Thursday, November 12, 2009

Musings on Music

Nail in my hand
From my creator
You gave me life
Now show me how to live

Love those lyrics! For the past 15 years, I have been a fan of rock music, but its been predominantly classic rock. Then as I grew up, I added some of the legendary alt rock acts of our times like Blur, Oasis, REM, RHCP. But once Linkin Park took over the bandstand, I just decided to stick with what I love already! The rock-rap fusion was not really my thing, and I just switched off. Listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird" was always a much more mind-blowing
experience for me.

But recently, over the last couple of months I decided to sample a little bit of the newer rock bands. Well, new for a wizened classic rock fan like me anyway. And I sampled some stuff from Velvet Revolver, Rage against the Machine, Audioslave and Foo Fighters. Also, Nine Inch Nails, Coldplay, and Marilyn Manson.

To be honest, I have heard a little bit of Manson before, and I like it! Its shock rock at perhaps its finest. Some of Manson's compositions are just downright brilliant. My favourite Manson song (from a very limited sampling though), is "Lunchbox". I know its almost incendiary in that it sounds like its promoting violence in schools! But honestly, its not like Manson looks like someone you would take advice from, right? Anyway, the song is about a kid in school who gets back at the bullies.

I wanna grow up
I wanna be a big rock and roll star
I wanna grow up I wanna be
So no one fucks with me

Interesting! And what makes it even better is the great guitar riff when he says "rock and rollllll starrrrr"! Another song that has a brilliant composition is "Astonishing Panorama of the End Times", along with a brilliant title! God is in your TV, indeed!

Out of all the other groups I sampled, Audioslave and Foo Fighters definitely made the most impact. I had really liked Soundgarden's Superunknown album. And Chris Cornell is a brilliant vocalist. I hadnt really heard much about Tom Morello, the ex-RATM guitarist, who is also part of Audioslave, but I have grown to love their self-titled album. The lyrics at the top of this post is from the song "Show me how to live", and its definitely one of the best songs in this album. There are a bunch of other great songs in there too, including "Cochise", "Shadow on the sun" and "Like a Stone". Not always the best of lyrics though, but excellent music along with brilliant vocals.

And Foo Fighters was probably a foregone conclusion, with ex-Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl at the front. The album I sampled was "Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace", beautifully titled, amazingly well composed, with lovely lyrics. These guys are brilliant at the slow buildup leading to an explosive climax! And songs which make the hairs on your arms and neck stand on end sometimes! "Let it Die", "Come Alive" and "Stranger things have happened before" are absolute stand-outs along with "The Pretender". "Stranger..." is one of the finest examples of a softened down, almost unplugged, rock song in a long time. I am a fan of Dave now, and looking forward to more of his music.

With RATM, the issue again was with the rap-rock fusion. But their music is something else, full of angst and delivered almost staccato at times. These guys were good, and there is a power in songs like "People of the Sun" and "Bulls on Parade" which completely mesmerizes.

So although I will never, ever, let go of those LedZep, Deep Purple, Rolling Stones etc songs, these "new" bands are definitely making an impact. I still havent figured out why Coldplay is the biggest band in the world. Maybe someday I will.

As the days get shorter, and it gets tougher to get out of bed in the cold winter mornings, nostalgia seems to be the order of the day.

Winter has always been associated in the colder countries as an end to the beautiful season of summer. The cold winds drive away the warmth of the summer.

In India, predominantly tropical, winter has always been a solace from the heat of summer, the dampness of the monsoon. But this winter somehow finds me in a much more nostalgic mood than usual. I have always loved winter. Mumbai kids usually do. In Mumbai, winter brings with it a refreshing change from the year-round humidity. For about a month or month-and-a-half stretching across December and January, you enjoy the coolness of the breeze, and the very slight chill of the late nights. In Bangalore, of course, winters are a bit more severe and the weather all round the year can get a bit chilly everytime it rains.

Last weekend I went down to the supermarket with my son, my little helper :), to pick up the groceries from a list already provided. When buying soap, I looked down the aisle and picked up one of the soaps which used to be a symbol of the winters of my childhood! Pears transparent soaps ! Living in Mumbai, you tend to perhaps not use any of the moisturizing kind of soaps, unless its winter! And Pears used to really come into my house only in the winters. In the early 80's, I dont think there were that many options anyway, and perhaps Pears was the only available "moisturizing" soap of the time. Wikipedia tells me that Pears soaps have been in production since 1789! Thats one amazing business model!

So anyway, I picked it up again this time. And I realized again after using it, what a gorgeous fragrance this soap has! I mean, I never imagined I will ever wax eloquent about soap, but it really is worth mentioning! And everytime that fragrance hits me, it just seems to remind me of home, of those carefree days as a child. When everything was worked out by someone else, everything was made available without having to struggle for it. When life was simpler, perhaps.

