An old song

I spent some time yesterday rummaging through my collection of music. The actual intent was to search for an elusive recording of Layla (live at some concert). I have this fascinating obsession with the song and end up listening to various versions of it through the years including some cover versions where I’d have gladly throttled the lead vocals.

The end result was that I stumbled on to some of my favorites from the old hindi movies and particularly this. It is a perfectly safe for work link to a Youtube video of the song Aaj Sajan Mohe from the movie Pyaasa. The single point about this song is that I more or less remember the day when I first heard this. And, thereafter discovered that there was a cassette at the house of the movie. And I played it over and over again. The song isn’t any special by virtue of the lyrics. It is just that each time I listen to it – the opening sequence with Geeta Dutt’s voice and, then the music blending in makes it very goose-bumpy. Pyaasa was an interesting movie because I watched long long after I had heard each of the songs of the movie – their variety, their lyrics and, somehow formed a visual representation of the story. Imagine my surprise when long after I was watching the movie and the songs started lining up I figured out that the visual picture was similar to the actual one. The sad part is that I have never come across a version of the song that isn’t scratchy or, grainy.

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Being sick and other such mundane stuff

I don’t like being sick. I am sure that no one does. But in my case it makes me a heavily cranky person. Especially so because irrespective of the reason I am sick I get these persistent headaches that make reading anything off the screen a distasteful exercise. And, if like me, anyone else does the volume of on-screen reading that I do, you’ll have some sympathy for me.

There is another awkward aspect. Because of the cranked up nature, I become a chatterbox. A regular stand-outside-the-classroom kind of chatterbox. That makes me thirsty and since by the time these conditions manifest themselves I have lost my palate, the water tastes, well, tasteless.

What all this boils down to is the fact that I’ve had some indications of fever since last Friday and on Saturday they unleashed themselves. I am still trying to come to terms with the side effects other than the profuse sweating. That last part is the most annoying aspect of all this. Imagine seeing someone in an office cooled to 23 degrees C perspiring like they were in some swamp-land. You wouldn’t like to be the one sneaking up to my workspace and desiring to discuss stuff with me. Besides all of that I have found out to my horror that attempting to read The Plague in the times of a headache is most ill-advised. Should make a note of sharing this data point next time someone asks me for reading material.

3 photographs from the recent trip

8 of us went to Daulatabad and Ellora over the Independence Day weekend. The entire set of pictures is here. 3 of them are somewhat favorite because they turned out way better than what they were when I was thinking of shooting them.

Man and Child

The little girl was crying moments before the man wiped her tears and settled her a bit more comfortably and started talking with her in a soft voice. I did end up harshly cropping it and then doing a small bit of touch-up (that’s fairly evident) but this came out fairly nicely. Look at the large size to see the direction of the child’s eyes.

Chaand Minar

The pale mist in the background somewhat makes the slim form of the monument more visible. The colors of the grass around was really that green.

Weekend rush at Daulatabad

This group of folks were the most colorful when walking purposefully towards the ruins

“Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thoughts”

Runa had a recent comment wondering if it was natural to relate our present circumstances, thoughts, turmoil in the mind with verse … I have seen myself do that so often that it is a fairly natural part of me. And, especially with verses from Tagore. I am not a great fan of most of his writings except this poetry (or, what some call, his songs). For a long time I’ve had songs for every moment at easy recall – because at one point it was fairly normal for me to keep reading them on a regular basis.

Somewhat unusually, I have seen this in other folks too. In my case these were mostly the ones who were exposed to Tagore’s poems first and, specifically for me, the exposure to Gitanjali. It took me a while to wrap my head around the english verses in “Thou hast made me endless …” given that I was fairly young. Strangely, it took a Pankaj Kumar Mullick to teach me what it means. But with each passing year, most of my favorite songs end up revealing themselves with newer perspectives. The other oddity is that for the songs that I love, I like them most when sung by a specific set of singers. Sometimes there are specific songs to a singer and any exchange evokes a visceral reaction in me. It may have something to do with the LPs that I’ve played over and over and over again. Yet I somehow detest the current crop of singers, fine as they are, singing songs that I know have been sung by far superior group. The greatness of poetry, I guess, does not lie in limiting itself to expressing the poet’s feelings. But in transceding time and space and becoming one with the reader’s feelings. Tagore is a colossus when it comes to stamping his own in the Bengali literature corpus. But there are many others who have had their unique insights into situations that appear trivial – but when they return to become a personal experience, the verses spring alive with vigor.

Probably it is not limited to verses only. Sometimes there are lines or pieces from novels, novellas or stories that are lightly stamped on the mind waiting for that catalyst of events to arrive for one to understand. Among the large collection of books that I read, a few handful end up being read, read again and, again and again. That is more from an effort to understand new bits in the same old pieces of text. I am pretty much sure that is the reason we have favorite books, favorite verses and, favorite songs. We relate to them because they tell us about our feelings and thoughts better than we could explain it to ourselves and to others. They complete us. And that is why we turn to them in our joys, sorrows and turmoil.

Little knowledge of experiments leads to awkward conclusions

This ‘shoot-out of online bookstores‘ (link to a YouTube video) is a classic example of why our tech-shows are a huge waste of everyone’s time and, are generally the laughing stock of folks who have some first hand experience of the product being reviewed.

If one is planning a shoot-out, the basic template and methodology needs to be explained up front. Also, since this is somewhat similar to an experiment, the sequence of steps and, the components need to be kept same. I don’t think that they did like-wise. Arbitrary selection of criteria and, fitting the conclusion on non-specific quantitative measures are as good as saying “I know solution A works because I said so”.

Grow up Indian media.

My Blueberry Nights – not the usual WKW fare but wonderful enough nonetheless

I finally got around to watching My Blueberry Nights. I have watched only a few Wong Kar Wai movies and have always liked the strong character centric story flows that are there. In addition to that his framing of shots or, composition is always nice to see and learn from. This being his first English feature film, I guess it suffers from a translation gap in the culture – the typical WKW sequences and their layouts seem a bit out of place in small town America. That takes nothing away from the movie though – Norah Jones was lovely (that was a surprise !) as was Jude Law. The colors in the segments involving David Straithairn were amazing in bringing out aspects of character which did not require actual dialogues to be in place.

In short it was time well spent. Now I need to watch Chungking Express again.