Wednesday, 26 December 2012

World Haiku Review Dec 2012 Issue: Got one here

One of our haiku has managed to sneak through and feature in the World Haiku Review December 2012 issue among many others.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Ravi Shankar & Allah Rakha make magic at Monterey, 1967

Ravi Shankar had never played at a pop festival before till Monterey. He finally agreed to do so, it seems, on the insistence of George Harrison, one of the four famed members of The Beatles.  Harrison had been the most influenced of the group by Indian instruments. He went on to learn the Sitar from Ravi Shankar. Beatles fans would concur - listen to Within You, Without You, Love You To and Norwegian Wood as evidence and listening pleasure.

Shankar arrived at Monterey two days before he was scheduled to play. He almost thought of not playing, witnessing firsthand the atrocious onstage behaviour of some rock stars, one of them was legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix - burning his guitar and throwing it to the audience. Ravi Shankar was shocked to see this. He regarded the instrument as a friend, an artist burning his guitar was an unbelievable sight.

Ravi Shankar woke up to a dark rainy morning and it was afternoon when the rain stopped and he began playing, accompanied by Tabla maestro Allah Rakha and Kamala Dasgupta on the Tanpura. The collage above is clipped from a youtube video of the artists playing Dadra and a fast teental, the final piece from the Shankar full set on that day.

This 19 minute magical piece, "a light classical melody," as Ravi calls it in the introduction, consists of a main tune that is decorated with improvisations of folk and other tunes. Allah Rakha is at his best, the result is a rare uplifting epic creation.

Here is the youtube video of this masterpiece. Allow the video to load fully, the entire section is part of the same musical tree.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Writings on Ghazal: Goodbye, Ghazal?

The latest addition to my blog on movies and music is a two-part series on the ghazal and why this sensitive music form is most likely to fade into oblivion. The links are provided below:

Thursday, 22 November 2012

leopard greetings!

(This poem is inspired by events that occurred during a trek with a friend on 10th November 2012. Though the creature was not seen, circumstantial evidence suggests that we had a narrow escape.) 

there was a young leopard
that morning in the sun

on hearing our joyous footfalls
it hailed out, "Having fun?"

alas, not knowing, poor thing,
that we did not follow jungle tongue

and off we ran in such haste that
the question kept hovering,"Having fun?"

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

The 'I AM BUSY' fiction

People are more busy than ever in urban India. At least they are under the assumption that they are. To be busy is a privilege, a social stamp of importance. In fact, if you are not on the run in your bustling city, you are the odd one out. It can be stated with assurance that a hardworking farmer in any village would have more free time than the average urban dweller (employed or otherwise) states that he or she doesn't have. Why indeed?

The 18 to 35 age group are sealed to their computer seats more than ever. As a recent survey showed, most people are not looking for anything in particular on the Internet, most of the time. Just how much time would one need to check their email accounts? When was the last time you logged on to a social networking site and found anything useful? Online videos, when you are done with TV, then there is the dependable cell phone waiting to whisk you away.

Free time inevitably bring in self-reflection and introspection, the truth becomes more evident and inescapable than ever. Fear looms, jealousies, regrets and tears too.What you repress by day, accumulates at night. Habit-induced sleeplessness has thus become a culture. You sit, post comments and make wise statements on Facebook, sometimes right till dawn. You drink that the mind may be temporarily numb. You will do anything to evade what is looming right in front. There is an illusion of safety too, you are not alone. There is a whole hoard, including your friends and relatives who are playing the same game.

"So what do I do instead? What to do when I am not busy?" We do not have the time to consider these options. That's all it will take - rest, relaxation and self-reflection. Meanwhile, busyness flourishes. Advertisements, celebrities, employers, educational institutions are busy emphasising this delusion.

Hell, there should be time to waste. For it is in that wasted, empty time that you are regally seated on your throne. Now, can you while it away?

Monday, 10 September 2012

Literature: Celebrating O. Henry's 150th Birth Anniversary

A profile of O.Henry and a reproduction of the opening paragraphs from A Gift of Mag
(click image for large size view)

Now, how often do you read authors on the eve of their 150th birth anniversary? Well, we are still reading O.Henry, voraciously.

William Sydney Porter was born on September 11, 1862, a date now synonymous with an overpowering act of violence. It is not known for certain when Porter started using the pen name: O.Henry. The general agreement among biographers is that the first story under the pseudonym appeared when he was serving a jail term for embezzlement. The logical reasoning: Porter wanted to hide his criminal record from potential publishers. Porter was 33 then and by the time of his death in 1910, he had more than 300 complete short stories to his credit.

The clinching aspect of a classic O.Henry story is the surprise element; how a story could be brought to an abrupt end with one final revelation that added up all the threads in one revealing sentence. Additional sentences would then conclude with reasoning, if required, to the revelation.

That O.Henry came up with astounding stories in his 16-year writing career was well, astounding. Another aspect that O.Henry didn't share with the last sentence you read, was a staggering, amazing and dumbfounding range of  vocabulary. Critics have often had many thorns to pick with this aspect, many terming it as ostentatious.  Under the magnifying glass, though, this facet has been considered as thoughtful, and effective in the field of semantics*.

Among the most famous and often compiled stories of O.Henry is The Gift of the Magi. Many book lovers would remember it - A young couple with limited economic means, the woman with luscious long hair and her husband, the proud owner of an ancestral watch. Another recommendation is The Last Leaf – Set as it is in a painter’s colony and tells of beliefs, life, death and a certain painting.

