Sunday, August 23, 2009


So it’s been 2 years since he’s been gone.

Gone too soon.

Time the greatest healer they say.

Sure I no longer obsess and have blow outs every couple of weeks.

Still hurts.

Time the greatest healer they say.

You just look to the future and move on they say.

Still hurts.

There are people in our lives who matter.

You know it.

And sometimes you realize too late how much they matter.

When you are young you think you are immortal.

I have realized your friends think you are immortal too.

There lies the frustration and the grief.

Miss you dear friend.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Discovered from obscurity

Was recently reading an article on songs that have had great commercial success the second time around. One of the numbers mentioned was by Scott Joplin. This is the link to the same (just copy and paste the link easier for all of us..namely lazy me. applies to all links in my posts).

Does it sound familiar? Scott Joplin, one of the great musical sensations of the start of the last century, enjoyed a revival post his musical numbers being used exclusively on the Paul Newman – Robert Redford caper film, The Sting. To the extent that he was awarded a posthumous Pulitzer. Now that’s a revival.

Nowhere do I claim to be an authority on Scott Joplin, this is more or less just taken from a couple of articles I read up on the great man. But my delight was something else altogether. The first time I heard this particular piece, The Entertainer was as a background track for one of the old 8 bit Nintendo video games. And humming along with the track was a matter of habit. (Have discovered a love for Tchaikovsky too through Tetris)

I have stumbled upon the number many times over the last few years (I did see The Sting but was half asleep when I did see it, shame on me. I could have discovered The Entertainer earlier, and yeah appreciated the film also) and never quite figured it out. Even though I was aware of the concept of ragtime, never struck me to do an intensive search on that. The fact that I learnt to use the internet rather than born with it clearly comes through in these instances.

Anyways glad that I discovered Scott Joplin and well onto figuring out his other works. This got me thinking however on how I have stumbled on some tune that turned out to be something else altogether.

When I was a kid, 5-6 years old. We used to have one TV channel, Doordarshan. Would watch the most random stuff on TV, there used to be a half hour slot on whats coming up through the week. Another where a old bald guy would read the letters from viewers. One more that was “We are sorry for he interruption we shall be back soon”. And the classic 10 min public service commercials and cartoons of course. Anyways that’s another conversation altogether.

So in one of the random fillers on the channel there was a fairly haunting theme being played on a synthesizer. This tune used to fascinate and disgust. Fascinate because it was quite cool and disgust because of the tinny electronic sound. Every few years I would start replaying the theme in my head and would wonder. Till I heard it in an episode of The Simpsons (yes we had more TV channels by then), Bart Simpson holding court at the church where has replaced the church organ music with “In the Garden of Eden” (refer to earler note on links).

An all time great Simpsons episode. I did a double take and of course tried to figure out what the song was all about. Turned out the song was In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, one of the all time great genre busting songs. 17 minutes long, lyrics heard only at the start and the end, psychedelic from end to end, one of the earliest heavy metal classics in fact many say was one of the fathers of heavy metal, the plaudits go on.

How did it end up on DD I wonder? Doesnt really matter I guess. Great music stands out even when used as background noise to rubbish content and even more rubbish execution.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Simpler Times

Well yes I have been thinking and talking about my childhood a lot. No wonder anything I can write about with complete ease these days is about those times.

Every generation complains that times were better when they were young and they weren’t as mollycoddled as the kids of today. I rant too, from time to time. More out of sheer wonder than any perverse desrire to mock. Our parents/teachers/relatives never bothered too much about what we were doing. Even when we got into a mishap, it wasn’t the end of the end of the world. Every generation says this and I do too, especially looking at the stress parents of my age go through these days where their kids are concerned. Nothing wrong about it of course, times are tougher and every precaution needs to be taken (cue sheer wonder again).

But I look at the fairly bizarre things I did and the reaction of most folks around and I end up cracking up. Let me give you two examples.

Ended up drinking a whole bottle of Dettol antiseptic once. Don’t even remember whether it was a bottle or it was a few sips. By the reaction of my grand mom it could have been a whole case. Apparently she called my Dad for advice and he asked her not to worry, the worst that could happen was a bad stomach ache (yeah my dad had and still has a pharmaceutical manufacturing plant, that made him the medical expert in our house)!

Running around in class one day, trying to high jump over a desk (I was under 5 ft and the desks around 200 ft and the fact that I thought I could vault a desk was bizarre in itself), tripped, hit my head and promptly passed out. What would happen now over something like this? Emergency room, panicked teachers, students screaming? I woke up 10 mins later; I had been unceremoniously dumped in the last row of the class room. My teacher asks me as to how I was? Whether I was ok? Being from a family that never let me bunk school, I seized the day and said I want to go home NOW. Had to wait 2 more hours so that my cousin could come and pick me up though!

What does this prove? Nothing!!!! Like I said these were probably simpler times when we were assumed to be hardier and it was expected that we would get into trouble and no amount of panicking is going to change that. Don't think it was because of lack of caring but in the pre internet/cable tv days there were no medical dramas, nor were there forwards on what happened to the friend of a neighbours 6th cousin thrice removed. Am guessing that probably they thought they had gone through worse in their day.

But my folks used to panic when I wasn’t around though. When I was late from school or stayed over at a friends place for too long the panic would start. In that way all generations are the same I guess, only the levels of panic and distress would differ. Of course counter argument is that kids these days are more into “organized activities” as opposed to being let to their own devices I guess, but that’s another rant.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Childhood sounds

Walking out of the office the other day I heard a kitten mewling away. Normal occurrence I guess but it suddenly took me back 25 years. We lived in this rambling old house which happened rather than planned. This combined with a large garden meant that the house was always filled with various forms of wildlife. From ants to flies to the occasional crow and of course cats. We just couldn’t keep them away and my grand mom’s excessive fondness of all the cats meant that we had an army of them around all the time. They also established themselves in the various nooks this rambling house provided and the cats yowling away during mating season provided constant fodder to my nightmares, fun.

