Thursday, December 25, 2008

Of Big Words And Body Odour

Nearly everybody suffers from body odour, either emanating it or inhaling it. Either way you're afflicted. Nearly everybody who works in management or marketing suffers from big words. This is a terrible affliction and becomes an addiction as it continues unhindered.

Yesterday, in a large meeting of some 12 odd people (very last supper-ish), I found myself in the unenviable position of being sandwiched between BWBO and BW. Very soon, my head was in a tizzy, being repeatedly smacked by generous dollops of big words and the occassional whiff. The worst moments were when both BWBO and BW decided to lean into each other to confer and discuss almost secretively. But I survived, and my eyes managed to stay open all through the meeting. Not that sitting anywhere else would have made any significant difference. There was a fair sprinkling of BWs all around the table, although I'm not too sure about the BOs.

I think a tax should be instituted on words. There really should be a price of one's words. The way they are thrown around meaninglessly and mindlessly is simply appalling. Everybody's time, hearing and sanity is taking a beating. I'd rather lose my hearing listening to loud rock music than mindless banter. If I truly lead a life of freedom, I ought to be able to choose what I hear. I want my ears to be caressed, not bear the brunt of an attack.

I find it difficult to understand why BO is so prevalent. Can people not smell their own BO? Is that it? Or can they smell it and hope that nobody else notices? And how on earth are fairly pretty woman carrying BO? I thought pretty women took great care of themselves. Sigh!

Here's to the sweetest sounds and smells! 

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Decongesting Bangalore

100 Feet Road is an important road in East Bangalore.

On one end, it connects to:

  • CMH Road - a heavy business and commercial road
  • Old Madras Road - infested with tremendous traffic including trucks on their inter-city sojourns

On the other end, an ambitious, but fairly ugly, flyover connects it to:

  • Airport Road - erstwhile clogged, but no longer as clogged due to the shifting of the airport
  • Domlur Road - usually sees free-flowing traffic due to lack of solid commercial establishments and signals
  • Inner Ring Road -an important lifeline a few years ago, it seems to be reaching its peak capacity

Surrounding 100 Ft Rd lie the important residential areas of HAL, Domlur and Indiranagar. 100 Ft Rd itself has a history of being a residential district. But over the last few years, it has grown commercially. Long-time residents of the area have sold their houses to companies who promptly establish a consumer interaction point (also known colloquially as ‘shop’).

100 Ft Rd is not very wide, with two smallish lanes on either side of the divider. It sees fairly high traffic, and a lot of stationery traffic as well, thanks to all the establishments, including educational and medical. As a result, traffic moves quite slowly and buses have a torrid time negotiating their way through the road. Poor and irregular maintenance of the road has left it badly potholed and scarred.

Now that the airport has moved to the opposite end of the city, a fairly large traffic headache for the commuters and the government has been removed. This is the perfect time to take a long hard look at the surrounding areas and see how they can be developed. The new hotspot for infrastructure development is North and North-West Bangalore, but there is much that can be done with already developed areas in East and South-East Bangalore.

Bangalore, or any Indian city for that matter, has never woken up to the glory of a parking building. If an apartment building puts ten times the number of people on the same area, logic would dictate that a parking building would put a similar number of vehicles on the same area. So, considering that we have a traffic explosion and have to counter the parking problem, shouldn’t parking buildings be the way to go? Three buildings dedicated to parking should be installed near the 100 Ft Rd-Airport Road junction, the 100 Ft Rd-CMH Road junction and at the other end of CMH Road near Ulsoor. This way, people who want to explore 100 Ft Rd and CMH Road won’t have their cars getting in their way or others’ way. However, this does call for alternative means of transportation that are specific to this area.

Taking a leaf out of the walking nature of Brigade Road and Commercial Street, a similar culture should be fostered in the 100 Ft Rd area. People have to be taken out of their polluting cars and put on to non-polluting bicycles. Install bicycle parking bays in front of each store on the road; in fact, make it mandatory for the store owner to install it. There should be no place to park a car on the road, except in the parking buildings designated for them. There must be a separate bicycle lane that is divided from the road, not just by paint but by a divider, so that cars cannot stray into that lane and the bicyclists will be safe to cycle at their leisure. Of course, motorcyclists will stray into the bicycle lane, and only two things will deter them - awareness and heavy fines.

A counter argument would be that elderly people and disabled people cannot bicycle their way around. A simple enough solution is available, and they are called golf carts; electrically powered vehicles that move at a sedate speed (which is the speed normal traffic in this city moves at anyway) and do not pollute. People who cannot bicycle can get into these carts and be ferried around by an employed driver. It will operate like a bus service and will travel from parking building to parking building, picking up and dropping passengers along the way. A golf cart can be expected to pass you by every few minutes.

The footpaths and pavements in front of the stores will now be empty since there will no longer be cars parked there. This gives tremendous opportunity to do something that can serve a purpose. Benches will have to be installed so that people can give their tired legs some rest. But apart from benches, your imagination is the only thing that can limit what you can do with these open areas. Open a little open-air café. Plant some greenery. Install street art. The options are endless.

However commercial 100 Ft Rd might have gotten, it is still home to a large number of citizens. They might complain that with this new system in place, they would have trouble getting their vehicles into their respective houses. Again the solution is fairly simple. They will be issued a monthly or yearly parking stub for a nominal fee; they will park their vehicles at the parking building and use the golf cart service to and from home. Today, they anyway park their vehicles on the footpath in front of their house, viz. they are using public property for personal use and are not paying for it. For the few people who do park their vehicles at home, it is a small price to pay for an overall betterment in their surroundings. Also, without a vehicle at home, they would enjoy more space and would be inclined to use non-polluting modes of transportation like bicycles, the golf cart system or just plain walking to get to nearby places.

Such a dedicated effort into renovating the way people move around 100 Ft Rd and CMH Rd will show its results in the government’s treasury in a positive way. As of now, the government earns no money from the burgeoning commercial activities that go on in this area, except maybe for some fixed ones like licenses and fees. By building the three parking buildings, it will earn heavy parking fees as opposed to the negligible parking fees it collects now from paid parking on CMH Rd. The parking attendants will not be put out of a job; they and some more will be required to man the parking buildings.

It is always easy to charge the commuter for renting the bicycles and for using the golf carts, but the commuters will not take too kindly to that. Firstly, you are forcing them to park inside the building and then charging them for it. Then you charge them for the bicycles and the golf carts they are forced to take because you forced them to park. So, the best thing would be to use the parking stub as a ticket for the bicycles and the golf carts. If you have rented bicycles, the details would be mentioned on the parking stub and details of the person renting them would rest with the bicycle rental office at the parking building. When you return, you return the bicycles, show your parking stub, determine everything is in order and pick up your vehicle and leave. If you choose to use the golf cart system instead, then you show your parking stub to the golf cart driver as your ticket and you can use the system free of cost. If you don’t have a parking stub, you pay the driver a nominal fee of a few rupees to use the service, or a nominal fee at the bicycle rental office to rent a bicycle.

The benefits of adopting this system are myriad. The golf cart system can easily serve as a cheaper, cleaner and quieter alternative to the autos. Hence, the roads get decongested as cars, autos and motorcycles are taken off the roads. The government earns money and goodwill. The pollution, both noise and smoke, reduces considerably. People get a little bit of exercise and some fresh air. Commercial establishments will see a spike in their business. The beauty of the area increases. This sort of local travel within pockets of the city will go a long way in aiding other modes of public transportation like the bus system and the upcoming metro system.

