Sunday, December 24, 2006

Welcome to the family

She bounded, she hid, she played, she stayed, she ran, she ate, she meowed, she explored but it was when she cuddled up next to me at night and went to sleep that she captured my heart. Welcome home, Angie. :) :) :)

Friday, December 22, 2006

friday puree

The week that could've been but might not have...

Lallu and Rabri heaved a collective sigh of relief when they were acquitted in the disproportionate assets case recently. Now then can keep their date with destiny and be the first ever space tourists from India. It'll cost them a modest $20 Million each but what the heck, they can afford it. Sources close to the power couple reveal that Lalluji has harboured a secret desire to go "uppar" from the time he was a young lad. And now that "Shooneeta Villyams" has made it to the space station, he feels his time has finally come. The twosome will now make their way to more frigid environs, in Russia, where they will be trained and launched. It is rumoured that Lallu wanted to take a bovine into space but the Russian Space Agency was quick to inform that the word was not cowsomonaut.

We wish him and Rabriji the very best. So do the IIMs.

George W signed a document the other day that ensured Manmohan Singh's acceptance into his nuclear family. As the concept of the nuclear family is slightly unclear to Mr. Singh, who has lived with a joint/extended family all his life, Mr. Bush took some time to explain the nitty gritty to his couterpart. " I have great respect for Mr. Singh and welcome him as a friend and a nanny.The truth is my daughters have gone wild and I've noticed that folks from the Punjab have a very firm reign on their kids. So from 10am to 6pm every day Mr.Singh will weild the whip that I've been too much of a wimp to hold and I can kick all that bad publicity goodbye. Who cares about the DAMN EYERAQ war. The next election is going to depend on how good my kids are. So once again, I'd like to thank Mr. Singh over in India." Uhhh...ok.

In other news they've finally locked up Manu Sharma and Navjot Singh Sidhu, after years of deliberation to figure out whether they were killers. We could've told them before the cases even began. Anyway, the ultimate revenge has been plotted by the families of the two victims. Sources from the CBI have revealed that the two unrepentant gentleman will be housed in the same cell for many years. Navjot will only be allowed to speak in Sidhu-isms that too non-stop, baring a few hours sleep and Manu will not be allowed to get a word in edgeways. To make up for this imbalance he will be provided a gun with a single bullet and no hope of a reload.

Closer to home, Father Christmas aka Santa Claus (No he isn't the latest addition to 50 Cent's posse) visited our office premises (photo above). There's a sneaky suspicion going around that he might not be the real thing. Perhaps the maniacal glint in his eye gave it away as he bounced around asking, "Where would like to be stabbed this Christmas?" had something to do with it. Thank goodness there aren't any children around. Badly done costumes are the stuff that fuel years of nightmares. And that mask. *Shudder*

So there is it, Friday Puree. Get it hot, get it cold, get it before it gets old.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Missed the show, caught the sunset

Palace Grounds. Apparently the show was a damn squib anyway. Today also marks one month from Operation Birthday. Hehe. :)

Monday, December 18, 2006


Yes, they're much older. Yes, they aren't as furious as they were in the 70s or even a decade ago. But they're still on stage, they're still having a blast and they still have Steve Morse. And Don Airey, replacing the larger than life persona of Jon Lord on Keys, is quite snug in his new boots. It was a night of energy, it was a night of memories (I first partook of the herb when they were last in Bangalore, 4 1/2 years earlier), it was a night of some killer rock 'n' roll. Awwwraaigghttt!! I sang along with gusto. Another full circle. :)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A handful of beauty

The year is 1976, the place, Paris. Voilin virtuoso L.Shankar, attempting to be fashionable in oversized Ray-bans, scorches his instrument, his bow a mere blur. A shirtless Vikku Vinayakaram beats a frenetic tattoo on the ghatam, nodding and smiling at a very young Zakir Hussain, fingers flying flawlessly. Strangely enough a foriegner that too with a guitar sits among these Indian Classical greats. Even more strangely he seems at home with the ragas, the inhuman talas and all the fine nuances of our great musical heritage. John McLaughlin forms the bridge and the trump card that fuses the energy that could only be called Shakti.

Thirty years down the line and L.Shankar has been replaced by another irrepressible but much more humble Mandolin U.Srinivas and Vikku has handed over his mantle to his equally talented son, Selva Ganesh, who adds the dimensions of the Kanjira and Mridangam to the Ghatam. Guest sit-ins by vocal gymnast Shankar Mahadevan and Shashank on flute and Remember Shakti is back in Bangalore settled before the familiar background of the Palace.

