Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The obligatory cricket post, before we move on...

Agreed, that one needs to be qualified to comment, but yet, this needed some airtime.

The first half of Friday night was spent watching the cricket match, and the latter, discussing the reasons for the sorry state of the cricket team, and Indian sport itself. This went on till wee hours in the morning.
We discussed the usual stuff that makes up an editorial - how endorsements have ruined the game, how cricket as opposed to football and basketball is an elitist sport, how the local leagues never get any encouragement, and how the players play for themselves instead of being a team. We also discussed moments - all those moments of glory we could collect and recollect - that game when Kumble and Srinath put up a brilliant partnership, and Jadeja in Bangalore against Pak, at quarter finals of the world cup. Maybe, those matches were fixed too.

A few promised to have given up the game for good.

Disgruntled fans.

Nearly everyone has the same thing to say, except Harry, one who enjoys each and every sport, the one who perhaps booked his tickets to Barbados hoping for an India-Pakistan match, and will watch Ireland play Bangladesh instead. Over to Harry -

Oh, well… like Nick Hornby said of his beloved Arsenal in the book ‘Fever Pitch’… you don’t choose a team to support, your team chooses you.

I guess we too must ride the waves of frustration and inexplicably stick it out game after game, in the faint hope of 1983-like joy. For that, we need to be underdogs again. And for that, we need to lose consistently first. So, I guess we’ve begun the process… J

I agree – the game has lost its luster, and the match fixing scandal and the Woolmer murder leaves one jaded. But it will bounce back in our memory – simply because it’s the only Indian sport of note. I think endorsements have made the game, and ruined the game to a degree. But I would like to see some more attention in India on the game itself, and the passion involved in just supporting your team, not matter how rubbish they are. We can’t be fair weather supporters and expect the game to develop and reward us the way we want….

True, very true.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Once upon a time.

A fairy tale sounds better with a head full of wine than with a belly full of beer.

Beer makes one full, content.
Wine, on the other hand, has a sense of emptiness. The kind that can be equated to unrequited love. The kind which is reticent. The kind that needs unnecessary elaboration. The kind for which volumes need to be written.

That day, holding the glass by it's stem, sipping on her wine, she swore on the emptiness of her once-upon-a-times.
And emptying the rest of his pint with a quick swig, he promised her the happy-ever-afters.

Happy ever after.

Friday, March 09, 2007


To be mistaken for a feminist is far more difficult than being one. Because I don't know what to do with the projected personality.

In any case, I had decided not to write anything about it since it will degenerate into another convoluted rant. Until last evening when my colleague and I witnessed the rather enlightening discussion in the lift between the lady who happens to be our big boss, and a Chinese colleague, a lowly male.

C- Today is women's day you know.
B- Oh yeah..
C- In China, today, most places give their women employees half the day off.
B- To do what?
C- Just take half a day off, go shopping. You usually have massive traffic jams around noon.

Go shopping? It's women's day for God's sake, all women are supposed to get on the streets and brandish white flags or black flags, and get into some kind of loud mouthed protest. But no, for all the privileges attached to being a woman, shopping is something they choose to indulge in. I would perhaps do the same.

So for all that it's worth, this day of celebration of being a woman, has become a marketing gimmick. And frankly, nobody cares. It doesn't provide solutions to any of the problems of discrimination or otherwise, because the crux of the feminist argument is not about empowerment (any more?). It surprisingly seems to be about bringing to light how women have been wronged for generations, and are still being wronged by the evilness of men. The magazines and newspapers are full of stories of victims of abuse, and pictures of protests carried out afterwards. And do we realize what a terrible example it sets? It just states that to be a woman of substance, you have to be a victim first, then bash the guy up and that will show the world what you are worth. What about the millions of women who are leading normal lives?

Rest of the time, its about the wrong portrayal of women in the media. (Frankly, firebrand feminists have done more damage to my image than those photoshopped aunties who score a 10, because I get typecast as one)

So we, the louuly leddies, try to drop a hint to the boss- "Maybe you should consider this next year, give us a day off ".
And she said - "The only way to show that we are equal is to work all day like an equal"

Perhaps. I still want my day off. To hell with equality.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The moment...

Another attempt at a shortish story.

Sitting with his head bowed down, he could see her shoes, through the glass table. The heel of the right shoe had worn off unevenly on one side. A reflection of her unsteady walk, his vagrant observation reasoned with his conscious thoughts.

She looked straight ahead into emptiness. Emptiness, in this case, consisted of unknown people at the crowded coffee shop. She had chosen to sit next to him, so she didn't have to look at him in the face. He didn't have to look at her either, but he chose to steal glances, and occasionally, held the gaze out of greed. From the corner of her curious eye she could sense him trying to understand her blank expression.
She, the stoic. The emotionless fool. The one who had nothing to lose.

How do you ever talk to such a person? They thought to themselves in a rare moment of resonant thought.
She fidgeted with her spoon in an attempt to distract herself. Picked up a grain of sugar, and put it in her mouth, perhaps to add flavour to her bitterness. In symbolic protest, he let out a sigh and fidgeted with the silence.