A similar system can be replicated in other pockets across the city, for e.g. in the MG Rd-Brigade Rd-Residency Rd-Commercial St area. When a lot of these systems pop up across the city, then they can be linked up to form an alternative mode of intra-city travel. A dedicated bicycle lane can be established that runs right through the city. Soon, people will no longer think twice about bicycling from Airport Rd to MG Rd or to Ulsoor.

The benefits will only grow with time and the entire city stands to gain through some dedicated effort on the part of the government and sensible adoption on the part of the public. This system has the potential to make Bangalore cleaner, greener and decongested, generally increasing the standard of living.

Friday, November 21, 2008

I Appreciated A Traffic Policeman Today

Actually, I appreciated him yesterday. We were walking back from lunch towards office. We passed the mess that is called Vellara Junction. As we were crossing over, we passed the tiny traffic police chowk that is present at a lot of the bigger junctions. There was a cop inside in his own world. As we passed him, I stopped, went back to him, took off my Titan Aviator sunglasses and held out my hand.

Me: "Sir, I want to congratulate you."
Cop: "Why, Sir?"
Me: "I think you do a very difficult job and I wanted to congratulate you."
Cop: (slowly starting to smile) "Thank you, Sir."

Needless to say, my colleagues were stunned but appreciative of my gesture.

The thought for this originated earlier in the week when I was riding to work. For some reason, I started thinking about the traffic cops and how they perform such a tough job day in and day out braving the elements, the traffic and the pollution, receive no appreciation and only brickbats. It shouldn't be a 'Citizens v/s Cops' scenario; rather it ought to be a 'Citizens + Cops' scenario.

So how can you appreciate the traffic policemen? Here are some pointers.
  1. Shake his hand and tell him what a fantastic job he's doing and how much you appreciate it. You could hug him, but he may not be too comfortable with that. I would like to hug him though.
  2. Bake him a special batch of cookies or a piece of your delicious Sunday cake. Your nearest cop is probably sitting just 100 meters away. Don't know how to bake? Then pick up a batch from the friendly neighbourhood bakery.
  3. Help me institute a Traffic Policemen Appreciation Day and a Traffic Policemen Appreciation Fund.
Go forth and love thy cop!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Did You Smell The Coffee?

Any Tam-Brahm Iyer function that's worth any decent amount of salt has to contend itself with only two of the three recommended square meals - breakfast and lunch. Anybody who tells you otherwise has been living in Punjab for too long and must be prescribed a Tam-Brahm Iyer function for the next three weekends at the very least.

This salty Tam-Brahm Iyer function, not in the least because of the long coastline of Tamil Nadu, wraps and modifies itself to only two things - rahu kalam (the bad time) and food - an indication of the place of importance food occupies in the grand scheme of things. Since rahu kalam cannot be changed, food acquires an all-deciding status. Hence, Iyers put in all sorts of energies into presenting a vast array of the most basic food stuffs prepared in the most delectable manner to ever grace a plantain leaf, so that when people talk about this function, and they will, they will talk about how pramadham (great) the food was.

Now, lunches are fairly simple affairs. It all depends on the rasam. A tremendous rasam can offset even the most mediocre lunch. For more on the philosophy of rasam, click here. Breakfasts, however, are much more trickier issues. It's the first meal of the day and the range of items that can be served are quite astonishing. Idly, vada, pongal, upma, semia upma, rava kesari, a multitude of chutneys and many others make selecting the right permutation and combination a challenge that would boggle even the self-designated Ramanujams at the function.

Thankfully, there is an answer. There is always an answer, and here it's name is coffee. Coffee is the glue that holds together any function. As long as there is great coffee doing the rounds consistently, everything else can and probably will be forgiven. I have always believed that a tanker should be stationed outside the hall and a pipe should connect from the tanker to a keg inside. A tap in the keg will allow for free-flowing unlimited (almost) coffee. Also, the thundering from the keg into the glass will give some great norai (froth), and all the connoisseurs (me included, but of course) know that's where the true taste lies. Such a setup also makes logistical sense for the host.

If you see any Tam-Brahm Iyer who's hyperactive and/or high-strung, you know it's the coffee. If you see any Tam-Brahm Iyer who's normal, imagine how sluggish he would have been if it hadn't been for the coffee. Coffee is possibly the single greatest contributor to the success of Tam-Brahm Iyers in the corporate, or any other, world. That brings me to the yawning gap, and hence opportunity, that exists today. To the best of my knowledge, there exists no machine that makes filter coffee. So, all the people who love filter coffee, the truest form of coffee if you ask me - and by reading this, you are asking me - are being forced to drink synthetic machine-made gloop that passes off as coffee. My limited knowledge of appliances and engineering indicates that it cannot be too difficult to create such a machine. I already have a machine that gives me decoction on the addition of coffee powder and hot water. Add a container with milk. Upon pressing a button, a certain pre-determined amount of decoction and milk is squirted out. Different buttons and pre-determinations can be set for different strengths of coffee. And voila! Productivity of companies employing Tam-Brahm Iyers skyrockets and South India is saved from the financial crisis.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Empty Vessels Make More Noise

Much has happened in my life of late, hence the lean blogging phase. I moved back to Bangalore in June; my cousin and her two little sons alongwith my aunt and uncle came down from the US for a long stay; I had no job till mid-August, so I was living up life; I bought myself a shiny new drum kit (it looks gorgeous) and the beginnings of a band could be seen; I was researching djembes and cycles; I signed up for kayaking classes; I landed a strategic planning job in an advertising agency of repute (what I wanted, for the uninitiated). All in all, I was having one heck of a life. The move back home seemed to be one of the greatest decisions I had made in the recent past and everything was lovely.

But the last couple of days have revealed a high tinny sound, the kind that occurs when a hollow vessel is hit. I am doing so much that I'm burning out, and burn out invariably leads to depression. The euphoric high cannot always be maintained and when it begins to flag and falter, then epiphanies begin to happen. I have come to realise how much of my happiness and my self-worth I am basing on what other people think of me. I am allowing myself to be moulded in their hands. My life feels empty and hollow and all that I am doing is nothing but noise, loud noise. I have bitten off more than I can chew.

So, what lies in front of me now? What course is my life going to chart? I see much depression in the days ahead, much moping around, where even the very thought of movement, light, gaeity, sound will hurt me and make life all that less worth living. I think somewhere in October, with great optimism and/or the appearance of another woman, I should be able to lift myself out of the familiar depression. But in reality, I don't see normalcy returning anywhere before November.

Sigh! Life is depressing. It's depressing that it needs to be lived.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Maggi Snacks

How many of you have bought a packet of Maggi noodles and discreetly popped a couple of uncooked noodle pieces into your mouth? I'm guessing all of you. And have you tried the same for the other brands - Top Ramen, Wai Wai, and whatever else is out there? Which one did you like the best? Maggi, right?

Nestle and Maggi noodles have a product extension that's staring them in the face. Sell small packets (25g, 50g) of the uncooked noodles as a little snack for Re.1 or Rs.2. I'm sure there's some wastage/leftovers happening when the normal packets are being filled. They just have to be diverted into another packet. Polo mints and Cadbury chocolates have done the exact same thing and it's worked wonders for them.

