Monday, May 16, 2005

The Bo-home-ian rhapsody

... or the feeling that comes with making a trip back home. Yes, I am going back to apna des, aamchi Mumbai, good old Andheri. Since the primary purpose is to attend a couple of weddings (unfortunately, the couple of couples didn't decouple the wedding and bad weather), this trip should provide me with opportunities to explore this rapidly progressing city of ours. Off multiplexes and high salaries and cafes and the ilk. Off the cell phone explosions and information technology and the kind. Off Indianised Subway and McDonalds and Pizza Huts. Off the sweet memories that I have off the place. Off that one marble slab in the front of my college that was my favorite spot. Off the three apartments that I lived in while I was there. Off the good looking girls that drew us out of our houses each evening. Off the vada-pavs and bhel-puris and the million other refreshments. Off my Mom's food. Off old friends and family. Off Rock Beach. Off everything that I once related to. Off life and love and the Maximum City.

My parents don't have a PC at home. That implies that I shall be very sporadic while frequenting the web. So, consider this an interregnum, a pause, an Alpa-veeram.

P.S> I leave day after tomorrow and will be gone for almost 3 weeks. Till then, take care, keep blogging and enjoy the weather (wherever it is enjoyable)

Friday, May 13, 2005


When you are on a roll, you expect all things to go on track. After having purchased the house and having am impending trip that is guaranteed to be great, the intermediate weekend was setup to be a memorable one. Do you know how it feels to stand on the verge of a lifelong dream coming true? The thrill, the excitement, the anticipation. I experienced all three last weekend when my favorite ghazal singer was due to perform in Seattle. None other than Ghulam Ali.

Slight background. I was brought up on Ghulam Ali ghazals that my Dad loved. I had a huge collection of his recordings that would play regularly (this was before we woke up to TV being a 24-hour phenomenon) to the point that I knew each ghazal, each sher, each harkat intimately. Ghulam Ali was the reason I took interest in ghazals and Urdu per se. Ghulam Ali was the reason I sat on entire summer in Austin making a list of all the ghazals I knew, pryed out a list of words that I did not understand and diligently went through a Urdu-Hindi dictionary till I figured the meaning of each and every one of them. To me, he is the GOD of ghazal singing. His choice of ghazals, the semi-classical nature of his renditions, his ability to create a mood reflective of the ghazal is beyond eveyone else. Jagjit Singh is for the hoi-polloi and Mehndi Hassan is good without being great.

Hence, when I heard (about 3 months back) that Ghulam Ali was going to perform in Seattle, I was ready to bear Talat Aziz (you know, we are in the friendship phase and all that). I must have been one of the first to buy the tickets for the concert and was shaping up to enjoy the concert fully. Here’s in fact what transpired.

