Shifting

 In the past month or two, physician more about cutting through hectic work schedules, store maneovering hefty month-end targets and sinking into an ennui (impossible to shrug off), refractionist I carved out time for two main activities- one, search and buy a good music system (hi-end, assembled and absolutely a delight) and two, catch up on reading. Thankfully, April served a plethora of holidays to enjoy both. In any case, the sultry and humid weather that swamped Bombay disallowed any activity beyond home. And both IPL & the current on-going tussle between multi-plex owners & producers ensured no release worth watching hit the theaters.

I saw two flicks I had missed earlier – on DVD. 13B was engrossing and entertaining. Though not overtly scary, it carried enough drama to hold viewer’s interest;  however, the director failed minutes before the climax. Jai Veeru was absolutely disgusting – the premise was so kiddish, I am sure it couldn’t have even looked good on paper. Why did they even waste time & money filming it?

Coming to books, I finished Jeffery Archer’s latest release – Paths of Glory. It’s a ficitonalized account of mountaineer George Mallory, who may or may not be the first person to set foot on Mt. Everest. Archer narrates the story in his inimitable fashion, peppering it with interesting anecdotes, starting it from the beginning, in a saga-fashion, just like many of his previous works.

Since reaching Mt. Everest would inevitably involve a bit of India, there is a tiny section set in Bombay (so that’s why he was here last year, to research and get a feel?). However, I found that sliver entirely uninteresting and completely uninspiring, and certainly a huge disappointment. I expected better from Archer, even if the story is set in 1920’s. Rather, I found Vikram Bhatt’s research (or imagination) of that era much more vivid & compelling in 1920 (even though it is downright gross to compare two different media – films & books – but then, a book allows for more in-depth detailing, which makes Archer’s ommision even futher glaring!)

Overall, the novel is a good light read, not comparable to his legendary works, a notch lower than his previous Prisoner of Birth (of which, I have his duly signed copy), but certainly much above the other mass I read.

The biggest letdown was John Grisham’s The Associate. With an awesome build-up, and a terrific story-line (about a young associate haunted by his seemingly reckless past), the novel could have been sensational. Sadly, its climax simply shatters all the good work of previous pages. In fact, there is no climax, no end at all – so much so, I had to check & recheck whether the copy I bought had the last few pages missing! Either Grisham was in a hurry to publish it (which seems unlikely) or he has a sequel in mind (which could be a possibility). Either ways, I expected better.

Other than these two, I read several other relatively unknown authors (though all the cover jackets proclaimed them #1 New York Times Best Sellers!). A colleague (who knows my penchant for reading) keeps regularly passing me these books. They are an excellent read to pass a Saturday evening & whole Sunday. Some are genuinely gripping till the time they last, but soon fade off. The proximity of these reads ensure a gala confusion- characters of one have seagued into another. But one thing, most are set in American towns (often smaller ones from where the authors originate), and hence give an absorbing & hitherto unknown insight. As they last, I like to be part of these people, using my imagination where the author has not filled in, and enjoy them like long-lost friends dropping in home. These novels usually don’t have complex tales, and generally carry happy endings. And oh yes, the amount of coffee at work (almost always bad at work place) and the general sense of ‘work’ there keeps me guessing, is working in America really that ‘glamorous’? Some, looked like a TV mini-series rather than a full-blown movie. So, that’s where the difference lies between the good and the great!

My latest finish in this lot are , Mary Higgins Clark’s The Second Time Around and Nora Roberts’ Birthright. Clark’s novel is better of the two. Both carry some suspense. Both have strong women protagonists. And both should read Agatha Christie to realize that ‘the murderer’ should be a suspect from a pool of people who are properly introduced and given enough word space, so that needle of suspicion can keep spinning. Roberts fails miserably here. The wrong-doer is from a bunch of side-characters, whom I had nearly skimmed over. She could have given more time there to the side-characters so that the reader could have kept guessing which one is ‘the one’- instead she wastes valuable pages on what essentially is a Mills-and-Boons type of romance, with elongated (and perfect) love making (after a while it became so irritating that I simply skipped pages anytime the hero and heroine were alone), ending in soft sighs, tears flowing down and breaths going choppy.

There were more, but they have slipped my memory for now. Will try to write on them later.

 

In the past month or two, ophthalmologist cutting through hectic work schedules, visit maneuvering hefty month-end targets and sinking into an ennui (impossible to shrug off), clinic I carved out time for two main activities- one, search and buy a good music system (hi-end, assembled and absolutely a delight) and two, catch up on reading. Thankfully, April served a plethora of holidays to enjoy both. In any case, the sultry and humid weather that swamped Bombay disallowed any activity beyond home. And both IPL & the current on-going tussle between multi-plex owners & producers ensured no release worth watching hit the theaters.

I saw two flicks I had missed earlier – on DVD. 13B was engrossing and entertaining. Though not overtly scary, it carried enough drama to hold viewer’s interest; however, the director failed minutes before the climax. Jai Veeru was absolutely disgusting – the premise was so kiddish, I am sure it couldn’t have even looked good on paper. Why did they even waste time & money filming it?

Coming to books, I finished Jeffery Archer‘s latest release – Paths of Glory. It’s a fictionalized account of mountaineer George Mallory, who may or may not be the first person to set foot on Mt. Everest. Archer narrates the story in his inimitable fashion, peppering it with interesting anecdotes, starting it from the beginning, in a saga-fashion, just like many of his previous works.

Since reaching Mt. Everest would inevitably involve a bit of India, there is a tiny section set in Bombay (so that’s why he was here last year, to research and get a feel?). However, I found that sliver entirely uninteresting and completely uninspiring, and certainly a huge disappointment. I expected better from Archer, even if the story is set in 1920’s. Rather, I found Vikram Bhatt’s research (or imagination) of that era much more vivid & compelling in 1920 (even though it is downright gross to compare two different media – films & books – but then, a book allows for more in-depth detailing, which makes Archer’s omission even futher glaring!)

Overall, the novel is a good light read, not comparable to his legendary works, a notch lower than his previous Prisoner of Birth (of which, I have his duly signed copy), but certainly much above the other mass I read.

The biggest letdown was John Grisham‘s The Associate. With an awesome build-up, and a terrific story-line (about a young associate haunted by his seemingly reckless past), the novel could have been sensational. Sadly, its climax simply shatters all the good work of previous pages. In fact, there is no climax, no end at all – so much so, I had to check & recheck whether the copy I bought had the last few pages missing! Either Grisham was in a hurry to publish it (which seems unlikely) or he has a sequel in mind (which could be a possibility). Either ways, I expected better.

Other than these two, I read several other relatively unknown authors (though all the cover jackets proclaimed them #1 New York Times Best Sellers!). A colleague (who knows my penchant for reading) keeps regularly passing me these books. They are an excellent read to pass a Saturday evening & whole Sunday. Some are genuinely gripping till the time they last, but soon fade off. The proximity of these reads ensure a gala confusion- characters of one have segued into another. But one thing, most are set in American towns (often smaller ones from where the authors originate), and hence give an absorbing & hitherto unknown insight. As they last, I like to be part of these people, using my imagination where the author has not filled in, and enjoy them like long-lost friends dropping in home. These novels usually don’t have complex tales, and generally carry happy endings. And oh yes, the amount of coffee at work (almost always bad at work place) and the general sense of ‘work’ there keeps me guessing, is working in America really that ‘glamorous’? Some, looked like a TV mini-series rather than a full-blown movie. So, that’s where the difference lies between the good and the great!

My latest finish in this lot are , Mary Higgins Clark‘s The Second Time Around and Nora Roberts’ Birthright. Clark’s novel is better of the two. Both carry some suspense. Both have strong women protagonists. And both should read Agatha Christie to realize that ‘the murderer’ should be a suspect from a pool of people who are properly introduced and given enough word space, so that needle of suspicion can keep spinning. Roberts fails miserably here. The wrong-doer is from a bunch of side-characters, whom I had nearly skimmed over. She could have given more time there to the side-characters so that the reader could have kept guessing which one is ‘the one’- instead she wastes valuable pages on what essentially is a Mills-and-Boons type of romance, with elongated (and perfect) love making (after a while it became so irritating that I simply skipped pages anytime the hero and heroine were alone), ending in soft sighs, tears flowing down and breaths going choppy.

There were more, but they have slipped my memory for now. Will try to write on them later.


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Yesterday, viagra sale poet, director & writer Gulzar celebrated is 73rd birthday. Thanks to his recent successes, he is one name who is still pretty reknowned amongst the young generation. These days, his Kaminey‘s Dhan Te Nan is quite popular. And earlier this year, he co-won the prestigious Oscar for Jai Ho (Slumdog Millionaire)

Due to this, every radio channel worth its airwaves played his songs on their daily ‘oldie goldie’ programmes. By ten pm, I was furiously switching between four channels, simultaneously sms’ing to two friends the favorite songs (multi-tasking, eh!).

Well, as the frenzy endied, I thought I had to list out a few of his songs that the Melody Queen Lata Mangeshkar has graced with her mellifluous voice; after all, both have immense mutual respect for each other. She has sung in most of his films. And he has directed her home production (Lekin).  The association started right from Bandini, when a young Gulzar wrote a lovely lyric about a love-lorn woman, based on  refrains from Radha-Krishna lovetale.  Mora gora ang lai le continues to enthrall listeners, old and new;  S D Burman’s frugal but fruitful music enchants.

(As always, this is a random list – not in any particular order, and since Mora gora ang lai le has been mentioned above, and deserves to be before any list,  it is not mentioned below).

Yaara seeli seeliLekin – A heart-stopping, breath-taking, wide-sweep & panaromic number that spans emotions ranging from pathos to fear to loneliness to numbness. The pain of the spirit caught between the material and the nether worlds finds a haunting echo in Gulzar’s words ‘pairon mein na saaya mere, sar pe na saayiin re, mere saath jaaye na meri parchhaiin re‘. Indeed, it’s said ghosts do not have shadows. But at a deeper level, it’s about not having a companion; its about loneliness. Having said that, let me admit, more than a lyric-based song, or even a tune-based one (after all, it’s a folk-tune resurrect; I have even heard Reshma’s similar number), it is purely and wholly Lata Mangeshkar’s song. She takes the track to an impossibly high altitude; and the alaap in the end is a crescendo designed and created to make your heart miss several beats!

Dil dhoondta hai phir wohi fursat ke raat din / Ruke ruke se qadam ruk-ke baar baar chaleMausam – Had destiny not meted out its savage blow that fateful July in 1976, I firmly believe Madan Mohan & Gulzar could have jointly produced several more such precious gems. Alas, that was not to be! In fact, Madan Mohan Saab couldn’t even live to enjoy Mausam‘s success. Latadi sang three lovable numbers- the faster version of Dil dhoondta hai, the pain-lashed Ruke ruke se qadam and the impish Chhadi re chhadi kaisi gale mein padi.

