Wednesday, December 12, 2007

2 Years

Lots of Music and a fair bit of Travel with a good measure of Books and the older, familiar stuff thrown in. Morning, Night, Rain and a few others making their first appearances. Double the number of posts and a few pictures here and there. And yes, the changed look. Much has been said. Much, still remains.

Monday, December 10, 2007

First Time Lucky

My second post on this blog and the only one on cricket had ended on the hopeful note that I would be able to see the silken drives and the lofty sixes of one Sourav Ganguly. I just meant on TV. This weekend though, he made sure that I had something to treasure for my whole life.

Day 1 and courtesy Akshat, the two of us found ourselves seated right next to the dressing room as Shoaib Akhtar charged in to bowl to Jaffer. The met department had got its prediction bang on as Bangalore put on its best weather after rains had left the city damp and cold on Thursday and Friday. It was my first time in any stadium and I was trying to soak it all in. By lunch, India were reeling at 60/4. Dada and Yuvi were at the crease and we weren't expecting much. What transpired post lunch, though, was a treat to the eyes. Yuvraj cut and drove with ferocity as Ganguly played second fiddle with the occasional drive and cut relying mainly on his timing, which, remained exquisite as ever. Yuvraj, who at the moment couldn't possibly put a foot wrong, played a belligerent innings, showing utter disdain for the Pakistani bowling attack. He raced on to his century with a sparkling drive as the crowd erupted. Yuvi roared in delight and hugged his partner on the pitch. Ganguly, after his nervous 80s (he was stuck on 82 for the longest time) and nervous 90s finally reached his landmark too, though his celebrations were more sedate. Records kept tumbling at the Chinnaswamy Stadium as the two put on a 300 run partnership putting paid to any Pakistani hopes of scuttling out the Indians cheaply after the rather disastrous start. Yuvi finally got out, but not before he had won over the crowd with his strokeplay. Dada was still there and I was looking forward to the next day.

If the first day was memorable, the second even bettered it. This time, we were amongst the crowds. Stand A, first floor, above Long On. As Dada started milking the Pakistani bowling attack, which, without Akhtar lacked any real bite, I just had the feeling that this could be a big day. Soon he was joined by Pathan as the two southpaws started to make the most of the featherbed pitch. The atmosphere, to do a Ravi Shastri, was 'electric'. Imagine 40,000 odd people chanting DADAAAAAAA, DADAA in unison as he approached one milestone after another and you would start to get an idea of what I mean. The Mexican Waves kept happening every now and then as the crowd went berserk, blowing the bugles, beating the drums, cheering every single run and (forgive me for being influenced by the language used by the commentators) 'dancing in the aisles'. I, along with my friends, was having the time of my life. Ganguly unleashed his glorious cover drives and square cuts, even as Pathan made him run a few sharp singles. He reached his 150 and Pathan completed his half century as the day kept getting better.

For me, going to the stadium meant dispelling one major myth. Except for the commentary, watching a match in a stadium is way better than sitting at home and watching it on TV. No, I'm not even talking about the atmosphere and the excitement. Even in terms of the view, it's far better. One, you get to see the entire field and not just the pitch. Two, whosoever says that one cant see anything without binoculars, is lying. At least from where we were sitting, each drive and push was clearly visible. Sure you don't get to notice the thin edges and judge the LBWs but hey, there's the giant screen which also shows the replays. So you've got it all in a stadium. And this was a Test Match. I can't even imagine what a D/N ODI would be like!

He was visibly nervous and he did take a few overs more than expected to get there. And unlike the last day, he didn't reach this landmark with a boundary. It was a push to Mid Off. The anticipation, the build up, the slight tension which preceded it and the release which followed it, the delight and the little punch in the air was worth every bit. Dada raised his arms and the crowd stood up, shouting at the top of their voices, clapping, making noise in any possible way, almost bringing down the roof. Sure, it was not Perth. Sure the pitch didn't have any demons. And yes, the bowling was mediocre at best. But to me, none of it mattered. It was an innings of poise and elegance. He gave us all that we had hoped to see. The cut between gully and point, the drive to mid off and the stepping out to hoist Kaneria over Long On and Long Off. Ganguly was living a dream and I was there while he scripted it.

He was out after adding another thirty odd runs and breaking a few more records but Pathan was still there, nearing his hundred. But soon he found himself batting with the number eleven Ishant Sharma, needing another six runs to get to his maiden hundred. The crowd cheered as the tailender successfully blocked out four deliveries to give Pathan a shot at his feat. The first ball from Kaneria in the next over was hoisted high over Mid On and the crowd erupted once more. The third century of the innings. The fairytale had come to a perfect end.

The weather, the crowd, the noise and the cricket. Everything was just perfect. We came out of the stadium on a high. For once I came to realise the power of this game. For two days, all I was looking forward to was going to the stadium. A minor bike accident on Saturday night wasnt deterrent enough. Inside the stadium, it doesnt really matter whether you hero worship a Dravid or a Ganguly. You root for the player who's playing good. And if he happens to be your favourite and if he happens to have found the form of his life and more so if it's your first time around, it becomes that much more special.

This one's to Dada and his dadagiri!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Of Phone Calls, Chats And More

One of the many benefits my dad was entitled to, being a PSU employee, was the free telephone we had. Max, as it was called, meant endless phone calls to my friends which would make my parents go crazy.

"Abe kya khel raha hai yaar Sachin....." 30 mins
"achcha ye vala integration kaise hoga..." 1 hour

And there were so many of these everyday. There was no email or chat. Face to face and the phone conversations were the only ways of expressing myself. I was never very good at spoken English. I could express myself decently and carry out a conversation without any major hitches. But I was, and still am, most comfortable with Hindi, with the occasional English sentence or word thrown in. When it came to writing though, the going got a little easier. I never had (still don't have) the gift of vocabulary but for as long as I can remember, I have enjoyed writing in English. Add to it the fact that I grew up reading primarily Bengali literature and you can get a picture of a boy who was most comfortable reading in Bengali, writing in English and talking in Hindi.

Let me ask you a question now. If you are reading this, chances are that your methods of communication include chat and emails in addition to the other two I have already talked about.
So, do you think that chatting is different from talking on the phone or talking face to face. Are there conversations which you would rather have from behind a screen than talk over the phone or talk face to face. Are you a little different when you are using any one of these ways. Do you think I am, any different.

Ok, I meant more than a question !

I have 24 hour access to the net. Which essentially means that my primary way of keeping in touch with people is through chats and emails. I'm very comfortable with that. More than talking over the phone at times. It helps that its a passive activity. You don't Have to reply immediately. You can think, you can let some things go unnoticed. You can run away typing a "gtg....ttyl" and just sit there. It, sort of gives you more option of controlling the conversation, its flow. You'll say its hard to get someone over the net. It's tough to connect. What if the other person is sad and makes a ':)'. Well, I can tell. At least with some. Guess I'm just too good at this thing!

I've been told that there's a difference between the me who talks over the phone and the me who chats. Possible. Could be because of the writing /speaking preference. Could just be a case of which one I am more used to as of now. Frankly, though, there are times and occasions when I'm more comfortable writing down what I want to say than saying it. Makes it easier for me.

When you are meeting someone and talking face to face, it's quite different in the sense that you would most probably also be doing something. Going somewhere, eating, having coffee, watching a movie. So it's not just talking that you are doing. It allows you to talk about the food you are eating or the traffic you are stuck in. Yes, you can just sit down and talk too and you can smile and nod your head. Oh! you know it's different, right!

