I've been maintaining this blog (for better or for worse) over the last eight years. Over these years, its natural evolution has led it into becoming something of a niche place for discussion of music in general and Qawwali in particular. Rather than trying to return my existing blog to its pre-Qawwali eclectic roots, I decided I’d start anew on Tumblr. So if you’re interested in music, Qawwali and subcontinental culture, keep reading/listening/watching/commenting here. For all of the above and everything else under the sun, head on over to my Tumblr page .

Monday, April 30, 2007

...Of Many Things Actually !!

It's official.I'm nuts,NUTS !!!

I remember those geometry theorems we used to do in Tenth Grade(oh how I hated geometry),where you had to prove the damn thing by a set of logical steps,and in the end you wrote in bold "HENCE PROVED".Well,it's darn well "hence proved" that I've lost my marbles.And I'll prove it too,just like those sick theorems of yesteryear.

I have these exams coming up see.Big exams.Mind numbingly important and excruciatingly difficult.The make or break kind of exams.Now what would the normal,sane,responsible student(let's call him say...Wilberforce !!),what would Wilberforce be doing at this point in time ? Unless I'm much mistaken,old Wilberforce(Billy to his friends) would be buried neck deep in his pharmacology and his pathology,and if he was criminally studious,his forensic medicine(assuming of course that he was a third year Med student like me).With no time for even the littlest diversions,young Billy would have locked himself in his room with his books,only appearing late at night to answer the call of nature,and even then with a bunch of notes under his arms....

But does yours truly follow brave Billy's noble example and plunge himself headfirst into his notes and his books? No,he darn well doesn't !!!

Well,I'll tell ya what I did.I watched movies.High Fidelity was the first.Absolutely loved it.It just made me realise that I'm not the only one who's a musical snob,and because it had two Bob Dylan songs in it.I never realized how beautiful "Most Of The Time" was till I heard it in the movie,and "Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You" sounded just like it should.

Some silly loon at the cable company sealed my fate by showing the classic movie channel TCM.talk about manna from heaven...I watched "Little Ceaser",the brilliant 1931 gangster flick starring Edward G. Robinson.The Treasure Of Sierra Madre,The Cincinatti Kid,A Streetcar named Desire,North By Northwest and a lot more.All these films left indelible marks on my mind,giving me hours of celluloid satisfaction,but that doesn't translate into exam grades now,does it.

Then there was the football.My bloomin' team had to play all the most important matches of the year in my exam days.Now I was at the crossroads.Freshen up my Pharma or watch Manchester United nick it against Milan at the absolute last minute in one of the greatest games of European football in years.Polish up pathology or see us go from 2-0 down to win it 4-2 in a match that could give us our first league title in years.No prizes for guessing.

And finally there was Bob Dylan.Now I'm a download fiend,and not a weekend goes by without me downloading one new Bob Dylan album.Plus there was the added excitement of his brand new single that was gonna be released on the 27th(which,by the way is stunningly beautiful)Burning internet cards by the dozen,I managed to download three complete albums and hiked my album tally upto 19.Plus there were the rare songs,the movie soundtracks and the constant checking up on his concerts.The high point came last night,when I saw the brilliant "Pat Garret And Billy The Kid",with young Bobby in his first role.And what a start he got.After standing conspicously silent for half an hour,he finally spoke a line. Pat Garret asks him,"Who the hell are you ?",to which he nonchalantly replies,
"That's a good question !!".

I swear there never was anyone as sublimely cool as old Bob.

So,I don't have to overemphasize the fact that I did the exact opposite of what our friend Billy would have done.

Songs Of The Week: See Ya Later,Alan Ginsberg,Most Of The Time,Tell Ol' Bill,Huck's Tune.All by Bob Dylan

Movies Of The Week:High Fidelity,A Streetcar Named Desire,Little Ceaser,Pat Garret And Billy The Kid

Discovery Of The Week:HENCE PROVED !!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Of Breaking Even,Almost !!!

In our farmhouse,there's this big red trunk.It is full of my father's bibliomaniacal treasures.Scores upon scores of books,of every description,size and shape.some of the best hours of my village visits are spent browsing through it,and each expedition brings forth new gems.As I grow older,my finds have ranged from Huckleberry Finn to Ben Hur to Bertrand Russel to Rousseau.But there is one find that I count among the best things that ever happened to me,truly a liofe changing experience..

It was eight years ago,as far as I can recall.Having derived all the possible pleasure out of watching a bunch of supercillious cows,I decided to rummage the big red trunk.I climbed up to the top of the storage room,opened it up and started digging.After about half an hour of dilligent mayhem,I chanced upon a funny looking book.It was "The Girl On The Boat",by one P.G. Wodehouse.so,I took it out,lay on the bed and started reading.

