Friday, June 29, 2007

Jammu Kashmir... Jammu Kashmir...

This post is dedicated to Jakra- a friend, a Guide, a fellow porkibaay, and who is still very much alive...

To all my friends who wished that I'd not return from J&K [ 4 and counting] , I'm extremely sorry.
Well I'm back, and have lots to tell.
For starters, the reason why I was there , was to attend a national convention of SPIC MACAY.There were 10 of us, 5 boys and 5 of the chromosomally challenged types....
The unusual part os this journey was that the journey was longer than the stay, so we ended up inventing crap like Phase 1, 2, 3[ degree of boredom], arbit antakshari [start a song with any letter other than intended]. The Bolly-Tolly-Sandal-Tamil wood song database was thoroughly exhausted, to an extent that only the dreaded Himesh Reshammiya-Songs [ for lack of a better word], were left.
Boarded in Bangalore..Friends[ Sha, chappar, Soma, Srik] coming to send us off.. Well two surprise add-ons to our list of extra-ordinary travelers, was a welcome change.
So via the capital [ a much needed recharge point, cells and humans alike], we managed to board the Shalimar express to Jammu.The fellow SpicMacayiites were here[ including Kiran]. Jakra managed a hit [ IITG, if I'm not mistaken].
So on that fine morning we land at Jammu University, with excitement in our eyes, and wierd smells elsewhere.[ Three days.. not much for me, but an eternity for some].
The univ is beautifully set in the middle of the city, a lush green campus, with arbitly skewed buildings/departments,well set roads, and lots of history to draw upon [ I swear , I was not paid for this].
So Vivekananda Hostels for the baays, and Chandrabagha for others....A decent place to stay...
Cuisines served at the Gymnasium.... Decent food.
Jammu's people are really nice, especially the ones at the univ, met really friendly people here.
Me signed up for an intensive[ a.k.a workshop] titled Sankhavadyam, fooled by a keralian sounding name with images of sankhas, and mridangams floating about, made myself co-ordinator, etc etc, but I'm glad I made the mistake.How else could I meet such a brilliant man as Purushottam Muni Ji, a expert in his art, and a person who has taken heavily from the cup of life.How else could I make awesome friends, like Harikrishna, Rajesh, Poorva, and of course Jarul....
Dwelling a bit more into my intensive, this is a folk art from Orissa, has three major parts called, shankhabadan, ranapa, and chadeya. These artists could blow a conch for 20-30 minutes at a stretch, could dance and perform acrobatics on stilts, and perform a graceful dance. We could manage a 20 second squeal of a sound, couldn' t even stand on the stilts, and finished with what was perceived by the public to be a really good dance, and we were kinda happy that we did not create any major goof-ups. I even managed to give an interview to ETv Oriya regarding this,from an audience perspective.
About the concerts, I've lots to tell, since I'll cherish someof them forever. For the first time, I got to see, Balamurali Krishna , his youthful nature only enhances his musical magic[ he loves the tag 'bala' ]. Shiv Kumar Sharma, the first time I heard him in Jaipur, I was spell bound, this time was even better. The pristine purity of Santoor's music, coupling with Panditji's brilliant expertise of the instrument, makes it one of my best musical experiences.
The overnight was truly great. We were handling backstage, hence got to meet lots of artists in person[ giving them tea n stuff, still, in the presence of masters....], Concerts starting with the legendary T.N Krishnan on Violin, later Ustd.Rashid Khan Saab[ 99 not out] with a khayal rendition, followed by the vocalist extra-ordinaire T.M. Krishna[ His book with Bombay Jayashree- "Voices Within" , is out on the stands, Buy a copy today].The next was the pick of the lot. The concert by Ustd. Shahid Parvez, on the sitar, mesmerized everyone.
As George Harrison of the Beatles' Fame once said on his tour to India," The Sitar is equivalent to a 11 member Cello Orchestra",It carries with it such amazing complexity, and only a true master can explore the instrument to the extent that we saw that day.Despite some grievances that he faced, as a result of negligent behaviour on the organizers part, on our part, He kept all that aside, and his performance was beyond par.
Next came the Chupa Rustum concert. We had all seen the list before, and Venkatesh Kumar- Hindustani Vocal, seemed an arbit choice.Here was a singer from Bellary[ Yes, Karnataka...], whom none of us had even heard of. But we soon were to realize that our ignorance knows no bounds...I'd the opportunity to interact with him, he was happy that he got a Kannadiga to speak to.I was amazed at this great artist's humbleness..
Here is the situation, It's neary 5 in the morning, half the auditorium is asleep, quarter of it is empty. and the rest are wondering which of the above options to choose from.Here comes this man, manages to instill the fervour within the rasiks in the crowd, to an extent that people can perceive the artist-rasik connection happening with each stage of the alaap, and by the end, people are glad they stayed back, and could witness this stupendous performance. Such was the intensity of the fan-following , that few Reporters and others came backstage to contact the artist, and he was more than happy to oblige.The joy on the faces of the fans told the story.
That was the end of the saga, in Jammu Univ.. Bid farewells to new found friends,took some arbit campus pics, and planned half a day of sightseeing.
Rain played spoil-sport, still we mustered our spirits, and set out in search of the famous Raghunath temple.The temple was an architectural novelty from what I'd heard. This temple had been under attack some years back. Set in the midst of the city [ the markets grew around the temple , ob], this temple has the kinda structure that can be witnessed throughout North India. A pyramidal Gopuram, with a dual pradakshina circle, usually square like, and the sanctum sanctorum with brightly coloured stone idols.
What was unprecedented was the security[ there were people with submachine guns on the temple roof], as well as the nature of blatant commercialism that has covered the premises.Guaranteed money offered you individual attention to the Great Lord, and a free arbit garland, but still, there are limits to which you test people.Adding to that are temple rooms for every Hindu God on the planet that merits a dakshinam, and a purohit seated for the transaction.Finally somewhere people would Yield [ : ) ] .
I was bleeped at by most of my friends for doing an extra round, it was certainly not out of devotion[ God or Goddess[ : ) , ok a bit here ] , but just pure inquisitive bliss.
Just when we thought we were swindled enough already, we came out and saw what the Jammu markets had to offer. I'd a great vision in mind. Will take some dry fruits, [ walnuts etc], and would be given a grand welcome back home, for this amazing foresight. I was blasted outright. 2 kgs of Akroots take ages to break, and it's frankly not worth the effort. I'm sure my friends would share the feeling.[ I'm sorry for the brilliant recommendation......]
The train journey back was a bit gloomy, but has to be one of my best train trips ever.The Jammu Tawi from Jammu to Chennai, probably one of the longest train trips I'll ever make,was one of the most peaceful trips too. Arbit pics, senti moments, and Jakra taking pics with future to-be celebs. Here I tried to mock Bernoulli by trying to take a pic of a moving train, somewhat Ghulam ishtyle, and having narrowly missed the pic, and moreso being squished into pulp, have to thank Jakra immensely.