Thodi si zameen thoda aasman tinko bas ek aashiyan Sitara – Gulzarsaab‘s forte has been his imagery. The moon can be a pillow or a plate. The eyes can emit fragrance. The roads can curve and course. The sun can set like a ghoonghat being unveiled. Time will be a fruit hanging from the tree-trunks. Anything is possible with his pen. In Thodisi zameen, he conjures up a rustic household replete with ‘lepa hua chulha’, ‘chhota sa jhoola’ and ‘saundhi saundhi khushboo‘. My favorite lines are in the last stanza – Raat kat jaayegi din kaise guzarenge, baajre ke kheton mein kauvve udayenge…baajre ke sitton jaise bete ho jawan. And when Latadi squeezes in that extra sweetness, one can only listen with a tender smile and a fond heart; and yes, her little giggle is like the wind-chimes’ tinkle on a languidly warm breezy day.

Zeehal-e-musqin makunbaranjish bahaal-e-hijra bechara dil haiGhulami – Never mind that the song opens with a rather ungainly Huma Khan prancing on hot Rajasthani sand. Ignore her. Close your eyes and savor that angelic voice nimbly skipping over the high-pitched lines – Kabhi kabhi shaam aise dalti hai – immediately, one can visualize a stark orange sun dipping into the ochre desert expanse. Gulzarsaab‘s words are tricky here; one, he uses strict Urdu in the opening lines. Two, the song spans varying emotions through its four stanzas, and hence there is no single theme. Laxmikant-Pyarelal and Gulzar are a rare combination; but this song (and the other solo Mere pee ko pawan kis gali le chali) shows that when great talents merge, they create magic. Zeehale musqin has been a childhood favorite, and I recall learning its full lyrics way back in 1984-85 when the film released.

Ghungta gira hai …Koi mere maathe ki bindiya saja de re mai dulhan si lagti hun dulhan bana de re Palkon Ki Chhaon Mein – Laxmikant-Pyarelal and Gulzar once again sparkle their talents in this Meraj-directed film, starring Hema Malini (Meraj was Gulzar’s assistant, if I am not too mistaken). I love the thought in this song. A lady feels she is a bride, and wishes to be dressed up so. Once more, Gulzar’s impeccable imagery is at work – ‘aankhon mein raat ka kaajal saja ke’ and ‘mai aangan mein thande savere bichhadun’. It’s a short number; barely 3 minutes long, but it’s packed with solid feelings. And needless to add, Latadi (one of her low-pitch songs) sounds divine! When she whispers ‘mai dulhan si lagti hun‘, the heavens eagerly advance to color the universe in love!

Humne dekhi hai unn aankhon ki mahakti khushbooKhamoshi – This one has scorching lyrics. Let the relationship be unnamed, don’t assault it with a label. I loved the usage of ‘ilzaam’ here. As also the line ‘pyaar koi bol nahi pyar koi raag nahi, ek khamoshi hai…‘ Indeed, a very refreshing and practical take on love. Hemant Kumar’s music is an array of softly swaying violins that suit the song’s sombre mood.

Jahan pe savera ho basera wahin hainBasera – I was still in my knickers when (while watching the film on VCR), this song knocked my air out. Ever since, I haven’t recovered and it still tingles my inner core. I marvel that a human voice could go so high and yet remain so tuneful and melodic. Hats off to Latadi and RD Burman for pulling this feat off. It’s much later that I could look beyond its easy tune and superlative rendition, and comprehend the beautiful words as well. Na mitii na gaada, na sona sajaana, jahan pyaar dekho wahiin ghar basaana…so true!

Jiya jale jaan jale nainon tale dhuan chale Dil Se – Thematically, this song is Koi mere maathe ki‘s extension; a love-lorn heroine on the threshold of holy matrimony sings about meeting her beloved. In fact, full credit to Latadi to render lines like ‘honth sil jaate unnke narm hothon se magar’ with such grace that no one even fleetingly thought of it as distasteful. Gulzar’s wordings are immensely sensuous; he writes about a woman sensuosly rolling in the bed with desire, but what a way to present it – Raat bhar bechairi mehdi pisti hai pairon tale, kya karein kaise kahein raat kab kaise kate! The song’s ending is marvellous; and it is said Latadi didn’t really ‘sing’ that. She was rehearsing the alaap, and A R Rahman recorded it. Whoa! Now that’s humungous talent, indeed!

Yeh shahar bada purana hai / O dil banjaare khol doriyan / Mere sarhane jalaao sapne / Khud se baatein karte rahna / Ek haseen nigaah kaMaya Memsaab – However vague the film might have been, one can simply not fault its music. Hridayanath Mangeshkar and Gulzarsaab team up to create five top-notch Latadi solos. And Latadi delivers them with panache and style that only she can provide. Whereas in Mere sarhane jalao sapne she takes her voice low to give a very haunting and disturbed effect, however, in O dil banjaare, she simply opens it up and leaves it to sway over the musical notes, like an irreverent kite flying joyously but naughtily teasing a balmy zephyr. (Incidentally, I find O Dil banjaare the best of the lot). In Khud se baatein karte rahna, Latadi retracts her voice, clinging it to her heart, stingily, painfully. Gulzarsaab again borders the risque in Yeh shahar bada purana hai when he writes ‘Yeh jism hai kachhi mitti ka, bhar jaaye toh rissne lagta hai’. In totality, a very satisfying album…but yes, it truly grows on you. Initially, I had found it a bit disjointed. But over the years, I have become its ferocious fan.

Tere bina jeeya jaaye na / Aajkal paaon zameen par / Aapki aankhon meinGhar – It’s so difficult to decide the better of these three songs. Whenever I play Ghar‘s CD, I am forced to hear them in a row, one after the other. Having said that, I must confess I have a very special corner for Aapki aankhon mein – especially for that small laughter just before Latadi delivers the line ‘aapki badmaashiyon ke yeh naye andaaz hain’ – naughty, jovial albeit shy and taken-aback; all packed tightly in seven words. I am confident her rendition would have made Rekha’s work much easy. Gulzarsaab‘s favorite composer R D Burman does complete justice to his lyrics.

Iss mod se jaate hain / Tum aa gaye ho noor aa gaya hai / Tere bina zindagi se Aandhi – Like Ghar, another album I have to listen to in its entirety. It is well nigh impossible to pluck just single rose from this garden! However, another confession – Tere bina zindagi has a better edge, lyrically, since it captures the futility of a failed relationship succcintly; life moves on, but is that really life? So well stated. Singing wise, I believe, Latadi is absolutely remarkable in Iss mod se jaate hai; she wonderfully stretches out the word ‘mod‘ , giving it tiny ripples, and provides through sound just the correct meaning to it. When she sings noor aa hi jaata hai, otherwise Hindi film music would have been absolutely ‘bewajah‘! Once again, R D Burman at his sublime best.

Phir kisi shaakh ne phenki chhanvLibaas – Alas, the film never released. Mercifully, its music found a way out. One of RDB-Gulzar’s last outings together, Libaas is an out-and-out Latadi score, with her delivering four power-punching numbers. Be it the subdued Sili hawa chhoo gayi or the regretful Khamosh sa afsaana or the mirthy Kya bhala kya bura, they are all top-league. In the last, Panchamda joins her for a small party. Gulzarsaab captures those carefree days once more- ‘saara din ghazalein pirona, raat bhar aawaargi’! My favorite, though, is ‘Phir kisi shaakh ne’; partly because I loved Ashaji’s Khaali haath shaam aayi (Ijaazat) and  inwardly yearned for Lataji‘s voice in that song. But thankfully, RDB created a similar melody for Lataji in Phir kisi shaakh ne. Also, the song effectively speaks about fear of falling in love again after a doomed relationship : Hum toh bhoole hue the dil ko magar, dil ne phir aaj kyun humein yaad kiya!

Din jaa rahe the raaton ke saayeDoosri Sita – I have written on this song earlier here.

Chaand churake laaya hun chal baithen church ke peeche / Gulmohar gar tumhara naam hota Devta – Oh, there we go again…RDB and Gulzarsaab, but this one is a little-known nugget, which has somehow slipped public attention. Else, Chaand churake laaya hun is a terrific track about a couple meeting surreptitiously behind a church, sitting below a tree. Light. Frothy. One can only smile bemusedly at Gulzarsaab’s innovative lyrics. So straightforward, yet so deviant. You know what I adore in Lataji’s voice here? She sounds a bit ‘rondu’ (sorry, I couldn’t find a better way to describe, and trust me, its not wholly degrading), just the way Shabana Azmi sometimes looks.

Thoda hai thode ki zarurat hai Khatta Meetha –  That every common man’s lament:   you have a little, you desire a little more; another Gulzarsaab triumph. As the song moves on various characters, each one’s desire finds a befitting verse. Latadi and Kishoreda sing this breezy Rajesh Roshan composition.

Yaad na aaye koi lahu na rulaaye koi / Ae hawa kuchh toh bata / Paani paani re khaare paani re Maachis – Another complete album. Vishal Bhardwaj zoomed his way up the charts in his debut, and Latadi was right there, supporting him. Paani paani re was quite a big hit (though the biggest ones were Chappa chappa charkha chale). My favorites – the lines ‘jungle se jaati pagdandiyon mein dekho toh shaayad paanv milenge’ (in Ae hawa).

Chai chhapa chhai chhapak ke chhai Hu Tu Tu – I adore the joi-de-vivre & playfulness in this song, and in Lataji’s voice. It’s as if she is having a blast, and she so efficaciously reflects the image of ‘paani mein chheente udate hui ladki’. But what is the ‘whistle-inducing moment’ in the song? When she says ‘janaab‘ – aah! She makes the words worth being words!

Tu mere paas bhi hai tu mere saath bhi hai phir bhi tera intezaar hai Satya – Taste honey or listen to this song. Same thing. A spirited track. Very light. Very energizing. Very melodious. Another Vishal Bhardwaj success.

And add Jahan Tum Le Chalo‘s  Shauq khwaab ka ho toh neend aaye na, we have quite a rich Gulzar-Vishal-Lata ouvre.

Dil hoom hoom kare  /   Jhuthi muthi mitwa aawan dole / Samay o dheere chalo –  Rudaali – She ‘hoom’ed  her way through the nation’s heart, and the song is no less  a neo-classic, mentioned with revere and remains till date a connoisseur’s treasure.  My special favorite is the percussion-and-santoor based rain number – Jhuthi muthi mitwa; Latadi’s voice is as refreshing as the first rains on heated earth.  The third best is the three-part Samay o dheere chalo.

And finally, I end this piece with the lines from Kinaara‘s song which actually symbolizes and summarizes Lata Didi, and nothing more is left to say  :  Meri aawaaz hi pehchaan hai … (and let me say, needless to say ‘gar yaad rahe‘ ). Thank you, Gulzarsaab for these immortal lines, and huge thank you Latadi, for singing such brilliant songs, in the way that only you can.

I had skipped this compilation last year. But breaking traditions is not a good habit. Hence, nurse this year I started to do this in November itself, physiotherapy so that I could complete it before year-end. Though, honestly & admittedly, I am not confident whether I am a good person to do this any longer. My listening to new songs is limited & restricted. The joy in finding a good song is absent because today’s music hardly fascinates me. The song structure has changed, mukhdas have elongated, interludes vanished and melody is on back-seat. Not my ideal situation.