Whenever I am reminded of my own childhood, I also wish that I had been a much better kid than I was, especially in the teens! I also hope fervently that my son takes more on his mom than me in that department! Parents truly are marvellous creations!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I have been reading a lot lately. Well, a 'lot' is probably over-playing it a bit. Probably, giving it a little more time than I could earlier.

The experience of a long commute to work wasnt very helpful. A lot of time was taken away by the travel, and now that I dont have to do that anymore, I am enjoying the little things in life a lot more. One of those is reading. But the biggest positive is of course, that I can spend more time at home, with my son.

Its amazing how fast kids grow up. He's already taller than my waist now, and it seems just a few months ago that he was about knee-high! But now he's a big boy, as he himself would put it!

I am reading a Dennis Lehane novel currently, a dark, troubling mystery/thriller as he usually writes. There was a passage in it, where Pat Kenzie (of the Kenzie & Gennaro investigative duo), is watching his girlfriend's little daughter play. The author describes how every time the child stumbles, takes a bigger jump than you would expect her to, does the little things that kids do, Pat feels a sense of parental anxiety that makes him worry that she would get hurt. This struck so true with me. There are so many occasions when I tell my wife to not be so over-protective towards our son, but then there are also so many times when I too find my heart in my mouth! Just this morning, he took a too-big bite off the cookie he was eating as we waited for his school bus and just then his bus comes along. I made him spit the cookie out, and he went on and got into the bus, leaving me worrying about whether I should go after him to check if he is definitely ok! Little things, sounds even littler when I put it down here, but.. I couldnt help worrying! Didnt stop thinking about it till I went and checked on him at lunch time!

So I started off thinking I will write about the books I read, but I guess I am well off track by now. Anyway, this blog is reader-free enough that I can go ahead and indulge in whatever I want to! So, book reviews will just have to wait!

Sometimes, you cant help but wonder. Why are the good things in life, generally bad for you? And why are those very things that are bad for you, so tempting?

What really happened on that mountain? Was there really a burning tree? Or was Moses the first of the moral police? Did he make those rules up, and whats with people? Just a flock of sheep, I guess.

So, here I go. Just another in the flock, following the leader. There are some things which you just cant go against, I guess.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


One weekend into the new season.. ya, just one weekend. And it seems to be crisis time already for Rafa Benitez and Liverpool!

I guess this could be called second-season syndrome too in a way. That term usually reserved for the second season in the top flight for a team promoted the previous time around, seems to also apply to Liverpool, especially coz they came so close to winning the damn thing last year. So everyone thought this year, with Rafa given more control over the transfers, might just be Liverpool's year.

And its already looking unlikely. The team lost just one player really, with Xabi Alonso deciding to move on after he had shown Rafa up for wanting to sell him last year. But the problem, as Sarah Winterburn pointed out in her pre-season analysis over at Football365, is really the complete lack of depth in the Liverpool squad. Even Arsenal, who didnt do much buying this year either although they did sell Adebayor and Toure, are better placed simply because they have a bunch of youngsters who strengthen the squad. In the case of Liverpool, they have brought in Aquilani as a probable replacement for Alonso. But this still leaves them with a lack of choices in many departments.

The first weekend, the first game of the season. A good Tottenham Hotspurs team, definitely one of the teams trying to break into the top 5. And the two Liverpool central defenders have a horrible misunderstanding, resulting in one of them ending up with a cracked jaw. It just goes to show how fragile this squad is, that with Skrtel out for 2 weeks, Liverpool will be down to their only other option in the middle of defence with Dan Agger.

On top of that comes then news that Rafa doesnt have any money to spend anymore. So, he is trying to loan players like Sylvin Distin from Portsmouth and that club doesnt want to loan the player out, they want to bloody sell him! But hey, we dont have any money, man! And every Kop fan out there, must be down on his knees praying every night, praying and hoping that the duo of Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres stays fit and injury-free through-out this season. Because, if we happen to loose either of them even for a single game, we do not have anyone covering for them! Its bizarre that Rafa decided to sell out Robbie Keane after not playing him much last season, and then proceeded for the new season without any backup for Torres and Gerrard. The completely untried (and frankly uninspiring) David Ngog, and the already discarded Andriy Voronin are the only options left. I will definitely not be confident of Pool winning any games based on the prowess of those two alone.

So, the season has begun, and there are some signs of Pool fans showing stress already! Unfortunately, this being a World Cup year complicates matters a heck of a lot more, especially for the teams competing in Europe as well. Rafa has done a lot of inexplicable things in his tenure at Liverpool, but he is also revered by the fans for the success he has brought the club. This year could well be his toughest, and I sincerely wish him all the best! Glory awaits!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Re-re-re-repeats and general rants

I dont know what its about, but I have really been into re-reading, re-listening, re-watching and all things re ! Maybe this nostalgia is a sign of advancing age??

