Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Saawan barse, tarse dil

She woke up twenty minutes late, which meant she would miss the train. Damn! A quick shower and she was wolfing down her coffee and maska-pav over her mother's curious glances. Damn!She musn't seem too obviously in a hurry, her mother may wonder why she suddenly got interested in getting to college on time. Where were those earrings she'd set out especially for today? And the blue sandals? Damn!

He couldn't see properly with his glasses all wet from the rain, was that his bus ambling down this way? His umbrella had done the turn-upside-down-and-make-people-laugh thing again. God, he hated that umbrella. Especially today. He hated having to travel by bus. He hated these stupid glasses...She was going to laugh when she sees him - in his ridiculous glasses and wet clothes. But he couldn't afford contacts, not with the money his parents were paying for his entrance exam classes. Which reminded him, he still needed to study for the test today..

Finally, she decided on her second favorite earrings, which didn't really match her pale yellow churidar, but hey, she looked good in dangling ones. She walked out nonchalantly waving to her parents, and then sprinted down the stairs and caught a rickshaw straight to where they were going to meet. She thought once about the money, then decided that it was worth it. Especially in this rain.

No, not his bus. What was with the traffic today? Everything seemed to be moving extra slowly. Ok, he'd probably have to wait a while, why not whip out that textbook and refresh the formulas? Of course, there's no chance she'll see him in the bus-stop so he didn't have to impress anyone. Maybe if he waited long enough in the bus stop, he'd dry off, and also get some studying done. Man, he was really worried about these exams.

NOOO...She thought, as there was a sickening squilch and the rickshaw refused to budge. It was stuck in a pothole. Bombay roads! "Memsaab...aap utar jaayiye, abhi bahut mushkil hai isse nikaalna yahaan se!" What? Get down and walk in this downpour? TODAY?? In her pretty dress, with her hair done, and...what will he think?? Seeing that she had no choice, she stepped out and started walking in the rain. Any other time, she'd have been devastated to be walking in her favorite outfit in the heaviest downpour of the season with mud splashing her shoes and clothes and her efforts to look good dissolving in the rain. But not today. Today, these thoughts were quickly replaced by one as she trudged along the muck and slime. "I'm going to meet him".

He looked up to see that his bus had finally arrived and was starting to leave. Jumping over the side of the bus-stop he ran to catch the bus he had waited forty minutes for. In the process his bag got jostled around a pole and his book fell out. His precious book with the problems that'll undoubtedly appear on the exam and cost him his chance at an MBA education and a six figure income and contact lenses...These thoughts were quickly replaced by one as he dangled from the entrance of the bus. "I'm going to meet her".

The inspiration for this came from a song in a movie called "Dahek" (which I haven't even seen!) The video totally captured my imagination - it took place in the rains for one thing, and that's enough romantic context to keep me happy :) Then there's the incredibly expressive looks at the end of the song when the couple finally meets after braving the elements and the roads and fallen milk carts and what-not - there's shyness, desire, excitement, a tinge of embarassment...Sonali Bendre and Akshaye Khanna, in those 20 seconds of not saying anything, say so much. Aah..young love :)

Monday, September 26, 2005

Story time...

The run.
He’d followed her for eight blocks. She noticed a blue shirt and a beard. Panicking, she ran faster, picking hidden paths until she lost him. She finally reached home, panting and nervous. As she entered the bedroom, a blue flash surprised her from the shadows. His stubble teased her lips as he breathed, “I won!”

Crazy little thing...
“They did what?” GI56 asked incredulously. “Got ‘married’”, PE14 said, tired of trying to make them understand. IK25 added in an awed whisper, “They even used to procreate with a single unit repeatedly”. “But…but...why?” GI56 wondered.
PE14 said wistfully, almost to itself, “I’ve heard of something these human ancestors of ours used to call ‘love'...”

Okay, two attempts to fulfill the tag-requirements - Parth tagged me to write a short story within 55 words. Two attempts to while away a train journey instead of working like I meant to. Two attempts to get back to the blogging world after feeling like I'd run dry of ideas! One is almost a secret fantasy of of runner's high ;) The second one is sort of inspired by the kind of science fiction that I love, where we start questioning society and human-ness from a futuristic eye.Let me know which, (if either of them) works.

Here I tag Aparna, Vivek and Ramya

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Video killed the radio star!