Strangely, the songs that managed to excite me turned out to be ones that their music composers seemed to have abandoned mid-way (Jashn hai jeet ka, Bin tere marjaavan main, Ring ringa, Rafa Dafaet al).

Still, I will give it a shot from the small ambit that I managed to explore. As always, this list is in no particular order. And, this is a purely personal compilation, ingrained with my biases and prejudices.

Daata sun le Maula sun leJail – Lata Mangeshkar’s second foray this year into the recording room (other than Hanuman Chalisa), post her knee operation, was good in parts. I enjoyed the so-called ‘remix’ version better. It had a lilting tabla beat, and overall more cohesiveness than the ‘main’ version. Lata Didi, as usual, uplifted Shamir Tandon’s composition, which to put it politely, was a pretty ordinary composition. If this were Madhur’s answer to Ae maalik tere bande hum (Do Aankhen Barah Haath), it was a very weak reply indeed. Still, it was manna from heaven for Lata Didi devotees.

Otherwise, Jail‘s music held little interest. Sharib-Toshi’s Saiyan Ve burnt the dance floors for a while, but it’s longevity is suspect (especially since the film has bombed badly at box-office).

Tan ganga mann prem ki dhara and Krishna krishnaUmariya Kailli Tohre Naam – I welcome any musical serendipity. This time, in the form of a Bhojpuri film. From a chance ‘google’ search, I learnt that Lata Didi (Lata Mangeshkar) has sung one Bhojpuri song this year, under Raamlaxman’s baton. It took awhile to find the cd. And boy! was I bowled. As the cd unravelled – there was not just one or two but full three songs by the Diva! Krishna Krishna (in two parts; one, a duet with Bhupendra Singh; and second, a solo) sounded to my ears a nineties recording that seemed to have dug its way into this film. It’s purely in Hindi. Wonder which film it was originally recorded for. Tan ganga man prem ki dhara sounded newer. It’s a soft song, with lovely sitar and flute riffs and an effective chorus line.

(Incidentally, the mp3 I bought had hoardes of other Bhojpuri songs, which kept my interest alive. Will write on them later).

Jai Ho and Khatiye pe mai padi thi (Ring ring ringa) – Slumdog Millionaire – Frankly, I’d puke if I hear Jai Ho (the song or the phrase) any more. At one point, it seemed to be gushing out from any form of media that one could lay one’s senses on. Having said that, the song (when it released) held my attention for awhile. But, admittedly, it wasn’t anything really path-breaking. On the contrary, it felt like a left-over from Subhash Ghai’s Yuvraaj (which could be a fact too, since Mr. Ghai’s ‘acknowledgement’ is credited on the jacket sleeve).

I enjoyed Ring Ringa – with its Choli-ke-peeche-kya-hai-beats and flavor. Sadly, it’s only one stanza long, and could have done with more. And I missed Madhuri Dixit’s dance, too.

The instrumental pieces were brilliant, and in the end, Rahman winning an Oscar is more to do with Indian pride, than the compositions per se, right?

You may be just a little bit deewaniAladin – When it comes to love ballads, Vishal-Shekhar reign supreme in current era. They conjure very passionate love songs, with pithy but interesting interludes (in fact, they are the only music composers who seem to be working on this important aspect of a song). You May Be has some ravishing piano and santoor pieces. Other than this, I liked Bach ke o bachke and Giri giri re bijuria. One of the few albums I thoroughly enjoyed in its entirety.

Jashn hai jeet ka and Barso reLondon Dreams – Two outstanding numbers from Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy made the album worthwhile.
Jashn hai jeet ka is brilliant. In its essentially aggressive tune, it hides an unexplainable tragic undertones, beneath a macho exterior; and as someone wrote, almost Shakespearean in its tenor. The moral fall of the hero, even though he ostensibly conquers the world. Abhijeet Ghoshal’s singing is superb. When he opens with ‘Sun le khuda, gaur se zara, aasman mera ab aasman mera’ there is arrogance and attitude, which is required. I wish it were longer. One stanza makes it stunted.

On the other hand, Barso re (Vishal Dadlani & Roop Kumar Rathod) is full of life and energy. Roop Kumar Rathod amazed me – I couldn’t believe that this otherwise staid ghazal singer could throw his voice to such a monumental pitch, enveloping the listener in sheer aural frenzy.

Sadly, the album’s balance songs cut no ice.

Aasman odh kar13B – Yet another half-finished song, which could have definitely done with another stanza. It’s a soothing love ballad, that seems to stretch to the horizon languidly.

Fiqrana hoke jeeye na kyunBlue – Blue sank at the box office, but it’s music was buoyant. A R Rahman gets to do a full-fledged commercial score (again after Yuvraj – incidentally, one which I loved), and like the professional he is, he delivers. I loved Fiqraana the best, especially those guitar riffs, and more so once the song settles into its dominant rhythm. Curiously, there was a very nineties-ish number which no one noticed (or rather, ignored) Yaar mila tha saiyan ik din yaar mila tha (Udit Narayan, Madhushree), which had a very good tune – though I couldn’t make any head or tail of the lyrics. They meant to tell a story (about a coquettish girl meeting her lover’s friend) but somehow it couldn’t carry it forward well. I missed Anand Bakshi or Sameer in this one! The third good number is the part-seductive, part-mysterious Rahnuma (Sonu Nigam, Shreya Ghoshal)- it’s leitmotif has shades of James Bondish tenor, but in all its pretty listenable. Chiggy Wiggy should have had a shorter English portion (two minutes is way too long) but I reckon they wanted to utilize Kylie Mynogue to the hilt. It’s a pretty average number, and since all FM channels have drilled into listener’s heads, it’s likeable for the simple reason of familiarity. Blue Theme starts off well, but could have been better embellished in the second half.

Title song – Kaminey – Alongwith Aladin & Blue, the third album which I listened in its entirety wihout hitting the ‘next’ key on my CD player(s). I have reviewed it quite in detail here. It’s title song continues to haunt me. And now, I usually start off listening to this one, and then moving to the other songs.

BandaRaaz the Mystery Continues – Slowly, Bhatt-clans (including all their sattelites) music has alienated me. They came up with some really thought-worthy lyrics and music all through nineties. But their latest stuff makes me shudder. I still love to hear the earlier Raaz‘s music (Nadeem Shravan), but this one is too ‘sound’ oriented than ‘melody’ based. I liked the thematic Banda re, (with those chants and heavy chorus) and to a small extent Sharib-Toshi’s Maahi maahi.

MasakkaliDelhi 6 – Coming close on heels of last year’s Yuvraaj, I had very high expectations. In fact, Masakkali ostensibly held that promise further when heard in the promos. Sadly, I found Delhi 6′s music very disappointing. Indeed Masakkali was thoroughly enjoyable, with loads of superb interludes and wonderful singing (Mohit Chauhan, surprisingly in a very different avatar). Rahna Tu warmed the heart; it’s slow cadences swirled into the soul like mature wine. And, Saas gaari deve (Genda Phool) kept the foot tapping (though I am not sure why anyone in Delhi would sing a Madhya Pradeshi folk song).

Beyond these three the album simply crashed into a jarring, meaningless & noisy concoction esp Kala Bandar. The title track broke my heart. No, this is not the number I expected representing my city (and French wordings? Hello, where did that come from!). I expected something more enduring and endearing; and more profound lyrics than a bland line like ‘bas ishq mohabbat pyaar’ which seemed to be forcefully written rhyme for the equally plain first sentence.

Sapno se bhare naina – Luck By Chance As an album, quite a disappointment. However, I loved Sapnon se bhare naina – a tightly held track, just like tears threatening to fall from the eyes, but one holds back. However, the forced lyrics (Javed Akhtar) desperately let-down the composition, especially the second stanza made no sense (about sukh and chaina) – or was it too esoteric for my plain understanding? Anyways, I listen to the song for its wonderful tune, good music and Shankar’s effective singing.

Aalam guzarne ko and Marjawaan tere binKal Kissne Dekha – I laughed when I first heard Aalam guzarne ko, and re-checked if I had put on the correct CD. From where in good heaven’s name, did Sajid-Wajid retrieve this track, which is absolutely a long-lost cousin of Sonu Nigam’s private albums Jaan (released sometime in nineties)? I liked this song.

But the piece that absolutely blew me away was Shreya Ghoshal’s two-minute just-mukhda Tere bin marjaawan main kithe kithe jaawan main, carried along with an absolutely smashing tabla base. Why didn’t they complete this song?

Zindagi mein nayi baat hone ko haiMere Khwabon Mein Jo Aaye – Pandit brothers’ breakup is this decade’s biggest musical loss. Jatin-Lalit were a name that spelt quality music in the nineties. Their last joint collaboration – Fanaa– was very enjoyable. Post-breakup, Lalit Pandit is the only one prolific enough to have two-three releases. Tragically, none that stays with you for long. MKMJA had quite a lot of songs, but only three were listenable : Shreya’s Pahle to mere inn aankhon mein, Shaan’s Pathron ke bane in shaharon mein and Aishwarya’s Zindagi mein nayi baat hone ko hai.

In the last, one could faintly detect Jatin-Lalit of yore, especially in the beats. But hell! even this song is only one antara long!! Ouff!

Love mera hit hitBillu , Sab rishte naateDe Dana Dan and Aaj din chadya tere rang varga/ We twistLove Aaj Kal –I admit. I fail to fully appreciate or comprehend Pritam Chakraborty’s music – which I find gets pretty good (online) reviews, and mostly tops the charts. His usage of English words (often, inane – sample: ‘Shining like a setting sun like a pearl upon an ocean, feel me’) in lieu of interludes doesn’t cut ice with me.

Still, I can safely admit I enjoyed these four songs. Even though Love Aaj Kal fell short of Jab We Met’s expectations (musically as well as cinematically), still it was a pretty neat album. And, allow me to be candid enough to say, I liked De Dana Dan’s music, including the raunchy I am naughty hotty (which is superbly picturized on Neha Dhupia looking ooh-la-la). Yash Raj Films’ Dil Bole Hadippa carried a couple of good ones too – especially Yahan ishq hi hai rab aur khuda and the raunchy Innke ooche ooche dream

Piya jaise laadoo moti choor ke and Raffa daffa and Mann Ka RadioRadio – I am adding the last song purely from point of view of how good marketing can make an idiotic song also play in one’s head all day long. Ok, I give some credit to the easy tune as well, which has tendency of sticking on. And it sticks big time. I must have hummed the mukhda for days. But the lyrics?! Give me a break! Full-too attitude and Band jo baje tera, khulke tu muskura – if this is meant to be philosophical in the current Age, God help our youngsters! Himesh’s ‘new’ voice is no better than his ‘original’ ones – though his nose does poke its nose back in, in the antaras.

Overall, Radio wasn’t that big a disaster as I had initially envisaged. Hearing it in a colleague’s car, with no other choice, I quite fell for some of the numbers, especially Rekha Bhardwaj’s Piya jaise laadoo (Wow!), Shaam ho chali (good one), Zindagi jaise ek radio (bad lyrics, good tune) and Himesh’s Rafa dafa. In Piya jaise laadoo, traces of Kuchh Meetha Ho Jaaye’s title song could be easily heard. Rafa dafa, is again, a half-finished song which needed more life. At less than three minutes, with just one antara, it sounds a half-finished composition.