What should the name of such a product be? Maggi Snacks? Maggi Twists? Maggi Maida?

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Ad Of The Week

This is, by far, the ad of the week, and it will take something special for it to not become the ad of the month(s). Tata Sky with a tremendous performance by Aamir Khan.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Philosophy of Rasam

Rasam is arguably the single greatest mass-consumption item of the South Indian culinary fare. There are other pinnacles achieved routinely by some other simply glorious dishes like coconut thohail and cabbage kootu, and it would be folly to discount the extraordinary morukuzhambu or the fiery vathalkuzhambu in all their forms, but these are items that are made now and then, not everyday like the ubiquitous rasam. The only items that find themselves as constant companions to the rasam are white rice (chaadam), ghee (nei), curds (thayar) and appalams (rapidly being substituted by potato chips). Rasam beats them all hands down; indeed, it beats a lot of dishes hands down; the contest is over even before it begins; there never was any contest.

The name belies the power it can exude and the reverence it can garner, for it is a simple sounding name, with just a couple of syllables to gain it worldwide recognition. It is in this simplicity that the rasam revels and invigorates, for the rasam is a simple dish, easy to prepare and easy on the eyes. But it assuages the nose, for it carries with it a smell that can capture any person and make him/her prey. It may look like weak red water, but its intricacies are so finely meshed with each other that every single taste bud is tickled and satiated. A well-made rasam can brighten any day and any mood.

Rasam chaadam is the most important course in the meal that I partake of. Everything else before that is an introduction, just building it all up for the final brilliant epitome of food. So no matter how divine the thohails, the kootus, the sambars and the kuzhambus might have been, I will appreciate them all and extol on their virtues, but the lips will still smack and I will still drool when the time for rasam chaadam arrives; for then, all is well and right with the world, the future is bright and happy, and God does exist, for a superbly made rasam is one of the few things that will make me believe in God and make me give up my appalam in one fell swoop.

Rasam, vazhga!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Banana Week

The last week has been one that has been full of the Kuala Lumpur Police Department (KLPD). Although incidents include car accidents and fathers being awake at 3am, I'll stick to just two of them.

On Friday, my cousin and I went to Fabindia to buy some stuff for the newly painted bedroom of another cousin across the seas. We spent a good chunk of time picking out combinations and mentally working out colour settings and finally decided on a particular bedspread and some bold cushion covers. The items had been sent to the check-out counter and we were on our way there to pay money and buy when we were intercepted like a missile by a well-meaning employee of the store whom I believe was like a fashion consultant. She trashed our choices and made us feel like we were colour blind (I'm colour deficient). Finally, we said that we'd come back later that night as we had to go elsewhere. Later that night, we decided to go back to the store. When we were ready to leave, we realised that we could not find the car keys. One of the kids had been playing with it and we could not find it now. We searched high and low and lost a good 20 minutes just searching for the keys. The elders decided that it was not a good sign, what with the woman literally stopping our purchase earlier in the day and now us not being able to find the car keys. So they forbade us from going and we accepted. Almost immediately after that, the keys were found.

The second incident happened with The Dark Knight. On Saturday morning, a bunch of the family members had gone to the Forum Mall and I asked them to pick up tickets for that night's show. I frantically called friends to find out how many wanted to go and after I passed on the final number to the group in the mall. News came back that Saturday night was sold out. So then I checked the other theatre in the city and found a similar result. So the mall group was asked to pick up tickets for Sunday night. The following night, we very happily went to PVR cinemas in Forum Mall, commented on how the time on the tickets said 10:15 while everywhere else the show time said 10. It didn't matter to us. We went in and found our seats divided amongst two separate groups of people. We called the usher who checked all the tickets and, finding a problem, put us in the nearest empty seats, whose owners soon showed up. I mean, it's The Dark Knight, not some foreign film where he can expect seats to be empty. So another check was done and it was discovered that we were in possession of tickets for Sunday's morning show. We all came out and discovered another group of people with the exact same problem. The guy behind the ticket counter on Saturday morning had messed up. To cut a long story short, we didn't get to watch the movie, the PVR guy was unapologetic, we got our money back, and PVR has lost my business forever.

So, it's been a rotten week, made even more rotten by the landing of a job. I hope that the week ahead will shine with possibly the only silver lining from the previous week. I see much Karaoke ahead.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Tamil Network

Whenever I hear or read about the greatness of social networking, I pooh-pooh it by comparing it to a network of even greater proportions and that is generations old with proven credentials. I like to call it the Tamil Network.

The Tamil Network begins to kick into gear for you when you begin approaching marriageable age, usually around 23-24 years for men and slightly younger for women, though these numbers are seeing a slight increase. The Tamil Network boasts of a nearly six sigma record in ensuring maximum hook ups with minimum divorce rates at an individual speed faster than you can say Getti Melam, Getti Melam.

There was this Jennifer Lopez movie I once saw in which there this highly emotional scene where she finds out that her father had an arranged marriage. She goes up to him, touches him affectionately on the shoulder as if he has shouldered a heavy burden and says almost disbelievingly, “Daddy, you mean you never saw Mother before you married her,” or some such thing. And I’m like, “Hey, that happens here all the time. In fact, here the bride and the groom probably don’t see each other till the morning after the wedding. That’s because they don’t see each other before the wedding, during the wedding they’re too covered up to be able to see each other, and during the first night, it’s either too dark or they’re too exhausted. So it’s only when they wake up the next morning that they realize ‘Ah, so you’re the guy/girl I married yesterday. Nice to finally meet you.’”

When I was growing up, I never understood the concept of love and marrying for love as they would depict in the English films. I couldn’t understand why people would wait till they found their one true love before they married. Moreover, I couldn’t understand why the parents weren’t playing such a crucial role in finding a prospective other for their children. Didn’t they want to get their children married? Why wasn’t the network buzzing? Where was the network?

In Tam-Brahm society, a suitable boy or girl need never worry about finding a suitable match. In fact, one does not even need to be present physically. A well-clicked photograph and an ancient script that contains all details about one’s birth are all the physical tangible items that need to be ready for circulation. The momentum that will raise the demand for these tangible items will be generated by some astounding word-of-mouth (WOM) activity, the kind marketers would give their spouses to achieve. This WOM activity centers on the key nodal points in every family – the ladies. And we have many ladies in our Tamil Network – maamis, athais, paatis, kollu paatis, chithis, periammas – you describe the relationship and we will have a name for it. Henceforth, we shall refer to all these women as maamis.

From daily phone conversations to large social gatherings like weddings, the WOM activity of the Tamil Network is in full swing. It is especially enchanting to sit and observe the Tamil Network in action at a wedding. Groups of varying sizes will be sitting around discussing the next in line now that their latest assets have been married off. Typical conversations at the centre, which will have the maximum maamis, and usually one of the getting-married’s mother, will not be unlike the sample conversation reprinted below. This conversation has been translated from Tamil to English for your reading convenience. Please note that questions usually end with an ‘aa’ sound in Tam-Brahm societies.

“So, now that your son has been married, your daughter is nextaa?”

“Chi chi, she’s only 21. She still has some time to go.”

“But you must start looking for her. It is so difficult to find a good groom these days.”

“Yes yes, it is not enough if he alone is good. The family must also be good. It is not as easy as it was before.”

“Yes, but we want her to finish her studies and find a good job first. Then we will start looking.”

“And nowadays, these children usually find their own spouses. You never know.”