For with all the comfortable private moment of togetherness, they had two more people sitting at the table, a pair of twins, identical yet fraternal. One looking at him in the face, one looking at her. And do you know who they were? Those two were the embodiment of their past - one his version, and one hers.

And there was no use reconciling.

The moment culminated....
And there was no going back....

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Summer of 69: The lower-middlebrow's musical journey

It started with this polka dotted writeup from the pinstriped gentleman. Fairly and embarrassingly accurate, I must say.

So, I was left with no choice but to write about the lower-middlebrow's musical journey.

To start with the difference between the highbrows, and lower-middlebrows comes right at birth. The highbrows have parents who listen to Beatles and Ventures, and own an LP player. The lower middlebrow music listener, on the other hand, grew up to Old Hindi Songs recorded on tapes and reading the books the house was flooded with. Old books, Old tapes. If the tape got fungus, he just had to put it in the deep freezer and it would be fixed for a couple of plays till he recorded it to an empty tape. For everything else, there was the highly rationed Chitrahaar and Aakashvani ka panchrangi karyakram where Chunnu, Munnu, Pinki and their Mummy-Papa from Jhumritallaiyya would put in their requests.

The highbrows grow up and are able to appreciate Jazz. The lower middlebrow tries too hard to keep up. But you can't deny he has taste. You name a band, you will find him getting frantic, till he listens to it, and forms an opinion.

The first English Songs that played on his tape player was called "Best of 9x" containing - Lemon Tree, Happy Nation, Scatman and I'm blue-da-ba-dee-da-ba. The tape looped till he got bored of the songs.

The true musical journey, in my opinion, started when MTV took over lives. It started with with the Brian Adams. The Canadian crooner apart from starting the deluge of Concerts which made DNA networks rich, had won the hearts of millions of girls who would swoon all teary eyed, at his phlegmatic rendition of "Please Forgive me". (As for the show, it was a terrible by all counts, for everyone except that girl who managed to get on stage). There were others too enjoying varying degrees of adulation- Messers MLTR, Boyzone, and Backstreet Boys. Some girls and guys stuck on. Others, you, me, moved on...

To college. As you tried to explore further, you realized that songs by blond pre-pubescent boys wasn't what cool people listened to. Embarrassed by your vern origins, you tried to keep up. It is a very sad state of affairs: you listen to the popular songs, and are stuck with the best songs of every artist. You acquired Nirvana. Smells like teen spirit. And Floyd. How I wish you were here. And Metallica. Nothing else matters. Hotel California, Sultans of Swing, Light my fire, Brick in the wall, Cats in the cradle, Tears in heaven, Wonderwall and every band members dedication to his erstwhile girlfriend - Sweet child of mine. Every Paul, John, George and Ringo knew these songs forward and backwards, and you head banged in a cliched I-am-the-rebel unison with a vengeance.

Tapes were passe, CDs unaffordable and hence Mp3s became the prized possessions, and took up much of disk space and lives. Those who ran out of space, begged the owners of CD writers to burn some for them. I still suffer from severe reluctance to delete any Mp3s. The bulk of these added the much needed diversity and dilution. In those days, people then were always gifting Mp3 Cds, with printouts of lyrics for added measure. The girl you like broke up with her boyfriend? "Wasted time", it is.

The college band was a great influence. They taught you how to pull your nose up at boy bands. They taught you that Smoke on the water riff. Those musical elites with nimble fingers would actually know the names of all the band members in Dream theater, while you stared in wide-eyed amazement at these people who memorized every little detail about the "Who's who of music", and still carried backlogs of papers over semesters.

Eventually, college gave way to work. Slowly you moved on, and had money to acquire CDs and listen to them in your private space, or on your iPod. And this was when the true Nirvana happened, when you broke out and discovered what you really like, and were not afraid to admit it. For a while you stick to the same artists whose "best" songs you liked- but you still find the Romeo and Juliet, Mustang Sally, The End, Take it easy and Morning Glory much better. These songs grow on you. You grow with them. You delve deeper into the lyrics. Realize that some of your old favourites are covers. As you get more confident and experimental, you discover artists from long before yesteryears: Tull, Janis, Joni, Dylan, Stones, CCR and more. You even listen to Hendrix. (though I still don't understand the hype around the momentous guitar burning at Monterey - that was mediocre at best)

The nice thing about this point of time of your journey, is you don't feel the need to conform anymore. You settle for your own favourites, a list of 10, maybe 15 songs and feel very unapologetic about your likes, and tolerant about others' likes. And you don't aspire for more. The end, my friend, the very end.

This year I got an LP player.

PS: The title of this post comes from the analogy I put in the comment box of the aforementioned post, during that rare burst of creativity: the musical journey of lower middlebrows starts with Summer of 69 by Brian Adams, and pitches its tent at Yasgur's farm in the summer of 69 at Woodstock. No?

Links to this post:
Desipundit--The lower-middlebrow’s musical journey

Ginsoaked: Summer of '69