Thursday, March 29, 2007

magic people, village people

Blowing his temple trumpet
With gusto

Manjunath and the tractor trailer
23 people
And counting

Farmer and family
Baby's day out
Seriously scary lady

Kuttappa, Murali and grandfather
At the gates
To what?

Lakshmiamma and gowri
Hauling bales
Straw dogs in the searing sun

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Ozzy Bhai

"You can call me Zakir, Zak, Zakir Bhai, Z, even Ozzy bhai but please don't call me Ustad," spilled the sharp tongue of Zakir Hussain. We could only laugh. Hair disheveled, clad in a faded shirt and old but comfortable looking trousers and sandals he looked a far cry for the maestro that I've idolised since I was a tiny tot.

His eyes veered me away from such irreverent thoughts. Blazing with intelligence and wit, they had me transfixed from the time we shook hands. Those same hands that have caressed and hammered thousands of tabla skins on thousands of occassions for millions of people.

Before all this, I was worried. I had only heard about his shotgun temper and his notorious impatience with the media and I was afraid I would have to face these armed with nothing but a recorder and my own, quite inferior mind. I was proved wrong, all my apprehensions washed away with his twinkling smile. He was charming, erudite and very cool.

Ozzy Bhai, I will always remember my 20 minute conversation with you. :)
(Oh, and I hate huge mics and stage set ups with tons of garish decorations :P)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Sunflower Daze

Golden rays
Through swaying petals
Soaking in the Saturday sun
The shade is our mecca
Calming respite
In a yellow lake
With green jostling for space
Pride of place
Their heads are all turned away
Chiding the ball of fire
Blazing faces
Look at us
As we laze
Ah! That glorious sunflower daze.

Friday, March 23, 2007


The Ustads Amjad Ali Khan and Zakir Hussain hadn't played on the same stage for 12 long years before they landed up in the quite non-picturesque RBANMS grounds in Bangalore. After a couple of songs you would've had a tough time finding anyone who could believe that.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Still Waters, speed of thought

Swirling clouds of hazy thought
Wisp away into the passing breeze
The memory remains, to haunt, to tease
The sinking begins
Rapid eye movement but I'm wide awake
Images filter through cotton ball exsistence
Appear likes scenes from the silver screen
The dancing themes, the clear voices
Strike like hooded cobras at hapless prey
Growing, expanding, bursting
A light mining through darkness
The third eye opens
Glory to all
The sinking is complete.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Strato Various

Brilliant musicians, brilliant show.

Line Up:
Jean Luc Ponty - Violin
William Lecomte - Keyboards
Guy Nsangué Akwa - Bass
Thierry Arpino - Drums
Moustapha Cissé - Percussion

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Rooting for the Roof

The demands:

"1.The Chinese government must stop immediately the malicious and blasphemous campaign against the Tibetian spiritual and temporal leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama from baselessly labelling His Holiness as splittist and banning the display of His portraits in Tibet

2.One of Tibet's prominent spiritual leder, the Panchen Lama has been arbitrarily detained since his recognition by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 1995. Till today his whereabouts are not known. We seek the immediate release of Panchen Lama and other political prisoners from the Chinese prisons.

3.We call upton the Chinese government to immediately stop this massive population transfer policy inside Tibet and also demand the withdrawal of all the Chinese people from Tibet."

Monday, March 12, 2007

A tale of two shows

Ok I admit it, the headline was cheesy but the Australian Art Orchestra managed to put one over me in that department. A four man outfit that stepped out the ranks of the 21 member strong AAO. They were led by the trombone playing skills of Adrian Sheriff . Now, I accept the trombone. Like it even. But I'd much rather catch it as a part of even a 3 man horn section than as a lead instrument. It isn't limited, it's just a bit two dimensional. Anyway, they were sort of tepid on the warmer side and downright atrocious when they tried to incorporate Carnatic taalams into their playing. I'd like to listen to the whole AAO before writing the name off.
Lineup: Carl Dewhurst (guitar), Adrian Sheriff (trombone), Alister Spence (piano) and Niko Schauble (drums)

Lehera was nice. Yup, that's about it.
Prakash Sontakke - Hindustani Slide Guitar & Vocals
S. Karthik - Ghatam and Percussion
Prashant John - Guitar, Flute and Vocals
TAS Mani - Mridangam

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Bonsai People

I sat in the aisle looked down upon by the gathered academics. I really didn't give a flying sod. My attention was rapt on the words of Mohammed Yunus, dressed in the impeccable simplicity of a kurta and a waistcoat. Even before WWI Mahatma Gandhi was already spreading the paeans of non-violent struggle, continuing through two world wars and an oppressive occupation.