“You know my elder brother’s second son? The one studying at Harvard? He has a roommate in college who is related to my sister-in-law’s aunt’s third cousin on the mother’s side. That roommate has an elder brother who is now of marriageable age. Maybe you could look at him for your daughter.”

“Oh reallyaa? What is he doing?”

“He is working in California in a software company.”

(excited murmuring upon hearing the words California and software company)

(continuing) “He studied at IIT Madras and then went to Stanford University. He is now 29 years old. Their family is also very good. Both parents are in Madras itself, they live in Mylapore. The father is a retired civil engineer, but their family is a rich family with lots of ancestral property. The younger brother is studying at Harvard.”

“But 8 years is a little too much difference, no?”

(murmuring) “Yes yes, he’s 29 and she’s only 21. Plus, she must study and get a good job first.”

“Wait a minute. My father’s father’s second cousin’s first son is looking out for his second daughter. Her mother and I were talking the other day and I just happened to ask what was happening with her second daughter, and she said that she was looking. So I got all the details. The family is from Coimbatore and is actually quite familiar with my husband’s paati from Gobichettipalayam. The girl is 25 years old. She studied commerce in Coimbatore itself and then went to IIM, Bangalore. Now, she is working with a consulting company in Bangalore itself.”

(excited murmurs all around, mother of 21 year old girl glad that her daughter is off the hook but sad that she lost a software engineer in California from IIT Madras and Stanford University)

From here, each resource will report back to their respective sources and the news will spread till the original intended recipients. And then contact will be made, well-clicked photographs and birth details will be exchanged and dialogues will ensue. In case the alliance fails to make it, maybe because the girl wasn’t willing to move to the US or the birth details didn’t match, then the entire well-oiled machinery kicks into gear again and the process is repeated, only this time the entire history of previous attempted alliances and matches will also form part of the introduction of the prospective asset.

The Tamil Network is also one of the main reasons why we have such dedicated workers from the Tam-Brahm community. With the entire need for a love life or finding the right match completely taken over by the Tamil Network and with greater chances of success, the average Tam-Brahm boy or girl is able to devote almost all his/her time to practicing the highest degree of perfection in his/her work. However, it is difficult to find a decent businessman amongst us because businessmen aren’t looked upon too favourably by the Tamil Network. It is better to have a big well-known company name as your employer. It increases your chances tremendously.

Tam-Brahms are never unlucky in love and it is almost impossible for one to die alone. It is not possible that the Tamil Network that is present in the farthest reaches of the world, and is especially strong in India, the US and the UK, cannot find you your one true soulmate. Hey, they enjoy an uncertified six sigma rating, something that the social networking sites of today will be hard pressed to match.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Lounge Piranha Live @ Maya

Lounge Piranha played live at Maya on the night of Sunday, June 15. It’s been a while since I heard LP, live or otherwise, so it was a great comeback gig for me. Although sound wasn’t the best, Kamal, Abhi, Rohan and George still managed to put up a pretty good show, sonically as well as visually. There was a ton of new stuff that I haven’t heard before along with enough early days peppering the set intermittently. LP have come a long way in terms of tightness, and considering the amount of time they have spent together, it is heartening to see the camaraderie that is quite evident amongst the band members as well the chord they are able to strike with the crowd, both new and old.

Lounge Piranha is not your usual run-of-the-mill name and hence the music you expect is also not daily stuff. When I first heard LP, the one word that I associated with them was ‘trippy’. Bright colours merging with each other in a dazzling array of fluidity and some substance abuse would make the trip complete. Their music was psychedelic and ambient, yet it had a certain rockiness infused into it.

In the early stages of the gig, I was aghast. LP was sounding quite different from what I had known and there was even a song that sounded like something Thermal And A Quarter would play. But then, The Gun Song came along and with it came the LP of yore. And although subsequent songs saw a certain ambience, the entire gig was starting to sound quite alternative grunge rock, and that is not LP’s sound. They had created a niche and a sound for themselves and they were quickly losing it. Thankfully, towards the end of the gig, they showed that all was not lost and some truly brilliant new material was presented. Song 2 has a delicious Indian sound to it and the rest of the material just envelopes you and caresses your ear. There was a crazy rendition of just a verse of “We Will Rock You” that absolutely won the crowd over.

LP’s sound is definitely developing and it is nice to see the band looking to push the horizon just a little bit farther, but let’s not try to cross the seven seas and lose sight of home now. The band has become heavier and louder and, if I dare say it, more mainstream. But then, the beauty of their music lay in the fact that they could play something that sounded so far out and spaced out and yet present it in a wholly saleable and appreciable form. When you’re playing something that’s not the norm, then experimentation would involve the norm, and it appears to be what LP is currently dabbling in. Experimentation is good and encouraged, simply because it strengthens your belief. And I feel that in the days and gigs to come, Lounge Piranha will not only truly believe in what their original sound is, they will also be able to take that sound international.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Picture Of The Day

A fairly long hiatus requires something special to be broken. That something special for this post has been provided by a very dear friend of mine. This is a picture that I love and that she took during one of our bumbling misadventures through a very crowded market in North Delhi known only as Sadar Bazar.


I love this picture because it looks like time has stood still. This could easily have been a picture from the mid or even early twentieth century. Although there is some denim, trousers and a couple of caps in the background, the two ladies in the foreground immediately capture your eye and startlingly transport you backward in time. It is truly amazing how much the draining of colour can do for a picture. If this picture were in colour, I am sure it would still have been a lovely picture, but I doubt it would have been so hard-hitting.

I have always thought that casual photography is something that just happens. One hasn't really planned ahead, figured out things like framing and lighting and even colour modes. But this friend of mine has shown me with just this one picture, and many others to back it up, that a quick eye and a quick trigger finger can often give even the amateur photographer some startling results. Keep clicking, girl!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Questions

It's raining in Delhi. The rain makes me feel incredibly happy and incredibly depressed in the same vein. I'm incredibly happy because it is so beautiful and I love the rain and flowing water. I'm incredibly depressed because my life is not what I want it to be.

I don't know where my calling lies. What is the one thing that I love doing so much and that I am so good at that I can make my living from it? Where does my future lie? Why does my future lie?

Should I be in the advertising industry? Then why am I not? Why am I not able to get a single advertising agency to hire me? Am I not good enough for the advertising industry?

Should I be a writer? Then why am I thinking about writing and not writing? Why am I not writing articles for publications that will bring in some bread? Is my writing sale worthy?

Should I be an actor? Then why am I not doing any theatre? Why am I not looking seriously at the film industry? Why am I not talking with people from the industry? Am I a good actor?

Should I be a traveller? Should I be exploring the world? Then why am I not doing even minute trips in India? Why am I sitting at home?

Why am I waiting?

Monday, May 05, 2008

Free Bird

A landmark event happened today in my life. I quit my job. I still have to serve a month's notice period, but officially, I'm on my way out. And I feel exactly like this song by Lynyrd Skynyrd.



Although it hasn't sunk in yet, I am sure I will begin to feel it as the days go by, as I start to work even less and as I wrap up everything to be handed over. It will be a weird phase. What seemed a little strange though was the fact that this action today hardly caused a stir in the office. It seemed that people were sort of expecting the decision. It was certainly welcomed by my boss, if facial expressions are anything to go by.