I find it a little disturbing at times that there is not one language I am absolutely fluent in. But I'm mostly happy with what I have. English has replaced Bengali as my preferred language for reading. The rest, more or less remains the same. I would also like to believe that people who know me, who get me, would always know what I'm saying, what I mean, even without my saying. At the same time I feel there is a difference among them and each one comes with its own set of advantages and handicaps. The way you can laugh together face to face, can never be replicated in a chat. The way your voice over the phone can give away your feelings is never possible through an email. At the same time, you do need that email to say sorry when you ego is too strong for spoken words. You need that "hi.. u thr" to start talking again. I have had conversations lasting for hours on chat, on the phone and face to face. Everyone has. Talking nonsense, laughing like lunatics, discussing other people, talking about life, and sometimes, just being silent. At the end of the day, I think it's just a matter of convenience. If you are in my town, I would prefer meeting you. If you have a net connection at home, guess I'll mostly catch you online. If you don't fulfill any of the above criteria and are still close to me, I'll call you up sometime.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Diwali Bike Trip - 2/2

The morning found us at the Chennakesava temple in Belur. Our feet were a little sore with all the walking of the last day. The main temple is housed at the center of complex which to some extent reminded me of Hampi's Vitthal Temple Complex. We walked about lazily. The morning sun felt quite pleasant. Within an hour or so, we checked out of the hotel and were on the road to Chikmagalur, some 40 Kms from there. The road, was straight out of some painting. Hills in the background, clear blue skies, coconut trees swaying slowly in the breeze, paddy fields, a few houses here and there, a pond and the road winding its way through all of it. If the start was some sort of precursor of things to come, we had reason enough to be excited. Soon we were at Chikmagalur, where we had breakfast, and after asking for directions, headed towards Mullaingiri, which, at around 6200 feet, is the highest peak in Karnataka.

It was the first time I was riding my bike on a hilly road. And it was thrilling. Everything, was just perfect. The smiles wouldn't just leave our faces from then on. The road became pretty bad soon but with height, the view kept getting better and greener. Since we had come just after the monsoons, it was very green everywhere. The rounded hills seemed carpeted at places as we got to see all possible shades of green that possibly exist. Unlike the Himalayas, there were no pine or fir trees and instead eucalyptus and tropical trees took their place. The beauty of these hills lay not in their height or raggedness but in their richness and variety of views. At one bend you could encounter a fluorescent, striking, green slope and the other would lead you through a muddy road lined with eucalyptus trees.

"You guys from North India", inquired the father of the cute daughter, as Naman spoke to someone in Hindi from the peak at Mullaingiri. The daughter had just expressed amazement upon hearing Naman's phone ring and had asked me "Which network?".

Dont know why but I say, "Ya, he's from the north and I'm from Bokaro, Jharkhand (I add)."

"Oh Dhoni's place..... he's put Jharkhand on the international map....You must have many places like this there, right?"

I try and act a little intelligent as I havent been around the state.
"It's more a plateau. Not so many hills. Not of this height at least ..."
(I'm not bluffing, in case you are wondering. Look up Chota nagpur plateau in Google!)

As is with me in such occasions, instead of the daughter, the almost six feet brother starts talking to us telling us about ways to reach Kemmanagundi and how we should visit this place during the monsoons when its all misty and driving is very thrilling and risky. By this time we are descending the 200 odd steps that would take us to where we had parked our bikes.

"You must be Software guys, right" says the father.

I look at Naman. "Software guys" is like euphemism for Loser !

We have a quiet descent thereafter.

By the time we reach Kemmanagundi, we are saturated with happiness, if that's possible! Naman remarked somewhere in the middle that in all probability we have not been this happy (more like, this kind of happy) since childhood. I agree with him. There's so much beauty around you and everything appears so pure that you are in a zone. Far removed from the life that you know. It's something special and something rare. We have lunch at the Horticulture Department Canteen which is hostel like in its quality and decide on getting back to the plains before nightfall, instead of staying the guest house. That way we would save time the next day and get back to Bangalore before noon. So we do the 30 minute trek to Z-Point and get awed all over again by the sheer beauty of the hills. The time of the day, with the sun about to set and the peaks casting huge shadows over the plains below, adds to the charm.

The ride down the hilly road is undertaken hastily. We decide to halt at Birur, some 240 Kms from Bangalore, as night driving on a two wheeler on a single lane Highway with no divider is not the safest of things.

Morning at NH208 is as beautiful as I have seen with the light streaming in through the branches and the leaves of the Banyan trees that line it. The traffic is almost nonexistent and the weather is gorgeous. We reach Tumkur by 12 noon after which the 4 lane section of the NH4 makes me race my bike to 110 kmph before sanity prevails. By 1:45 we are home.

56 hours and 660 Kms. It was a great trip. Contrary to expectations, there was no back pain or fatigue but Monday seemed all the more painful.

The network, by the way, was Airtel.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Diwali Bike Trip - 1/2

We had planned on a 6:00 A.M departure. By the time I put my bike on first gear and set the trip meter to 0, it was 6:10. 7:00, and we were on the outskirts of Bangalore and I could see the sun being reflected on the rear view mirror of my bike as we headed north west towards Neelamangala to hit NH48. Just after crossing Neelamangala, we were greeted with dense fog which reduced visibility to about ten meters. The sun was nowhere to be seen as suddenly the plains of Karnataka became more like some foggy hill station in North India. Drops of water were accumulating on the helmet visor and the hand brake. We dropped our speed to 20 kmph and put on the headlight. Half an hour of driving in the fog and mist, and we were at Kunigal. The sun had finally triumphed, dissipating the fog which had slowed down our progress. A couple of idlis and a cup of coffee later, we were on our way to Shravanabelagola with the sun on our back. The helmets went off soon enough.

I had expected Shravanabelagola to be just this huge monolithic statue which would hardly take half an hour of our time. It turned out to be much much more. It is in fact a set of Jain temples set atop two hills, Chandragiri and Vindyagiri. We climbed up the flight of 650 steps. I was gasping for breath at the end of it but the view from the top more than made up for it. The weather, needless to say, was lovely. This particular part of a conversation caught my attention as I heard a guide talking to a foreign tourist explaining the concept of tirthankaras in Jainism.
"The British taught us to preserve our monuments. They also taught us this language. And so we can earn a living now. I'm very thankful to them."

After spending a couple of hours there, we left for Halebid via Hassan. It was hot. All that walking on the rocks and climbing up the stairs, and that too barefoot, had left us a little tired. But the road can do wonders. The moment we started from Shravanabelagola, the wind hitting our face, everything was alright.

Have you ever experienced moments when everything feels ok. When there is no past or future to worry about. Nothing to look forward to or look back at. There are no ties that bind you to anybody or anything. It's just you and that instant. Try to hold on to it and it vanishes. You are just happy to live that moment. Nothing more, nothing less. There were a few more of those on the trip but this was the first one.

Riding on the very scenic NH48, with fields of paddy, sugarcane and other crops on either sides and the occasional coconut grove, we reached the relatively large town of Hassan late in the afternoon. Halebid took another hour or so to reach as the road snaked through small hills and jungles. The 11th century Hoysaleshwara temple, the pinnacle of Hoysala architecture, was spectacular in its detail. A treasure trove for anyone interested in Indian history, iconography, mythology or just the art of sculpture making, the Hoysaleshwara temple managed to amaze us and hold our attention for more than an hour. Be it the identification of a familiar sculpture of Brahma or one of the avatars, the intricacy of a piece of jewelery adorned by the human figures and figurines, the uniqueness of the hundreds of elephant sculptures that formed the lowermost panel of the temple (not one was completely similar to another!) or the mere thought of how it must have been a thousand years earlier, in its full glory and might, it was an unforgettable experience in any way you look at it.

At around 5 o' clock we headed for Belur, a 16 km ride from Halebid. And then, we saw the sunset. The second magic moment of the trip. Seeing the whole day roll by in front of your eyes from dawn till dusk is a rarity for me. Sitting in my office cubicle, I can hardly differentiate between day and night, let alone the periods of the day. From the first rays of the sun as we left Bangalore, to the foggy ride. From the heat and dust of the afternoon to the calm and cool of the twilight, this day had turned out to be very special.

