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Music when I least expected it

During last 24 hrs or so, I’ve heard some of my favorite musical pieces at places where I expected them least. Just felt like making a note of them; what better place to do that than my blog

  • Rain (I Want A Divorce) from The Last Emperor. The movie is famous because of Bertolucci’s brilliant cinematography. Unfortunately, the movie’s brilliant score by 3 talented composers – Riyuchi Sakamoto (Rain… is his composition), David Byrne and Cong Su is not common knowledge. I had gone to The Capitol hotel to drop a couple of colleagues from Delhi, the hotel’s lobby resonated with what sounded like a piano transcription of Rain…

  • Started my day today with Beethoven’s Eroica. The second movement of his 3rd symphony– Marcia Funebre (Funeral March) always has an enchanting effect on me; almost freezes me into a trance. There is some sublime connection I have with this piece that I’ve never been able to explain.

  • Was at The Le Meridian for an event, the lobby there was reverberating with second movement of Mozart’s famous serenade for strings – Eine Kleine Nachtmusic (A Little Night-music), though everyone there was busy chattering and so hardly anyone seemed to have taken notice (Such is the fate of western classical these days – it is used as random filler in hotel lobbies and elevators).

  • During evening cocktails by the poolside, they played Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D – a somewhat modern version transcribed for the violin (the original is for an organ)

  • The radio station my auto wallah had tuned into was playing Mangta Hai Kya from A. R. Rahman’s Rangeela – listening to the piece after close to a year felt good (I am certain that the cool evening breeze contributed greatly to the goodliness)

My pet works these days are Beethoven’s Triple Concerto and A. R. Rahman’s latest score for the Tamizh movie “New”. Love the Triple Concerto for the delicate balance between the full orchestral ensemble and the piano trio. Enjoying New for its consummate fusion of Techno and Folk sounds (first four tracks are awesome, it was great to hear Unnikrishan sing for Rahman after a long hiatus), complete with simple melodies reminiscent of Rahman of his earlier days.

posted: 29.4.04 | permalink | 0 comments

Requiem for Moon

It is dark outside and inside
The thick grey veil of clouds
Has stifled the pale moon

I turn to Beehvoen’s quasi una fantasia
My private requiem; its delicate notes
Dissolve my gloom

The skies pour warm saline tears
Thunderclaps mute the piano
In utter silence, I fantasize doom

posted: 27.4.04 | permalink | 0 comments


The light downpour of the day before yesterday restored the climate here to its usual salubrious disposition. Dark cloudy skies, more often than not, are used as a metaphor for harsh times, sorrow; the mood they invoked in this tropical, sun-scorched soul was that of unbridled joy and jubilation. Here is a picture that I took once the showers had cleared up. My fondness for heavenly bodies (pun unintentional), especially for that one hot ball of gases responsible for warmth and much of Earth’s life, had me rushing to the office balcony at dusk:

And this was taken yesterday as the clouds prepared to drench the night with heavy showers. Same sky but two very different hues, two very different moods:

posted: 22.4.04 | permalink | 0 comments

Election vacation

Elections in India are nothing short of a grand carnival. The elaborate polling process was kicked off in several parts of the country on the 20th, including Karnataka. Yesterday thus, translated into a bonus holiday (they taste sweetest when they come unexpected) - that I spent it largely in office is a different story. Having spent a week in US, the first thing that I registered upon landing was how immersed Bangalore was in election frenzy. Kitschy plastic placards of different parties strung across various streets, walls plastered with posters, massive colorful banners, life-size cutouts of politicians, auto-wallahs with loudspeakers mounted on their roofs running around haphazardly blaring noisy propaganda in awkward parodies of hit numbers - all add color and charm to an otherwise dry, dreary exercise that elections can be.

Each year one sees interesting (though not always innovative) antics by various political parties to catch voters’ attention, this year was no exception. Take for instance this huge animated electronic cutout captured by the roadside; irrespective of whether it managed to affect my political stance, it did leave a mark (for all the wrong reasons) – highly amusing:

Electronic Antic

p.s. You need QuickTime to see this video (1.30 MB) – the only aspect of my digital camera that annoys me no end.

posted: 20.4.04 | permalink | 0 comments

Probably this little verse won’t make much sense, but I had to put these words down exactly as they came to me. Perhaps browsing through some of Dali’s works can have this effect on you…

Far in the distance
I heard a melancholy sob
Of a Robot trying hard
To improvise on Chopin
I tried reaching it
But my feet bled
The floor was littered
With shattered shards
Of a broken Ming vase

posted: 19.4.04 | permalink | 0 comments

What Bangalore simmers...

The months of March and April this year have brought with them a spell of unusually hot weather. While in several parts of the country this is indeed expected, it comes as a surprise to me (and many others) in Bangalore. I’ve witnessed only one summer in Bangalore so I cannot opine with same certitude as I would have about merciless summer months of Delhi; though discussing the matters with friends and acquaintances, who are veterans of many a summers here, hasn’t produced observations very different from my own – it feels lot warmer than what the norm in Bangalore is. The mornings are pleasant, just over 20 Celsius, with cool breeze sweeping and swooping from all directions; the amount of light outside being the only proof of presence of sun. With each passing hour, the sun grows both in incandescence and amount of heat dissipated, and by the time I begin my daily on-foot commute to office; it is already grueling hot if not scorching. I am a compulsive walker and heat usually does little to deter me from my jaunts, but the scalding climate of past few days, has made me either rethink or curtail my puny treks on several occasions. Warm mid-day breeze compounds matters further – no matter how adequate your fluid intake is, you feel drained out within moments; your throat parches with every single whiff of air you breathe in making you rue the moment you chose to “foot” it.