So, now where do I go from here? Where does my path lead me? Do I have to forge a path? I'm looking to get into the advertising industry, something I've been wanting for a while. Unfortunately, it looks like the advertising industry would prefer to keep me at a distance. I also am working on a book. So, if I find no job in May, then I move to Bangalore and write, while continuing to look for jobs.

It should be one interesting roller coaster ride ahead. I hope my seat belts have passed safety regulations.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Travails Of A Writer

The writer sat in front of his laptop, staring at the screen. He had been staring at it all day long, just like he had been the previous day. The page count on his book didn't look very different from the previous day.

Technology had transformed the lowly workhorse typewriter into the gleaming sleek laptop. But while the typewriter's sole purpose was to type, the laptop performed many functions, and hence offered many distractions to its user. The writer had spent the last couple of days, as he had many other days, enjoying the many amusements the laptop had to offer him. As a result, his work on his book had suffered immensely. And now the weekend was over and spent and wasted.

The writer attempted to paint a cliched portrait of a man deep in thought, of a man on the verge of producing some of the most brilliant creative work ever witnessed in humankind or the man's mind. He poured himself a glass of whisky and took a swig. It tasted brilliant in his mouth as it slid smoothly down his throat. Then he lit a cigarette and took a drag. The combination felt fabulous. And then he looked at the laptop screen again.

He stared. Then he stared some more. Then he rested his cigarette in the ashtray and pounded on the keyboard for a few seconds. He stopped, took another drag and read what he had just written. He deleted all of it. Then he pounded some more, intermittently dragging on his cigarette. He hated what he was writing, but he wrote it anyway. At least it was content, it provided some semblance of progress.

The writer wrote till eternity with no one to read his writings.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Free Tibet

A sham took place today in central Delhi. From Vijay Chowk to India Gate, right in front of the Presidential home, the Rashtrapati Bhavan, a few famous people held a torch and ran a few metres, light a few more torches held by other famous people who also ran a few metres, all the while being watched by a few Chinese and thousands of security personnel. This was the famous Olympic torch run on its India leg.

This was also a prime example of the Indian government behaving like a servant in front of the Chinese, who they treated as masters. If you've seen a servant in front of his master, he will fold his arms and do everything the master tells him, and flog his wife on the side in order to cede to the orders of his master. The Indian government flogged its own people, and gave into the whims and fancies of the Chinese overlords. Unprecedented security surrounded the Olympic torch run and the only people who were allowed direct visual access were some important officials, some Chinese and some school kids. The general public and anybody who even closely resembled a Tibetan were kept far away.

The US reaction was a lovely example of democracy. The Olympic torch run had to be protected, and it was. But free speech is also a right and the protesters were allowed that. Even though W made some random comments about how the Chinese and the Dalai Lama should engage in a dialogue, the US reaction was largely neutral. The Indian reaction, on the other hand, was very pro-Chinese. Although some Tibetan voices were heard, the knee-jerk reaction was to cow them down with force and bundle them into vans to transport them to jail. Tibetans were not allowed to demonstrate or protest freely. If it turned violent, then by all means enforce law and order, but not when it is a peaceful protest.

A major fallout of the Indian government thinking the Chinese way was the traffic situation. Since India Gate is at the centre of the city, a ripple there causes a wave in the rest of the city. The journey from my office to my house takes barely 30 min, including normal traffic. Today, it took me 150 min. There were portions where we did not move for long stretches of time. I was wondering how long it would be before the Army was called in to drop essential supplies.

Is it really worth inconveniencing millions, literally millions, of your own citizens to satisfy some neighbour who you don't like anyway? Is this not the attitude of the servant? The Chinese would have very smugly packed up the torch after the run, laughed amongst themselves at another battle won against India and left by the next available flight. The Indians meanwhile will be waiting expectantly for the largeness that the Chinese will show after this act of friendship and good faith. Do you know what the next Chinese move is going to be?

The Olympic torch is going to do a detailed run across China. But during that run, the torch is also going to visit a monastery that just incidentally falls in Arunachal Pradesh. Do the Chinese have the requisite Indian permission to do that? I don't know, but my guess is in the negative. Is it a bold move by the Chinese to claim ownership over disputed land, to show that parts of Arunachal Pradesh actually belong to China, just like Tibet? I don't know, but my guess is in the positive.

India, stand up for yourself. If you don't treat yourself with respect and demand respect, nobody will treat you with respect or give you any.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Why I Will Be Boycotting IPL

There has been a lot of space in the media that has been devoted over the last few weeks to the new Kerry Packer that's sweeping cricket. ICL (Indian Cricket League) and IPL (Indian Premier League), Zee's rebel and BCCI's answer, are set to revolutionise cricket and entertainment in India. Millionaires were made overnight, the marriage of cricket and Bollywood was complete and the general discerning public suffered in the process.

Now, I have not been following these developments closely, barely even registering them, retaining the disdain I have for anything mass and brainless. But then the IPL campaign hit television screens and I was apalled, absolutely horrified at the creatives. I believe O&M is the agency behind the campaign and I must say that I am very disappointed that a communal inciting campaign of this magnitude and proportion could have been brought to life by one of my favourite agencies.

IPL Ad 1
IPL Ad 2
IPL Ad 3

The entire campaign is centred around hating your fellow man and making his very existence hell just because he supports another team. More than the TV, movie and video game violence that we keep complaining about, this issue ought to be raised simply because it affects us on a much more basic, real and daily level. You meet your neighbour everyday. You're Bangalorean, he's Delhiite. Following simple logic of a person seeking familiarity and therefore being kindred to his home team, you and your neighbour are now being incited to go at each other's throats. If that is not communal, then what is?

Now, one cannot simply identify a problem and then let it lie. One must come up with a suitable solution as well, otherwise of what use are you? So, here is an alternative campaign idea from me.

Alternative IPL Campaign Idea:
The basic thought behind this campaign is that IPL is competitive and it is meant to make the viewers competitive as well. But the key differentiating factor is that it makes the viewer competitive during viewing. It does not make the person competitive. The basic person remains as he/she is. To highlight this difference, obviously some amount of extremities and stretching will have to be portrayed. This can be easily categorised as 'creative licence' or 'poetic justice'.
  1. Best buddies are having a great time hanging out with each other during the day. Come IPL match time, they sit down in front of their TV sets in their respective team colours and then the rivalry begins. This rivalry ends with the match.

  2. A stranger helps out an old granny to cross the road. She then returns the favour by inviting the stranger home for some cookies and milk. The IPL game starts and sweet granny and kind stranger turn into a saber tooth tiger and a wolly mammoth. IPL game ends and sweet granny and kind stranger take leave of each other, full of smiles.

  3. A guy spies a pretty girl in a bar. He approaches her and starts making his moves on her. Things are going well and both are laughing till the IPL game starts. Then fierce rivalry ensues between the two. IPL game ends and both leave together, totally into each other.
Another shortcoming that I think exists in the current campaign is that nobody is shown watching the game. Isn't that the final objective? You want people to watch the games, not just buy keychains and wrongly accuse somebody else of misbehaving with them. I mean, it's all very good to support your team, but if you're not watching the games, then it really doesn't serve any of the corporations' purpose now, does it?

