Friday, April 27, 2007

kuch ish tarah....

splendidly pure voice....straight from the heart....floats out as if descending on the periphery of the last drop of tear, still holding strong....strikingly natural use of the vocal chords....relaxed, quasi improvisational style of singing and suggestive diction, to bring the distant world of flip of someone’s eyelashes and sacrosanct tears close to the listener...

kuch ish tarah teri palkein meri palkon se mila de
aansoo tere saare meri palkon pe sajaa de

freshness in voice as in steam escaping from the freshly brewed pot of tea....a symphony of colors, of pureness, that reinvigorates the spirit with the simplicity of a 'walk-in-the-woods' early in the morning....

a climate of musicological and philological rigor to fight pain and misery....the emotions are shaded and highlighted of soulful melancholy....and phrases are perfectly sculpted....

mujhko toh tere chehre pe yeh ghum nahin janchta
maayiz nahin lagta mujhe ghum se tera rishta

I liked this song, my best in the Doorie album by Atif Aslam. Neat song with more display of talent and less use of instruments and its sort of 75% 'un-plugged’ kind of song. The song kept buzzing in my sound sytem at home, [my maid at home laughed and thought that I have gone mad for repetitive playing of this song :)] on my laptop [grrrrrrrrrrrrr, please don’t disturb me when I am on headphones, I use my earplugs rarely ;)], on my iPod while traveling and commuting and now here on my blog.

Keep reading and remain connected. [of course no Doorie, that’s only prerogative of the song.]

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Kish ne Kish ke LEE....

For those interested in cricket with this lack luster World Cup going on, in the Caribbean Isles, Australia continues to kick ass all the teams but lets hope all is not over yet. This World Cup produced some unexpected surprises in the very starting. Or those surprises were expected?

But there is this brilliant chap, Brett Lee who missed the World Cup as he was suffering from an ankle injury. After missing World Cup, Brett Lee didn’t leave his attitude of keeping the 'batsmen-ass-on-fire' even when he was off the field and planted his ass on a safe turf for a successful post-retirement career.

Lee, who penned, sang and appeared in the romantic duet 'You're The One For Me' along with Bollywood singer Asha Bhonsle, has plans to cut his album in India by the end of this year.
But Lee's journey from cricket will not take him into the television commentary box, but instead the sprawling studio lots of the world's biggest and most lucrative movie industry.The 29-year-old self-confessed Indophile was offered a lead role in a lavish Bollywood production when he visited Mumbai on his way home from Australia's tour of Bangladesh this year.

The notion was floated by none other than Amitabh Bachchan, or the Big B as he is more widely known, one of the biggest and most recognisable stars in India's huge film and television industries.
Source: Australian News.

Lee knows he can rake in the maximum moolah in India, so he left no stone unturned in his preparation. Lee is busy doing lot of AD's for many luxury products and business houses also. Fundu and timely action, with all the advertisement houses no more running after the 'Men-In-Blue' after their jhaakas performance in the World Cup. So Lee is bang on target, definitely more bang than he can take.

Keep reading and remain connected.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Fireflies Festival of Music

I had a good time last weekend and actually, it wasn't just a good time, it was a super-duper time, a sheer joy, lots of simple expressions on show, etc, etc. And the best part was that, this whirl of joy started at 6:00 PM on 14th April and concluded the following day at 6:00 AM, a full night of events being staged under a banyan tree. How often do we see such a festival like Fireflies Festival of Music, an exciting mix of the traditional and the modern that touches the innermost strains of simplicity, which somehow gets diluted in the humdrum of our routined life.