By the time we entered the Chennakesava Temple in Belur, it was already evening. We went inside the temple complex which is open till 8 (it being a live temple where puja is still done) and just sat there on one of the platforms. Inside, the bells would ring once in a while and the sound of a lady chanting some mantras floated in from a nearby loudspeaker. The atmosphere was surreal. As per our plans, we checked in a hotel, took a much needed bath, had dinner and went out to take a walk in the town. The way people in this small town in Karnataka were celebrating Diwali, warmed our hearts. Especially this set of firecrackers which sent off an array of over 200 crackers up in the air one by one in a spectacular display of light. The day had been special. The night, it seemed wasn't going to be left far behind.

Next day we were to head for the hills, Mullaingiri and Kemmanagundi.

P.S. If you dont like some of the pictures, its probably because I have taken them! If you love them, its Naman, my friend and partner on this trip.

Monday, November 05, 2007


St. Mary's Island, a few minutes boat ride from Malpe, near Udipi, proved to be the perfect place to laze around after Saturday's arduous trek. We climbed atop the hexagonal pillared rock formations, bathed in the Arabian Sea and after a couple of hours were back on our way towards our hotel. Picturesque as it is, with its coconut trees swaying in the wind and waves crashing on the rocks, St. Mary's Island would have to be in the 'also visited' category as far as this trip is concerned. For the trek to Kudremukh, was something out of the world.

It was around 10:30 when the ten of us stuffed ourselves in the jeep which would take us to the starting point of the trek. That the jeep could take all of us, plus the guide and the driver, up the muddy incline which was frighteningly steep at times, is something that has to be experienced to be believed. Some guys were talking of torque and angular velocity but take my word, I still dont know how it got us through!

No camping is allowed inside the Kudremukh National Park. It simply meant that we had to be out by 6 in the evening. Having started the ascent at around 11, with a total distance of 24 kms to go if we were to reach the peak and come back, most of us were just content to be finally trekking.

Reality struck when instead of 'grasslands' we were greeted with a rather uneasy rocky climb in the initial stages of the trek. The sun was beating down hard but the beauty of the scenery that was unfolding before our eyes kept us going. A stream and a stretch of jungle followed and soon we were surrounded by lush green rounded hills on all sides as the walk became easy. As we gained height, the view became more and more expansive and breathtaking. Valleys opened up in front of us. The clouds went floating by casting shadows on the ground below. It was straight out of some calender page. After some time, having run out of adjectives, we decided not to say anything to each other and instead just smiled as yet another valley or a hillock opened up in front of us at the next turn. And it was not only the view which was changing. One moment we were in a jungle with the sound of a million crickets and the smell of leaves rotting and in the next step we would find ourselves in open space with a stream gurgling by somewhere close and the scent of fresh air. Trekking, couldn't get any better.

We had to reach the peak and that meant going really fast and not taking any leisurely breaks. So we trudged along, fighting leeches which would cling to our feet and even get inside the socks. Thankfully we had some salt with us to get rid of them. Our shoes were wet because of crossing the streams, hands were muddy due to walking on all four at places where the climb became really steep, cramps set in occasionally and the leaches wouldn't just let go. And above all was the danger of getting late while descending and the chance of rain and nightfall before we could get out of the park. But we had to reach the peak.

It was 2:45 when we finally found ourselves on the peak. The sun decided to take a rest at the exact same moment. We were engulfed by clouds flying past us. It was suddenly very chilly. We spent about fifteen minutes there, taking a well deserved break before starting the descent.

The trek back was largely uneventful but had a sense of urgency to it. We somehow split into two groups. I was along with three other guys and we were ahead of the rest, who also had the guide with them. I'll have to accept that the last couple of hours were tedious. Fighting cramps, leaches, fatigue and above all, a slight boredom, we somehow managed to reach the Jeep just as night was about to fall and to our surprise (of a happy kind!), the other group came in a few minutes later. That we had to wait for about an hour or so as our Jeep had some problems could be regarded as a minor hitch.

We reached the small village from where we had taken the Jeep, freed ourselves of the leeches, washed our hands and feet and had dinner. The hot sambar and rice tasted heavenly! We were too tired to take the ride back to Bangalore so decided on going to Udipi instead which was around 100 Kms from there. We reached Udipi at 1 in the night and checked into a hotel. I took a long cold shower and was asleep before I knew it.

The knee joints were still aching as we started on our way to Bangalore from Udipi. The feet were still sore after all the walking. Climbing 6000 feet one day and bathing in the sea the other. It felt refreshing to get out of the comfort zone. It felt great to meet eight new people.

Monday morning around 7 o' clock. Im headed back home with my flatmate. The sun is shining bright and there's a chill in the air. Even Bangalore seems so much better.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Fortune Teller

"Shirdi se aae hain babu. Shanivaar ko Indiranagar me Sai Baba ka....."

"Abhi time nahi hai "

"Beta naukri karte ho ya padhte ho"


"Khush to nahi ho. Time pass hi kar rahe ho. Thoda sabr karo. Aage achcha time hai tumhara"
[Yes, what a thing to say. How innovative!]


"umar kya hai "


"27 ki umar me is desh se bahar jaoge tum..."

[Next year, I apply for MBA. 2009, aged 27, I might actually be out of India. I hang on waiting for him to ask for money]

"jyada friendship nahi karna. dukh pahuch sakta hai..."

[I hang on still]

"shanivaar ko shave nahi karna ...."

[I have a 4 day stubble]

"Marathi ho kya"

"nahi, Bangali"
[Some conversation about Kolkata]

"Shirdi gae ho"

"Haan, 1 baar"

"Lo beta, Sai Baba ka phool le ke jao."
[I go down, even though I know that he is just about to ask for money]

"Bangali brahman ho kya"


"chatterjee, mukherjee....."


"Bangali brahman achche hote hain .."
[Aur baaki? He spots the Red Coral Im wearing on my ring finger]

"Motorcycle jyada mat chalana. Accident ho sakta hai . 2 baar Baba ne bacha lia hai, Sambhaal ke, haan..."
[Since I bought my bike, I have had 2 instances of falling from it. Both, could have been fatal but I escaped without even scratches]

"jee dyan se chalunga"

"ye lo beta.. Baba ka phool. kuch de do.. 100 rupae"

"ghar me paise nahi hai jee abhi"
[I have about 1500 in cash in my purse]

"kitne hain?"

"kuch 30 / 40 rupae hain "
[Yes, I lie without batting an eyelid]

"theek hai beta.. agli baar jyada de dena... khush raho"

I come back to my room where Scorpions is playing the acoustic version of "Always Somewhere", shave and head to office.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


An only child of Indian parents is apt to be spoiled, especially so if he's a Bengali. More so if the occasion is Durga Pujo. And if he happened to live in Bihar, it meant that he would have at least three times, if not more, the number of new clothes to wear during Pujo than his non Bengali friends! In the best of years, the number (and mind u, this is the number of combinations of Trousers and T-Shirts/Shirts) could go up to 7 or 8 which meant 2 new combinations for each day. At times it was almost embarrassing.

Yes, back when I was growing up in Bokaro; Durga Puja or DP, as I have only heard Bokaroites call it, was FUN. And the new clothes were just one part of it. From setting up little stalls in front of the pandal which lent out Nagraj, Super Commando Dhruv, Chacha Chowdhury, Tinkle at 50p (Re 1 for the Digest, mind you!) and earning a princely Rs 17 in the process, to feasting on the Re 1 and Rs 2 'ice creams' that were to be seen everywhere; from eating Khichdi sitting under the sun along with family and friends on Ashthami or Navami to going around the city on cycles, scooters and in later years, cars, to check out the pretty girls all dressed up; DP was one event I totally looked forward to. The anticipation, the lead up to saptami, the three days of unabated celebrations and then dashami, it was so very intense.