The alternative campaign not only shows people watching the games, it also ensures that the rivalry does not extend beyond the games and into real life. This way, it delivers the competitive spirit required for IPL, provides the enthusiasm to watch the games, and thereby high TRP ratings, does not cross the line, and hence ensures that society remains sane.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Emoticons

:! Jollu vittufying (drooling)
:@ Tongue rolling (lecherously)
:( Sad
:), :> Happy
:D Open mouth smiling
:0, :o, :O Agape/ Yawning
:)3 Jay Leno
:Q Rat in mouth
:q, :d Licking upper lip
:U Detective (looking over his collar)
:| Straight face
:I Straight face (with chubby cheeks)
:p, :b Sticking tongue out (rudely)
:P Sticking tongue out (mischievously)
:[, :c, :C, :{, :3 Various mustached emoticons
:B Beaver teeth
:<>:-(=3 Ancient Mayan sculpture depicting an angry woman from the chest up

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Hindi Watching Spanish Reading English

The European Film Festival is happening in Delhi, just like it did last year. And I gladly go to watch some never-before-seen-in-these-parts foreign films. I've had a pretty decent run uptil now, but today's experience just blew that out the water.

Today's film was a Spanish one called Ficcion. The title appears "Ficcion" (subtitle: Ficcion). While I'm wondering why the subtitle doesn't read "Fiction", a comment from behind: "Oh, Ficcion matlab Fiction." And right then I knew it was going to be a difficult crowd. But what followed beat all expectations of mine.

The Spanish film inexplicably had Spanish subtitles on. The audience immediately started making noises, an expected reaction. Somebody shouted for the English subtitles to be turned on. People applauded. Somebody started thumping on the table. More people joined them. Other people who had no access to tables clapped loudly. The place was deteriorating. The operator who had left the arena returned and stopped the film. The audience applauded. The film was restarted with English subtitles and when the first English word appeared, the audience applauded again. And the rest of the film was doomed to Indianness.

Now that tongues had been loosened and postures relaxed, random comments started appearing, like this was a cheap Hindi movie that had been made for the front benchers. All subtleties at showing the growing fondness between two strangers were completely lost on these buffoons as they made silly comments on how some camera that the woman was carrying must be a Chinese model camera.

After a sizable portion of the film had passed in this manner, every time a blank screen appeared for even a second, a loud "Khatam" (finished) would emanate from the very sociable gentleman sitting next to me who obviously carried a very high self esteem and opinion about himself and his endearing sense of humour.

The only time there was any sort of silence during the film was a scene where there was a certain amount of sexual tension in the film. It was a beautifully portrayed scene where the man and the woman are very uncomfortable and don't quite know what to say or do, but I could just sense the audience waiting for the steamy sex scene in the foreign film that most of them had quite obviously come in expecting. The Khatam gentlemen even asked the bloke sitting in front to move slightly because he wasn't getting an uninterrupted viewing experience. They were sorely disappointed, much to my delight.

What I don't get is that this was a FREE film screening. Nobody paid any money to buy any ticket. Why couldn't they just get up and leave? One of the reasons I love going for foreign film screenings is that the riff-raff usually don't make an appearance.

Hindi watching Spanish reading English.

Friday, April 04, 2008

A Storm's A-Coming

video

This was the weather at 4pm today. There's a storm brewing outside and all hell is about to break loose. It's a Friday evening and it is an absolute crime to be working now, or ever.



Update:
It's about 4:30pm. The storm broke, but the rain wasn't a torrential downpour. Rather, it was a very light flowing rain that could hardly be felt but turned the roads jet black in no time at all. In the distance, the rain could actually be seen as it made its journey from the heavens earthward. Although the attached picture and video aren't the greatest in terms of quality, they might give you a fair idea. This is one of those moments when I wish I had a D-SLR.

video

Thursday, April 03, 2008

A Year In Delhi

One year ago, I came to Delhi. One year ago, I spoke to that woman for what has been the last time.

It wasn't the first time that I had come to the national capital. A couple of months previously, I had come for a sporting contest in the national capital region. It was bitterly cold, being early Feb, and I distinctly remember standing on the cricket ground in the middle of the night, too cold and numb to move, for once thankful that I wasn't being called on to bowl, as my team crashed to a first round defeat. But we did end up as runners-up in basketball.

I also remember being amazed at Delhi. I would stare wide-eyed at the spacious roads, the cool infrastructure projects and the sheer size of the city. I was super excited as I rode in the Metro and buoyant that such a world-class city existed in India. I already knew that I was going to move to Delhi and was unabashedly happy at this wondrous stroke of luck.

A year on, much has changed, and not much has changed. I still think Delhi is a world-class city and I still think it's a fabulous city to live in. The streets are wide, the trees are lovely and the space is ample. However, the summers are very hot and the winters are bitterly cold.

Unfortunately, the other large influence in my life over the past year, work has come quite a cropper. Poor bosses and a very unethical style of working are rampant in the organisation, and though it pains my heart to continue, I must, for a little while longer, for reasons I need not delve into.

The past year in Delhi has taught me many things. It has taught me how to live on my own and cope with the pressures of living alone. This is the first time I have lived away from home and family. The 5 months in Chennai in 2004 don't really count because I was staying with my aunt and home was just an overnight train/ bus journey away. The 2 years at MICA don't really count because everybody there eventually became family and we were well taken care of. This one year in Delhi counts.

I know that, even though this is a status report, this post reads like an eulogy. I think it probably will become one. This month, April, will determine future course of action. Depending on what happens in this month, I will find myself either in Bangalore or Delhi next month, but certainly in a different role, either as a jobless writer or as an advertising professional. This month holds the secrets. This month will tell all.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Picture Of The Day


I clicked this when the early morning Shatabdi I was on between Delhi and Chandigarh stopped at a station, the name of which I am at a loss to recall now. This picture was clicked on March 1, and the amount of fog I saw along the way astounded me given the time of year.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

8

Consecutive posts with a number as the title. I've been tagged again, this time by a twenty somebody. This one has to do with eights, which is incidentally a lucky number in Chinese culture. Glad to see my popularity in the blogosphere on the rise.

Eight things I am passionate about:
Me
Books
Music
Movies
Writing
Armchair Activism/ Philosophy
BoBo (Bourgeois Bohemian)
Utopian Rebellion

Eight things I want to do before I die:

Drive around the country
Become a famous published author
Drive a truck for a living for a while
Open a cafe
Play a whole range of percussion instruments
Spend a few years travelling and living in other countries
Make feature films the way I want to
Run for political/ public office

Eight things I say often:
Dude
The fuck
Behen ke laude
Bhains ki aankh
Horrendous
Brilliant
Types
Other random sounds

Eight books I've read recently:
Mexica - Norman Spinrad (good)
Gifted - Nikita Lalwani (an exercise in futility, gave it up)
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd - Agatha Christie (good)
Five Point Someone - Chetan Bhagat (horrendous)
The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini (started out well, twisted and turned too much)
Above Average - Amitabh Bagchi (Indians can't write English fiction)
After Dark - Haruki Murakami (surreal, interesting)
English, August - Upamanyu Chatterjee (this Indian can write good English fiction)

Books in the pipeline:

The Indian Clerk - David Leavitt
'Tis - Frank McCourt
The Mammaries of the Welfare State - Upamanyu Chatterjee
Some of Gandhi's writings, maybe My Experiments with Truth
One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Some of JRR Tolkien's writings

Eight songs I could listen to over and over:
Hmmm...this is very difficult; there are just too many songs. So instead, I'll put down bands I could listen to over and over.
Metallica
Black Sabbath
Led Zeppelin
AC/DC
The Unlike No Ones
Thermal and a Quarter
Zero
Lounge Piranha

Eight things that attracts me to my close friends:

I share a different relationship with each of my friends. It is impossible for me to say that I became close friends with these people because of a particular reason. It could be anything, but mostly it is the time and the experiences shared. These could range from cigarettes to back-to-back movies to anything under the sun. This does not mean that the same thing with another person would lead to a similar result.