It was five minutes into the read that something happened.Something strange.Suddenly,I was laughing,uncontrollably,hysterically and violently.Lolling around on the bed,with tears in my eyes,trying to stop my guts from busting.I just couldn't stop,try as I might.My mother gaped at this strange apparition and ran to call my father just as I fell from my bed and tumbled to the ground,still guffawing like the dickens...My mom wrenched the book from my hands and anxiously showed it to dad,holding it ever so gingerly like it was a deadly poison or something.A look of apprehension gave way to comprehension,as an understanding smile spread on my father's face and he said,"Relax Farree(my mum's name),it's just Wodehouse !!"

It's just Wodehouse,talk about an understatement.From that moment on,I have been enthralled by the Master's works,lost in the beauty,intricacy and complexity of his language,and laughing my guts out at every other page.Once I got hooked,there wasn't any stopping me.Every library and bookshop I visited was with the sole intention of getting my grimy hands on some Wodehouse.It was a slow journey,and uptill four years ago,I had managed to get only five Wodehouse books.But that was before i got to ******(name protected for reasons of secrecy).As I entered the library,my jaw fell as I saw rows upon rows of Wodehouse books.Just lying there in a cold damp corner.

Over the next two years,I read each and every one of them again and again and again.Then it was time to move to some new place,but my wicked mind couldn't bear the thought of letting all these treasures stay behind.So in a feat worthy of Jesse James and Robin Hood,I did what any right minded collector would do.That's right,I STOLE THE BLOODY LOT !!!!!

Over the course of five days,I smuggled a total of thrty six books from thye library to my home and hid them.The only reason I'm not in a kaboos is that the library staff were so negligent that they didn't even know those books existed in the first place.So,I had a sizeable stash,but some were left behind,and there they lie to this day.And each day my heart bleeds at the thought of those that were left behind.But not to be outdone,I went there again this month.Just walked in with an airy nonchalance,nodded to the librarian,went to my old spot ....and shoved a couple more in my trousers.Then it was the walk back,again giving the librarian the most angelic of glances and walking gingerly so as not to drop my strategically placed load and I was out !!!

Now ,the Master wrote ninety books in total,and finally after years of collecting,I almost managed to break par yesterday.That is,I bought(didn't steal for a change) my 45th Wodehouse book.Almost,because belive it or not,just like in a Wodehouse story...somebody's stolen it !!!!

Movie Of The Week:"The Adventures Of Robin Hood (1937)"
Song Of The Week:'Allah Tero Naam',Lata Mangeshkar'

Saturday, April 14, 2007

...Of Censorship and Kisses And Exams

Rarely does my weak ego get a kick in the rear that sends it sky high.But the recent blocking of blogspot by the Pakistani government had me flyin' to the moon.The reason? The reason was that my puny 'ickle blog was also blocked along with all the rest.And this awoke a sense of pride in me.Pride at the fact that I too can be counted among the few whom the government deems worthy of censorship,but my general feeling was that of ,how shall I put it,indignation.My heart bled for the millions (yeah,right) who hung on my every word,anxiously glued to their PCs .waiting for my next post,as I imagined their looks of dissapointment and ominous mutterings,unable to fathom the cause of my disappearance...Did I mention I had a flimsy ego ???

Anyway,I've been thinking of kisses,movie kisses to be precise.The old fashioned kisses,to be more precise.The kind where Errol Flynn climbed up the castle walls to be with Olivia de Havilland and stole a beautiful,tender ten second peck,while cheesy romantic music played.Not the modern variety,which looks more like a contest to determine who can finish off their partner's tonsils first,and get a bit of epiglottis for good measure.Seriously,back in those days,a kiss was just that,a kiss.William Holden and Nancy Olsen in Sunset Boulevard,one of the most romantic scenes ever.Bergman and Bogart in Casablanca,sublime.Even Brando in On The Waterfront...But now,sheesh !!

I've been through a lot since I joined my college.It's an Army institute,and I've had my fair share of physical punishment.In fact,more than my fair share.I've been made to stand,dripping wet,outside on a cold winter night.I've been made to crawl on asphalt till my knuckles bled.I've been made to do push ups all day long,while fasting,and with only three hours of sleep per day.I thought thhat was as tough as it could get,but that was before I encountered the biggest terror of them all....Exams.Believe me when I say that I would willingly,nay gladly go through all that physical regimentation crap twice over rather than sit for exams.And unfortunately that's just what's about to happen.From onday,I'm gonna be caught in a vicious cycle of exams that'll end on 24th of June..Hope I come out alive.

Movie Of The Week : Royal wedding
Song Of The Week : The Ballad Of Hollis Brown
Discovery Of The Week: I'm in love with Bette Davis !!!