Roaming around in the pandals, watching the 'Arati Competition', making sure that on arriving at a pandal the first thing we did was to pray to the Goddess before we started looking around for pretty faces, making the occasional polite conversation with the neighbourhood uncle who recognised you, everything about those few days had a touch of magic to it.

Over the years though, like most things, the charm faded away. Whether it was a case of us outgrowing the simple pleasures of DP or the charm actually giving way to something bordering on tedium, would become a favourite topic of discussion amongst us.

Slowly inching towards the wonderfully created and even more spectacularly lit 'Harry Potter' pandal, replete with the train, tunnel and Harry Potter, with my parents alongside me, I felt lonely amongst the five thousand odd people gathered in Salt Lake's FD Block in Kolkata. DP, was no longer the same.

Beauty in transience. I guess that's what all those beautifully crafted idols and pandals are meant to convey. That's why those few days of fun and laughter were given to us as kids. When everything else took a backseat and DP reigned supreme. And although I never was the religious kind, yet if I had to pick a favourite God(dess), I know who it would be. And the reasons would be far from religious.

By the way, if the first lines sound familiar, I really like the way Nehru starts his autobiography.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Yet Another 'Rocking' Weekend

Pizzazz was fun. In fact it was really good. More so because the acting was flawless and the humour very commonplace and understandable. And yes, the female lead was hot. Then dinner at Pizza Hut where I wondered why the Arabic Chicken Sandwitch looked so different when served on a plate as compared to its picture on the menu. All this was preceded by breakfast at Nilgiris and lunch at home. The cook made mutter mushroom which was really yummy. We also checked out the new Sigma Mall before going to the play. Found it a bit claustrophobic and spent some time marveling at the spaciousness of The Forum.

Got eid-ki-sewaiyyan from the next door (its more next Window actually!) neighbour. He asked why the guitar had stopped in the last few months and I blabbered out some random reasons like being out of town and not keeping well. Although he did point out that he had heard me singing on Saturday morning and I was quite pleased. I love attention, you see. He also said that more often than not he sees the light of my room turned on when he wakes up for a glass of water at 2 or 3 at night and I told him that I read during that time.

The mutton biriyani at Caesar's Place was delicious and very different from the one at Samarkand. More spicy. But I love both.

Oh, and there was cricket and ToI and AajTak and Scrubs too. Yes, have started watching Scrubs again. It feels a bit different now. More real, if I may say so? For one, the soundtrack makes more sense now. The last season starts next week. Pity that it has to be the last.
And this song's nice.

Coral - Dreaming Of You

I know it's an absolutely shitty post. Was itching to write something and nothing was coming to my mind.

Monday, October 08, 2007

The Geek, The Stud and The Dude

My flat mates.

I think I have been immensely lucky to have landed up with these guys. Same department, same batch, same college. I couldn't have bargained for more. And so the first 15 months or so of employed bachelorhood has been fun.

The Stud. Or you could also call him the arbit enthu boy. Comes up with ideas of a 40 km cycling trip very frequently. Brought wooden planks, nails and a couple of saws one Saturday morning and made his own table (varnished it the next day!). Expresses surprise at the most trivial of things like why the door was closed at 1 o' clock at night while the three of us were asleep or like why The Geek has brought ice cream from the market. Has a collection of some of the most interesting books that you would ever come across (mostly non fiction), ranging from Roger Penrose to History of Modern Japan. Has books on origin of words, physics, mathematics, economics, socialism. You could easily spend hours browsing through his collection. Rides his Bullet with pride and has even inspired the next door uncle to get a Thunderbird! Absolutely in love with Paris Hilton and detests Shakira as if she were the ugliest creature ever born. No that would be Esha Deol, if I know him well! All the bike trips that we have made together have been memorable, especially this one. I try to keep off from the CS related discussions that he has with The Geek. They make me feel such a dumbo (not that I am any better but still!). He's in charge of bringing corn flakes and weird biscuits to home which only he can eat and actually like. My partner in 'The Geek bashing' which is a good time pass at any hour of the day. Very few Bollywood movies that this guy hasn't seen especially if it stars Govinda or Anil Kapoor or Big B or Madhuri or..... (you get it right?). Prone to sudden cravings for Gosht Ki Dum Biryani from Samarkand. The famous Marilyn Monroe poster that adorns our hall is his doing. And how can I forget. The guys a fitness freak. Dines primarily on fruits and is the only non-vegetarian I've seen who comes back from office to find the cook has made chicken curry and says, "Shit, bas chicken bana hai. Daal nahi bani hai kya....". Extremely talented photographer who keeps experimenting with his angles and so we don't have to worry when we are out on a trip. Ok, that's enough for the time being I guess.

The Dude. Curly hair. Then straight long hair. Then the pony tail. Several bandanas to go along. And of course the beaded bracelets and the wrist bands. No piercings though, still! Initially had a racing cycle along with the helmet to add to his appeal but the Bangalore traffic and dust finally took its toll. So now its a striking red Pulsar 180. Big music enthusiast and has been my partner in all the concerts I have attended in Bangalore and has done a few more on his own. Smokes and drinks. Only one glitch in his dude-ness though. Doesn't play the guitar. And so some of the girls are still alive!
Have never seen him lose temper. And always has a smile on his face. Forever game for a drink, be it alcohol or tea. So I've stopped asking "Rohan, chai bana raha hoon. Piyega?" Didnt know him that well in college but getting to know him over the last year has been good. Has been really busy of late with personal and professional matters so we miss him during the weekends of doing nothing when he's busy painting the town red. Not really. Not always anyway, but that's how we like to put it. Oh, and it's he who inspired me to go on the long walks at night, though I feel, of late I have been doing it more than him.

The Geek. My partner in "yaar kuch karte hain" discussions, and in making grand plans for the weekend and more which range from planning for a movie (Non Bangaloreans, don't laugh), to going for a eurotrip, opening a restaurant, become a politician(?)......ok I'll stop.

Weekend mornings are a good time for the family to come together. Activities like indulging in ToI bashing and read aloud sessions from ToI's glossy supplement which has articles on the "New Indian" and the "Metrosexual Man", just to name a few, are the favorites. Of late, another winner, as far as meaningful discussions go, is why do news channels (especially Aaj Tak and Star News) carry hour long, discussions on Indian Idol, Amul Voice Of India, Nach Baliye and Jhalak Dikhla Ja. We also at times contemplate over why we are watching it in the first place. But lets not get into that right now. Oh, and Ajit Agarkar too. He brings joy. Especially when he's not playing.

Coming back to The Geek, he's in charge of configuring our wireless router and is called upon by yours truly in case of any difficulties (major ones, if you thought I was dumb!) with my computer. Often he keeps coding even after coming back from office and that's the time I indulge in 'The Geek bashing' along with The Stud. It's good fun, trust me, and come to think of it, The Geek takes it well. Doesn't kill the fun, I mean. Most of my life ke funde discussions happen with him and since we were in the same hostel and I've known him closely for 6 years now, so at times we also bitch about some people who don't come online. (Ok, you're reading it and you know it's you we are talking about!)
We are the ones who do most of the ghar ka samaan shopping and paying the bills. Why am I telling you this? Don't really know.

It's almost a mini hostel that we have at No. 40, First Floor. The transition couldn't have been smoother for me. You guys are one of the better things that has happened to me in the last one year and laughing nonsensically at our silly, highly contextual jokes, pulling each other's legs, indulging in intellectual discussions at 2 in the night; all of it has made life easier. And for everyone else, there's a lot more to these three than what I have written here. It's a blog post after all and I can write only so much without making people suspicious. Or are they already!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

One Man's Bible

It was not that he didn't remember he once had another sort of life. But, like the old yellowing photograph at home, which he did not burn, it was sad to think about, and far away, like another world that had disappeared forever.