People I think should do this tag:
Verbose Lulla
Sunanda Manni (it's payback time)
The Smugbug
Suraksha

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

100

This is my 100th post. As a way of celebrating this important milestone, I have decided to pay tribute to everything around me in the form of a rant. Everything has contributed in some way or the other, big or small, to making this blog what it is, and everything deserves a rant. After all, if I was not affected in some way, I probably wouldn't have blogged about it. And the ranting has begun.

I hate the way how every post has to be well structured and thought out, almost like I'm writing an article that has to find its way past the sniveling editors and be published. I despair at the fact that I am unable to write a spontaneous blog post, or at the very least make it sound and seem spontaneous, and despair even more when I read blogs that read more spontaneously than mine, or are drier and more wry, or are more humorous, or have more comments or profile views, or are more depression and paranoia ridden.

I hate software. All dictionaries assume I want to write in American English, when in reality American English is not even a language. We were colonised by the British, everything in us has been influenced by the British, and we will remain stoically British, atleast in matters of language, education and governance. Also, since I bought my cell phone in India and considering that almost everything is being made to order for India, shouldn't my phone dictionary contain Indian words and names, rather than phoren ones that wouldn't even pass muster with Mallu Christians? BTW, I love Mallus and Mallu Christians.

I hate having to be politically correct all the time. I hate having to watch what I say and try to say the right things so that I can get my way, or at least not hurt the other person's feelings, or ruin our relationship. Heck, I'm thinking it, I'm feeling it, why the bloody hell can't I say it? I love you. I hate you. I think you're an insecure pretentious prick. I think you're the greatest thing God ever created to grace this Earth and I'm so glad that you're a part of my life. Marry me.

I hate not being able to do what I want to. The freedom I enjoyed in college has been curtailed tremendously and I am not enjoying it. I can't just drop something and pick up something else, like I used to be able to. I hate not having enough time to do my personal stuff, rather having to spend a large portion of my day at work pursuing nobody's dream. Why can't all 24 hours be for me and about me?

I hate people.

Here's to the first 100. May the numbers keep rolling.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

My Alphabet

Right! So I've been tagged once again by my indomitable Su Manni who has returned after a long hiatus with a vengeance, and this time it's personal, like they say in the movies. Without the further ado that I had planned, let me plunge.

A - Available? Physically, yes. Mentally and emotionally, no. I'm too much in love with myself and too depressed along with a heart long lost and gone cold for you to have any chance.
B - Best Friend: I have had a few over the years but at the end of the day, I am my best friend and my worst enemy.
C - Cake or Pie: The only pie I know is Apple Pie and I haven't eaten it for years. Cake it is.
D - Drink of Choice: Strong South Indian filter coffee made the right way.
E - Essential thing used everyday: Cigarettes, though I hope to change that soon.
F - Favourite Colour: Black, yellow, blue, red - they fight for dominance everyday.
G - Gummi bears or worms: I have no idea what these are, though I think they might be candy or a TV show. So I'll go with the other G I'm starting to get interested in - God.
H - Hometown: Bangalore, but born in Coimbatore.
I - Indulgence: Modes of transportation. I take an auto everywhere when I really should be exploring the bus system. I fly home regularly on my dad's money. The car is always available for me at home. I'm seriously considering buying a bicycle.
J - January or February: No brainer. Feb all the way, against any month of the year. I was born in Feb and it's different from all the other months, just like I strive to be from other people.
K - Kids and names: A girl and a boy, if you please. Not great at coming up with names and I had some pretty silly names picked out when the relationship was in full swing. No names now, and no kids planned for another half a decade, at the very least.
L - Life is incomplete without: Depression
M - Marriage Date: To be decided upon with the other party when the other party is decided upon.
N - Number of siblings: One younger brother who is pretty close on my heels in terms of life panning out; haven't been much of a role model or a brother to him, wish we were closer, but I love him to death.
O - Oranges or Apples: Tough call. I like both, but I think apples win by a slight margin.
P - Phobias: Many. Closed spaces, heights, flying, creepy-crawlies, commitment, touch, people, death, losing my family.
Q - Quote: The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool - Lester Bangs from Almost Famous
R - Reason to Smile: I know I'm getting out of this mess someday and I'm getting myself a better life doing what I want to do, living it the way I want to live it.
S - Season: I love different things about different seasons. But I really like to watch the rain. It calms me infinitely, like nothing else can.
T - Tag three people: No. I will not. I don't like being forced to write and I will not force it on anybody else. Also, I hate being made to choose.
U - Unknown fact about me: I love watching people cry, the kind of tears that are produced when they are hurt deep inside, when the heart truly aches. I fret that I am not able to produce the same kind of tears; makes me wonder if I really am dead inside.
V - Vegetable you do not like: Again, tough. I have been able to develop a sort of tolerance to all vegetables over the years, but I would believe that the spinach and the brinjal are waging a keen battle for the top slot.
W - Worst Habit: Sloth. I spend a large part of my day not moving any part of my life forward and time is passing me by. I have the intent, but am generally lacking in the pushing-coming-to-shoving department.
X - X rays you have had: Neck
Y - Your favourite food: South Indian all the way. Thakali rasam, moru kozhambu, vetthai kozhambu.
Z - Zodiac: Aquarius

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Eastwind Experience

India's very own Woodstock came calling at Delhi this weekend - The Eastwind Festival - featuring 60 bands spread over 3 stages and 3 days.

I couldn't attend Day 1 because of work and Day 3 because of exhaustion. But I did attend Day 2 and it was one heck of a trip.

We walked in to catch a little bit of Five Little Indians and they were a pretty decent band to kick off my Eastwind experience. We were sorely disappointed by Little Babushka's Grind and thought that The Gautam Ghosh Collective had a good stage act, though their music was a far cry from their pretty cool name. Then we managed to catch a larger part of Myndsnare's performance and I was simply blown away by Yasmin, their woman drummer. She is now part of my favourite drummers group and I now have a new band to follow.

We caught a pretty big part of Half Step Down's gig and they were pretty good, though they didn't really have a sound that would ensnare me. We witnessed the last bit of a very lovely sounding HFT and then settled down to listen to Soulmate. I have heard these guys before and I know they're brilliant, but they were completely in their element here. They played a fabulous gig and had the crowd shouting for another one (with the very Indian "One more" instead of the classier "Encore") at the end, which they happily obliged much to the delight of everyone present.

After that sonorous exhilaration, I quickly ran back for the dying strains of Kryptos. Unfortunately, they sounded quite off colour and I could scarcely believe that their drummer was the same I had learnt the finer nuances of drumming from nearly 2 years ago. He looked and sounded so different I could barely recognise him. But they did close with one of my favourite songs from their album - Clandestine Elements.

Menwhopause had the entire crowd's attention for almost the entirety of their gig as there were no gigs going on in the other 2 stages. After having heard so much about them, I expected great things from them. I was very let down, to say the least. I didn't like their music at all.

