Thursday, June 29, 2006

so right to me

My first attempt at being a song writer, way back in 1997. Sung by Lars.

And yes, that is a Radel shruti box drone you hear in the background, and not a particularly well-tuned one at that. But somehow that didn't seem to matter very much...

Click here to listen to song

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Bombay Jayashri by the beach

Tuesday night Praveen dropped in bearing gifts of two CDs of Bombay Jayashri: these are the first recordings I have of hers. Following dinner at Spice Kitchen in Alwarpet, we drove to Besant Nagar beach around 11.30 pm. Turned out there was a power outage - the area was pitch dark, and it was raining to boot. Lovely. We parked by the beach and listened to songs from her Subramanya Bharathi collection AtmA (Charsur, 1999). I particularly liked her ninnai charan aDaindEn in punnAgavarAli, notwithstanding the instrumental asampUrna vivAdi mEla interlude. And mazhai was quite delightful.

A different texture to Wednesday night: this time Tiruvanmiyur beach at midnight with UFO. Had had an exhausting day, and was generally subdued and contemplative for many reasons. varuvAi varuvAi varuvAi kaNNA and suTTum vizhi resonated the most, as we watched frothy waves dissolve into the inky blank shore.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

mothers and breast lumps

Tuesday morning began with the sombering news that the mother of Mrs. S., my next door neighbour, had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and had just had a mastectomy. What shook me up was that she had discovered the lump nearly seven months ago and hadn't told anyone. The news hit too close to home. For nearly four or five months after my mother had found her breast lump, she had kept her discovery a secret, and it took my return to India (in Feb 2004) for her to share this with me - and show me the tennis-ball-sized thing the day I landed in Chennai.

Why do some people conceal such a discovery? Denial? Fear of the worst possible outcome? In the case of my mother, she said she didn't want anyone else to worry about her or take care of her, other than me - her son and only immediate family. And she hadn't told me earlier as she hadn't wanted to have me drop what I was doing and leave the US in a panic in the middle of my academic (teaching) year. Utterly incomprehensible to most, but she was so steadfast in her conviction that she had done the right thing by not telling anyone that I couldn't help but respect her decision retrospectively.

Amma passed away Feb 3 this year, after battling the cancer for nearly twenty nine months. It is hard to comprehend how Mrs. S's mom, who stays next door for most part, could have known all about my mother's battle with the disease and yet have chosen to keep silent about her own, not even telling her own daughter. Then again, maybe not so hard to comprehend after all.

This is for all the mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, and girlfriends out there: please detect AND let those who love you know if you find something out of the ordinary. We would rather know sooner than later so we don't live with the knowledge we could have caught it in time if...

Monday, June 26, 2006

mAmi plays mAnjI

This recording of my guru Smt. Kalpagam Swaminathan playing the Muttuswami Dikshitar kRti rAmachandrENa samrakShito'ham (rAga: mAnjI, tAla: rUpaka) was made by Srini Pichumani in 1997 at mAmi's Indira Nagar home in Chennai. It has recently made its way to the internet, thanks to Ramji and Vidya.

I have listened to this rendition so many times, and never cease to be amazed by the precision with which she plays it. Or you can listen to what I - my own harshest critic - would consider a pale imitation (requires Real Player).

The antara gAndhAra is probably the only feature that sets mAmi's version apart from the Semmangudi/MSS version. It also figures noticeably in her rendition of the other MD kRti shrI sarasvatI hitE (also requires Real Player).

Friday, June 23, 2006

podcasting for fun and (non-) profit

My current explorations around audio-blogging and podcasting are restricted to music and poetry: but what I really would like to do is to make some of my online courses available with audio and video. Googling for antecedents I just came across this news- now several months old - that a Harvard University computer science Ph.D. student is offering an introductory computer and internet course in audio and video podcast format. And now Stanford and University of Michigan Dentistry School are podcasting lectures hosted on Apple's iTunes U. Very cool, but not without its discontents.

Hmmm... much as I despise separating out my life/blog into mutually exclusive compartments, maybe this does call for a separate blog like this.

Monday, June 19, 2006

mishti lover

kolkata cravings
i taste your juicy secrets
sticky-fingered bliss

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Dhanyasi and more...

A pleasant Sunday, all things considered. Woke up at 10 am to a call from Aniruddh inviting me over for lunch, prepared by him. Pulao, mouth-watering bhindi masala made specially for this okraphile, tayir-saadam, home-made pickles, appalaam, topped off with mango custard. Caught up with his parents who are so utterly warm and gracious. Browsed through the spoils of A's recent book&reprint hunting expedition to Bangalore, and took his extra copy of Epistemology of the Closet.

Then, off to veena class with Kalpagam maami at 2 pm. We've been stuck on this Mahalakshmi kritis project for a while, and are now due to
complete mangala dEvatayA before taking on s'rI bhArgavI. Some snippets of the
dhanyAsi AlApana included here for the benefit of Satish, a friend from Orkut.

Grocery shopping at Nilgiris with plans of resuming cooking after a hiatus. Rs. 600 for three measly bags of stuff. To be on the safe side, got mostly frozen stuff - the last ambitious trip had resulted in a kilo of tomatoes that efficiently proceeded to decompose after one or two fortunate(?) ones found their way into a hastily-prepared omelette/scrambled-egg hybrid.

Evening trip to Besant Nagar (unbelievably crowded) beach for Processing with UFO. Post-processing, we walked over to Canton/ Beach Palms, with a power-outage making for a pleasant candle-lit dinner, marred only slightly by the rivulets of sweat that consumed a good 15 paper napkins until the electricity made a cameo reappearance. Then we sat in the car and listened to four tracks from Sinead O'Connor's Faith and Courage.

On the way back, said hi to Praveen and Felix at Adyar Cafe Coffee Day which was bursting at the seams with soccer-enthusiasts glued to the tv.

Listen to rAga dhanyAsi from today's class (mp3 6MB, 3MB, and streaming audio formats)

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Apple logo

The old Apple inverted rainbow logo (1976-1998) said a lot and I've had a sticker on my door, desk or car since 1991, which was when I first got a Mac for my own use. The logo, according to the head of Apple France, signifies the symbol of lust and knowledge, bitten into, all crossed with the colors of the rainbow in the wrong order. You couldn't dream of a more appropriate logo: lust, knowledge, hope, and anarchy.

Over the years I've seen queer Apple users come up with interesting variations, such as enclosing the rainbow apple within a pink triangle, or superimposing it on the biangle.

Unfortunately Apple replaced the rainbow Apple logo with a solid-coloured one around the time they launched Jaguar (Mac OS X) in 1998.

The old rainbow stickers are a prized commodity, and there's at least one instance of a car being broken into to steal the sticker .

Mac aficionados go to great extents to recreate the old inv-rainbow logo.