Karnataka has been battling drought for several years now and if grim realities of March are anything to judge by, the coming months will be arduous. The reasons for our plight are not hard to seek. I’ve seen countless apartment and office complexes sprout in Bangalore during my stay of last 18 months. Most of these buildings usually come up in areas where once stood quaint little houses with an elaborate garden plush with trees. The greed for space makes people do away with most trees while other are axed down pointlessly; like remnants of this tree that I came across by the road-side:

The ingredients used in construction of these buildings pose another problem. Most of these tall structures are frameworks of reinforced concrete covered on four sides with glass; both these materials not only radiate heat, they also lead to sharp increase in amount of energy required to keep the insides of the building cool. The environment unfriendliness of air-conditioning isn’t even a moot point.

Bangalore has been one of the greener cities of India, a direct consequence of which is the abundant dry foliage that the trees and plants generate each day. Unfortunately, it is dealt in a manner most damaging to environment – they are heaped in odd corners and set-ablaze. The fumes generated on burning dry plant waste are next in toxicity only to what you get on burning plastic. And if the cornucopia of green-house gases was not enough, this exercise leaves fine ashy soot which, thanks to the usually dry and windy conditions in Bangalore, finds it way into the ambient air in no time. Suspended particulate matter not only spells disaster for health, there is recent evidence that it could enhance the impact of green-house gases. Plant waste is best left on its own.

None of these problems are new or unique to Bangalore. The effect of progress on environment cannot be entirely eliminated though it can be mitigated to a large extent – partly by education and partly by legislation. Let me cite two simple examples – Educate peasants about ills of burning leaves (somewhere the municipal bodies might even need to enforce it) and make it mandatory for buildings to maintain “terrace gardens”. Now these might sound like a trivial measures but their impact on environment in long run is a tangible one.

posted: 18.4.04 | permalink | 0 comments

Banana Juice!

On mentioning bananas, "Juice" is not the word that comes naturally to one's mind - slush or milkshake may be, but not juice. That might change if what I read today is anything to go by...

posted: 14.4.04 | permalink | 0 comments

One happy mannequin

Most mannequins I had seen in my life, were sculptured to possess either a somber disposition or were meant to bear a coy, simpering smirk. Never before had I seen a mannequin that would put on a hearty, somewhat overbearing laugh, which is until I came across this one in a plush mall at Shanghai:

posted: 12.4.04 | permalink | 0 comments

Newspaper Nostalgia

Within 24 hrs of arriving in Bangalore, I am back at the domestic airport to catch my flight to Delhi for a short, weeklong trip. While checking in, I picked a copy of the Deccan Herald from the check-in counter. For some inexplicable reasons, glancing through the newspaper brought back some fond childhood memories (the fact that I am headed back home probably contributed to it). A long time ago, Dad used to work for a leading Indian daily (Indian Express) and one of the perks of his job was free copies of the newspaper in the mornings. While he was there, we never felt the need for subscribing to any other newspaper. Sundays mornings used to be a special occasion of sorts – we would not only get the Sunday supplement of the English daily, but also copy of a local Hindi daily published by Indian Express (“Jansatta”/जनसत्ता). Both my parents used to work and so Sundays would be the only day when they would have time for browsing through the both newspapers; the rationale behind subscribing to just the English daily during weekdays. Both me and my sister would wake up leisurely and congregate at our parents’ bedroom for our morning dose of newspapers; which we would devour right till early noon, after which mom would beckon us for breakfast (a little family tradition that continues till date, especially when I am back home for a Sunday). The Sunday supplement was especially cherished by us for the colorful comic strips it would carry. We were still too young (neo literates) to fully comprehend English and so Mom would translate each comic strip and read it aloud for us. Be it Mandrake the Magician or The Wizard of Id, mom would go over them all while maintaining an extremely patient countenance. Of course, thanks to the subtle nuances of the English language, a lot of those strips would make no sense to us, nonetheless, we insisted that they be read out to us each Sunday.

After a long career at Indian Express, Dad switched jobs and that also brought about change in our morning newspaper. We changed to The Hindustan Times. It took us a while to overcome this change and while we were still not educated enough to point out differences in journalistic merits between the two papers, it still felt like an unnatural choice. Hindustan Times has been our family newspaper since then. We did experiment with The Times of India on Sundays but abandoned it soon. Of late, that paper feels more like a promotion vehicle for The Times Group - a distasteful tabloid with sorry reportage and even worse selection of stories – than a leading daily. Asian Age, is now our Sunday supplementary reading (it does have a tabloid feel too, but nothing beats their International coverage). It has been ages since I read a local Hindi daily though having just finished this blog, I am tempted to convince my family for subscribing to one on Sundays (I am also tempted to brush my Kannada past its current state so that I can browse through a local daily here). And yes, I strongly recommend Deccan Herald if you are tired of Times of India/Asia Age – it is refreshing to see good clean sensible reportage sans rhetoric or titillation.

posted: 11.4.04 | permalink | 0 comments


Its 5:37 in the morning. I am sitting in my cubicle at office having just returned to Bangalore after clocking over 18 hrs of in-flight time (with another 9 hrs spent at three airports). My last flight was at an unmanly time of 3:00 AM from Mumbai. Upon landing, I found myself confronted with total lack of sleep and a funny dazed, uncooperative state of mind; and yet the feeling of guilt for not having blogged for more than a week to have registered with a sudden certitude, only goes on to reassert how seriously I have started taking my blog of late ;-).

To cut the long story short, I am back and will blog regularly next week, a busy social and professional calendar notwithstanding.

p.s. I am wondering if after reaching home, thanks to the economy class travel of last few days, my body will demand of me to sleep in a cramped chair in an upright position.

posted: 9.4.04 | permalink | 0 comments

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