Thus begins Gao Xinjiang's fictionalized account of his life as a child and an adult in one of the most tumultuous periods in China's history. Set primarily amidst Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution, One Man's Bible traces the life of Gao through the labor camps, politburo meetings and party propaganda that formed a part of everyday existence in China. Also chronicled in this account is his lust for women and the varied relations that he has with them, the betrayals and the chance encounters. It's a commentary on the confusion and the disillusionment that he suffers from, which in some way mirrored the sentiments of the masses and the turbulent and chaotic times where paranoia of the present and fear of an uncertain future reigned supreme.

As the narrative twists and turns through the lives of revolutionaries and counterrevolutionaries, reactionaries and counterreactionaries, we get to realise the meaning of freedom in its very basic form. It's a world where an aspiring poet becomes a fisherman and then a vegetable seller. It's the story of his decadence and resignation before the 'Party'. It's a world where a mathematics buff in college is forced to herd cattle in a farm. It's the story of his dreams that never came true.

In a hotel room in Hong Kong, a Jewish German woman brings out the repressed memories of a time he had forgotten. It's a release, both on the physical and emotional level. He feels the need to express himself and relive the pain to detach himself from it.

Gao meticulously describes the working and the thought process of the 'Party' and what happened to its enemies, the Ox Demons and the Snake Spirits, as they were called. Freedom of thought, expression, and even choice was not allowed. Either you conformed to the party's diktats or faced its wrath. is a capacity and an awareness that needs to be defended. Moreover, even dreams can be assailed by nightmares.

The style of writing, itself, is something which needs to be talked about. Gao uses 'he' to refer to the period about which he is writing, the past so as to say. Whenever he is talking of the present, though, like about his Jewish German mistress, Margarethe, or the numerous Western women he beds, who in their own way inspire him to write, he uses 'you'.

You must find a detached voice, scrape off the thick residue of resentment and anger deep in your heart, then unhurriedly and calmly proceed to articulate your various impressions. Your flood of confused memories, and your tangled thoughts.....You are striving to describe in simple language the terrible contamination of life by politics....that penetrated every pore, clung to daily life, became fused in speech and action, and from which no one at that time could escape.....You are you and he is he.

He tries not to colour the 'he' with the present day 'you' so as to be able to bring out an account which is as truthful and real as if written in those times. The chapters where he writes about the need to write and the essence of writing and pure gems. I might as well quote pages after pages. articulate pain in order to alleviate pain seems to make pain bearable.

It is by cloaking naked reality with a gauze curtain, ordering language and weaving into it feelings and aesthetics that you are able to derive pleasure from looking back at it....

In the process of linguistic actualization, the present and past history, time and space, concepts and knowledge, all become fused and leave behind magical illusions created by language.

And he fills pages after pages with such thoughts.

He says that the circumstances were such that one couldn't be a fence sitter. Either you joined parties or perished. Being a silent observer was not a choice and so in all this confusion, he had to rebel. If not for anything then merely for existence. Merely because of the fact that he was a human and there was no other option left.

It's an essay on the meaning of freedom and the necessity of expressing oneself. It's about trying to find meaning in everything that happens around us, savoring life and the sufferings and delights it brings. It's a lesson on how to deal with suffering and how to overcome it.

After suffering has past, it, too, can become beautiful.

Life in itself is an inexplicable miracle; to be alive is a manifestation of that miracle. Is it not enough that a conscious physical body is able to perceive the pains and joys of life. What else is there to be sought.

Soul Mountain and now this. I'm glad I came across this author.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Pursuit Of Happiness

"...true happiness and meaning resided in places we would never find and perhaps did not wish to find, but - whether we were pursuing the answers or merely pleasure and emotional depth - the pursuit mattered no less than the attainment, the asking as important as the views we saw through the windows of the car, the house, the ferry. With time, life - like music, art and stories would rise and fall, eventually to end, but even years later, those lives are with us still in the city views that flow before our eyes, like memories plucked from dreams."
- Orhan Pamuk, Istanbul

I'm not happy. Haven't been for quite some time now. I feel stuck. Stagnated. Heading nowhere. Drifting. And helpless. My beliefs, most importantly in myself, seem to be crumbling every day. Of late, nothing I want seems to be destined to come to me. My Ma once told me that I had a problem with wanting something really bad. That I never really yearned for something and so it never came to me. She told me that if one really wants something, one can get it. Ma I think you were wrong.

Why have I put myself in a position where others decide my happiness. Why do I end up feeling miserable because somebody thought that things shouldn't work out the way I intended them to be. Why should a 'I'm sorry but...' or a 'No' make me doubt myself, my life. Is it because I care too much about what people think of me. Is it because I have defined happiness and satisfaction to be what people make out of my life. Is it because I am a person who is not dumb enough to be content with what he has and not gifted enough to be able to do anything about it. Is it because this is what everybody goes through. Then why do I see everybody I know, moving, going on with life, heading somewhere, whereas I find myself in this sort of a quagmire. Maybe you would say that I am overdoing it. I have so many things going for me and its just that I want more and can never be satisfied which has induced this ranting. But wouldn't you be feeling helpless if you knew you can get something and yet never got it. When even the signs seem to suggest the same. Because for once you want to be happy for yourself and see people congratulating you. Because for once you want a sense of utter fulfillment to take you over and flow with it. Because you want something to happen. Because you want to be happy the way you have defined it and not what some well meaning friend tells you.

Does this mean that the sensible thing to do is to indulge in activities which give you a sense of freedom. Which don't tie you. Which are under you control and involve only you. Is that why writing and reading Pamuk gives me such a sense of calm and contentment. Because I'm not being judged. Because I'm not being evaluated. Because I'm not being questioned. And because it would stay with me.

Why then, do we associate happiness with the people we care about, the people we like and love. Is it in the hope that they will forever be there with us or is it because even if one day they are gone, the bitter sweet memories would be worth the effort. Is it because thats exactly what living and longing is all about.

Finally, do I really want the things I think I want or is it just a means for the pursuit. Is there more gratification in the pursuit than in the attainment. Even if there is, yet I would like to attain something and then know for myself which was more pleasurable. I hope that life gives me that opportunity. At least once. To get something which I really wanted to even if I didn't clearly know why.

*Too many posts with the tag Music of late. So here's the Introspection one, though I know some would have preferred the Nostalgia more.

Monday, October 01, 2007

2 Nights, 2 Unforgettable Movies

As the end credits started to roll, tears were streaming down my face. The end almost kills you with its simplicity. Cinema Paradiso, to me, is as good as it gets.

A now famous movie maker comes back to the town of his childhood to attend the funeral of Alfredo, the projectionist of the city's theater when he was a kid. The movie recounts Toto's journey from a movie crazy kid who spent the better half of the day with Alfredo in his projection room, to his adolescence and how finally he is convinced by Alfredo to leave the town, live his life and never look back. What follows there upon is an account of the relation between the both of them which is as touching in its simplicity as you would ever have seen. Each and every character in the movie is perfectly etched out, but of course, the little mischievous Toto tops the list. He is just adorable.

The movie is a celebration of the love for cinema, the power of relations and the fact that no matter how far we run away from them, some memories never completely go away. There's no point in me rambling about the movie though. Go watch it.

The first German movie I watched was Der Untergang (The Downfall). That was during my college days. And till date it remains one of my favourites. The Lives Of Others, too, is right there at the top.

It's the 1980's in Germany. And the Secret Police (Stasi) knows whats happening in your life. In one such operation, the Stasi 'observes' the life of a famous playwright and his actress girlfriend. And their suspicion is confirmed as the poet playwright decides to break the shackles of government regulations and express himself. Only, the man entrusted by the Police to do the job lets his human instincts take over.