Remember Shakti started off with a time signature feast wryly entitled "Six In The Morning, Five In The Afternoon," where the four core musicians jammed playfully getting their sound on cue. The sound unfortunately let them down repeatedly even pushing McLaughlin and Zakir to exchange unpleasantries at their expense through their vocal mics. You really couldn't blame them especially after Shashank's laboured histrionics on the flute were lost in the mix on Zakir's airy "Ma No Pa." The musicians looked ill at ease about their stage sound for most of the performance.

Shankar Mahadevan was impeccable, much better than their last performance here. He looked very comfortable and rattled off scats with the furiously fast U.Srinivas with as much elan as he imparted turns and bends to his alaaps and soulful refrains. He truly held his own on "Sakhi," the only thumri based tune of the evening.

Zakir Hussain and Selvaganesh opened the portal to the past with a spirited and very funny bol tan, taking a dig at each other, the other musicians and even a photographer who dared to get up close to the stage and start taking photos of Zakir ("tirakitadhadhikita click click click go away dhoomtaratiradha"). The antics gave way to the vitalising "Dance Of Happiness" that allowed Srinivas to completely explore the immensity of his genius. The soothing and transcendental "Lotus Feet" allowed all the musicians latitude to stretch out and give the audience a masterclass in the use of space.

As always the grand finale involved a percussion jam with Selvaganesh accomplishing the impossible on his Kanjira. Then it was the turn of Zakir Hussain. Granted he can be extremely arrogant, granted he can even be downright rude but when he lets loose everything else is lost in a blaze of talent. The other musicians kept count on a 10 beat cycle and Zakir was content to play to their timing for a couple of bars. Following this he began playing with the numbers breaking down the cycle into 6+4, 3+7, 5+5 etc and then inverting them, playing complex progressions on all of them and always coming in on the accent on the 10th beat. If this display wasn't enough he decided to apply all this and then break down individual beats till he was playing half and quarter beats, interspersed with sound effects, sending me into convulsions of nervous giggles. I couldn't believe the ease with which he did all this. He finished with a flourish to a standing ovation.

This is my fourth Shakti gig and the first at which I was lucky enough to take photos off. A truly memorable experience.

You should've been here. You would've loved ever moment.


Monday, December 11, 2006

the little joys #6

Conquering my fear of injections. WOOHOO!!!
P.S. That's my first terrible attempt at artwork. Please forgive. :)

Sunday, December 10, 2006


Last night I heard some very disturbing news. Two people I deeply care about said that their husbands were beating them. First I felt blind rage, then a sense of helpness and finally frustration when they both begged me not to say or do anything about it. Both these ladies are among the kindest and gentlest individuals I know, and it would be a travesty to even consider raising your voice against them, let alone raising a hand. What's worse is that both cases of violence resulted from minor arguements.

Why would they do such a thing? Both these guys are highly educated and successful. They were brought up in a modern manner in big comopolitan cities. They're the same guys who are always buddy buddy with me, who asured me that they would take care of their wives on their wedding days. Are they so insecure and warped that they have to resort to violence to make a point? That too in non-situations. I can't even fathom it. I can't fathom why someone would hit anyone else, woman or man with almost no provocation. Add that to the fact that the victims in question are people they supposedly love makes it all the more disgusting. Would they take it if their children(God forbid) or their sisters are beaten by someone? What kind of sick double standard is that? The scary part is that most people would never believe that these guys are capable of anything of this sort. Imagine the multitude horrors that exist behind closed doors in that case.

Granted that women who don't stand up against this thing are partly to blame. But not everyone has the mental and physical strength to do so. Some need a helping hand. They need to know that there are people who truly care about them willing to stand shoulder to shoulder with them through anything that they have to face.

I felt violent thoughts surging within me but I stilled them preferring to use my mind instead of my fists. I told them both to consult lawyers and make themselves as financially independant as they could, so they could walk out on such nightmares with their heads held high, with courage, instead of cowering in front of some obvious coward.

Also, I know many who have shown this incredible level of mental strength and stood up against this kind of abuse. I humbly offer my admiration and hope that their example will inspire others in the same situation.