Sufi tere pyaar meinJai Veeru – Atrocious film, awful music, but Sufi tere pyaar mein holds interest. It’s one of those songs you don’t mind in a compilation.

So that’s all from me for 2009. Looking forward to the new year, and perhaps, once again the return of melody.

Happy New Year to all Random Expressions readers.


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Yesterday, women’s health poet, tadalafil director & writer Gulzar celebrated is 73rd birthday. Thanks to his recent successes, he is one name who is still pretty reknowned amongst the young generation. These days, his Kaminey‘s Dhan Te Nan is quite popular. And earlier this year, he co-won the prestigious Oscar for Jai Ho (Slumdog Millionaire)

Due to this, every radio channel worth its airwaves played his songs on their daily ‘oldie goldie’ programmes. By ten pm, I was furiously switching between four channels, simultaneously sms’ing to two friends the favorite songs (multi-tasking, eh!).

Well, as the frenzy endied, I thought I had to list out a few of his songs that the Melody Queen Lata Mangeshkar has graced with her mellifluous voice; after all, both have immense mutual respect for each other. She has sung in most of his films. And he has directed her home production (Lekin). The association started right from Bandini, when a young Gulzar wrote a lovely lyric about a love-lorn woman, based on refrains from Radha-Krishna lovetale. Mora gora ang lai le continues to enthrall listeners, old and new; S D Burman’s frugal but fruitful music enchants.

(As always, this is a random list – not in any particular order, and since Mora gora ang lai le has been mentioned above, and deserves to be before any list, it is not mentioned below).


Yaara seeli seeliLekin – A heart-stopping, breath-taking, wide-sweep & panaromic number that spans emotions ranging from pathos to fear to loneliness to numbness. The pain of the spirit caught between the material and the nether worlds finds a haunting echo in Gulzar’s words ‘pairon mein na saaya mere, sar pe na saayiin re, mere saath jaaye na meri parchhaiin re‘. Indeed, it’s said ghosts do not have shadows. But at a deeper level, it’s about not having a companion; its about loneliness. Having said that, let me admit, more than a lyric-based song, or even a tune-based one (after all, it’s a folk-tune resurrect; I have even heard Reshma’s similar number), it is purely and wholly Lata Mangeshkar’s song. She takes the track to an impossibly high altitude; and the alaap in the end is a crescendo designed and created to make your heart miss several beats!

Dil dhoondta hai phir wohi fursat ke raat din / Ruke ruke se qadam ruk-ke baar baar chaleMausam – Had destiny not meted out its savage blow that fateful July in 1976, I firmly believe Madan Mohan & Gulzar could have jointly produced several more such precious gems. Alas, that was not to be! In fact, Madan Mohan Saab couldn’t even live to enjoy Mausam‘s success. Latadi sang three lovable numbers- the faster version of Dil dhoondta hai, the pain-lashed Ruke ruke se qadam and the impish Chhadi re chhadi kaisi gale mein padi.

Thodi si zameen thoda aasman tinko bas ek aashiyanSitara – Gulzarsaab‘s forte has been his imagery. The moon can be a pillow or a plate. The eyes can emit fragrance. The roads can curve and course. The sun can set like a ghoonghat being unveiled. Time will be a fruit hanging from the tree-trunks. Anything is possible with his pen. In Thodisi zameen, he conjures up a rustic household replete with ‘lepa hua chulha’, ‘chhota sa jhoola’ and ‘saundhi saundhi khushboo‘. My favorite lines are in the last stanza – Raat kat jaayegi din kaise guzarenge, baajre ke kheton mein kauvve udayenge…baajre ke sitton jaise bete ho jawan. And when Latadi squeezes in that extra sweetness, one can only listen with a tender smile and a fond heart; and yes, her little giggle is like the wind-chimes’ tinkle on a languidly warm breezy day.

Zeehal-e-musqin makunbaranjish bahaal-e-hijra bechara dil haiGhulami – Never mind that the song opens with a rather ungainly Huma Khan prancing on hot Rajasthani sand. Ignore her. Close your eyes and savor that angelic voice nimbly skipping over the high-pitched lines – Kabhi kabhi shaam aise dalti hai – immediately, one can visualize a stark orange sun dipping into the ochre desert expanse. Gulzarsaab‘s words are tricky here; one, he uses strict Urdu in the opening lines. Two, the song spans varying emotions through its four stanzas, and hence there is no single theme. Laxmikant-Pyarelal and Gulzar are a rare combination; but this song (and the other solo Mere pee ko pawan kis gali le chali) shows that when great talents merge, they create magic. Zeehale musqin has been a childhood favorite, and I recall learning its full lyrics way back in 1984-85 when the film released.

Ghungta gira hai …Koi mere maathe ki bindiya saja de re mai dulhan si lagti hun dulhan bana de rePalkon Ki Chhaon Mein – Laxmikant-Pyarelal and Gulzar once again sparkle their talents in this Meraj-directed film, starring Hema Malini (Meraj was Gulzar’s assistant, if I am not too mistaken). I love the thought in this song. A lady feels she is a bride, and wishes to be dressed up so. Once more, Gulzar’s impeccable imagery is at work – ‘aankhon mein raat ka kaajal saja ke’ and ‘mai aangan mein thande savere bichhadun’. It’s a short number; barely 3 minutes long, but it’s packed with solid feelings. And needless to add, Latadi (one of her low-pitch songs) sounds divine! When she whispers ‘mai dulhan si lagti hun‘, the heavens eagerly advance to color the universe in love!

Humne dekhi hai unn aankhon ki mahakti khushbooKhamoshi – This one has scorching lyrics. Let the relationship be unnamed, don’t assault it with a label. I loved the usage of ‘ilzaam’ here. As also the line ‘pyaar koi bol nahi pyar koi raag nahi, ek khamoshi hai…‘ Indeed, a very refreshing and practical take on love. Hemant Kumar’s music is an array of softly swaying violins that suit the song’s sombre mood.

Jahan pe savera ho basera wahin hainBasera – I was still in my knickers when (while watching the film on VCR), this song knocked my air out. Ever since, I haven’t recovered and it still tingles my inner core. I marvel that a human voice could go so high and yet remain so tuneful and melodic. Hats off to Latadi and RD Burman for pulling this feat off. It’s much later that I could look beyond its easy tune and superlative rendition, and comprehend the beautiful words as well. Na mitii na gaada, na sona sajaana, jahan pyaar dekho wahiin ghar basaana…so true!

Jiya jale jaan jale nainon tale dhuan chaleDil Se – Thematically, this song is Koi mere maathe ki‘s extension; a love-lorn heroine on the threshold of holy matrimony sings about meeting her beloved. In fact, full credit to Latadi to render lines like ‘honth sil jaate unnke narm hothon se magar’ with such grace that no one even fleetingly thought of it as distasteful. Gulzar’s wordings are immensely sensuous; he writes about a woman sensuosly rolling in the bed with desire, but what a way to present it – Raat bhar bechairi mehdi pisti hai pairon tale, kya karein kaise kahein raat kab kaise kate! The song’s ending is marvellous; and it is said Latadi didn’t really ‘sing’ that. She was rehearsing the alaap, and A R Rahman recorded it. Whoa! Now that’s humungous talent, indeed!

Yeh shahar bada purana hai / O dil banjaare khol doriyan / Mere sarhane jalaao sapne / Khud se baatein karte rahna / Ek haseen nigaah kaMaya Memsaab – However vague the film might have been, one can simply not fault its music. Hridayanath Mangeshkar and Gulzarsaab team up to create five top-notch Latadi solos. And Latadi delivers them with panache and style that only she can provide. Whereas in Mere sarhane jalao sapne she takes her voice low to give a very haunting and disturbed effect, however, in O dil banjaare, she simply opens it up and leaves it to sway over the musical notes, like an irreverent kite flying joyously but naughtily teasing a balmy zephyr. (Incidentally, I find O Dil banjaare the best of the lot). In Khud se baatein karte rahna, Latadi retracts her voice, clinging it to her heart, stingily, painfully. Gulzarsaab again borders the risque in Yeh shahar bada purana hai when he writes ‘Yeh jism hai kachhi mitti ka, bhar jaaye toh rissne lagta hai’. In totality, a very satisfying album…but yes, it truly grows on you. Initially, I had found it a bit disjointed. But over the years, I have become its ferocious fan.

Tere bina jeeya jaaye na / Aajkal paaon zameen par / Aapki aankhon meinGhar – It’s so difficult to decide the better of these three songs. Whenever I play Ghar‘s CD, I am forced to hear them in a row, one after the other. Having said that, I must confess I have a very special corner for Aapki aankhon mein – especially for that small laughter just before Latadi delivers the line ‘aapki badmaashiyon ke yeh naye andaaz hain’ – naughty, jovial albeit shy and taken-aback; all packed tightly in seven words. I am confident her rendition would have made Rekha’s work much easy. Gulzarsaab‘s favorite composer R D Burman does complete justice to his lyrics.

Iss mod se jaate hain / Tum aa gaye ho noor aa gaya hai / Tere bina zindagi seAandhi – Like Ghar, another album I have to listen to in its entirety. It is well nigh impossible to pluck just single rose from this garden! However, another confession – Tere bina zindagi has a better edge, lyrically, since it captures the futility of a failed relationship succcintly; life moves on, but is that really life? So well stated. Singing wise, I believe, Latadi is absolutely remarkable in Iss mod se jaate hai; she wonderfully stretches out the word ‘mod‘ , giving it tiny ripples, and provides through sound just the correct meaning to it. When she sings noor aa hi jaata hai, otherwise Hindi film music would have been absolutely ‘bewajah‘! Once again, R D Burman at his sublime best.

Phir kisi shaakh ne phenki chhanvLibaas – Alas, the film never released. Mercifully, its music found a way out. One of RDB-Gulzar’s last outings together, Libaas is an out-and-out Latadi score, with her delivering four power-punching numbers. Be it the subdued Sili hawa chhoo gayi or the regretful Khamosh sa afsaana or the mirthy Kya bhala kya bura, they are all top-league. In the last, Panchamda joins her for a small party. Gulzarsaab captures those carefree days once more- ‘saara din ghazalein pirona, raat bhar aawaargi’! My favorite, though, is ‘Phir kisi shaakh ne’; partly because I loved Ashaji’s Khaali haath shaam aayi (Ijaazat) and inwardly yearned for Lataji‘s voice in that song. But thankfully, RDB created a similar melody for Lataji in Phir kisi shaakh ne. Also, the song effectively speaks about fear of falling in love again after a doomed relationship : Hum toh bhoole hue the dil ko magar, dil ne phir aaj kyun humein yaad kiya!

Din jaa rahe hain ke raaton ke saayeDoosri Sita – I have written on this song earlier here.