So if you are yet to read any O.Henry story, we heartily suggest adding him to your reading list.

(Semantics* - The study of language meaning)

Friday, 7 September 2012

Author Ashwin Sanghi on IBN Live Chat (September 7, 2012)

Ashwin Sanghi is the much-lauded author of Chanakya's Chant (2010) and The Rozabal Line (2008). His new release The Krishna Key is again to do with history. On the IBN Live chat arranged today, he answered a couple of my questions, among many others.  

Q. What inspired you to write your first book? How difficult was it to write it all down on a day-to-day basis? How easy is it to write now, now that you are a published writer?

Ashwin Sanghi: My maternal grandfather was a voracious reader and poet who would send me a book each week to read. At the end of the week I had to send him a one-page letter about why I liked or disliked it. Up until 2005, I had remained a voracious reader without having any idea that there was a writer lurking inside of me. In that year I visited Rozabal—a shrine in the heart of Srinagar, which carries the legend that the person buried there is none other than Jesus Christ himself. I was fascinated by the story and began reading and researching everything that I could lay my hands on. Twelve months later, having devoured fifty-seven books on the subject, I had multiple theories swimming in my head. My wife casually suggested that I should try weaving the disparate threads into a single cohesive whole and that gentle nudge got me started on The Rozabal Line. The rest, as they say, is history. It wasn't difficult to write... I didn't know what I was doing. Challenges seem much less intimidating when you don't know what you're up against! When you are an unknown commodity, it's easier to write. Once you are known, your readership has expectations from you and this implies that you will always question yourself about whether it is good enough.

Q. Would you consider writing something totally contemporary and modern as compared to the historical canvas of your works so far?

Ashwin Sanghi: My next book is based upon an incident that happened in 1949. Most of the story is in the present day and there is very little history. So the answer to your question is yes.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

World Haiku Review August 2012: Got One Here

Its that time of the year again when the World Haiku Review comes out with an issue. There is again, some beautiful stuff out there. One of my entries has managed to make it in here, a bonus. Here are the links to the editorial page and the three pages of haiku.

Anyone wanting to read more haiku on WHR can search 'haiku' on the search box at the top left of this blog. You will find the links to the issues dating back from January 2011 to the present.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

The Taj Mahal Experience: August 11th 2012

All one can say is, despite the conniving travel agents at Agra Cantt. railway station, the crunching discomfort of serpentine queues, the shabby arrangements, the urine-smelling interiors at one of the elegant entry gates, a sweat-stained two hour journey of 500 meters through the west gate and the apparent insensitivity to a national monument, the Taj Mahal at Agra is best experienced. Nothing man-made (I have seen yet) comes close to replicating the mystery and wisp-like beauty that nature pervades.    
(Click images for large size view)

Thursday, 5 July 2012

late night TV

drenched woman, roused man,
she comes speeding up a hill,
he stands, macho style,
right on cue, lightning
strikes, genuinely afraid,
they embrace for dear life

the music then oozingly hums,
a song about birds and bees,
the lovers now set out,
to find a hay shed for their
cravings, an old man omnipresent
to help them, giving away
his deserted home keys

there is always a limit
they sustain, a grope,
a kiss, a pinch, a touch,
her arousal exaggerated,
his malnourished wolf gaze,
cut to the blinding sun rays,
on the heroine's pimpled face

for, whatever passed between
the night and dawn
has been deemed unfit,
for alas, dear perverts,
the censors, have run
their scissors through it

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Ruskin Bond on Facebook Penguin India Chat (June 7, 2012)

The Penguin India Facebook page photo of Ruskin Bond that was posted today before the chat began

Hi people, Ruskin Bond has been one of my favourite writers for the simplicity and charm he brings into his short stories and novels. I finally managed to get through to him, virtually although, through a chat session arranged by Penguin India on their Facebook page today. Among the many questions that were been thrown at him, he did answer the ones I posed.

Q. Hi, Dear Mr. Bond, loved reading 'Angry River' and 'The Blue Umbrella' , please do tell us what compelled you to write something alternatively dark like 'Sussana's 7 Husbands'? 
RB: Snehith, a writer must pick up on different themes and stories.

Q. Hi, Mr. Bond just how good/bad has it been to escape marriage? 
RB: Snehith, I would not call it an escape rather it eluded me.  

Q. Do tell us how do you find the computer as a writing device as compared to putting pen on paper? Do you use any electronic devices like cell phones, laptops, etc? 
RB: Snehith, I am still in the pen and paper phase.

Q.  Mr. Bond there are reports of the revival of the charming TV series 'Ek Tha Rusty'. Do you have any update on that?
RB: Snehith, yes, it is a new Rusty series now.   

Q. Hi, Mr. Bond its a joy to have this conversation, despite the virtual platform...What is your take on food? Do you enjoy eating? 
RB: Snehith, I enjoy eating but I'm not a glutton. 


The one and half hour chat session ended with Bond conveying his thanks and that the session had 'certainly given me a good appetite for lunch'. 

Monday, 4 June 2012

Village Clicks Flashback: Various

Its been a while now since I last visited the village. Grandmother is not as agile now and she lives in the city but longs to be back there. We should be catching a train to there soon. We have heard, the new highway is coming up and eating up trees and earth. Things are not so quiet now. Here are some pictures from the last visit to the village. Hope to find it as anonymous as we left it. Hoping against hope, perhaps.

(Click image for large size view )

(click on any image for large size view)