Fireflies Festival of Music was conducted at Inter-cultural Centre, off Kanakapura road in Bangalore on 14th April in association with the Alliance Francaise. This fest is modeled after the World Sacred Music Festival, held annually at the mystical city of Fes, in Morocco. The most interesting facet of this event is that artists from round the globe perform under a large Banyan Tree, with its roots providing the natural background screen. The open-air amphitheatre amidst a splendid variety of lush native trees, was the sitting arena for a thousand odd nocturnal music aficionados. There was an eye-opening cross section of Bangalore society, starting from Indians to French to Greek to Serbian all sitting in the dark together and watching a story unfold with pace, energy, clarity and playfulness.
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Since I was late and reached there by 8PM, I had missed two performances and the Tremolos (A three member band accompanied by a guitarist) were on stage then. Accordion, was their paint brush and they were mesmerizing the crowd with numbers like tango, polka dance, their fingers jogging effortlessly over the keys. The musical instrument Accordion and Raj Kapoor are intricately linked, with the song, 'Jeena Yahan Marna Yahan' from 'Mera Naam Joker' defining this confluence. As a tribute to Raj Kapoor, the Tremolos played this much to the delight of the crowd.

Bernard Wacheux, a French Violinist and professor at the Conservatory of Lille had flown from Paris to perform exclusively at this fest. Dressed in a T-shirt and beige color pant, he looked like any other man, till the time the bow touched the magical cord and produced some soaring melodies. Since European classical music, with its 700 years of history and inconceivable technical and emotional range was almost well outside the scope of the audience, Bernard offered some information before each of his performance. The best from his quiver was the 'Swan' song, a cringingly sub-grim melodrama of love.
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A group of percussionists from the Karnataka School of Percussion, intoxicated the crowd with their reverberations from the Mridangam, Kanjeera, Ghatam, Morsing, Rhythm drums, Dhol and Tabla. The team of seven, each playing one instrument each, even sang for a while mixing their vocal voices with jugalbandi beats from the instruments. The hallmark of this presentation being flawless synchronization and the crowd asked for more, even after its last performance on stage. Their execution was a world of colors, of sounds, of images, of sublime, crazy or inspired artistic creations, where ethnic and modern electronics, and young and old age blended effortlessly.
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The night was getting dark and few people were feeling sleepy, only to return back to their senses, once the 'Dollu Kunita' folk artists took stage. This unique folk art form from the Malnad region is generally performed during jatras, social occasions but these days it is regular event in cultural festivals to preserve this dying art. The trademarks of this dance form are tremendous physical stamina, rustic acrobatic movements and concentration by artistes. The artistes were dressed in faux animal skin costume with elaborate plumage, their foreheads smeared with colored chalk powder. My simple word, 'you-need-to-be-there' to experience what I am telling here.

Picture 067Hardly, before the energetic sound from the "Dollu" (drums) had subsided, preparations were going on stage for the next performance, which was by Clio Karabelia. Clio is a harpist, singer, from France, of Greek origin and is trained in western and Indian classical music, Greek and French songs. She has made India, her home for now because of the appealing driving power of Indian classical music. Clio is a lecturer of French language in the Univ of Dharwad and shuttles her free time between Indian classical music, which she is learning under the guidance of Ustad Hamid Khan and her first love, the harp. The Ustad’s sitar and Clio’s pedal harp, created some magical fusion music, slow in pace, seductive in taste. When the piece began, the interweaving of the instruments and the chordal assonance slowly unfolded and enveloped the musical lines of each one of us.

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Jazz Revival, a team of eight senior musicians from Bangalore led by Dr.Thomas Chandy of HOSMAT performed some Latin jazz and blues to create the party mode, making the audience feel dressed in gypsy skirts and spaghetti strapped tops. A feeling of dreaminess stole over the evening when the band played numbers like the Canadian song, 'Moon Dance', 'Georgia on my mind' and 'Since I met you baby'. Colonel Tom John on the piano was the most energetic and his childlike care freeness was something to watch out for. Uncle Dom, the eldest member in the band would be 75+ but he was at ease with his Tenor Sax with Chandy on the vocals. There were other members in the team, whose names I am not aware of but they for sure entertained others with their sheer passion for music.