Chaand churake laaya hun chal baithen church ke peeche / Gulmohar gar tumhara naam hotaDevta – Oh, there we go again…RDB and Gulzarsaab, but this one is a little-known nugget, which has somehow slipped public attention. Else, Chaand churake laaya hun is a terrific track about a couple meeting surreptitiously behind a church, sitting below a tree. Light. Frothy. One can only smile bemusedly at Gulzarsaab’s innovative lyrics. So straightforward, yet so deviant. You know what I adore in Lataji’s voice here? She sounds a bit ‘rondu’ (sorry, I couldn’t find a better way to describe, and trust me, its not wholly degrading), just the way Shabana Azmi sometimes looks.

Thoda hai thode ki zarurat haiKhatta Meetha – That every common man’s lament: you have a little, you desire a little more; another Gulzarsaab triumph. As the song moves on various characters, each one’s desire finds a befitting verse. Latadi and Kishoreda sing this breezy Rajesh Roshan composition.

Yaad na aaye koi lahu na rulaaye koi / Ae hawa kuchh toh bata / Paani paani re khaare paani reMaachis – Another complete album. Vishal Bhardwaj zoomed his way up the charts in his debut, and Latadi was right there, supporting him. Paani paani re was quite a big hit (though the biggest ones were Chappa chappa charkha chale). My favorites – the lines ‘jungle se jaati pagdandiyon mein dekho toh shaayad paanv milenge’ (in Ae hawa).

Chai chhapa chhai chhapak ke chhaiHu Tu Tu – I adore the joi-de-vivre & playfulness in this song, and in Lataji’s voice. It’s as if she is having a blast, and she so efficaciously reflects the image of ‘paani mein chheente udate hui ladki’. But what is the ‘whistle-inducing moment’ in the song? When she says ‘janaab‘ – aah! She makes the words worth being words!

Tu mere paas bhi hai tu mere saath bhi hai phir bhi tera intezaar haiSatya – Taste honey or listen to this song. Same thing. A spirited track. Very light. Very energizing. Very melodious. Another Vishal Bhardwaj success.

And add Jahan Tum Le Chalo‘s Shauq khwaab ka ho toh neend aaye na, we have quite a rich Gulzar-Vishal-Lata ouvre.

Dil hoom hoom kare / Jhuthi muthi mitwa aawan dole / Samay o dheere chaloRudaali – She ‘hoom’ed her way through the nation’s heart, and the song is no less a neo-classic, mentioned with revere and remains till date a connoisseur’s treasure. My special favorite is the percussion-and-santoor based rain number – Jhuthi muthi mitwa; Latadi’s voice is as refreshing as the first rains on heated earth. The third best is the three-part Samay o dheere chalo.

And finally, I end this piece with the lines from Kinaara‘s song which actually symbolizes and summarizes Lata Didi, and nothing more is left to say : Meri aawaaz hi pehchaan hai … (and let me say, needless to say ‘gar yaad rahe‘ ). Thank you, Gulzarsaab for these immortal lines, and huge thank you Latadi, for singing such brilliant songs, in the way that only you can.


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Number Plate

My car’s front number plate has become a joke. If it had been a chain mail, read more it would have got forwarded the world over several times over. And perhaps (like all chain mails) return to me.

Some two-three months back, viagra sale the number plate decided to loosen all its ties, seek and hang out adventurously. Rather, hang down. Like a good car-owner, I reprimanded it and took it to the repair-shop (one decrepit one, near my place) and replaced its screws (at an exorbitant price for the job that size). Obviously, the number plate didn’t like to get screwed. Next day, when I reached Lonavla (for a review, darlings, not for holiday – just in case you start off on how lucky I am, which I am not) I found that the number plate had again broken free, and was gleefully swinging like a trapeze artiste in a circus.

I thought I’d just leave it. Let the poor kid enjoy it’s living on the edge. (Well, procrastination and laziness were two other reasons, but I am not really going to confess that up, no m’dahlings? )

Suddenly, I discovered that Bombay, the city that minds its business, the city that doesn’t care who your neighbor is, had undergone a crash-course in social behavior. Or rather lack of it. That man on the cycle smiles and points at me. Maybe he knows me (since in any case, I have a fabulous memory where faces are concerned). I smile a hello back as well as one can smile a ‘hello’. But he continues, like pumping an invisible phone (for a few minutes I think they must have invented such a thing). It took me couple of more seconds before enlightenment dawned upon me. Of course! He’s pointing at my swingin’ plate. I know, I gesture back. At the next crossing, another person nearly man-hits me. Man-hits…like a bird-hit plane. This one is more voluble. ‘Number plate’ he shouts. I know, I retort. Next day, an idler near my house eyes me curiously. I rush into the car, not very gay about his looks. ‘It hangs dude’ he drawls his eyes gesturing toward someplace ahead of me. Without thinking, I nearly look at my pant’s zipper! I know, I mumble dis-concertedly and zoom off.

This continues over the days. I am with a colleague. Someone is again jabbing that invisible phone. ‘Is he mad?’ my colleague asks. Now, wizened and knowledged, I smile back, ‘No, he’s pointing at the hanging number plate!’ My colleague collapses in laughter. ‘Haila, maa kasam…this is too much now’. I know, I nod.

Having every Tom, Dick & Hari targetting at the poor plate, I gently coaxed it to correction. No screwing, baby. Just a little fun in tying you up. No leathers. No rubber. Just a plain jute string (that I picked up from my friendly neighborhood-grocery-store-turned-department-mart). Gentle. The plate gives in.

And there it hangs, tied but not screwed.

Blank

Last night, before signing off from an online social networking account, on an undefinable impulse, I wrote the status as ‘Blank’. There was no motive or reason to do so, except that I was actually feeling blank. Well, as an aside (and ironically) on the physical level I was feeling filled up – on the way home, had had nearly half a box of dry-fruits, a belated Diwali gift from a client. (Blame it on the awful traffic snarls between Churchgate and suburbs which allows one enough time to munch and hog and actually do pretty many other things).

But that’s digressing. So I typed ‘blank’, switched off the laptop, shut the lights and slipped into a deep sleep. It could be due to lack of proper sleep the night before (had returned very late) and I might have been very tired. And then, sleep had escaped me for several hours. Anyways, last night I literally fell into a slumber the moment I hit the pillow.

When I checked my inbox today, I was surprised to see four messages asking my well-being, and if all was well. At first, it surprised me. How could suddenly four different people in different parts of the world suddenly think of my well-being? But when I checked that the two of these were from that same online site, realization dawned upon me. Of course, that ‘blank’ had done the trick. Bless my friends. They think for me when I am hurt.

But today, I wasn’t. Hurt, that is. Nor sad. And everything is OK. Actually, more than OK. Ostensibly. Blank is not necessarily negative. At least, I didn’t feel so – when I ruminated on it (again between horrendous traffic entanglements -this time, on way to office). Blank is state zero. It’s not happiness. It’s not sadness. It’s the perfect equilibrium. Perhaps, akin to state of nirvana that sages talk about. It’s a level where neither do I crave for anything nor do I lament a loss. It’s …well…it’s blank. Hence, my friend’s needn’t worry. I am fine.

But then, as the movie title goes, everybody says I am fine!

Delhi & Customer Service

I guess it called for a separate post. But the rush-rush visit during Diwali weekend hardly gave me time to actually move around or meet anyone; hence, nothing interesting to post. Delhi amazes me on every visit. Because every time I visit, there is either a new flyover up, running and completed or a new section of Metro begun.

The airline goofed up big time on my return-flight. The original flight was canceled & they never bothered to inform. Thankfully, the night before I checked with makemytrip.com (from where I had originally booked the ticket) and they graciously gave me the information, and that I had been put on another flight (in the airline’s sister concern). Good enough, I mused. That means a full-fare flight for a low-cost payment.

I should have held my joy. Next day at the airport, I received the shock (and – this despite checking with the airline’s ticket counter outside the terminal) that my booking had not been transferred. When I acted the voluble & angry customer ( and since I am in the service industry, I had several reference points), the lady at the counter transferred me to the next plane flying out (just 30 minutes later).

Which didn’t mean too much trouble as I had time. So, out of courtesy which we never seem to get from our customers (and a whim), I apologized to the girl at the counter. Her reaction shook me. ‘That’s so kind of you, sir’ she said in a voice that was awash in relief. ‘At least you understood it’s not my fault. I am so grateful. Please do have a pleasant flight’

Don’t we take it a bit granted to shout at hapless employees who might not be responsible for the goof-up? Do think over, and next time, no harm being human and being polite.

(And I hope some of my customers also read this and act upon it).

Movies

Every Saturday night I watch a movie. At least, I try to, unless I am extremely lazy or of course, there is nothing decent to watch. Since my definition of ‘decent’ is pretty vast and accommodating, so, I end up at my favorite PVR quite regularly. I hate it when two movies release the same day. That means having to give one up for the other. And by next week, the film is too stale for my taste. That’s how I missed Wake Up Sid, having chosen Do Knot Disturb. Bad choice. I was expecting better from David Dhawan. Lara Dutta stole the show. Though, I must admit Riteish Deshmukh is zooming upward as a comedy-prince. In fact, he did a fantastic job in Aladin too, bringing about a charming innocence that combined fabulously Big B’s exuberance; their camaraderie shone, as did the quaint town Khwaish created. Good for a weekend watch.

Also, Aladin‘s music has quite taken my attention. Vishal & Shekhar conjure a beautiful love ballad You May Be and a few other very good tunes. I have been playing Aladin‘s CD in my car in loop ever since I bought it.

Acid Factory turned out to be all water, no acid. Leave alone scorching, it didn’t even singe. Perhaps, the audience is smart. I saw it on opening Saturday. The theater was three-quarters empty! Though, to give it a credit the performances were all good.

The other movie that I loved was All The Best. Once again (a la No Entry) Bipasha Basu ends up being mistaken for Fardeen’s wife, and we have a rumble-tumble ride full of genial, clean & wholesome humor. Watch it. I guess it’s still playing at the theaters.

Signing off for now. Will be back soon.


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With the sheer number of restaurants that Bombay has, approved one can devote an entire blog. If I go by the count, nurse it seems people in Bombay hardly cook at home. Comparatively, stomach Delhi has fewer joints. But quantity does not equate quality. So the law of averages catches up here too.

Here I present a small list of restaurants I have enjoyed visiting (and re-visiting) over the past two years:

Pop Tate’s (Seven Bungalows, Andheri West) – “You will love this place” my friend had remarked, when she agreed to meet me here, more out of compulsion than choice. I had just entered this bustling metropolis, and the only familiar areas were Four & Seven Bungalows (don’t ask why the area is called so; no one has been able to provide a satisfactory answer). She was spot-on. I fell in love with the casual ambiance, the cool menu card (jugglery of the famous Archies comics characters) and the awesome sizzler’s. Though I wish it had bigger space (but then, in Bombay, any space is expensive -and as a corollary, good – space). For quite sometime, I spent several lavish & lazy Sundays, sipping a chilled beer, trying out its various sizzler’s and pastas and counting the number of TV/Small time actors that visit regularly. My favorite was the simple Chicken Steak Sizzler (till I turned Veg) and currently, I love the Paneer Sizzler. Also, its simple Margharita Pizza is sumptuous. Anyone who visits me in Bombay is sure to find himself/herself ensconced here for a nice dinner.