Sigh. Is there any hope for the human race?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Wolf gang

It isn't often that we get treated to a top of the line jazz concert in Bangalore, so by the middle of the second song by The Wolfgang Haffner Group, the crowd was understandably at the edge of their seats. The band comprising Haffner on drums, Sebastian Studnitzky on the trumpet and keyboards, Frank Kuruc on guitars, Christian Diener on bass played a frictionless blend of jazz, rock and electronica ala St.Germain.

Wolfgang Haffner is a consumate drummer, his left hand gentle as a feather, playing quadruplets on the snare, his right hand running amuck on the toms, with the fervour of Keith Moon on a wild night. It is this dichotomy that makes him phenomenal. He was as much at ease playing Billy Cobham type rolls, edging on the complexity of Indian Classical rhythm as he was playing on air almost, gliding his brushes over the cymbals, coaxing the tiniest, sweetest sounds out of them. He was the group's vortex.

Skipping with him with the ease of an upright bass player was Diener, playing a Fender precision of the same colour scheme as that late great bass monster, Jaco Pastorius. The couple of solos that he played showed patient control although he did falter on the faster runs. On the grooves he was impeccable.

Frank Kuruc treated his guitar with kind sensuousness, like he was carassing his love. His effects and minimilistic phrasing ensured that he fit in perfectly in the larger picture. He wasn't flashy by any stretch of the imagination but he was always there to lend the others a helping hand, adding to the fullness of the sound and playing with true emotion.

The funnily surnamed Studnitzky, was equally proficient on Keys and trumpet. Granted he isn't Miles Davis or anywhere thereabouts but like everyone else his addition to the larger picture was tasteful and a joy to hear. He excelled on Wayne Shorter's, In A Silent Way, a song requiring delicacy of touch and oodles of feel.

The fifth member of the band, although invisible also played an integral role. Electronics, especially in a band setting can go horribly wrong. Not with this bunch. Haffner, Studnitzky and Kuruc spun loops, delays, vibratos and straight out boombeats none of which was jarring or out of place. Their timing and use was perfect to accentuate their sound and individual strengths.

I don't know when we are going to get to watch an ensemble of this calibre again but this one has ensured enough manna for my musical soul for some time to come.

Friday, December 08, 2006

man made monster made man made monster

Can you kill?
Can you maim?
Can you rape?
Can you monger war?
Can you think?
Can you gain?
Can you destroy it all?
Can you hate?
Can you arm children?
Can you push the button?
Can you drop the bomb?
Can you care?
Can you spread fear?
Can you embrace the darkness?
Can you ignore famine?
Can you ignore pain?
Can you ignore disease?
Can you ignore the screams?
Can you tear a nation apart?
Can you watch them squirm?
Can you live with yourself?
You self satisfied worm.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Less Talk, more TAAQ

TAAQ turned 10 and I've been around for 7 of those years. I can still remember the first time I saw them, in Christ College, as a 11th std. kid, at a time when my mind was just beginning to assimilate the mammoth scale of the music world. A couple of songs into their set and I was hooked. Like a frothing-at-the-mouth Potatoe Junkie I made my way to every concert I could, at one point attending 24 shows in a row. I couldn't and still can't get enough of these guys. Over the years adulation turned to aquaintance ala Groovedarshan and finally to friendship.

With over a 100 originals, TAAQ for me is the quintessential Indian Rock band. I don't use that as a genre classification because TAAQ have created a sound that they can proudly call their own. I say Indian Rock as these guys have managed the impossible, infusing a truly urbane Indian sensibility into their catchy refrains and gotcha grooves. Their music speaks our language, it pulls at our emotions and it definitely makes us groove. It's like the words of RK Narayan being translated into a rock band with myriad influences, Indian and international. For me, at least.

As I was clicking away at the brief celebratory concert at The Park, I was caught between concentrating on my camera work and wanting to dance with reckless abandon singing along with the songs like I always do. State Of Mine, Words and Pictures, How Can I Get Your Groove, 96, Potatoe Junkie, Respectable Man and a seriously scorching version of ELP's Hoedown and a few more Thermal gems kept a crowd of musicians, friends, family, TAAQ team members and general junta rivetted for a good 60 minutes. I loved every moment, every note, every solo, every little bit of the performance. It made me truly happy, like the gurgling children running around in front of the stage (most of the band is married with adorable kids).

Cheers to TAAQ, here's wishing that you're around for a few decades more.
And also that I'm invited to all the celebrations. :)