Picture 079Next on stage was a band, named 'Oikyotaan' [Oikyo meaning "harmony" in Bengali and taan meaning "one universal melody" in Sanskrit.]that played Baul music fusion, which was a potpourri of Bengali folk, Sufi, Baul and traditional Rajasthani music. Bonnie, the founder of the band initially spoke about the philosophy of their songs, which celebrates the joy of love, true devotion, freedom from the bondages, etc. When his explanation about their songs drew obscure connections to human body, which they consider no more than a pile of bones and flesh, the crowd was lost in this high-funda description and wanted music instead of all this gyan. Bonnie hemmed some peppy numbers in Bengali like 'Goriya Aaabaiyeere','Kaulankini Radha' but the center of attraction was Kartick Das Baul [in the pic] who lended his rustic and tremulous voice to some percussion compositions with the ektaara, mridangam and electric guitar. Kartick was dressed in colorful gypsy-like costume, and is a traditional Baul singer from Santhiniketan. His latest road to fame is his songs sung for Mira Nair’s movie 'Namesake'.

The excitement in the air reached its crescendo, when Shafiq Pervez and group from Nagpur next set the mehfil for 'Qawali' performance. Opening its Pandora box with a series of 'sheeirs' which were received with motley of 'waah-waahs', the artists slowly entered into the deep waters of 'Qawali'. One after the other they played all popular numbers requested by the crowd like 'Dhamadam Mastkalandar', 'Pardah hai Pardah', 'Chadta Suraj', etc. Following the guidelines of 'Qawali', any line or musical mode that touched the audience was repeated with renewed fervor to induce trance. Few in the crowd were so hypnotized that they expressed their appreciation by offering money when the performers were in full swing.

Picture 089When Nemanja Rebic from Serbia took stage he first spoke a lot about India, its rich culture and tradition and what drove him to learn Carnatic classical vocal and also Mridangam in Bangalore. Rebic who is trained in Jazz guitar and classical guitar since he was 12, displayed his prowess during the jugalbandi session. This easy going and charming chap showered kisses to the crowd and was always smiling, while playing some numbers from Serbia and Balkan lands. His last number was a love song from Serbia and he said he played it because 'love is so simple and easy and so it was easy playing it too'. His music was brilliant but his beatific smile added that extra something.

Covered in shawls, with a full moon sky and fireflies dancing in the dim electric bulb light, young and old people sat on the low stone steps, on rocks swinging to the music, as the various bands/groups sang of live, love, nature, devotion and personal relationships. By this the time the sojourn had lasted for ten hours and it was early morning. The next two performances were from a team of Caribbean drummers and a morning Alap on Sitar by Hindol Deb.

It was early morning, 6 AM then. I was present there physically, but had gone weary after spending a full night, without missing a single event and my shutter was also active all the while. Su, Ni and few others from my engineering school who had joined for this show, were awake the full night and it was fun reliving the good old college days.
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The thousand odd audience who spent Rs.200 for each ticket, and did a night out for music, to me proved that though tinsel music, has its advocates, serious music, even if all is not comprehensible, will also fill the seats, if it fulfils at least the needs of the ear and the mind. All that matters is the ripeness - where the music, musician and listener cohere in self-forgetful joy.

Keep reading and remain connected.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

What is it ?

I call this simplicity, well can’t think of any word just at the drop of a hat. But ironically, simplicity is not a very simple word to define, in part because it is comprehended and personified in so many different flavors and tones. And on top of that for a wide variety of reasons.

The night was dark, the crowd was in trance as the music was enchanting, and one sight arrested my attention. This expression was more powerful than everything around me, both animate and inanimate. My fingers clicked on the shutter and the end result is earthy simplicity.

Simplicity is harmonious and appropriate. Though, I am not that erudite in the rich classical literature, but know for a fact that even Leonardo Da Vinci said, "simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."

To me it plays on the idea that being simple isn't banal, it's elegant, graceful and freshness.

Keep reading and remain connected.

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Keeping One’s Cool: "Nimbu Pani"

Last week, I had been to the hinterland in South India where during summer temperature reach as high as 45 degrees. There was a function in the early hours of the day, but as the noon approached, everything succumbed before the blazing rage of the summer god and there were hardly any people on the streets. Since the place was a small mid-town, I never found many people going around in A/C cars but found few on two wheelers like scooters, bikes and few on tractors with most of their heads wrapped in a sheet of white cloth or towel, used as a cap. The outdoor activities, as I realized during these sweltering hours are more out of compulsion rather than enthusiasm.