Urban Tadka (Seven Bungalows, Andheri West) – From the same chain as Pop Tate’s , Urban Tadka (and its counterpart Masala Mantar at Four Bungalows) is a marvelous Indian joint. The place is set up in ethnic style, with old film posters lining the walls. The food is delicious – not too spicy, not too oily. But amazingly perfect. The ‘dahi chutney’ that they serve alongside tickles the palette. From Masala Mantra, do try their ‘Rajma Biryani’, served exquisitely in an earthen ‘handi’. It will get you clamoring for more, for sure! Usually, I use Masala Mantra for home-orders and Urban Tadka for on-site visit.

Soam (Babulnath Marg, Near Chowpatty) – Gujarati/Rajasthani cuisine never felt so gracious and grand. Situated near Mumbai’s famous Chowpatty Beach (remember that zany song Chowpatty jaayenge bhel puri khaayenge from Phool Khile Hain Gulshan Gulshan), Soam is a an elegant joint, very up-market, very neat, very decent and very sober. It’s aam-ras is the sweetest.

Crystal Restaurant (Chowpatty) – Who would have thought that this non-descript, almost run-down place (near Wilson College) would serve the tastiest Indian food…almost home-made in taste. And it serves phulkas (chapattis), instead of the standard tandoori rotis. Crystal’s rajma, paneer bhurji and daal are yummy (even as I type this, my mouth waters!) Top off your lunch/dinner with a luxuriously rich kheer. The prices are reasonable. And the best part? They still play old songs – and by old, I mean really old – Mohd Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar, Mukesh from fifties and sixties era.

Bachelor’s (Chowpatty) – Well, if you have been to South Bombay and haven’t had Bachelor’s cream-and-strawberry, then you have missed something. Bachelor’s is not really a joint. It’s a kiosk. And it serves juice and sandwiches. But people throng this tiny outlet for its cream-and-strawberry, which is so hard to describe. It’s an experience! It is open till late in the night.

Stomach II (Seven Bungalows) – “So where’s the first part” my cousin had jokingly quizzed. I had no clue then. But it’s first part is apparently at Bandra. If you want Chinese cuisine, without fuss, at average rates, and neatly presented, head towards Stomach II. It’s USP are those variety of sauces they serve – from Sweet Garlic to Dynamite to Schezwan… it becomes difficult to decide which one to choose!

Relish (Churchgate, Opp KC College) – Introduced by a colleague, it’s a fabulous joint for ‘world’ food. Once again, very unpretentious but extremely neat (just the way I like restaurants to be). I fell in love with its Cheese Tortillas. Do also try their Mexican Lasagna and variety of Pastas.

(To Be Continued Later)
(Please click here to read the Second Part of this Series)


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In the past month or two, refractionist cutting through hectic work schedules, sildenafil maneuvering hefty month-end targets and sinking into an ennui (impossible to shrug off), this web I carved out time for two main activities- one, search and buy a good music system (hi-end, assembled and absolutely a delight) and two, catch up on reading. Thankfully, April served a plethora of holidays to enjoy both. In any case, the sultry and humid weather that swamped Bombay disallowed any activity beyond home. And both IPL & the current on-going tussle between multi-plex owners & producers ensured no release worth watching hit the theaters.

I saw two flicks I had missed earlier – on DVD. 13B was engrossing and entertaining. Though not overtly scary, it carried enough drama to hold viewer’s interest; however, the director failed minutes before the climax. Jai Veeru was absolutely disgusting – the premise was so kiddish, I am sure it couldn’t have even looked good on paper. Why did they even waste time & money filming it?

Coming to books, I finished Jeffery Archer‘s latest release – Paths of Glory. It’s a fictionalized account of mountaineer George Mallory, who may or may not be the first person to set foot on Mt. Everest. Archer narrates the story in his inimitable fashion, peppering it with interesting anecdotes, starting it from the beginning, in a saga-fashion, just like many of his previous works.

Since reaching Mt. Everest would inevitably involve a bit of India, there is a tiny section set in Bombay (so that’s why he was here last year, to research and get a feel?). However, I found that sliver entirely uninteresting and completely uninspiring, and certainly a huge disappointment. I expected better from Archer, even if the story is set in 1920’s. Rather, I found Vikram Bhatt’s research (or imagination) of that era much more vivid & compelling in 1920 (even though it is downright gross to compare two different media – films & books – but then, a book allows for more in-depth detailing, which makes Archer’s omission even futher glaring!)

Overall, the novel is a good light read, not comparable to his legendary works, a notch lower than his previous Prisoner of Birth (of which, I have his duly signed copy), but certainly much above the other mass I read.

The biggest letdown was John Grisham‘s The Associate. With an awesome build-up, and a terrific story-line (about a young associate haunted by his seemingly reckless past), the novel could have been sensational. Sadly, its climax simply shatters all the good work of previous pages. In fact, there is no climax, no end at all – so much so, I had to check & recheck whether the copy I bought had the last few pages missing! Either Grisham was in a hurry to publish it (which seems unlikely) or he has a sequel in mind (which could be a possibility). Either ways, I expected better.

Other than these two, I read several other relatively unknown authors (though all the cover jackets proclaimed them #1 New York Times Best Sellers!). A colleague (who knows my penchant for reading) keeps regularly passing me these books. They are an excellent read to pass a Saturday evening & whole Sunday. Some are genuinely gripping till the time they last, but soon fade off. The proximity of these reads ensure a gala confusion- characters of one have segued into another. But one thing, most are set in American towns (often smaller ones from where the authors originate), and hence give an absorbing & hitherto unknown insight. As they last, I like to be part of these people, using my imagination where the author has not filled in, and enjoy them like long-lost friends dropping in home. These novels usually don’t have complex tales, and generally carry happy endings. And oh yes, the amount of coffee at work (almost always bad at work place) and the general sense of ‘work’ there keeps me guessing, is working in America really that ‘glamorous’? Some, looked like a TV mini-series rather than a full-blown movie. So, that’s where the difference lies between the good and the great!

My latest finish in this lot are , Mary Higgins Clark‘s The Second Time Around and Nora RobertsBirthright. Clark’s novel is better of the two. Both carry some suspense. Both have strong women protagonists. And both should read Agatha Christie to realize that ‘the murderer’ should be a suspect from a pool of people who are properly introduced and given enough word space, so that needle of suspicion can keep spinning. Roberts fails miserably here. The wrong-doer is from a bunch of side-characters, whom I had nearly skimmed over. She could have given more time there to the side-characters so that the reader could have kept guessing which one is ‘the one’- instead she wastes valuable pages on what essentially is a Mills-and-Boons type of romance, with elongated (and perfect) love making (after a while it became so irritating that I simply skipped pages anytime the hero and heroine were alone), ending in soft sighs, tears flowing down and breaths going choppy.

There were more, but they have slipped my memory for now. Will try to write on them later.


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Number Plate

My car’s front number plate has become a joke. If it had been a chain mail, page it would have got forwarded the world over several times over. And perhaps (like all chain mails) return to me.

Some two-three months back, buy the number plate decided to loosen all its ties, and hang out adventurously. Rather, hang down. Like a good car-owner, I reprimanded it and took it to the repair-shop (one decrepit one, near my place) and replaced its screws (at an exorbitant price for the job that size). Obviously, the number plate didn’t like to get screwed. Next day, when I reached Lonavla (for a review, darlings, not for holiday – just in case you start off on how lucky I am, which I am not) I found that the number plate had again broken free, and was gleefully swinging like a trapeze artiste in a circus.

I thought I’d just leave it. Let the poor kid enjoy it’s living on the edge. (Well, procrastination and laziness were two other reasons, but I am not really going to confess that up, no m’dahlings? )

Suddenly, I discovered that Bombay, the city that minds its business, the city that doesn’t care who your neighbor is, had undergone a crash-course in social behavior. Or rather lack of it. That man on the cycle smiles and points at me. Maybe he knows me (since in any case, I have a fabulous memory where faces are concerned). I smile a hello back as well as one can smile a ‘hello’. But he continues, like pumping an invisible phone (for a few minutes I think they must have invented such a thing). It took me couple of more seconds before enlightenment dawned upon me. Of course! He’s pointing at my swingin’ plate. I know, I gesture back. At the next crossing, another person nearly man-hits me. Man-hits…like a bird-hit plane. This one is more voluble. ‘Number plate’ he shouts. I know, I retort. Next day, an idler near my house eyes me curiously. I rush into the car, not very gay about his looks. ‘It hangs dude’ he drawls his eyes gesturing toward someplace ahead of me. Without thinking, I nearly look at my pant’s zipper! I know, I mumble dis-concertedly and zoom off.

This continues over the days. I am with a colleague. Someone is again jabbing that invisible phone. ‘Is he mad?’ my colleague asks. Now, wizened and knowledged, I smile back, ‘No, he’s pointing at the hanging number plate!’ My colleague collapses in laughter. ‘Haila, maa kasam…this is too much now’. I know, I nod.

Having every Tom, Dick & Hari targetting at the poor plate, I gently coaxed it to correction. No screwing, baby. Just a little fun in tying you up. No leathers. No rubber. Just a plain jute string (that I picked up from my friendly neighborhood-grocery-store-turned-department-mart). Gentle. The plate gives in.

And there it hangs, tied but not screwed.

Blank

Last night, before signing off from an online social networking account, on an undefinable impulse, I wrote the status as ‘Blank’. There was no motive or reason to do so, except that I was actually feeling blank. Well, as an aside (and ironically) on the physical level I was feeling filled up – on the way home, had had nearly half a box of dry-fruits, a belated Diwali gift from a client. (Blame it on the awful traffic snarls between Churchgate and suburbs which allows one enough time to munch and hog and actually do pretty many other things).

But that’s digressing. So I typed ‘blank’, switched off the laptop, shut the lights and slipped into a deep sleep. It could be due to lack of proper sleep the night before (had returned very late) and I might have been very tired. And then, sleep had escaped me for several hours. Anyways, last night I literally fell into a slumber the moment I hit the pillow.

When I checked my inbox today, I was surprised to see four messages asking my well-being, and if all was well. At first, it surprised me. How could suddenly four different people in different parts of the world suddenly think of my well-being? But when I checked that the two of these were from that same online site, realization dawned upon me. Of course, that ‘blank’ had done the trick. Bless my friends. They think for me when I am hurt.

But today, I wasn’t. Hurt, that is. Nor sad. And everything is OK. Actually, more than OK. Ostensibly. Blank is not necessarily negative. At least, I didn’t feel so – when I ruminated on it (again between horrendous traffic entanglements -this time, on way to office). Blank is state zero. It’s not happiness. It’s not sadness. It’s the perfect equilibrium. Perhaps, akin to state of nirvana that sages talk about. It’s a level where neither do I crave for anything nor do I lament a loss. It’s …well…it’s blank. Hence, my friend’s needn’t worry. I am fine.

But then, as the movie title goes, everybody says I am fine!