I have a bunch of books I bought lately which I havent read yet. Instead I find myself constantly trying to decide which of my books to re-read. Should it be the adventures of Rumpole, barrister-at-law, or the long journey of Frodo Baggins carrying his precious cargo? Will it be Ian Rankin's rugged Scottish mysteries or Satyajit Ray's Feluda stories set in often exotic parts of India? Neil Gaiman's Sandman volumes steeped in obscure histories, or Alan Moore's V for Vendetta set in a bleak, hopeless future? Even the contemplation brings me joy.

Coming to music, I was going nuts trying to find a few CD's I had misplaced. A bunch of Led Zep albums, which were once my regular listening, had been misplaced in an avalanche of electronic media. Sometimes, you keep the things you love the most in a place you feel is the most secure, and then you cant find it just coz its not where all your other stuff happens to be! Luckily, I did remember where it was, and with it found the wonderful unplugged Nirvana album, a collection of Hindi music I didnt even remember owning, REM's Monster and the wonderfully hard and heavy MI2 soundtrack. So, there it was. Audio nirvana!

I have just not had time for movies lately though. So what I have seen is just what was on tv, but then you still need to select which one you wanna watch, right? And again, I find myself preferring the ones I have seen before. Saw Seven recently, and was waiting for it with bated breath, although I have seen it at least thrice.

Apart from all this nostalgia though, hasnt there just been too much cricket lately? The IPL was great fun to begin with, but surprisingly as it came closer to the final stages, I found my interest waning somewhat. There is such a thing as overkill, and the IPL doesnt seem to get that, what with that Lalit Modi looking to add two more teams into the league.

But the beginning of the T20 World Cup has been interesting though. The last ball win for the Netherlands over England, the strong showing by Scotland against NZ, and the Windies beating the Aussies; all go to show that the 20-20 format is the one which has the most likelihood of producing upsets as there is simply no time to recover sufficiently from a bad period in the game. Lets hope for a few more interesting results. Maybe if Netherlands or Scotland go out and win the damn thing, the cricketing world will come to see the 20-20 format for the lottery it really is!!
(Image courtesy

Monday, June 1, 2009


So, whats the latest in my life? I have been 'Bangalored'.

OK, not quite what that term implies. I still have my job, the money's still rolling in, albeit like a roll of coarsely kneaded dough rolling down a Velcro strip. And then it rolls out again like a particularly swift bowling ball that finds itself given the heave-ho over a heavily greased alley. But for us Bangalore residents, there are other ways you get 'Bangalored'!

For those who don't know and never cared to find out, I have been living within a radius of 5 km's from work for the past 7 yrs. And the last 3 yrs of that have actually been at a distance of 1.5 km's from office! I know, sounds like heaven doesn't it? Not coz my office happens to be Disneyland, but just coz you don't end up spending half your life commuting to work and back.

But hey, that's all a sweet little dream now. The powers that be decided that enough is enough. The KS (no, not that KS) has had too much of a good thing, and its time he was woken up to the harsh realities of Bangalore life. Which basically means, they decided I would perform a lot better if my office was moved around 20Kms further away from home. Bangalored!

And how they howl with laughter, as I struggle daily in search of fabled paths, legendary avenues unknown to common men which, so they say, lead you through traffic-less dream kingdoms. Tears roll down their eyes with mirth, as the new flyover work begins as soon as KS starts his unusual journey towards his new, distant workplace. Roads get dug-up overnight to lay further challenges along his way. Will he give in? Will he be another victim of the dark land of Bangalore, gobbled up and churned out after being infested with road rage?

Little do they know, how they have underestimated the slayer! For as long as there is Robert Plant screaming out his need to 'Ramble On', as long as The Who confirm that 'We wont get fooled again', as long as Amit Trivedi growls 'Nayan tarse', as long as RHCP's Anthony Kiedis sings about the city of angels, as long as Deep Purple play on, I don't give a fuck. ;)

Over a year gone... its been too long. I'm surprised this blog is still alive! Thanks to the guys who thought it wasnt quite ready for the chop shop yet.

There have been lots of things keeping me away from here. Its been such a busy year. But was it really so busy that I couldnt write a few lines once in a while. Its not like i stopped reading, so I could have posted about the books i read. I've been watching movies, listening to music, could have written about that. And anyway, all my writing has pretty much been for myself! Not like a huge audience hankering for some action out there!! ;)

I read a couple of my old posts today, and just got a feel of how nice it feels to document a few of the moments that life sends our way. I had forgotten about the time when my not-yet-three year old son spouted out his favourite movie dialogues as we travelled to Hyd by train. This is worth putting down for me, so ya.. I'm going to keep writing. Have made those promises to myself before, i know.

Hope I keep this one.