Black, white and shades of gray and brown are the only colours in this movie and they quite brilliantly bring out the mood of the country as it waited on the brink of history. A single sentence spoken against the ruling government can end you career. Freedom of expression is a thing of the past and the artists are the worst hit. They have to comply with the government propaganda or face the risk of being banned forever. But then there's the human amongst all of us and this movie is a triumph of that spirit. Its the same spirit that can be seen across the three main characters of the movie. The poet, his actress girlfriend (who is stunningly gorgeous by the way) and the man who 'listens' to their lives.

What makes Gerd Wiesler, the 'listener', a hero, is the simple fact that he begins to question himself and look within . In the end, the film is also in a way, about the questions we need to ask ourselves. Everyday. About power, principles, ideology and feelings. Another must see.

Friday, September 28, 2007

90 kmph on MG Road

It's 4:45 in the morning. I haven't slept at all. Long Island Tea maybe. I put on my jeans and jacket, take my helmet and go out.

It's still dark although the city has just about started to wake up. The trucks on the Ring Road, the small roadside shacks which are beginning to open, a few early morning joggers. There is a bite in the air as I pull up the zipper of my jacket and put on my helmet. The neon lights of the huge office complexes and the LEVI's showroom seem scary, trying to disturb the calm of the dawn.

No tooting of horns on Airport Road. Taxis and autos lined up near the arrival and departure. SPOT taxis carrying people. People going out to unwind. People coming back home after an exhausting week. I look up as an aeroplane is about to land. It's still dark.

I reach MG Road but only manage to touch 80. The metro construction has made the road narrower. As the first signs of the morning begin to show, I am circling the Ulsoor Lake. I stop for a while to take a walk around its periphery. People running, stretching, walking. I get back on my bike and head towards MG Road again to try and hit 3 figures. I fall ten short though and that too for only about a couple of seconds. The cuts are too many and the risk of a sudden vehicle appearing from behind the construction is too much for me. I give up, satisfied nevertheless and turn towards Cubbon Park. The park is very green and quiet but I don't stop.

The lights of the Chinnaswamy Stadium rear up their head above everything else in the vicinity. Bangalore doesn't have many skyscrapers though. I look at my watch. It's almost 6:30. I head back to Koramangala. The city is awake now. I have tea near my house and call up my parents. Ma is worried that something is wrong. I tell her that her son just has these crazy ideas now and then and she believes me. I'm still not feeling sleepy. I think I'll read my book.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Night After The Rains

Incessant rain for the last two days had washed the roads clean except for the fallen leaves under the trees. The running water had left trails in the mud that had accumulated on the sides of the roads. It was around 2 o' clock at night and the rain had finally taken a breather.

Someone from a taxi asked for directions.
"Go straight. Take a right from the T and you will hit the Ring Road."

The sound of wind chimes came floating through the air intensifying the silence. The occasional cab would hurry past me. Dropping people home after a long Friday night. I wished I had my jacket on instead of just the T-Shirt. The slight smell of leaves starting to rot wafted from the street. The night made everything look so serene, so at peace with itself. It was tough imagining what the place is like during other times. Smoke bellowing from the exhausts of the vehicles, horns tooting.

Vehicles parked outside the gates. Stray dogs under the street lights. Potholes filled with muddy water. People sleeping in their homes.

A slight drizzle was just about beginning. The sky was still overcast. More rain over the weekend, I thought. I hurried along. Not today. I got drenched yesterday.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Going Back

You could call it an obsession with the self. You might even attribute it to the time I always seem to have to procrastinate, to ponder, to introspect. But I like to go back to my old posts and read them again. There's nothing special about today. And by special I solely meant occurrences like completion of a certain number of years or posts. I just feel like writing about my blog.

My main motivation behind it was to hold on. Hold on to memories and feelings. Hold on to people and events. The most amazing thing about going back is reading the comments. Realizing how you could relate to something that I experienced. How you could sympathize with me when I wrote about my failures. How you could feel nostalgic when I dreamed about my grandfather's place although yours could have been so different. How you would feel the same turmoil inside you, the same urge to break free and the same need to know the answers. And that's the reason this blog has become so much more than just a memoir. The songs I liked, the people I met, the books I loved and the places I visited. It sure started off as a means to capture moments from my life. But with time, it has become a part of what I am today.

And you know it makes my day when I see that comment on a post. I would be a fool to admit that I do not look forward to it. Everybody loves an ego boost, a compliment. And I am no exception. But knowing you, knowing that you meant what you said; that's what makes it so fulfilling.

A few days ago, I was wandering through my blog. Reading some posts, looking at the comments. Laughing to myself and remembering. And at times, there was something new to be found among the old posts. To the few who read this blog..... thank you. You make me want to write.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I'm getting blown away.......

What do you do when you feel restless and irritable because nothing is working out the way you want them to. What do you do when you get the feeling that you are stuck, that you are not moving anywhere (and I absolutely Hate that feeling). I, found solace in the songs of a certain Neil Young

Knowing the kind of music I like, Shravan introduced me to this genius and he couldn't have been more right. The first song I heard was the acoustic version of My My Hey Hey and I instantly knew that I had stumbled across something rare, something original and with class written all over it.
My my, hey hey
Rock and roll is here to stay
It's better to burn out
Than to fade away
My my, hey hey.

The legendary Kurt Cobain had the lines 'It's better to burn out Than to fade away' on his suicide note and yes, he got it from this very song.

Neil Young is a class apart when it comes to his high pitched, almost nasal toned vocals and the way he experiments with different versions of the same song, accompanying it with piano in one version and the guitar and trademark harmonica in the other.
Over the last week and a little more I have indulged myself in discovering as many songs as I can and though there's still a long way to go, I now have some idea of the kind of music he created.

Heart Of Gold is a beautiful song which is bound to touch your heart if you are someone who appreciates melody. It's simple yet haunting and the way he uses the harmonica with the base guitar in the background is something you need to hear to know.

Just when I thought that Young was all about soft melodies with the acoustic guitar and harmonica, I heard Like A Hurricane and it Did blow me off. Listen to it with the speakers on full and I bet the electric guitar solo at the end will stay with you forever.

I am just a dreamer,
but you are just a dream,
You could have been
anyone to me.

Rockin' In The Free World is a typical Rock n Roll song with a lot of base and drums thrown in. Another one to hear with the speakers on full and maybe a bottle of beer in you hand.
Cowgirl In The Sand has a very groovy Bluesy and Jazzy feel to it and just goes on to show the versatility of this man.

Because I'm still in love with you
I want to see you dance again
Because I'm still in love with you
On this harvest moon.

This is from Harvest Moon. An utterly romantic number. Listen to it when everything around you is quiet.

And finally, listen to I Believe In You. I don't need to say anything about it.

This is just a peek into what Neil Young is. If you like this much, go ahead and explore. As I am doing right now.

Music can at times reflect your current state of mind. It can soothe your nerves and make you look at things from a different perspective. And Neil Young is as good as it gets.


Tell Me Why has a very distinct Folk and Country feel to it and has such insightful lyrics

Is it hard to make arrangements with yourself,
When your old enough to repay but young enough to sell?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A Couple of Songs

And the Colin Hay fever continues with Maggie

Lovely, lovely guitar. Check out this gem from Dave Matthews called Stay or Leave

And here's another one by Colin Hay called My Brilliant Feat

Friday, August 10, 2007

Are You Lookin' At Me?

Ok, I'm completely bowled over by this guy at this point of time. Have been downloading all his songs, reading reviews of his albums and articles about his life. He has had the most fulfilling of lives it seems and all of it comes out in his songs.

