding that his mother Madhuri also teaches at a private school.
For Anshu, music and singing only began in college at Jamia Millia Islamia where he was pursuing a diploma in computer engineering in 2014. The first two years, he said, went by quickly but in the third year, "I started singing in the canteen and a crowd would gather, enjoying my song covers."
“During one of those sessions, a friend said that I should also learn to play guitar. I started learning from a local school in LaxmiNagar,” he said.
In his fourth year of college, Anshu started playing in cafes of Hauz Khas village but it didn’t give him the kind of recognition he was looking for. Coming from a ‘small’ town has a huge bearing on decisions you make in life, he said.
“Things were not working out for me here. I was thinking what to do… should I get a ₹10,000-₹15,000 job or should I go back… but I didn’t want to go back to my small town empty handed… what would I tell my parents,” he said.
One day, while surfing the Internet, he stumbled on the concept of busking – street performance for gratuities popular across the world – and he decided to explore the streets of Delhi.
“I started with Connaught Place because that was where everyone in Delhi likes to hang out. I thought what better place than that, but the experience was bad. People there only came to pass time… they didn’t see me as an artiste… many just looked down upon me,” he recalled.
Anshu then decided to hit Khan Market. The crowd respected him and his art of singing. “My aim to go to Khan Market or CP wasn’t to make money. We were financially weak but were still managing. My aim was to get contacts… for people to know that I can sing. Khan Market gave me that opportunity” he said, adding that money, however, is an important factor.
Within a few months, he was being called for private gigs in cafes and clubs for live music and earned a “decent” name in the local singing circuit of the city.
In February, however, Anshu flew home to attend to a personal matter and had decided to return right after Holi. “I got comfortable back home and decided I’ll go in a few days but by March 20, lockdown was announced and I got stuck. I only returned this month,” he said.
For Anshu, who managed with his savings over the last eight months, returning has certainly helped but “it is slowly picking up” as he has started visiting the market every evening. I have been invited to seven events in the last 20 days, he said.
“Of course I am scared of health but the fear of losing it all and going back to my small town with nothing is even scarier”.