Thursday, April 28, 2005

I am back again…and this time in a self-congratulatory mood. I just realized that my blog- ‘Random Musings’ named as ‘Chinthan’ turned an year old today! Big deal eh? Well it has been for me, ‘cos it gave me an opportunity at self expression which my diaries hitherto did…of course this time things were in full public view; but then I knew which posts to make public and which to conceal! One year, sixty nine posts(including this one), some 25,000 words written and over 2531 clicks on my stat counter! Impressive stats eh!? Hence the mood of self-congratulation! Blogging has been a great pastime…I owe it to the many people who actually went through some of the trash I churned out, to those copious praises heaped on some of the posts, to the many controversies and bitter duels that a few others generated, to the many people who told me they had laughed their heads off, or cried like there was no tomorrow or simply felt nice after reading a particular post, to the many people who would religiously get back and question me when I’d sink into occasional spells of incognito and lastly, to the many anonymous commentators who annoyed me with their spineless remarks—come on pals, get a life, say what you want to say but can we have a face and a spine to those comments as well??

I was recently reading an article that spoke about the mad, mad way in which the habit of blogging has caught up with Indians. Blog, a short for weblog, is a web page that has short entries (well, unlike mine!) in reverse chronological order- that’s the supposed Dict definition! Since setting it up is so damn easy these days and with the proliferation of computers to the Indian middle class milieu, the popularity of blogs has been on the rise. At the worst it could be a giant junkyard, at the best an antique shop- a place where there is so much to be salvaged but also much to be discarded. A place where bleary eyed bloggers rave and rant about the world all night long as they trudge through their dreary, insipid, listless day jobs. But what I heard was post Tsunami, blogs have emerged as a major force of web-activism! The blog maniacs have confirmed through the huge relief collections that their blogs helped collect, that their posts weren’t mere exercises in self gratification, but their writings were there to create an impact, proving the age old adage of the pen being mightier than the sword! Unlike an e-chat, a blog luckily is a monologue (unless of course like many people have posts appended by comments longer than the post itself!!). This luxury of a blog makes it the perfect forum for people with opinions and no outlets or audience. From foreign affairs to cricket to politics to cows to sex to movies to painfully detailed narrations of his or her diurnal chores, the anytime, everything blogger seems to write on anything under the sun! Many a times a blog becomes a convenient way to put on an image that one always wanted to be but could never be, hiding behind the comfort of the ethereal virtual world wide net! Blogs give us a peek in to the real lives of real people ( sometimes false lives of real people…well, and other combinations of these two adjectives!!) whom one may never meet but know everything about! It could, like in some cases it did, turn out that the person was directly opposite to what he portrayed himself in his blog—but then what the heck!

But not all bloggers may want to become journalists or novelists, though the media is suddenly sitting up to recognize the latent talent in many of these authors and disbursing huge sums in the way of awards and opportunities to enter the print world. I read somewhere that blogs are the best means for the maximum freedom of expression with the maximum reader reach and with the least harm to our forests! How true! It does give a heady feeling to see your stat counter racing with each passing day and your readership cutting across continents and regions!

As I started off at the beginning of this post, my current mellow mood prevents me from getting to my characteristic sarcastic self and rip down the idea of blogging like I did some posts ago, much to the chagrin of blog-regulars! Like everything else in this world blogging too has its pluses and minuses and for a change I feel like just seeing the former!

Long live the Indian blogs! Toast to the creative spirit behind blogging!

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

When a person feels he’s been really unfair with someone what does he do? Give an excess of what he thought he hitherto deprived that person of ??? that’s exactly what seems to be happening to me vis-à-vis my poor blog! Of course it’s a different issue that sitting in my cousin’s hugggggggge house ( or is it called a bungalow!?) that seems to run just on air conditioners and with a computer at my disposal and a lack of will to saunter around in the inhuman weather outside, there would’ve been little else I could turn myself to than blog! I’m in the hot-and-humid-as-hell city Chennai! Its been over 2 weeks since I’ve landed here and with every passing day the urge to get back to Bangalore gets all the more stronger! For some strange reason I have never been able to like this city, despite it being a virtual second home with almost all my paternal relatives abounding the place. Somehow the lack of aesthetics and the crudeness of the place puts me off- in plain words the city and most of its people, in my view, lack finesse. Add to it the unparalleled water problems, power cuts, the unbearable heat and sweat, a non existent drainage system whereby the slench hangs over most part of the city and Sun TV and its cousins beating down my neck all day long---perfect recipe for hatred!