People might have scoffed then and people still might, wanting to find cheap wit in his love affair. But those people haven't really seen that bigger picture. Mahatma Gandhi united a country that was torn apart by suspicion, strife, communal violence and chaos into a swirling whirlpool of non-violent energy that drove that oppressor out. Mother Theresa, armed with two sarees, two blouses, a cross, a rosary and a bible, set out to change forever the way the world viewed the poor, the destitute and the terminally ill, eradicating, by sheer love, the many misnomers about leprosy. When I heard what Mohammed Yunus had to say, I couldn't help but feel a similar energy. But make no mistake, Mohammed Yunus is not Mahatma Gandhi, he is not Mother Theresa, he is Mohammed Yunus and that's what is going to make all the difference.

Here's an excerpt from his Nobel Prize speech.

Poverty is a Threat to Peace

Ladies and Gentlemen:

By giving us this prize, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has given important support to the proposition that peace is inextricably linked to poverty. Poverty is a threat to peace.

World's income distribution gives a very telling story. Ninety four percent of the world income goes to 40 percent of the population while sixty percent of people live on only 6 per cent of world income. Half of the world population lives on two dollars a day. Over one billion people live on less than a dollar a day. This is no formula for peace.

The new millennium began with a great global dream. World leaders gathered at the United Nations in 2000 and adopted, among others, a historic goal to reduce poverty by half by 2015. Never in human history had such a bold goal been adopted by the entire world in one voice, one that specified time and size. But then came September 11 and the Iraq war, and suddenly the world became derailed from the pursuit of this dream, with the attention of world leaders shifting from the war on poverty to the war on terrorism. Till now over $ 530 billion has been spent on the war in Iraq by the USA alone.

I believe terrorism cannot be won over by military action. Terrorism must be condemned in the strongest language. We must stand solidly against it, and find all the means to end it. We must address the root causes of terrorism to end it for all time to come. I believe that putting resources into improving the lives of the poor people is a better strategy than spending it on guns.

Poverty is Denial of All Human Rights

Peace should be understood in a human way − in a broad social, political and economic way. Peace is threatened by unjust economic, social and political order, absence of democracy, environmental degradation and absence of human rights.

Poverty is the absence of all human rights. The frustrations, hostility and anger generated by abject poverty cannot sustain peace in any society. For building stable peace we must find ways to provide opportunities for people to live decent lives.

The creation of opportunities for the majority of people − the poor − is at the heart of the work that we have dedicated ourselves to during the past 30 years.

Grameen Bank

I became involved in the poverty issue not as a policymaker or a researcher. I became involved because poverty was all around me, and I could not turn away from it. In 1974, I found it difficult to teach elegant theories of economics in the university classroom, in the backdrop of a terrible famine in Bangladesh. Suddenly, I felt the emptiness of those theories in the face of crushing hunger and poverty. I wanted to do something immediate to help people around me, even if it was just one human being, to get through another day with a little more ease. That brought me face to face with poor people's struggle to find the tiniest amounts of money to support their efforts to eke out a living. I was shocked to discover a woman in the village, borrowing less than a dollar from the money-lender, on the condition that he would have the exclusive right to buy all she produces at the price he decides. This, to me, was a way of recruiting slave labor.

I decided to make a list of the victims of this money-lending "business" in the village next door to our campus.

When my list was done, it had the names of 42 victims who borrowed a total amount of US $27. I offered US $27 from my own pocket to get these victims out of the clutches of those money-lenders. The excitement that was created among the people by this small action got me further involved in it. If I could make so many people so happy with such a tiny amount of money, why not do more of it?


Thursday, March 08, 2007

I'll see you

"And I am not frightened of dying, any time will do, I don't mind. Why should I be frightened of dying? There's no reason for it, you've gotta go sometime."
"If you can hear this whispering you are dying."
"I never said I was frightened of dying."


P.S. those were just lyrics, for you well meaning folk who might think I'm on the edge. And for the record, death doesn't frighten me..hehehe

Monday, March 05, 2007

For the birds

Mycteria leucocephala, Painted Stork

Egretta garzetta, Little Eegret

Anastomus oscitans, Openbill Stork

Platalea leucorodia, Spoonbill

Crocodylus paluster, Marsh Crocodile (6-7 feet long with that unhealthy glint in the eye)