Got me thinking of course of other sounds I grew accustomed to.

Being from madras of course meant that the day started fairly early for us. The birds chirping away in the morning going at the mangoes was a constant.

For some reason all the houses used to have their radios on full blast, you could hear the synchronous intonation of “vande mataram” and keep track when you walked down the road. This was of course immediately followed by the venkatesa suprabhatham (yup lived in an area that was infested with tambrams). The hymns used to wake up the lord had the added effect of rudely getting me up many a day. Oddly enough in the odd chance that I come upon random strains of the same these days it has the immediate effect of calming me down.

The thud of mangoes falling from the tree.

Even earlier when I was fairly little we used to have a bunch of cows right next door. Never heard too much from them though strangely enough. But the guy who used to work there used to make quite a racket.

Milk cookers….the racket of hundreds of households going about getting their morning cuppa. Followed closely by the pressure cookers going off.

On my way to pick up milk in the morning (my one chore. Rub it in to the family even now) the little tea shops that used to open up really early in the morning, blaring tam music.

Oh the little temple in the street, used to have a festival every year. They made sure that everyone in the vicinity knew about it and more important dint forget it. The music and “devotional songs” used to be on pretty much from before you woke up and went on much after you turned in.

Fairly non standard sounds where I live right now. No wonder the mewling of that kitten took me right back. Am looking forward to encounter the other sounds too.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Overused misquoted classical quotes...

Rage rage rage against the dying of this blog.....

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Memories....Mylapore thatha..

It was my Grandfathers 100th birthday a few days back. He passed away when I was 7 years old. And over the last few weeks I have really been trying to figure out what I remember of him. It’s been tough and also surprising figuring out what I do remember.

Let’s see, I was fairly afraid of the man. My sister used to be thatha’s darling and since I used to mercilessly hound her she would run to him. Actually my patti would tell her to go and stand near thatha and his arm chair cos if I went near range I would be caught by the long arm of the law (in his case a walking stick).

Early morning, somehow I associate early morning with him. I used to wake up fairly early as a kid and so would he. Don’t really remember how long he used to sleep. But yeah clearly remember walking to mani kadai, the vegetable chappie along with him early morning. Also remember walking to the kesava perumal kovil a couple of times. He would of course walk real slow and I would be running all around (the walking stick would make an appearance here).

Remember having very interesting discussions on bowel movement, this was early morning too.

Glucose powder and a weird tasting biscuit. Patti would smuggle these to me.

Steamed apples, he couldn’t digest normal ones.

Roti for dinner, very strange I used to think. Why is he having this weird stuff?

The armchair of course! Solidly built like a tank, could never push it around. One handle used to be broken. So would swing wildly all over the place. It was badly fixed once and the outcropping nail would always mess my arm up.

Remember the day he came back from hospital. The whole family was home waiting for him.

Visiting him in the hospital once with Dad. Think he had had a procedure whereby his navel was taken out.

He used to dote on my sister. I remember that very clearly. Ran like hell once, when something I threw injured her below the eye. I was petrified.

When my perippa used to come visiting, it was double trouble. I would never walk through the living room. Would always sneak in through the back door.

Whole family gathering for his birthday in Ambasamudram. Missed that one, had exams I think. That family photo is knocked around still.

3 pictures, always 3 pictures. The big one in the hall, at his desk looking very young, very dashing I always thought. The small one over the door leading to the dining room, looking slightly older, very dignified. The one in the alcove in the bedroom with patti. Which for some strange reason she used to insist was a painting. She got portrait and painting mixed up was my theory. The turban that he wore was always there in full glory. Never seen him wearing it though.

Small picture with a poem. Above one of the other doors. Was it about him?

Walking stick. 2 of them. One was smaller. I could escape that easier.

And of course patti calling me and amma down from the backyard, early morning, he had passed away.

Din’t really know him that well I guess. Can't say I miss him. But a lot of stories heard from patti always made me think I knew him better than I did. And most of these memories could also be what patti told me.

Glad that I remembered them though.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Sport Movie

Imagine a genre all by itself!

With enough of the sport movie coming out in all languages, it certainly is getting more crowded, don’t know about better though.

Right from Marty to Rocky to Any Given Sunday. We have seen enough of these back in India also. Remember Awwal number 1? Technical advances have certainly been made with slick product like Lagaan, Chak De and Iqbal. Or even a story on gully cricket, very close to the heart of everyone who’s ever played in a soma or mrc: Chennai – 28.

Well am not trying to chronicle the rise of the sport movie nor make a commentary on the same. This is about what I think is my perfect sport movie.

My perfect sport movie is one when there’s no sporting action. Yup you read that right, absolutely no sporting action.

Yes in most sport movies this is the highlight but in my book it’s no big deal. Any sport set piece in a movie however great is never going to match up to the real thing. AND YOU KNOW WHATS GOING TO HAPPEN IN THE END.

The real cool part is if any movie manages to capture anything about what goes on behind the scenes. The Wrestler I thought managed to do this beautifully. (Hey don’t take my word for it Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson says he quickly moved into acting to escape this fate which befalls many professional wrestlers and agrees with the film). As his daughter so eloquently puts it Randy the Ram is a fuck up. And he knows it and accepts it. Even in his extremely small and futile attempt to clean up and live a normal life he’s not really clear as to what he’s doing. And of course like all sport movies he comes back…..but with an ending which I thought was perfect.

The movie manages to capture the motivations that drive the athlete rather than relegating it to a montage. That was the real victory.