But it isn’t on my own volition or wish that I landed here; I mean how crazy could one get to spend one’s vacation and that too a summer one at Chennai ! it was this rare opportunity of getting tutored in music under one of the most renowned contemporary Carnatic Vocalists- Smt Bombay Jayashri that brought me here. Jayashri ji and me have known each other for over 5-6 years now when as coordinator of SPICMACAY at BITS-Pilani, I had coerced and emotionally blackmailed her to come over to that desert and sing for us. The astute rendition, the well cultivated voice and most importantly the emotive appeal that B.J. brings along is something that few Carnatic vocalists do. They end up making concerts as crass cacophonies with zero soulfulness and emotions. Getting back to the story, I had continued to keep in touch with her through mail and phone and recently she inadvertently mentioned that she has a student who comes to learn from her all the way from London! My antennae immediately got alert! I told her that in that case Bangalore isn’t too far and I could always make use of this two month long vacation in doing something worthwhile. She instantly agreed and thus began the saga!

Its been a huge learning experience for me…the elements of ‘Manodharma sangeetha’ or Improvisatory music—those aspects of Indian classical music where the artist delivers spontaneously and extempore on stage, had always piqued me. It was more of a mental block I guess. Its always so damn simple to sing something that is set and composed rather than invent on stage in the midst of flash lights jarring at you and a million eyes peering through you! But then she made the whole thing appear so simple, so rational, so ‘do-able’! spending those 2-3 hours with her have been truly enriching and rewarding and I don’t know how I could thank my favorable stars!

Atleast this is one reason I am not grudging my stay at Chennai! Though the heart aches to get back to the nippiness of Bangalore’s summer downpours.

My last post here was when Alexander invaded India….yes, its truly been that long since I even thought about my hapless blog on the web! It wasn’t as if there was a paucity of happenings or things to write about…in fact it was the other way round- there was a surfeit. I wound up my stay at S P Jain, with a lovely trip to Goa with friends- one that would remain etched in my memory forever; of course for the fact that it was thoroughly enjoyable, but also because we almost lost our lives in one of the water sports ( yeah, managed to take part in every damn sport there!).

This was followed by a solemn and really nice convocation ceremony. I had a whole battalion of guests; apart from my parents who flew to Mumbai for the same. The black gown and hood were something I had always dreamt of getting myself photographed in and it was truly a great sight to behold the pride in Dad and Ma’s eyes! It was like the end of a life long labor for them and I felt nice about myself for giving them this small pleasure. It was also the time I’d part with my friends from college with whom I’d spent the last two years. Of course, they weren’t the best of the years of my life. But the fact remains that it could’ve gotten worse but for these few completely adorable friends I had picked up on the way! It did leave a heavy feeling in the heart…heavens knew when we’d cross roads as each of us had charted different corporate routes for ourselves.

It was equally tough to bid farewell to Mumbai…a city that I had gotten to love in the past two years. It encapsulates a certain energy and dynamism about itself which few cities can even think of replicating. And for wanderlusts like me, it’s the ideal city with the best possible means of commutation one can hope to get at any time of the day! I’d surely miss Vrindi- the hotel outside college that gave us some relief from mess hogwash, Juhu beach-our perennial escape place amidst the diurnal struggle for existence, the vada paav and masala chai redi near Andheri bus stand where we’d feast ourselves to an evening snack at less than Rs.10, the Bistro guy who’d deliver chips and biscuits to our rooms and try to speak to us in broken English, Jairam at the night canteen who’d sing in a voice as hoarse and out of tune that it could rattle up even the most indifferent of musical ears. I would certainly miss the many jaunts on the local trains as we hung on to anything that we could hold on to, the long walks on Marine drive, the visits to Siddhi vinayak mandir before every important placement interview, the delicious south Indian cuisine at Mani’s Tamil restaurant in Matunga (for which we’d make a 2 hour long trip from Andheri!), Fame adlabs, Fun republic and the many late night movies we saw there----oh my God, it seems like a whole chapter that’s suddenly come to an end! Strangely there are few professors I’d miss or want to remember! Nor would I cherish the memories of an insensitive and crass admin which had our harassment on the top of its agenda for some unknown strange reason! I was engulfed with these very emotions when we reached the Chhatrapati shivaji airport; accompanied by Kaku- my 84 year old grand uncle who, along with his family, was such a lovely source of support for me through these two years at Mumbai. I don’t know when I’d see him next, or if at all I would; I don’t know if I’d be able to get back to the city of dreams again, rattle my bones on a Churchgate or Virar local again, wade my way through in the terrible monsoons that lash the city, enjoy that quintessential Mumbaiya cuisine of Vada paav and chaat or just take a late night stroll down Juhu beach even as prostitutes and homosexuals make passes at you !!!

Adieu Mumbai ! You shall be missed forever!