Thursday, November 24, 2011

Nothing Much Actually

Crazy things happen, we pause, we ponder, we sigh and we move on. At least that's what I am doing or did.

Things are getting hectic at school with the semester drawing to an end. I have a couple of paper submissions after which all official semester requirements will be done. But, work will go on, polishing my proposal and reading up more material on it. There was a lot of school related reading this semester and hence motivation to read anything outside of "required" reading was low. Most of my free time was spent watching and re-watching movies or staring at design blogs and books followed by boundless day dreaming or finding new music on youtube.
Speaking of music, I am currently listening and head bobbing (Yes, not head banging) to this.I heard its quite the rage in India, across state borders, from South to North.

And, to part on a happy note, sharing some funnies as in funny/cool t-shirt prints!

(All images src:

More can be found/bought at this website. They also have hoodies and they come in different colors too! Ain't that cool?!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Farewell At The Beach

Today was a rather windy, downcast day.Normally I would have loved this weather but today I was in no mood to enjoy it. In fact the whole weekend was spent in a bit of a daze. To say this past week was eventful would be an understatement.
Anyways, a group of us got together at the beach to bid farewell to our dear friend. We created a makeshift shrine with some gorgeous pictures of her, flowers, incense sticks, candles and a statue of The Lord of Dance-Natraj a.k.a Lord Shiva (which was apt). In a circle, quietly praying, thinking of her, few words of remembrance and then scattering flowers into the ocean we bid our goodbyes.

Friday, November 18, 2011

My Friend The Dancer-Scholar

Performing at the University- doesn't she look awesome?

Originally from Canada, she is a student at the University here, getting her PhD from the Dept of Dance & Theatre. We were introduced by a common friend a couple of years ago. As her subject was Kuttiyattam, a traditional dance-drama from Kerala, it was important that she learn the language or at least be able to speak or understand it at an elementary level and our friendship grew over many long lunches and discussions conversing in and on Malayalam, on Kerala, the culture, the people and on dance. I remember the fun and excitement of helping her out (in a small way) to organize the Kathakali workshop here at the university. When my mom was here visiting, she would come home almost everyday to learn some Malayalam from her. A few months ago she successfully passed her PhD comprehensive exam and moved to Kerala for her field work. She reached a couple of days before I was to leave Kerala and so we had a day to hang out in Kochi. It was fun and we went to Fab India to pick some Indian outfits for her and ate Dosas from BTH and she was telling me about all her plans while in India. She was so excited and looking forward to her dissertation field work in Kerala.

You just have to meet her and talk to her for a few minutes to realize how much she loves dancing and how passionate she is about it, particularly Bharatnatyam and Kuttiyattam. She has been learning Kuttiyattam at Kalamandalam preparing for her first performance (Arangettum) early next year. Myself and a bunch of her other friends would get regular updates from her on her experiences in Kerala through these long, descriptive emails which are always interesting and often amusing. Here is an excerpt-

......."I have decided that for me doing field research is like walking in a dark, unfamiliar room. You mostly bump into things and receive minor bruises until you stumble upon a light that leads to more and more treasures. It is definitely a great experience most of the time even
if you are scared of the dark. I don’t think I am as afraid of the dark as those HUGE ancient spiders that prevent me from using the toilet or opening a door when they decide to camp out! I actually don’t mind walking around in the dark, my eyes adjust very well. This is really funny too, because my friend and I were having a discussion about how we as a species are adapting to needing so much more light than we used to ever need, and we are losing our ability to, as he said “see in the dark” . . . whether you want to take this literally or as a metaphor is completely up to you. But the discussion started when I was mentioning how I much prefer watching kutiyattam with the natural lighting of just the oil lamp as opposed to all the artificial stage lighting that they are now using. There is much more ambiance,
magic and mystery..............................................
............And with that, I shall leave you to think about coming to Kerala in
February or March to support me in my arangetram ;) or at least to
think about those scary spiders".

I spoke to her on the phone a couple of weeks ago when she was home visiting my mom. She had just gotten back from her trip to Combodia . She and I spoke for long and we made plans to travel around Kerala and catch some traditional temple performances across the state during my next visit. She had already established some good dance & theater contacts in Kerala  that would certainly help us in planning the trip. Last week she turned 30 and celebrated it in Goa with a friend.

After returning from Goa, day before yesterday, she passed away, apparently from complications following an asthma attack. She was a chronic asthma patient and was always in and out of hospitals be it here or in India. But to die at 30, so suddenly!?! I am not sure how to make sense of this. Sometimes I can't stop the tears and sometimes I become all philosophical, questioning everything- the meaning, the purpose and what not.

All I know is I will miss her greatly. R.I.P dear friend.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

All This Time..

..Been reading, thinking, listening, watching, dreaming and musing. Engaged in a lot of activities basically. "Get inspired" is the general disposition and so totally loving this and this.