I just walked down the street and found a group of people under the shade of a small tree, withered by the strong sunstroke. It's high summer and as is expected, everyone wanted some thirst quenching drink for coolness and turn up the heat mixing up a few refreshing drinks. This being a simple place, I never meant the refreshing drinks to be Mojito, Daiquiri, Lorina, Pina Colada, Pschitt [there is an interesting story on this] and few others with alluring hues, exotic names and certain light deliciousness, which I have tried before. Here as the mercury soared, the people had gathered to satiate their dehydrated souls with humble, homemade "Nimbu Pani". The way it was made was simple as is followed in most Indian homes with a small variation as one crosses different parts of India.

Preparation here is for one glass, as I saw it there.
1. Cut the lemon in halves center wise, remove the seeds and squeeze out the juice. Again those of you feel its not hygienic, please note that a wooden crusher was used to extract the juice. No use of hands at all.
2. To this juice was added a tablespoon of syrup. This is called "Nanari" extracted from the herbal roots, crushed and preserved. [I got this information, conversing with the shop owner with my limited knowledge of Telugu language toasted with bits and pieces of Hindi and English.]
3. Now add water, which may be ice-cold water or soda water as per the orderer’s selection.
4. Sugar or salt is added as per the orderer’s choice, or it may be a combination of both.
5. Stir the contents and it is served chilled.

Note that the addition of "Nanari" syrup was not mandatory and again it depends on the orderer’s preference. Also depending on choice, pepper and an assorted powder is mixed for added tang.

End result is simply awesome. Other than providing a lip smacking luscious taste, the economics part of it, also beats the heat wave of price rise in Indian cities hands down. The rates are something that one will agape with wonder compared to those in big Indian cities. The simple ice-water lemonade was priced at Rs.3 per glass and the soda watered one was priced at Rs.4 per glass.

The makeshift shop is a self-sustained entity. If you notice, the picture, there is cylinder on the left hand side. This is a cylinder of carbon dioxide, wired meticulously to the internal conversion unit on the bottom side of the stall and is used to prepare carbonated water, also known as soda water. There are four filling taps, the two on the either extremes with a black tapering mouth supply soda water and the central ones supply normal ice-cold water. New age colas have dominated the markets and TV screens with our favorite superstars advocating what they certainly don’t practice. But in this small town, I found that even though the shop owner had a good stock of Limca, Thumps Up, Sprite, etc very few consumers [sample space of 20 people, whom I say] ordered for those aerated drinks. Was it the high rates or their general distinct preference for local drink, that dictated their decision, I am really not aware of this.

But one point is clear.

The supermarket culture is steadily becoming a predominant part of our life, especially in the cities. People rush to stores and get cartful of aerated drinks for summer these days, with most of the brands offering 20% extra for the same existing price, 'Buy-1-Get-1-Free' bottle sales and aisles devoted to cool drinks of imports grade.
"If I serve nimbu-pani at my child's birthday party, children ask, ‘Where's the Pepsi, Aunty?' It's as if they don't recognise homemade nimbu-pani any more. And certainly not at a party!"

Does this mean that, our good old simple "Nimbu Pani" is dying a slow death ?

Keep reading and remain connected.

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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Bawlers Vs Moderators In Online Conversation

In the last ten days or so, I made some observations that never existed before on this site, Desicritics. Suddenly many unsought words such as [EDITED - PERSONAL ATTACK], [EDITED], [IRRELEVANT RACIST CRAP], etc started appearing at regular intervals and these were sprinkled across many posts. So this was the fodder for my post, and I have tried to collate my views and present it the best way I could have.

"Man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains". Probably Rousseau was clueless of the power of Internet, which is nothing but a network, a grid or an endless chain of computers/servers when he coined this phrase. Literally, with no strings attached, so much has happened till date that, 'chains' which has a negative connotation in the quote, has turned to be the positive catalyst for business, education, travel, commerce, administration, entertainment, for that matter anything and everything that one can think of. This has been aptly termed by Thomas.L.Friedman in his book, The Lexus and The Olive Tree as "The Democratization of Technology" and "The Democratization of Information". Global forums, which were earlier, confined to technical online discussion assemblies have now diversified and all the topics that were earlier discussed by print and digital media is now dissertated by common man. No wonder, why the TIME's Person of the Year for 2006 was You.