We then sat through some electronica courtesy Jalebee Cartel, who sounded suspiciously like a discotheque or night club, before we went to listen to a band from my undergraduate college - Galeej Gurus. These guys have been around for years and although I never really cared to listen to them in college, I wanted to here. Again, I was not too impressed.

I was biding my time waiting for my favourite band Thermal And A Quarter, and hence sat through another band which I think was Pink Noise. They were not half bad. Soon, the time came. It was TAAQ time. We went and stood right in front, up with the barricades, even before the band members had arrived on stage and we didn't move till the cops came and forced the sound to be switched off.

I kept shouting the names of the only members I really cared about in the band - Bruce, Rajeev and Rzhude. I kept shouting the names of the songs I wanted to hear. I shouted the name of my college, which Bruce was well aware of, and he acknowledged it with a chuckle. I screamed along with the lyrics of the songs. In short, I behaved like the quintessential fan; and it was the greatest time of my life.

I was amazed at how many bands in the festival sounded so alike. It really takes a head on comparison like this to realise just how shallow our music is. Sure, everybody tries to come up with clever sounding lyrics and themes, but the sound is so also-ran that interest is quickly lost. Very few bands have a truly unique sound to them, so much so that when you hear one of their songs, you immediately know it's theirs. Bands from the festival that immediately come to mind are TAAQ, Soulmate, HFT, Jalebee Cartel and Myndsnare.

A unique sound is one of the keys to recognition and success, I feel. Cases in point are AC/DC, The Who, Metallica, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. Lounge Piranha from Bangalore also has a very unique sound and I was disappointed that they weren't playing at Eastwind.

My legs felt floppy, my neck was sure to hurt the next morning and I was tired, but it was all worth it in the end. A great experience.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Common Spaces

Each and every space that you have ever inhabited in your dreary existence till date, that you are currently inhabiting in the persistent continuation of your dreary existence, or that you dreary existence will ever deem fit to inhabit, has never been, is not and will never be yours. All spaces are common spaces.

The spot you were just standing in on the road has already had a number of vehicles and people pass through it, not to mention the occasional holy cow. The bus seat, even the toilet seat you sat on this morning has since been warmed by other posteriors. The cigarette butt that your lips so greedily agreed to get burned on is also being wrapped by other lips. The bed you slept on so dreamily will soon welcome another body, solo if you're moving house, shared if you hook up.

Even you yourself are common space. Every bit of your own body that you touch or feel, in whatever desperate attempt to feel loved, relaxed or wanted, will also be prey to the commonality that envelopes you. If you hook up, somebody else will be the predator; if you remain "never been kissed", then your other hand is always ready to play the part.

So what is yours and only yours then? Your email inbox? Bah! Other people's mails share common space. Your thoughts and feelings then? Maybe your loneliness, depression and sadness? Friends - physical, virtual (blog included), alcoholic, real, imagined - will make sure that you share that as well.

Your ideas. Your creations. These two are yours for as long as you wish, but only as long as you keep it to yourself and don't let anything from the outside world come within interplanetary distance.

Ideate. Create. It doesn't matter what - the answer to ending war, hunger and poverty, or another personality or imaginary friend. Ideate. Create.

Lovely

I love the word "lovely". The word "lovely" is one of my favourite words. I use it in all my birthday and anniversary and new year greetings. Wish you a lovely year ahead.

Words conjure up certain images in my mind. Not all words have the power to do that, just some words with special powers. These words have qualities like or unlike other words, but they're special in the way they roll off the tongue, the way they bring a slight hint of a smile (or any other expression) to my face, the way they almost seem to linger in the air as their last syllable continues to waft around my ears.

"Lovely" brings to mind a bright red cherry or plum. Even though it's dry, it is glistening, almost bursting with juicy redness. It has a little white square at the top right, where the light is hitting it, a classic frame for any artist. It has a fairly straight stem that only marginally tilts to the right, not unlike the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The mouth is watering and the only way to satiate it is to bite into that juicy cherry or plum.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Kanavu

Following my post on Pablo Neruda, I thought it was only fair that I posted one of my own poems, written but a few days ago. In no way comparable to the great Neruda's works of poetic art, opinion dictates that it is still easily one of the best pieces of poetry I have ever written. I have found that when I write poetry giving in to the moment rather than trying to structure it beforehand, I churn out some truly scintillating stuff. A lesson to be learned.

It was a maze of cobble stoned paths
We had been invited to
The city was abuzz with activity and people
I thought I had found myself in ancient Mexica
The air was filled with excitement
Colourful banners filled the streets
A big name was marrying another big name

2 smaller names were also marrying each other
The ones that had invited us
And as we took off to explore the city
We found ourselves twisting and winding
Till we got to a particular well-known restaurant

But while my friends went in, I couldn’t
Because something had caught my eye just ere
I had seen her face
Sure, only the eyes were visible as the scarf covered the mouth
But those eyes were unmistakeably hers
I would recognise them anywhere, even in my sleep

I had to find out if it really was her
Or if I was still hallucinating after all these years
I darted along the narrow streets
I could not lose her now after coming so close
Please God, if I must believe in you, let it be now

And then I saw her again, even though I knew it would lead to heartache
I was amazed at how clearly I could remember her face
Every detail, the nose, the smile, the bouncing silky lustrous hair
Every smudged detail, every blurred feature
Was all suddenly back in sharp beautiful focus

I tried to be discreet but failed miserably
I think she could hear my heartbeat, feel my heartache
And she soon realised I was following her
With our history, it would be tantamount to stalking
I thought I should move away and let her go

And so I did, pretending to go back to my pretence of a life
Wondering how this was not happening in Parisian streets
As I had always imagined it would
Considering the poetry I had written for her
And so I did, pretending to go back to my pretence of a life

But within a couple of seconds, I realised how impossible that was
I swung back but I had already lost her in the crowd
I ran this way and that
I looked into this nook and that cranny
But she was nowhere to be seen
My heart cringed at the thought that I had lost her again
That it was all because of me all over again

And as I stood looking at the band being introduced
Forlorn, anguished, painful, melancholy
I felt her behind me, and turned
She was standing on a higher platform, looking down at me

And then in that voice I thought I had forgotten forever
And thought my ears would never again have the pleasure of being caressed by
“Hi Raghav”
And she rubbed my forearm
Or was it hers that she was rubbing in discomfort?

In her very next breath, with her voice breaking
Again so fresh in my memory
Because of my previous caddish behaviour towards her
“Bye Raghav”
And she made to leave but I blocked her way
Protesting, I had paid for my mistakes
I had suffered long enough, no more

Please, give me another chance
The number of which I have lost count of
The right to ask for one long relinquished many times over
Please, I plead, I beg, I implore
She refuses, but I can’t let her go, not again

She finally agrees, and I pump the air
Amazed at the fact that she’s actually agreed
Unbelievable, unexpected, but welcome
We go looking for a restaurant, but all are full
I don’t care, I’m just glad she’s back with me

Paradise has been regained
Heaven lost has been won back
Eternal bliss is now believable and achievable
There is a God after all, I believe again

And I looked at her walking in front of me
Capturing that absolutely beautiful image in my mind
She was so near that I could reach out and touch her
Feel her skin again, feel the life coursing through her body
Feel the heart beat for only me again
See her eyes and her smile only for me

And then I awoke
And I knew my day had been ruined even before it had begun