It's been over a month since I moved into this new place, and today I finally acquired a TV. So far, I was occupying my free time once I got back from work with healthy activities like walking a mile to and from the grocery store (no car either!!), painting, listening to music, re-reading my Harry Potter collection, etc. And of course, as you might have guessed from my last few posts, reallly listening to some music. I found some cool stations on the radio - there's one that has 'block parties' every day, where they play only Led Zep or only The Doors or only CCR for 2-3 hours straight :)
But today spelt the end of that simple life and the beginning of The Simple Life (maybe I won't stoop as low as that though...Paris Hilton makes me puke). So, right now, with no antenna (other than a twisty thing made of aluminum foil!!) and no cable, we get FOX and WB, and a hazy UPN and a very hazy NBC. So naturally, about 2 hours were spent watching various programs and bad ads and commenting on the banality of American television. Here are some juicy excerpts of what I saw:
1. An ad that goes "My TV sucks!" and the TV actually physically sucking things!!
2. A show that had detectives trying to figure out some crime that apparently was committed by a woman in her previous incarnation. Shades of "Honi Anhoni"???
3. A promo that declared that "America's favorite psychic soccer mom returns this fall, in 'Medium' - all new episodes starting..." Yeah, like America has so many psychic soccer moms so they had a contest and voted for their favorite one! Puhleeeze!
4. A Family Guy episode which insinuates that the baby (which by the way, talks with a grown man's voice. In a British accent, no less.) is having sex with his mother. I am not kidding. Talk about an early manifestation of the Oedipus Complex!
5. A show that condones extra-marital affairs..Nay, encourages them with thunderous applause for the adulterers. "Oh no,I've made a huge mistake. (You think, good..he realizes he shouldn't cheat on his wife.) I should never have used my real name with that woman."(HUH??? That's the big realization???) and "Honey, you know I'd never touch another woman. Uh, except maybe, at, like a strip club!" (After which said honey proceeds to forgive the asshole and kiss him!!! Women on TV are such dimwits, it makes me mad!!!) Ok, I am not a prude, and I do know why sometimes, people might cheat or have affairs outside a relationship. But I draw the line when it becomes condoned, accepted, encouraged and celebrated in popular culture. Especially when it's on national television and not cable. I love Comedy Central style dirty politically incorrect humor because they make no pretense of being 'family friendly entertainment' with 'fun for all' and 'cherishing values' or any of that BS. So next time, spare me the lawsuit against Winnie the Pooh and take a look at your WB Sunday shows.
Ok, nuff said bout that. I guess I'd forgotten in 2 months how mind-numbingly stupid some of these TV shows can be, and how mind-numbingly stupid they can make us! How many stereotypes are perpetuated, how insensitive they can be to some groups (especially gay people), how destructive some of the humor can be (like a father bribing a son with $200 shoes so that he doesn't tell his mom about his dad's cybersex partner..What in the world can be a positive thing to come out of that situation???) and just how stupid these shows assume we are!
Ok, having said that, I'm going to call my cable guy tomorrow morning and ask to be hooked up to 40 channels of similar drivel. Farewell, o last of ye faithful brain cells!

Monday, September 12, 2005

And Time will have his fancy...

Snippets from brilliant work by poets from different ages, with different voices, speaking different tongues, but reaching me in one place.

As I walked out one evening
- W.H.Auden

But all the clocks in the city
Began to whirr and chime:
"O let not Time deceive you,
You cannot conquer Time.

"In the burrows of the Nightmare
Where Justice naked is,
Time watches from the shadow
And coughs when you would kiss.

"In headaches and in worry
Vaguely life leaks away,
And Time will have his fancy
To-morrow or to-day.

Aaj jaane ki zid na karo
- Sung beautifully by Farida Khanum (Written by Fayyaz Hashmi??)
Waqt ki qaid mein
zindagi hai magar
chand ghadiyaan yahi hain jo aazaad hai
Inko khokar abhi jaan-e-jaan
Umr bhar na taraste raho

Save tonight
- Eagle Eye Cherry (from his awesome debut Album:Desireless)
Go on and close the curtains
cause all we need is candle light
You and me and a bottle of wine
gonna hold you tonight
Well we know I'm going away
and how I wish, I wish it weren't so
So take this wine and drink with me
let's delay our misery

Save tonight
and fight the break of dawn
Come tomorrow
tomorrow I'll be gone

Today's the first birthday of this blog...Happy Birthday!! In several ways, Time has stood still for me this past year, but in several more, he has certainly had his fancy. Thanks to all those who travelled down this curb with me!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Duets that do it for me...