Diaries once sealed under lock and key are now discussed in the public, topics that were considered taboo have turned vocal and the playground is now the blogosphere and e-zines, where posts are made daily by all those who care to make the emotional investment, share opinions, and make this world a simple place.

But it is often not possible to carry on an online conversation without observing the difficulty with which a new element makes its way into the domain. When any person has strove for distinction, s/he would be surprised to hear herself/himself censured where s/he could not expect to have been named. S/he would find the utmost acrimony and tartness [note all this is happening online without physical human expressions] among those whom s/he never could have offended.

With internet as a staple equivalent to electricity supply or running water in our lives, it’s easy to follow some decorum and etiquette, when we are wired. For me the rules in real life and e-life seem to be same with a thin flimsy onionskin separating both, the physical presence. Just google on the word "Internet Etiquette" and everything is clear black and white.

But as the group blogs and e-zines grow with its increasing viewer ship, it divides the most miscellaneous and confused assemblages into discrete classes. The insects of the summer that torment these groups with their stings and the prosecutors of merit may be classified as Bawlers and the Moderators respectively.

The bawler is a dangerous enemy with the sole intention of gaining an air of importance. He has no other qualification for a champion of controversy than a hardened front and a biased voice. Vociferation is his weapon for any argument, failing to understand the thin line between a critical argument and an argument. He has little care to preserve the decency in the forum and always has a store of reproachable epithets and contemptuous appellations, ready to be produced as occasion may require, which by constant trolling he pours out with great ease. If relational database is mentioned, he without hesitation devotes it to mainframe systems; if the beauty and elegance of a lady is mentioned, he wonders how the town can fall in love with such deformity; if the achievements of a humble genius are discussed, he pronounces the champion a hopeless individual. His comments are generally without effect. Like a tree that bends to a tempest, to stand erect again when its force is past, the bawler sometimes hibernates and turns docile only to recover his former strength.
[look for the comments part for the underlined words]

The moderator is an unprejudiced person without any interest but honest curiosity. He is always disposed to rational, well-reasoned, sensible, humor tinged interpretations and last but not the least favorable unbiased opinions. If relational database is mentioned; he understands that it is the next generation information hubs for business and education. He believes that a young lady pleased with admiration and wishful of achieving perfection needs to be appreciated. The genius he knows to be a man of diligence who perhaps didn’t sparkle with the ball as did McGrath , but has the judgment to discover his own deficiencies and in his opinion modesty and humility is a quality so rare and amiable.
[look for the comments part for the underlined words]

As, no two children are the same and need to be respected and handled in different ways, similarly no two persons on an online forum are the same in terms of sensibility. This is where the job of the moderator becomes all the more critical. The moderator usually tries online peace to be maintained and the rules to be enforced by editing and deleting personal comments, warning members for offenses, avoiding flame wars, etc. The way in which the moderation system works depends solely on the site architecture and the software adopted, for example, the site algorithm may also allow the moderator to create word filters, automated scripts which strip undesirable text from commentator’s messages and spam comments. The algorithm like any other software product matures more with time and initially the word filters may strip off few desirable and legitimate comments and this draws in wrath of few readers.

There is an argument to be made on both sides of the coin. With the anonymity the Internet provides, people are more brazen or bold about what they voice. I feel that the conversations can be kept just fine without the stuff one considers dross. Peppered with regular dosages of humor and trivia, apart from straight comments actually make a better conversation. The Internet is teeming with passionate people, and passionate people are always the most eloquent, the most mindful of manners and outspoken with a call-a-spade-a-spade mentality. Treat your fellow humans and their views and opinions like one, would like to be treated, whether it is online or offline.

If the web 1.0 was centered on pages, web 2.0 is concentrated around common people. Web 2.0 is made up of ordinary people, who wish to opinionate their voice to the Web's great evolving conversation for the sheer love of it. It's amazing that this medium can bring out such varied potentials and ideas in human behavior. So if you wish to join the team at Desicritics, and let your voice be heard, do visit here and join the gang.

Keep reading and remain connected.

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