Also, nurturing my design sensibilities through a couple of design blogs I stumbled upon rather serendipitously(yea, dont I scare you with my complex vocabs)and so in love with my new acquisitions.. This one is by an art student at the university. He had quite an interesting collection of quirky pottery but I had only limited means in my hand and spent it on this little "glass". That's his initials on the bottom which is good I suppose. What if he becomes a celebrated sculptor/potter/artist in future? Now if only I could remember his name!

Well, there is no cool story behind this one. It was on sale at a local grocery store and I bought it because,.......because I liked it. It definitely keeps the tea hot longer, thanks to its deep, small rimmed cylindrical design. Also, doesnt it look nice and sleek?

Watched the movie Invictus yesterday and the President is in town as the APEC maddness descent and protesters fine tune their rhetoric.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

The Musical Me -II

As for Gazals- I was never much of a Gazal enthusiast (Hindi or Malayalam) with all its weepy, sad, self pitying undertones. Nope, not for me. I mean I do sometimes go on self-pitying, self-loathing trips ( that's what Kishore K was for back then ) but Gazals have a way of inducing these emotions even if you are feeling ok with life and everything else.

All said (here I go contradicting myself) there are a few recent (Hindustani/Gazal influenced) Malayalam songs ( with the exception of one) I like and I like them because they were either part of a movie I liked or the context in which it was sung or the lyrics or the music or both. That brings the total number of songs in this offbeatcategory-I-love-list to exactly 4 and in the order of preference, they are:-

1. From the movie Perumazhakalam- Raakilithan. Gosh! I get all overwhelmed every time I hear/see this song. You will too if you think there is something magical about monsoons.

2. From the movie Meghamalahar- Oru naru pushpamay. One of the best adult type movies I have seen. Now don't get me wrong not in an-all gory violence and/or naked bodies kind of way, but adult in a very emotionally mature kind of way. Too lazy to give you a synopsis and even if I did you would get all judgmental on me. Yes, I am insecure- sometimes. So ?

3. A Gulam Ali gazal( to my knowledge it was not part of a movie).- Tamam umr..- This is sort of the exception to the rule. The only non-malayalam song in the list and I love it for its lyrics, his voice and the music. Ironically, the first time I heard the song, it was sung by a mallu guy, with an awesome voice, in Hindi ( laced with a slight mallu acent and everything) on some tv talent show and still did not spoil it for me. For those who can follow Hindi -
" तमाम उम्र तेरा इंतज़ार हमने किया
I waited for you all my life
इस इंतज़ार मे किस किस-से प्यार हमने किया"
And while I waited I loved many (I don't know who all (sort of implied))

4. From the movie Ore Kadal- Oru Kadal- For various reasons, one of which is- I will watch anything that Shyama Prasad makes and will say how much I love it even if I didn't, which is highly unlikely, because I will always like what he makes (I just drew a circle-didn't I?). His movies are unique and interesting and I guess he expects the same standards for the songs he includes in them.

I just yawned but cannot sleep yet. So may the music begin-!! and who can stay still with this music?!?

kesa sharmana aja nach k dikha de
aa meri hoja aa parda gira de
aa meri akhiyon se akhiyan mila le
aa tu na nakhre dikhaa
wanna be my chamak chalo
ooh ooh ooh ooh
wanna be my chamak chalo
ooh ooh ooh ooh


The Musical Me

Wish I could sing but no....Listening to songs on youtube. My ipod does not have a playlist of ALL my favorite songs; and sometimes you want to listen to something different from your usual set. These are songs that would be categorized as offbeat Malayalam songs. Offbeat as in a cross between Hindustani and Gazal!! Yes, I know- me and Hindustani!! I wouldn't know the difference between Rag Malhar and Rasgolla if I did not know the latter is a sweet dish.

But wait...

Back in my early school years I was big time into classical Hindustani ( no, seriously!), particularly instrumental music. I was probably one among the few loyal customers,of the younger demographic, who religiously purchased the Elements and Landscape series produced by Music Today. When my friends got sentimental over John Denver, Michael Bolton, Jagjit Singh and Kishore Kumar, I would "chill out" listening to the maestros and other world music. Either I was mature beyond my years with refined tastes or I was a total snob. I must clarify though that my interest was only limited to listening; there were no attempts to educate myself beyond who was playing what. I guess that makes me less of a connoisseur and more of a snob! Anyways, that phase has passed to some extent.

Just to be fair to my friends- I have (sometimes) gotten sentimental over "their songs" although never over M.Bolton ( no, never!). And there were also times when I thought Kishore kumar was god singing tragic poetry to mortals like some twisted joke and I would endure it not for the sake of my friends but as a sadistic, self inflicted, torture. Besides all this, I would say the heights of my musical-preferences- purely -based-on -peer -pressure was when I listened to Boyzone and BoysIIMen *cringe*, *cringe*. I don't mean to insult any of the die hard fans out there nor am I suggesting they sounded bad and corny( mmm...corny -maybe), but that MJ ,Springsteen and Billy Joel sounded way cooler, until of course I discovered Grunge and life has never been the same since then! *dramatic pause*.

To be continued....