Read this bit (go to Editorial Reviews) first and then listen to the title track of his latest album from here (Go to discography and then listen to Are You Lookin at Me?). It's very autobiographical but at the same time can easily be applied to our lives. Here's the lyrics. Please listen to the song if you can. And fans of the series LOST will find a definite similarity between his accent and that of Desmond. And do I even need to say, its a lovely song. Great melody, great songwriting.

Well I loved the Lone Ranger an' ah loved that Denis Law
Him an' George Best, sure knew how tae kick a ba'
I wanted tae be a cowboy, an' learn tae crack a whip
Tae stand up in that lonely street, two six guns on ma hip

Along the mighty Beatles came, an' everyone went ahhh
They could play and sing and everything, and of course that John could draw
Well that wis it fur me, ah never once looked back
Ah'd tricks tae learn, waves tae catch, had a plan of attack

"Are you lookin' at me?"
I said "Are you lookin' at me, pal?"

Then we headed south, where the surf came crashin' in
From black an white tae colour, from innocence tae sin
It was summer in December, blowing heatwaves in ma mind
People talkin' funny, some cruel an' some were kind

From the crackle of the cane, to the frown of a big black snake
From the breakers at Bondi, down to Wallaga Lake
From the sound of a million fly screen doors, closing on the past
Like that chimney the fires couldn't burn, I was built to last

"Are you lookin' at me?"
I said "Are you lookin' at me, pal?"

When I flew across the ocean, ah wis number 1
People gave me everything, an' ah didn't need a gun
Walkin' down that avenue, I never felt so alive
People callin' out ma' name, an' ah'd only just arrived

There wis a tight rope walkin' bagpiper, in the middle of Central Park
Steam wis risin' from the ground, an' ah wore my cape out after dark
I had myself a moment, my day out in the sun
It's an unfinished story, but it's more than just begun

An' ah know more than one thing, but not more than two or three
An ah'll tell ye if you'll listen, an' ah'll tell ye for free
It's no life being a cowboy, an' eatin' aw them beans
The coffee's cold, the herd is gone, an' aw ye've got's yer dreams
You can always put yer spurs back on, but save them fur Halloween
Ye're better off heading north, or somewhere ye've never been

"Are you lookin' at me?"
I said "Are you lookin' at me, pal?"

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Waiting For My Real Life to Begin

Colin Hay, to me, epitomises the reason I have always wanted to play the guitar. This guy is a songwriter, composer, singer and as good a player of the acoustic guitar as they come. As far as music is concerned, if I ever dreamed of becoming some kind of a musician, it would have to be him. He works wonders with his soulful guitar playing (the kind which stirs quite a few chords in my heart), unique voice and amazing stories. Yes, his songs are little stories in themselves.

In 1967, Colin Hay was 14 years old, traveling by ship through the Suez Canal from Scotland to Australia. He played some acoustic guitar, sang a song, and told some stories. He did that then, and he does that now. This is the thread that runs through all his work for the last 25 years...... Transporting when he sings, hilarious when he talks, he expresses what we all share - the peaks and valleys of our lives.

I couldn't have put it any better than this.

'Beautiful World' and 'Overkill' were the first to catch my attention. They were a part of the 'Scrubs' soundtrack which Suhas had downloaded. But it was only after coming to Bangalore that I really started to listen to more of his songs and since then the fascination has grown manifolds. It has almost reached a level of worship. I can listen to his songs when I'm sad. I can listen to his songs when I'm happy. I can listen to them in the early morning and in the middle of the night, alone and with friends. His songs almost elevate me.

In the next few days, I'm going to try and play 'Beautiful World' and 'Into The Cornfields'. I just hope I had my hostel 'music' buddies to give me company. You know how sometimes one song, one incident can trigger off a chain of thoughts. Colin Hay reminds me of Scrubs and of hostel. My room. And when I think of Scrubs and the songs, it invariably reminds me of Suhas and Karthik and the time we spent (mostly in my room) trying out new songs and singing the old ones. At times, a few other friends would randomly stop by and listen, standing at the door even. And you know what. I miss those moments like anything.

If you have not still heard this guy, do so now. Just let me know and I will send you the songs. Take my word, it should be worth the effort.

I leave you with the lyrics of a song by this amazingly talented guy. If you have any questions in your mind, this should answer it.

Any minute now, my ship is coming in
I'll keep checking the horizon
I'll stand on the bow, feel the waves come crashing
Come crashing down down down, on me

And you say, be still my love
Open up your heart
Let the light shine in
But don't you understand
I already have a plan
I'm waiting for my real life to begin

When I awoke today, suddenly nothing happened
But in my dreams, I slew the dragon
And down this beaten path, and up this cobbled lane
I'm walking in my old footsteps, once again
And you say, just be here now
Forget about the past, your mask is wearing thin
Let me throw one more dice
I know that I can win
I'm waiting for my real life to begin

Any minute now, my ship is coming in
I’ll keep checking the horizon
And I'll check my machine, there's sure to be that call
It's gonna happen soon, soon, soon
It's just that times are lean

And you say, be still my love
Open up your heart, let the light shine in
Don't you understand
I already have a plan
I'm waiting for my real life to begin

Monday, August 06, 2007

Time Out

Do you ever feel the need to be completely alone. Away from the computer, away from the faces you see everyday, away from the people you talk to day in day out. Out of the room that you live in. Just to be with yourself and nothing else. Do you ever feel the need to block out the myriad thoughts that keep crossing you mind every second, the urge to leave behind every object that is a part of you daily existence. And does it help if you go out for a walk on the lonely streets of your colony at 11 in the night.

It helped me. I felt better. The weather was lovely and there was a hint of rain in the air. I realized that my N70 has really good audio quality. It might also be because I was consciously picking highly stereophonic songs so that I could drown in them and lose myself. A few of the songs kept reminding me of people, of time and also of places. Its strange how we associate things with each other. There were also a few very brief moments, when my mind was completely blank, devoid of any thought. But none of them lasted long. I came back after an hour though I could have walked for another. A slight drizzle had started to worry me. I never mind getting wet in the rain (has happened quite frequently of late), but I wasn't sure of my cell phone's preferences.

On a slightly different context, I've fallen in love with Coldplay. I just cant stop admiring their sound which is so high on piano and the echoing guitar. Chris Martin's vocals (especially his false voice) are a joy to listen to. And some of the songs have haunting lyrics. Fix You, The Scientist, Yellow, Trouble, Clocks, Speed Of Sound, Don't Panic....

Monday, July 23, 2007

A waterfall, a temple and then...the Rain

The weather was more than inviting as the three of us left our house at 6:25 in the morning. The sky was overcast and there was a chill in the air and with Naman assuring us in his typical style ( "Yaar agar baarish ho gayi na, to main Kuch bhi karoonga" ), we were on our way.

It could be said that the Kanakpura Road or NH 209 is perfect for a weekend bike trip. Its true, has little traffic, and snakes its way through tank bunds and small sleepy villages.The fact that in South India, the population density is much less than that in the North and people are generally quieter (this is a purely personal observation!) makes sure that you can cruise along at 55 kmph with no hurry in the world, almost as if in a reverie which wont be broken by the approach of a village. Its monsoon time here and somehow everything around us seemed to be in some sort of a quiet anticipation. Waiting for the rains, which were sure to come in the evening. The villages bore a smell of wet earth mixed with cow dung and that of wood burning in the houses and of course the crispness of the early morning air. It was just the sort of start we had expected.

Breakfast was taken at Kanakpura and we also gulped down two shots of coffee. Then we headed towards Malevalli from where the Sivasmudram Falls is about 20 kms or so. The weather had held up beautifully, the clouds still hiding the sun although it was about 9 o' clock. After Malevalli the road became really bad and we wondered how it could still be a National Highway.

