Thursday, February 28, 2008

My Radio Week

I find it a little strange that I was 'randomly' picked by two FM Channels in Bangalore during the same week to participate in on-air contests. That I have been sending responses to questions thrown open to junta on these channels for the past few months makes the coincidence even more strange. Yeah yeah, I do these things too :). But you see, I have this very boring and long commute to work during which I constantly listen to the radio. And can I stop myself from SMSing an answer if I know it?

Anyway, first it was Rohit & Rajesh from Fever 104 who called me on Monday to participate in their show Back to School (the one where they ask questions from 1st std to 10th std and if you pass 10th std you get some prize money). And not surprisingly, I failed in 1st std :). Now, why does it happen that you seem to know all the answers when they ask questions to others, and when your own turn comes you go 'a country whose flag is not rectangular? Err ummmm .. is this really a 1st std question?'. Today it was Vasanthi from Radio City who called me for the show Bollywood Genius. To be honest, I had very little idea about the rules of this one. While on air she asked me the Bollywood song whose English lyrics would translate to You keep sitting in front of me. And as expected, I went 'Err ummm .. I have no idea'.

But both the times it was fun to be on air (of course, winning would have been more fun ;) ). And to add to the coincidence - when I told them that I was from Ranchi (during those little chit-chats RJs have with participants, off air), both Rohit & Vasanthi told me that they, too, have spent some years in Ranchi.

It sure has been a week of coincidences for me!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Fireflies all night

The theme for this year's dawn to dusk Fireflies Festival of Music was 'Concern for the plight of Tribals in India'. And it was evident in the lyrics of the song titled 'WTO' by Esperanto (a Bangalore-based band) - the first performance we saw after settling down with bedsheets, blankets & cushions (which we had carried from home) in the rustic amphitheatre of Fireflies Ashram. The lyrics were as interesting as the festival itself. Fireflies Festival of Music is an annual event organized since 1999 by Fireflies Ashram located in Dinnepalya Village, off Kanakpura Road, Bangalore. The place was about 25 Kms away from my home. Although I was a first timer there, I had heard so much about it from Rajesh that I didn't really feel like one. The stage was set under a huge banyan tree and the amphitheatre was surrounded by trees in their natural setup and not the carefully landscaped ones that we see so often these days.

Back to the music - the lyrics of the song WTO essentially said, in very simple words, that what is touted by governments & industrialists as development of Aadivasis is actually their road to death. The next performance was Veena recital by RK Padmanabha of Mysore. Unlike any conventional performance, there were quite a few experimental notes/raagas. And although the ensemble was essentially Indian (Veena, Mridangam, Ghatam), sometimes it sounded quite like fusion music. Oh, and we did enjoy the expressive performance of the Mridang player Raghunandan. This was followed by a performance of Karnataka folk dance form by group Puje Kunita. The traditional drum beats reminded me of those played during Durga Puja in Bengal & Bihar.

Then there were Shabnam Virmani & Dipta singing Kabir's dohe with a touch of Malva folk music. Shabnam Virmani is a documentary filmmaker turned singer who was so inspired by the folk musicians she was filming, that she eventually turned into a singer herself. Shabnam & Deepa's rendition of Journeys with Kabir was very profound and impressive. It also turned out to be my mother's favorite performance of the evening. The next band to perform was Emergence - an Acoustic Indo fusion band from Auroville, Pondicherry. Their music was interesting but their lyrics could have been better. The lead vocalist Krishna (a French, I think) spoke Tamil with such a perfect accent that people started demanding a Tamil number from him :)
It was already past midnight by the time Emergence played their last number and we were reluctantly ready to leave for home. And as always, we noticed some interesting things (besides the music). There were quite a few foreigners (mostly Europeans) who had come to Bangalore especially for the event. The crowd was as eclectic as the music and sometimes it was fun just to look around. There were some people who had not come there for music as we found them sprawled far away from the amphitheatre and busy socializing. Rajesh also said that the crowd has grown manifolds since his last visit two years ago. Oh, and did I mention about the small adventure when a baby snake crawled out from the cracks of the stone seats just ahead of ours - probably to enjoy the music but caused a small commotion in the crowd :)

Overall, a very enjoyable & unique experience. I am already looking forward to the next year's event and am planning to stay the whole night too.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The New Home

Last Saturday we had our Grih Pravesh for the new home. We had some friends and family over and we all had a good time along with the customary pooja and of course food. Some pictures -
The Pooja


The Aarti

Women at work


The home
Other homes around

View from the balcony

Sunday, February 10, 2008

A Musical Tribute to Bangalore

A jugalbandi by two Hindustani music maestros - Ustaad Zakir Hussain on tabla and Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma on Santoor was a concert to remember for a long time to come. The event was promoted as 'A Tribute to Bangalore' and was held on the evening of 9th Feb 2008 in Gayatri Vihar, Palace Grounds.

My plans for attending the concert were finalized just one evening before the event when my friend confirmed booking of tickets. I, along with my parents, reached the venue a little ahead of schedule after battling the now infamous Bangalore traffic for over an hour. The concert started half an hour behind the schedule. But once Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma started the first notes of alaap on Santoor in raag Jhinjhoti, we all knew that the wait was worth it and we had an evening of great music in store for us . Ustaad Zakir Hussain joined on tabla for the next performance which was in raag Dadra followed by raag Pahadi. When they were playing raag Pahadi, as if on cue, a wisp of cool breeze brought along a bunch of dry leaves from a nearby tree into the area where we were seated.

The two maetsros played continuously for 3 hours enthralling the audience with their mellifluous music. When they played in drut, their hands moved with lightening speed. And as always, the best moments of any jugalbadi (in my view) are - when the two performers play the exact same notes on their instruments, preferably around reaching the crescendo, and give those perfect 2-3 second pauses simultaneously, followed by a content smile on their faces.

Absolutely beautiful!