Delhi & Customer Service

I guess it called for a separate post. But the rush-rush visit during Diwali weekend hardly gave me time to actually move around or meet anyone; hence, nothing interesting to post. Delhi amazes me on every visit. Because every time I visit, there is either a new flyover up, running and completed or a new section of Metro begun.

The airline goofed up big time on my return-flight. The original flight was canceled & they never bothered to inform. Thankfully, the night before I checked with makemytrip.com (from where I had originally booked the ticket) and they graciously gave me the information, and that I had been put on another flight (in the airline’s sister concern). Good enough, I mused. That means a full-fare flight for a low-cost payment.

I should have held my joy. Next day at the airport, I received the shock (and – this despite checking with the airline’s ticket counter outside the terminal) that my booking had not been transferred. When I acted the voluble & angry customer ( and since I am in the service industry, I had several reference points), the lady at the counter transferred me to the next plane flying out (just 30 minutes later).

Which didn’t mean too much trouble as I had time. So, out of courtesy which we never seem to get from our customers (and a whim), I apologized to the girl at the counter. Her reaction shook me. ‘That’s so kind of you, sir’ she said in a voice that was awash in relief. ‘At least you understood it’s not my fault. I am so grateful. Please do have a pleasant flight’

Don’t we take it a bit granted to shout at hapless employees who might not be responsible for the goof-up? Do think over, and next time, no harm being human and being polite.

(And I hope some of my customers also read this and act upon it).

Movies

Every Saturday night I watch a movie. At least, I try to, unless I am extremely lazy or of course, there is nothing decent to watch. Since my definition of ‘decent’ is pretty vast and accommodating, so, I end up at my favorite PVR quite regularly. I hate it when two movies release the same day. That means having to give one up for the other. And by next week, the film is too stale for my taste. That’s how I missed Wake Up Sid, having chosen Do Knot Disturb. Bad choice. I was expecting better from David Dhawan. Lara Dutta stole the show. Though, I must admit Riteish Deshmukh is zooming upward as a comedy-prince. In fact, he did a fantastic job in Aladin too, bringing about a charming innocence that combined fabulously Big B’s exuberance; their camaraderie shone, as did the quaint town Khwaish created. Good for a weekend watch.

Also, Aladin‘s music has quite taken my attention. Vishal & Shekhar conjure a beautiful love ballad You May Be and a few other very good tunes. I have been playing Aladin‘s CD in my car in loop ever since I bought it.

Acid Factory turned out to be all water, no acid. Leave alone scorching, it didn’t even singe. Perhaps, the audience is smart. I saw it on opening Saturday. The theater was three-quarters empty! Though, to give it a credit the performances were all good.

The other movie that I loved was All The Best. Once again (a la No Entry) Bipasha Basu ends up being mistaken for Fardeen’s wife, and we have a rumble-tumble ride full of genial, clean & wholesome humor. Watch it. I guess it’s still playing at the theaters.

Signing off for now. Will be back soon.


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Eighty years back Goddess Saraswati chose to bless mankind, dentist She incarnated & gave it the most beautiful Voice ever heard. Lata Mangeshkar, medicine born this day in 1929, turns 80 today. On this auspicious day, coinciding with Vijay Dashmi (Dashera) this year, I bow before her and once more pay my gratitude for the innumerable pleasurable moments she has imparted with her mellifluous voice and melodious songs.

Her unsurpassable career zoomed into a never-declining orbit in 1949 when three consecutive hits installed her permanently into music lovers’ collective hearts – Barsaat, Andaz and Mahal (Aayega aanewaala). Since then, year after year she churned out hits upon hits, tirelessly – slogging her way from one studio to another to deliver those aah-inspiring melodies. In the eighties, (a majorly suspect-decade musically), she voluntarily took back-seat. But a repeat of 1949 was in the offing. Forty years after she blazed the musical countdowns, she repeated that feat. Once again, with three consecutive superhits – Maine Pyar Kiya, Chandni and Ram Lakhan (Bada dukh deena); proving that she was the undisputed queen. The Goddess had blessed the recording rooms again. And therafter, we had a musically decent decade.

For me, Lata Didi means more than just a ‘singer’. She is like my breath. An integral part of my being. Her voice has been a rock-solid constant. Time passes. Years roll by. Careers switch. Cities change. But her songs remain. Carried in various formats. Always close by. When the day gets tough, she soothes and caresses in the evenings. When the mornings are bright, she further adds color with her devotional numbers. When the evenings are warm, she plays like a gentle breeze.

My latest acquisition is a record-player (finally, I did buy one). And all the records I buy the lynchpin remains her songs have to be present in them. My eternal quest has entered an interesting phase. I am buying songs I had either heard in my childhood (e.g. Ram kare umar qaid saath saath lag jaayeAadat Se Majboor) or I had only known of but not heard (e.g Mohabbat khuda haiLove & God). There are many discs that I have bought either having a single or two songs. But they are worth it. My collection grows. And it gives me immense happiness.

Bahut bahut shukriya Lata Didi!

Aapko shat shat pranaam!

Long live Lata Didi!


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Eighty years back Goddess Saraswati chose to bless mankind, dentist She incarnated & gave it the most beautiful Voice ever heard. Lata Mangeshkar, medicine born this day in 1929, turns 80 today. On this auspicious day, coinciding with Vijay Dashmi (Dashera) this year, I bow before her and once more pay my gratitude for the innumerable pleasurable moments she has imparted with her mellifluous voice and melodious songs.

Her unsurpassable career zoomed into a never-declining orbit in 1949 when three consecutive hits installed her permanently into music lovers’ collective hearts – Barsaat, Andaz and Mahal (Aayega aanewaala). Since then, year after year she churned out hits upon hits, tirelessly – slogging her way from one studio to another to deliver those aah-inspiring melodies. In the eighties, (a majorly suspect-decade musically), she voluntarily took back-seat. But a repeat of 1949 was in the offing. Forty years after she blazed the musical countdowns, she repeated that feat. Once again, with three consecutive superhits – Maine Pyar Kiya, Chandni and Ram Lakhan (Bada dukh deena); proving that she was the undisputed queen. The Goddess had blessed the recording rooms again. And therafter, we had a musically decent decade.

For me, Lata Didi means more than just a ‘singer’. She is like my breath. An integral part of my being. Her voice has been a rock-solid constant. Time passes. Years roll by. Careers switch. Cities change. But her songs remain. Carried in various formats. Always close by. When the day gets tough, she soothes and caresses in the evenings. When the mornings are bright, she further adds color with her devotional numbers. When the evenings are warm, she plays like a gentle breeze.

My latest acquisition is a record-player (finally, I did buy one). And all the records I buy the lynchpin remains her songs have to be present in them. My eternal quest has entered an interesting phase. I am buying songs I had either heard in my childhood (e.g. Ram kare umar qaid saath saath lag jaayeAadat Se Majboor) or I had only known of but not heard (e.g Mohabbat khuda haiLove & God). There are many discs that I have bought either having a single or two songs. But they are worth it. My collection grows. And it gives me immense happiness.

Bahut bahut shukriya Lata Didi!

Aapko shat shat pranaam!

Long live Lata Didi!


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Hey bloggers, capsule
how has it been all the while I did a Mr. India and disappeared from this space. I guess, cure blogging is passe now, look
with every one worth his keypad chirping away on twitter. Frankly, I never really took to this social medium. The space is too short to incorporate my verbose thoughts. Yes, I fell for the initial euphoria of cine-stars’ daily updates, but I soon figured out they are not really there to interact and make friends with us aam-janta, unless of course, there is a forthcoming release, when the charm is more than conspicously visible. So twitter fell from my grace pretty soon.

Life has been so boringly routine that I really struggle to find something decent to put up here. Plus, my office shifted to far away South Bombay (though it beats me why they still call it ‘town’, and Bandra upwards ‘suburbs’), so I am these days spending quality time with my SX4.

Kerala

I paid two quick visits to Kerala, with the second one turning out to be mildly exciting. I reached Kochi airport past the counter closing time. A dour looking airline official rudely refused to take me and another late-comer in. It’s not a big airport, and it’s not too crowded either, and I still feel had he wished he could have bended a bit. The flight hadn’t even been fully boarded.

More than his refusal, I found his demeanor and way of speaking very arrogant, rude and definitely not customer friendly. You can’t summarily tell a customer to take the next day’s flight, especially when I cried out that I was on a day trip & wasn’t even carrying a change of clothes. Marie Antonniette and her infamous remarks on ‘if not bread let them have cakes’ from French history flashed across my mind.

Worse, no refunds either. Anyways, I crossed off Go Air from my list forever. Sorry Mr. Wadia, you need to have better staff on ground. And better email management at customer service desk too!

Thankfully, another airline’s badly delayed flight came to my rescue. They had a seat, and I quicly rushed to purchase a ticket, while hurriedly requesting them to keep the counter open till I did so. Had this flight not been there, I would have been horrendously stranded in Kochi sans clothes or hotel booking. Thank you, Spicejet!

The last I had been to Kochi was some five years back. We had a blast then. I had covered that visit in detail on this blog. However, time had erased memories of the town’s details pretty much. It’s a quaint little place surrounded by gigantic lakes which ignorant people like me confuse for the backwaters. One of its prettiest sites is by the lake-side watching the ships negotiating the tiny inlet from the sea towards the port. I wish the city council develops the area further to make it more tourist friendly.

During monsoons Kerala wraps itself in a lush & verdant dark green shawl. A short drive out of the city provides succor to city-tired eyes.

I also did a small tour of Delhi and Chandigarh – though, these were very uneventful.

Samsung

I think I have a bad karmic connection with airconditioners. First my car’s a/c’s compressor conked off. That happened just on the outside of the warranty’s expiry. Mercifully, MUL believes in customer delight and decided to help. Which Samsung clearly doesn’t believe in.

A new chapter got added to my run-in with Samsung’s horrendous customer service when my room a/c started playing truant. As usual, Samsung gave a tepid response and refused to provide any proper solution. The a/c remains status quo. And I have simply succumbed to its whims; thankfully, the weather is pretty cool these days.

Airline Woes

My woes with airlines continued beyond missing a flight.

While booking for my parents (who are coming to Bombay for a few days) inadvertantly I entered my name instead of my dad’s. This teeny & highly silly error cost me Rs 1500/- extra to rectify – I had to cancel one seat (the one with my name), incurring a cancellation charges of Rs 1000/- , including the travel site’s service charge, and Rs 500/- extra for the new correct named booking, as the ticket prices seem to fluctuate worse than stock markets.

Movies

Like I mentioned before, my Saturday sojourns to PVR continue. Raavan and Kites disappointed big time. The latter more so since it’s director Anurag Basu had created an immensely enjoyable Life In A Metro just before this dud. Perhaps the effort to ‘be different’ took its toll. I Hate Luv Storys is strictly for collegians; therefore, it didn’t cut too much ice though to be fair, it’s fairly entertaining while it lasts.

