BANGALORE: Vasudev Prabhu, 43, has quit his high profile job at HP to pursue a dream eating at him for some time now.
"I used to lead the creative delivery team at HP here in Bangalore and I've recently put in my papers to go chase another dream," says Vasudev, who has also been an ad man, entrepreneur and writer. He says he is now looking to follow a "creative way of living."
A blues musician known for his fantastic chops on the harmonica, Vasudev is all set to launch Harmonica Huddle, a creative workshop for corporate groups and others. "A great idea, if not given enough time and energy, will not grow. I had to quit my job to give this idea room to flourish and make it worthwhile," he says.
The Harmonica Huddle is basically a workshop for corporate houses, where teams of 30 to 40 people are engaged in a four-hour session. "They are for any group that shares some sort of a common goal and needs to work towards it together. It is a very collaborative workshop and unlike a training workshop where the one conducting it gives out 10 commandments," he explains.
Vasudev through his workshop devices customised games, all centred around the harmonica, based on multiple premises like empathy, communication, leadership, meeting deadlines and working towards a common vision. "There's always this apprehension when it comes to workshops, especially when the group is a mixed bag with varying levels of seniority. But this workshop eliminates that as everyone is starting from scratch when it comes to the harmonica," he says.
"Within an hour or so they almost become like kids and they're jumping around because they've just learned a tune. It's not like they're playing blues or jazz, it may be as simple as Twinkle Twinkle, but it's still a song. Learning something new together always breaks barriers and then some real learning can happen," he explains.
The plunge from a corporate life to conducting harmonica sessions was definitely not easy. "My friends and family thought I had gone bonkers. But before I could convince them, I had to convince myself that I could do this. I'm just a middle-class guy and I have an eight-year -old daughter who has come to expect a lot from me, there are loans and other things to worry about. I had absolutely nothing to fall back on and there is absolutely no one working in the same space as I do, so I couldn't go for advice to anyone either," he reveals.
But it was at his work place that Vasudev found his answers. "I got to test my ideas out at HP. I conducted the workshop for my colleagues and I got some great feedback. My boss told me that I should be doing this for more organisations. That's when I finally felt confident about going ahead and doing this full time," he says.
Vasudev only took to the harmonica seriously when he entered his 30s, although he has played the harmonica as a young boy in school. "A senior colleague of mine and I were having a few drinks at Pecos and there was this song playing. My colleague said the musician wasn't playing the harmonica. I said I could recognise the sound of a harmonica since I used to play it. We had quite an argument. After I went home, I researched the song and it did turn out to be a harmonica after all and it sounded so fantastic. I was stumped at how a harmonica could make those sounds," he reminisces. Vasudev, with YouTube and the rest of the Internet to aid him, went ahead and taught himself to play the harmonica all over again, learning those fine blues and jazz chops, by listening to various songs and trying various techniques and soon enough he had his very first gig when Peter Isaac, a famous Bangalore-based blues man invited him to play a song at one of his gigs. There has been no looking back since.
Vasudev now plays the harmonica for four different bands. The first one being the By 2 Blues, the blues duo that comprises himself and Ananth Menon. The second is again a blues band, but a plugged-in outfit, called Hoodoogas. The third is a three-piece acoustic band named Velvet Mojo and the fourth is an experimental band with percussionist Montry Thaalavattam.
Apart from By 2 Blues which has been around for two years, the rest of the bands were all started quite recently. "There's a lot of work to be done and I hope it all goes well," he says.
For more information on the Harmonica Huddle, visit http://www.harmonicahuddle.com/