Sivasamudram was in one word, breathtaking. We hadn't expected anything close to what we saw. We had probably chosen the best time to visit the falls as the monsoons had ensured that the Cauvery was almost overflowing its banks. We were a little disappointed by the large crowd that had come there and also by the garbage that had accumulated, but the sight of the spray and the mist which formed a layer over the cascade of water tumbling down, more than made up for it.
We then went to the other side or arm of the falls, clicked more pictures, laughed wildly at our self made silly jokes, did some customary Akshat bashing and left for our next destination, the 12th century AD Somenathpur Temple.

Oh! and in between we came across this beautiful, storybook like bridge. The trip was getting better by the minute.

The road to Somenathpur was bad, very bad. As I maneuvered my bike, trying to find patches of road between the potholes, I realized how comfortable I had become with it. It was almost like an extension of me. I had come to gauge its every movement, I knew exactly how much pressure on the clutch or brake was required to get the desired effect. I was totally in sync with its movement and was enjoying every moment, every turn. Coming back to the road, as if to make up for the bad state in which it was, trees lined both sides of it and the photographer in Naman possibly couldn't resist.

On reaching Somenathpur, we were astounded how such a marvelous example of South India's Temple architecture in general and Hoysala architecture in particular could be so poorly publicized. We had gone there just because we had time on our hands. It was not even a part of our itinerary. Little did we know that it would become the highlight of our trip. Well that's what we thought till the rain hit us! The most surprising thing to notice was how intact it had remained over the centuries. The pillars which looked as if to be made using lathe machines and the intricate carvings were really some sight to behold.

No other picture captures the timelessness of the place than this one taken by Naman, inside the temple, without flash, with really steady hands. By that time we had decided that we would return via the Bangalore Mysore Highway. There was rain in the air, it would be dark, and picturesque as the Kanakpura Road was, it didn't have much of civilization in between, in case we got caught up in the rain and needed help. So we headed back to Malevalli and from there to Maddur which was where we were supposed to hit the Highway.

Twilight had set in and dark clouds had gathered over the horizon, as we put on our jackets and started towards Bangalore. We clicked the last snap of the day and carefully tucked the camera inside Akshat's bag.

The first drizzle hit us somewhere between Malevalli and Maddur. I was following Naman's tail light (an exercise I would continue for another 4 hours or so), wiping drops of water from my helmet visor every few minutes. We rode along, since the there was nowhere to stop and we were enjoying it and even though at times the drizzle would become a steady rain, we were too excited to stop.

We hit the highway at around 7 o' clock and exactly as we did so, the drizzle turned into a downpour. Add to that the 4-wheelers zipping past us as if there was no tomorrow, and we were beginning to get a little scared. Better sense prevailed and even better luck. We found a restaurant within a few minutes. Oh, I forgot to add. We hadn't had lunch.

The chana masala, dal tadka, aloo gobhi ki sabji and kadhai paneer tasted heavenly. We were totally wet waist down and I knew that my not so waterproof jacket wouldn't hold on for long. I was already beginning to shiver. But amidst all this, I wanted it to happen. Yes, really. I wanted to drive in the rain, at night, on a bike, on the highway. I knew it would be some experience and in my heart of hearts, I was wishing it to happen. I think I almost willed it. Naman and I were high on adrenalin, at the prospect of driving in the rain so we chose to move on. Actually by the time we finished dinner, the rain had subsided to a drizzle again and we decided that worst of worst, we will put up at some roadside hotel for the night (although we didn't have any clothes so I wonder how we would have managed). Bangalore was a good 3 hours drive by all estimates.

It was scary, it was risky, it was funny even and it was exhilarating. And it required loads of concentration. Naman's Bullet's tail light formed my point of reference yet again and the road played true to its self without springing any surprises. The rain kept changing momentum all the time. Water seeped in through my jacket. My feet soon became numb as did my fingers which were on the brink of losing sensation after an hour or so. I had started to feel the stiffness grow in my arms and back as I sat in the same posture, riding my bike. It was a test of endurance at some level, a test of keeping the accelerator at a constant speed of around 45 kmph. I could have almost fallen asleep because of the sameness of the exercise. So I started loudly singing to myself whatever songs came to my mind and kept my eyes wide open. There were different stages to the entire journey. First it was really exciting and fun. That's when the rain had just started. Then it became a bit uncomfortable as I started getting wet. After that was a period of time when I was scared to making the entire journey, scared of skidding, scared of being hit by some speeding vehicle. But finally, after I had become used to the stiffness, pain and numbness, came the best period; one of total abandon and ecstasy. Nothing mattered anymore. It was just me on my bike and the pouring rain. It was the wildest thing I have done and we were shouting at each other at times. Shouts of joy. Just a 'Hoyeeeee' at times. I felt so alive.

We reached home at around 11, after more than 3 hours of continuous driving in the rain, totally drenched, clocking in all, 373 kms . Thankfully the camera and cellphones had survived. I turned on the geyser and took a hot shower and only after standing under it for about 5 minutes did I feel the colour come back to my fingers and toes. Just another weekend bike trip had turned out to be an experience of a lifetime and although the next morning my entire body was aching, I wouldn't complain.

By the way, we are yet to decide what Naman will do.

On second thoughts, after seeing this picture which Naman created, I might just let him go.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Sound Of Music

There are few things that give me more pleasure than listening to good music. I can give me goosebumps even. Discovering new ones goes a step higher though. When I am happy, it makes me happier. When I am pensive and sad it eases me. When I am restless, it soothes me. When I am bored, it engages me. I like de-constructing any song that I hear. Invariably it has layers to it which I dont get the first time I hear it. The first thing that hits me is the melody. And no matter how great the lyrics are, for me, a composition has to pass that test to find any favors with me. Once that sinks in and I am able to hum it along, I divert my attention to the lyrics. Though I must admit that I have always been a music person. To me, lyrics enhance the appeal of a song and do make it great from good at times but at heart I am much more a 'music' lover than a connoisseur of lyrics. To me a song can be great even without good lyrics but without a great tune; no. Not in my book at least.
Anyway, after I get a hang of the two main parts of the song, music and lyrics, come the subtleties. This, certainly is the most pleasing part. The changing bass, the delicate drum rolls, the piano which plays in the background, the little harmonies and the seconds, the changing guitar distortions, that lingering strain left after a guitar solo, all form a part of this discovery. It's like drowning in the song. Letting it flow all over you, getting drenched in it. And every time it feels slightly different, a little more intense, a little richer.

Havent been in the best of moods for the past few days. Particularly yesterday. And the only bright spot yesterday was discovering Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's rendition of 'Over The Rainbow / What A Wonderful World' . I had heard it before and liked it. But yesterday listening to it the entire day and then trying it out on my guitar made my heart lighter, much lighter. Oh, and the lyrics are good too.
And today its Kailash Kher's new album Jhoomo Re. Listen to it for its foot tapping Jhoomo Re and Joban Chhalke, for its love ballads Saiyaan and Daulat Shohrat. Kher's rustic voice and his immensely talented band Kailasa create a unique experience where Amir Khusro's poetry combines with western instruments and Kher's voice blends perfectly with a piano and a distorted guitar.

By the way, Tuesday evening was one of the best so far in Bangalore. Had gone to attend a concert by musicians from London who call themselves 'Fiddlers On The Hoof'. They 'performed' songs from movies like Sound Of Music, My Fair Lady, Les Miserables, Fiddler On The Roof, Lion King, Alladin, Grease and also 'Over The Rainbow' from the movie Wizard Of Oz. It was one of those evenings which make you feel good about yourself and so getting completely drenched in the rain on the way to the concert was worth it. It was so much more than a break. What made it all the more pleasing was the fact that I was with my friend Rohan, who can appreciate that kind of music more than I can. He was almost crying at places. We both came out of the hall ecstatic. The lights, the stage, the performers, everything was just perfect.