The journey from chennai to Bangalore, on the really long train-bus, was memorable for it's own reasons.People suddenly finding irresistible attraction to the foot-board, and then being scolded at by the TC.This was a really senti-ful journey, with a really melodramatic end. With infinite Post-it's at hand, we created an instant autograph book/ send off gift/ crown to Jakra.
No NITKian send off is incomplete with a kick to the posterior[ make an excuse in my case], and so in the middle of K.R.Puram station, Jakra was given a sounding farewell.

Some highlights of the trip:-

Vk flaunting his Walkman phone, almost all our phones going kaput in Jammu, Amazing Concerts, People desperately trying to collect contacts to boost some fictional ++ ratings, Mech rocks, L[ with a wierd hand sign], Jammu Kashmir- A Boring play with a wierd neck twisting dance manoeuvre, Raghunath Temple [ Apparently Tirupati's not the only temple which shaves] , Jammu university, Indian Railways, New friends, Old arbits, Shocking taps, Do not spit- DNS, Mental Manja- a.ka Mangal moortie., Some flings+crushings[ : ) ], NITK Surathkal being bestowed the best chapter in all categories that exist, and so on and so forth.

To people who've managed to stay awake so far, to people who came along with me, to
Jakra, to the people of Jammu, to friends, to people who managed to land on my blog due to some wierd cosmic catastrophe, Here's me signing off..
Cheerio. Adios,Astalavista...etc etc....

P.S:- Fellow tripsters included Vinayak, Anup, Kartik.J, Saranya, Mahima, Asha, Surabhi, Revathi, Madhava.


Friday, June 08, 2007

Allen Poe to the Rescue

The first time I heard Edgar Allen Poe's name was when I met the boy-genius Sunil Pai [ a.k.a Pi ] during one of our "interaction" sessions with the then final years, in the final block of NITK.

All I knew was that E.A.P was a O.H.P[ Over -head ] kinda author, with fantastic poems and stories to his credit, that only people like boy-geniuses mentioned above could comprehend... I'm happy that I was wrong..He reaches out to mere mortals like us too, though the effect might be a bit less. The highs that you get by reading his works are beyond comparison.

'My experiments with Poe' began recently, with his works rather[ : -) ].
This man is an absolute genius, with a command over the language to entice any literature lover, creating macabre tales, short stories, poems with equal ease.The style is succint when needed , and intricately descriptive otherwise, beautifully drawing allusions, and precise use of metaphors, thus illuminating or in some cases intensifying the very essence of that section of the plot.
Considered by many to be the creator of Science-Fiction genre, he has touched many genres, like horror, a bit of philosophy, you name it...

I started out with "The Black Cat and other stories".My journey starts with
"The Black Cat" , This is about an anonymous author, telling his transition from the normal, to a state of utter perverseness. Perverseness is a recurring theme with Poe, and he uses this primitive expression of man, as a tool to explore the extents of Human Behaviour. The cat is used first as an object of affection, an intense obsession, then moves to a state of annoyance, utmost irritation, ultimately the contempt for the " brute", as he calls it is beautifully rendered.

Poe , through an imaginary author, the narrator of this story describes the horrendous violence that he inflicts upon the poor creature, and the way he relishes it , the instant gratification that he gets out of it, the manner in which he savours those moments are told in great detail. A plot that is necessary for a short story, it is crisp and quick, yet making the reader stop and think for a moment the horror that is man...

I'm browsing through some more of this Genius's Master-Piece works. Reviews , when I enjoy them and understand them in the manner in which Poe wanted to express himself
[ Will take a long time, I assure you].

And - Pi, Those photos were awesome... Book - Con eh.... lucky chap...