Today I was listening to an album I've heard many times before, and I thought I knew it quite well. Well, not quite. It was The Corrs, and the song that blew me away today was "Little Wing". Let me take you through the voyage of discovery.
There I was, letting it play in the background while I fought research writer's block (the worst kind!!) Suddenly the mini-Mediaplayer pops up with the name "Ron Wood" and that name rang a bell..Then when the song lapsed into the guitar solo, and I heard the crowd's excitement, curiosity got the better of me, and I googled it. Sure enough, Ron Wood turns out to be a guitarist who's played with the likes of the Rolling Stones and Jeff Beck and Rod Stewart.
So here's a song that was originally a Jimi Hendrix number, covered by The Corrs (of all the bands!) with a guitar solo by Ron Wood...will wonders never cease?
It reminded me of the pseudo-intellectual, semi-idiotic excitement I felt when I found out about other great collaborations, like:
The FANTASTIC George Harrison-Eric Clapton version of "While my guitar gently weeps" (Live in Japan),
The Bono-Frank Sinatra NON-live, doctored version of "I've got you under my skin" (Who thought hip, crazy, mostly drunk, liberal Bono could match ole blue eyes, so-handsome-in-my-expensive-suit Sinatra?!),
The Eminem-Elton John duet of "Stan" (enraged and enthralled homophobics and homosexuals alike),
Tom Jones and the Stereophonics (I think!) doing "Mama told me not to come",
Rock meets rap, when Aerosmith and Run DMC "Walk this way",
a really cute song "When you're gone" with Bryan Adams and Mel C,
Rock now meets country, when Sheryl Crow and Kid Rock, more recently sing "Picture",
Hollywood meets boy-band-born British-boy-rock with a really well-done duet of the classic "Something Stupid" (originally by Frank and Nancy Sinatra) by Nicole Kidman and Robbie Williams, with Nicole doing a surprisingly good rendition of this surprisingly difficult song,
Speaking of surprising, I was surprised when my sweetheart Dave Mathews collaborated with Carlos Santana (seems like everyone collaborates with Santana!) to do a sweet little romantic number "Love of my life"
and to wind back to the album that started my post, Bono and the Corrs doing the magical magical "Summer Wine"...
Ok...that's the end of my postponing writing the damn was an exciting way to escape though..If you can think of any additions to my list of collaborations, feel free to share.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

I wish I had a singing Babelfish

I suppose language and the ability to transcend time in thought are two things that distinguish the species homo sapiens from most others. The second one I haven't quite figured out whether I'm good at or bad at..I know I am no good at predicting the future, especially my own. The past? Well, "memory is a wonderful thing, if only we didn't have to deal with the past"!
What I wish I was better at, is the first. Language. Words can be powerful, if inadequate tools of expression. Even if I knew all the words in all the languages of all the cultures in the world, I think I'd be able to express only a fraction of all that I am thinking right now.
Hence the need for a Babelfish. A Babelfish is a fictional creature that you plug in your ear and then you can understand any language in the universe. Makes for a handy companion when you're hitchhiking in the galaxy :)
I need no ordinary Babelfish, I need a singing one, because I get most frustrated with my lack of knowledge of languages when I listen to music, especially ghazals or Tamil music. Carnatic music somehow I never even tried to understand the lyrics for!
Just paying attention to the lyrics, and making a little effort to find out the meaning of the words, or the story behind the song, can make all the difference between liking and loving it. But hey, that effort is what is the clincher...I used to be so enthusiastic about that kind of stuff before. I remember painfully playing a song on my old cranky cassette player over and over again till I got the lyrics written down just so I know them. I remember staying awake till 2 a.m. one night in college gushing over the poetry of Bob Dylan and The Doors with a friend.
I thought those days were gone, till lately. On recent long drives I have had the experience of actually listening to the words of some songs I might have heard before, and liked for the music and the tune and the singer's voice, but until I understood the words, I never really loved them. I also have had the chance of listening to some music that I never have before and loving it, mainly for the music. While I have a lot of help in the form of an indulgent teacher and an online dictionary, I still wish I had my singing Babelfish :)

I wish, I wish...
I wish I had a fish
Not a guppy or even a shark
I need my fish to light my dark
And not one that'll end up as a dish.

A fish to help me appreciate
The magic that people create
When they make music
And make those words tick
Such a fish will be a true mate.

A singing Babelfish would be nice
Can't win it in a throw of dice
But I sure can dream of it
To clear my confusion bit by bit
But till then a dictionary'll have to suffice!