7.30: the concert was supposed to start. Nothing happened
7.45: people streaming in
8.00: still nothing
8.15: still nothing
8.30: Mr. K.P. Singh walks up to the stage to introduce the performers. Now, K.P. Singh is a ‘promoter’ (not the boxing kind, the guy brings these artistes over here) and he will have a great role to play as we move ahead in the evening
8.45: After a 15 minute introductory tirade and a song rendered by some local talent (yup, nothing short of a rock concert), Talat Aziz and Ghulam Ali come onto the stage
9.00: They launch into a ‘combined’ rendition of ‘Dil mein ek leher si’ and one of Talat’s ghazals. The idea being that both were in the same raag (don’t remember which one) and one was picking up from the other. The exercise came off as very lame. Ghazals need a mood to build on, this is not fodder for jugalbandi.
9.30: After one more ghazal combo which included ‘Chupke Chupke’ (how can you!!!!!!), Mr. K.P. Singh saunters onto the stage fully aware that an hour of the concert has been lost and that we should make up for lost time. So, what does he do? The artistes honoring ceremony starts. For each artiste, this is a the sequence of events
-- Singh announces the name and says 2 lines about him
-- Singh then asks another ‘promoter’ to come up and give a token. He says about 15 lines about the promoter and how he has come all the way from Las Vegas
-- Promoter comes up on stage and gets one photograph with the artiste after he has given the memento
-- This goes on for all artistes. In the middle of all this were also the reading of a plaque that was awarded to Ghulam Ali and Talat Aziz by the governor of Illinois and another for K.P. Singh
It was sickening to see these people saunter in at their own speed, come up with the sole intention of a photograph with the singers
10.00: After 30 minutes of this nonsense, Talat Aziz starts his solo performance. He surprised me, since I had no expectations whatsoever. He at least tried to create a semblance of an atmosphere.
10.45: 45 minutes of Talat Aziz later, the stage was set for the maestro. The expectations were heightened even though it came with the painful knowledge that we were over an hour behind schedule and that would mean that he would be singing lesser than expected. He came on stage and sang a Punjabi song. Fair enough. I have heard several of his Punjabi songs on tapes. Maybe that’s what the audience wants. Ok, first song up. Now lets hear something nice. What followed next? Another Punjabi song, and another and another. The first 20 minutes of the precious time was lost to Punjabi songs and not without reason. The audience was never meant for ghazal enthusiasts. This was meant for middle aged Punjabi men (both Indian and Pakistani). What followed made me almost get up and walk out in frustration. Ghazals on steroids is the only way to describe it. The audience shouted out 8-9 of his most famous songs and he sang them without a break like a sword was hanging on his head. Not one ghazal was sung properly, not one song entered my heart. It was a waste of $25 and the breaking of a dream. I was taken for granted and taken for a ride. Yes, he is Ghulam Ali, but that does not allow him to rest on his laurels. You are here to perform to your capacity, not be a pale shadow of yourself.
11.20: 35 minutes of Ghulam Ali later, Talat Aziz joined him for a finale. I waited politely till they finished singing and walked out with a lot of anger in my heart.

Moral of the story. I am going to stay away from the concerts of these big guys. For most of these guys, US trips are money-making enterprise where the desperate and illiterate NRI audience can lap up whatever they dish. (Jagjit Singh sang bhangra in his ghazal concert last year, by the way). It wouldn’t have mattered so much had it not been Ghulam Ali. Oh well, c’est la vie!

Friday, May 06, 2005

Because ....

.... Dreams need a roof and four walls
.... A roof and four walls breed dreams
.... I now have an immmigrant story to tell my grandchildren
.... This is a one-of-a-kind feeling
.... To have a jhoola in your backyard makes summer special
.... My perfect cup of coffee beckons
.... Paying mortgage is less painful than paying rent
.... The illusion that you own the house is sweet (the bank owns it actually)
.... Tired feet need a place to rest
.... Exhilaration needs 2600 sq ft. to express itself
.... There are memories hidden in the place waiting to be found
.... There are nooks waiting to be made favorites
.... A home away from home is still a home
.... It is time

Say hello to the new home-owner

Home sweet home (that's not my car though) Posted by Hello

Monday, May 02, 2005

Dis-oriented and Dis-occidented

We changed offices over the weekend and I am still getting used to turning west instead of east when I enter my main lobby to get to my new office (hence the blog title). Disorientation is the theme for this morning. Not feeling a 100%, not thinking a 100% either. Need to get some important work done before a meeting in the next three hours. I don't hate Mondays, but hate not feeling well on Mondays for sure. After having gulped down three cups of coffee since morning, there isn't much else caffeine is going to do for me. Music's my last ditch attempt to feel good. Tuning into Parineeta right now. A remake of the timeless classic story of eminent writer Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay, I don't know enough about the movie yet to hedge my bets on which way this will go. My mind is awake enough for this piece of trivia: this is the 3rd remake of the movie (most think its the second). The first starred Ashok Kumar and Meena Kumari while the second starred Jeetendra and Sulakshana Pandit. The odd thing is that I don't recollect any numbers from the Ashok Kumar movie. Perhaps they didn't have anything superlative (or perhaps I have never heard them at all). Alright enough. I should get working again. I am cluttering my blog with mindless posts. Need to avoid that. Later.