Raajneeti enthralled especially its fiery and fiesty first half. I felt the second half could have been crispier and should have dwelt more on Ranbir-Ajay face off instead of meandering into an unwanted sub-plot involving Ranbir’s foreigner girlfriend. Overall I found it extremely entertaining with enough meat to chew upon and lots of drama (& old-fashioned melodrama) to keep my interest tingling. A small but cute film Tum Milo Toh Sahi should be seen. It’s an endearing story involving a cafe and how people’s lives are affected when a multinational tries to usurp it via muscle power. Dimple & Nana are superb. Kabir’s direction effectively captures the requisite milieu and presents a very humane narrative.

I saw 2012 on DVD and regretted not watching it on big screen. I love these Ronald Emmerich ‘disaster’ flicks (Independence Day, Godzilla) which follow a fairly templated narrative – some random shots at the outset pertaining to the ‘problem’ , settling down to the main few characters, building up the crescendo to the problem & finally the resolution; all of this supported by immensely entertaining special effects. In 2012 he has upped the ante further. Watch it!

Music

Raavan failed as a movie but its music is sparkling. Rahman dishes out three memorable songs – Ranjha ranjha is my most favorite, followed by Thok de gilli and Bahne de. No other film score really managed to hold my attention barring a few songs here & there.

However more than film music what occupied my mind-space were a bulk of amazing non-film Lata Didi’s (Lata Mangeshkar) Marathi numbers. My heart flipped for Mee dolkar dolkar dolkar daryacha raja the moment I heard it. Sung with Hemant Kumar, this Hridayanath Mangeshkar gem ( I am told ) is a bumper hit Koli folk song. I can imagine the reason for its popularity. The tune is fantastic and Hridayanath embellishes it with some sumptuous interludes.

The gorgeous Mendichya paanawar, the graceful Majha saranga raja saranga , the sensuous Maalwoon taak deep and the hummable Waadal waaran sutlaga are other delightful numbers from this awesome bunch. You have to hear them to feel their greatness. In fact, I have often played Mendichya paanawar (what lovely beats & guitar riffs!) in loop. I wish Hridayanath Mangeshkar had utilized the full Suresh Bhatt poem instead of tuning only two stanzas. My recommendation – grab this as soon as you can. They are all bunched together in an easily available HMV release ‘Geet Shilp’.

I realized Hridayanath Mangeshkar has cultivated a very ‘elite’ image in Hindi films, but in Marathi he plays it to the gallery, and that too without compromising a wee bit on quality. ( A friend informed that it is his pre-eighties fare which is the bestest). He also displays a richness & fullness in his orchestration, experimenting much more with his interludes than what he usually does in his Hindi songs.

In order to understand his music better I also purchased Dhanwaan and Mashaal LP records – his two rare outings in Hindi in the early eighties.

While Yeh aankhen dekhkar from Dhanwaan is fairly popular, what jolted me was the foot-tapping disco number Idhar aa aa bhi jaa (Kishore Kumar). This was outright shocking but in a pleasant way. In Dhanwaan two other lesser known good songs are – Kuchh log mohabbat ko vyopaar samajhte hain (Lata Mangeshkar) and Maro bhar bhar pichkari (Kishore Kumar & Usha Mangeshkar). The only sore point was finding that the tune of Balle balle (Lata Mangeshkar, Mahendra Kapoor) resembles Mashaal’s Holi song a bit too much.

As a film Mashaal didn’t provide too much space for music. The songs end up looking mere fillers. Mujhe tum yaad karna (Lata Mangeshkar, Kishore Kumar) and Zindagi aa raha hoon main (Kishore Kumar) are well-known. But I really like the hidden gem, that beautiful Shiva-bhajan Om Namah Shivaya, which Latadi has sung with utmost piety (only she could have done it!!!)

Monsoons

The rains arrived in Mumbai on time. Alongwith it came those annual woes – water-clogged streets & mammoth traffic jams. Despite that rains still manage to evoke pleasant feelings. On a holiday it’s fun sipping hot coffee and listening to a nice LP record or reading a good book. Keeps one relaxed. What say?

I cannot believe six years have passed by since I started this page. Though I missed the 17th February deadline, urticaria it was always there in my heart & mind. I thank those few who actually remembered and sent me wishes for it. Coming close on heels to my own birthday, patient makes the short & sweet February even more special. Good I started it in this month only (honestly, more by chance than by design).

Yes, six years! That’s more than half a decade of writing, though erratic – mostly irregular – yet all there, ensconsed within this site, and its former avatar (on rediff.com); thoughts, stories, reviews and random other stuff enshrined on this nebulous but fabulous space called the world wide web.  Indeed the entire world and extremely wide – with readers from USA, Canada to Europe to Pakistan to India (mostly) to the far East, and one even from the far-flung Australia (though no longer here these days).

Of course, the blog has seen its very hectic & frenzied days, around 2004-06 peaking in 2005 when I was in Nepal, and seemed to have far larger time on hand. That’s when I reached my creative zenith, the highight being those stories that I churned out (if I may be a bit immodest) with superb elan and easy chutzpah. Many times, I go back to them, trying to reconstruct the moments when I wrote with a furious vigour.  Writing a story today looks well nigh impossible, though fragments of plots still crowd me. To give them shape & form requires much more (mental) free space than I have currently.  I haven’t given up. So I expect neither should the readers.

Random Expressions & I are grateful for all its readers for its sustenance & for all your love & affection.

Six months back, viagra here seeing me busy in a flurry of signing agreements & making fresh post-dated rental cheques, someone had remarked, “Oh, you are changing house?” I had laughed it off, “No, I am changing my landlord!” It was a good joke then, but it backfired quite soon. Looking back, I regret not making my own offer to the owner. The property prices were relatively low, and the house went off in what now retrospectively everyone sagely tells me in an unbelievably superb deal’. I was a fool. And more than that, scared. Buying a house in Mumbai is a Herculean task, and the thought of all those exorbitant installments & paperwork paralyzed me.

Ever since the house I lived in sold off, it was just a matter of counting days. While the new owner was magnanimous to allow lease extension, he had categorically stated that he ‘would need it back shortly’. The countdown had begun. But as the days went by, I slipped into a comfort zone.

But the clock was ticking, and the gong hit sometime January month-end when I received a call from my new landlord stating that he would need the house vacated by end-Feb. Last time, it took four long and intensive months to find a suitable place. This time round, I had to squeeze it within a month, and that too a month with less days! When I told this to my broker, I could almost hear him groan.

Thus began my grand search all over again. On weekends & on evenings I pillion-rode the broker’s Man Friday’s motorbike and searched empty flats, all in this area as I had stubbornly resolved not to leave Andheri. By the third or fourth one the guy’s conversation would begin on apologetic note: Probably, this one you will not like, but will you still prefer to see it, he’d ask timidly. Other than the house per se, I didn’t want any numerological mismatch. Due to this, I let go of a lovely flat, in the heart of Lokhandwala Complex.

Anyways, to cut a long story short, I zeroed in on a much smaller flat, but superbly done up, though with one caveat. The gentlemen (a very decent elderly person, who resembles my dad in demeanor & personality) didn’t wish to shift his entire furniture – which left me to dispose off my almirah & somehow squeeze in the cot he left behind. When I went to finalize the deal, mentally I was trying to place my stuff, especially my precious music system. I hope I didn’t come across too lost or absent-minded.

The gargantuan task of packing & shifting loomed large, and I tried to go about it as clinically & professionally as possible as my impatient & worrisome nature allowed ( I can almost visualize a few friends smirk as they read this line). Hired a packers-and-movers, who over the weekend prior to the D-day, came to do a small survey of the stuff, and on the appointed day (taken a day off), they charged in early morning, and by noon they had efficiently transposed off all my material possessions to the new house.

It sounds effortless when one packs it up in one sentence, but fact is packing is easy, unpacking & sorting it back is not. Despite a dollop of help from my maid, by the time the sun set, I was desperately still eying one large unopened carton, while tiredly rummaging through another – trying to dispose off any unwanted item ( an exercise, a friend advised, I should have done before leaving the place, and not after!)

Then came the related activities (which I postponed to Sunday) – finding a newspaper boy, knowing timings of the garbage-guy, employing a car-cleaner, locating a nearby press-wallah, discovering the nearest super-market, setting up the washing machine, calling the pest-control fellows, affixing clothesline (my eternal question: how do Bombayiites sensibly dry their clothes in flats that have no balconies) & the biggest of them all – installing the air conditioner. Phew!

The last consumed an entire Sunday as the windows didn’t have provision to affix one, hence I had to get them modified in a manner which wouldn’t be permanent, and yet serve the purpose. Mercifully, the carpenter I had hired had enough skills & brains to proffer workable solutions (and with a promise to restore it back to the original once I move out – when he said that, I literally shivered at the thought of going through this entire marathon exercise all over again!). Finally, when the damn machine got into that window, it made a horrible sound, and my heart sank further. (And thus began my trials and fights with Samsung, which I will leave it for another day, though suffice to say their service left a bitter after-taste).

Well, for now I seem settled (albeit I haven’t yet mastered the art of drying clothes without a balcony), and slowly on the road towards liking the house. Today was the first full-day I didn’t move out, and I think I will have the same feeling when I will leave this one after some time. A few close friends have been subject to my incessant grumbling about the small space & the unrelenting comparison to my previous pad, which undoubtedly was much better. But one has to move on. And move on I have.

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Comments

  1. Hey DJ

    You reminded me of our moving in Sept.2009 which was pretty smooth as per the great facilities available here in this country.The moving was over in a day only.All appliances fixed in a couple of days,phone in some hours and all other conveniences pre arranged.
    Anyway, glad to know u r settled again. We can now look forward to get some good bloggings.
    All the best and rgds.

    -Harshad Jangla
    Atlanta, USA

  2. baap re mujhe toh packing+moving se bahut darr lagta hai…have moved houses 6 times in the last 5 years.

  3. getting the phone/washing maching/ac/aquagaurd….sab se bada kaam…then comes finding a maid/newspaper guy/car cleaning guy….usse bhi hade kaam

  4. shifting physically is only a small part , mentally shifting into the new place takes longer. the vibes of the house , finding places to do certain activities like reading, blogging, answering phones , reading newspaper etc. takes a bit of adjustment.
    Good luck!

  5. Hey DJ, you hvnt mentioned anything abt ur partner sharing d house wd u for a short time? Am lil disappointed 🙁 anyways, glad to know that u r settling in ur new hse. Hope u find peace, happiness in this new house!!!

  6. My lease agreement is coming up for review soon and I am keeping my fingers and toes crossed that the landlady is reasonable so that we don’t have to hunt elsewhere. The worst part is figuring what to thrown and what to keep BEFORE the shifting begins.

  7. Hey DJ,
    Just happened to visit your website after a long time. Excellent write-up as usual.

    Returned from Calcutta 2 weeks back and there was a bunch of packing, moving & renovating work I was involved with while there – and it was HELL for me; especially since I am not at all used to the slightest bit of heat. All the workers wore sweaters, and I was wearing a light shirt but sweating!

    And I still have a maze of boxes all over my apt here in Calgary (moved from Toronto last 2 years back) and they are still unpacked!!

    God Bless Us All;
    SaniT

  8. Hmmm..you have been busy…hope you have been settling down well or rather well settled now. BTW still laughing @ “my impatient & worrisome nature.” LOL!!!!