Music does that


IMG_20160120_194339It sticks. Like a parasite. It chews on your thoughts, until it eats them all. And you are left with nothing but a fat bloated parasite of a song inside. It’s funny how a few songs just open up a window of emotions you never knew existed, others just slam you down into pits of sadness; then there are those that pull you out from those pits and place you on a soft slice of cloud; those that make you remember, and those that make you forget. I always imagine my brain cells aligning themselves in quick movements to neat formations for each song. It’s crazy.

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A still from the song Talli Pogadhe from Achcham Yenbadhu Madamaiyada

Recent obsessions – A R Rahman’s Thalli Pogadhey is one addictive piece of music. And it turns out, the effect is universal. While I thought I was tangled in the loop, most who heard it, experienced the same. What do I feel? Ecstasy. A free ride to the clouds. It has been three days, and I have heard the song in different settings – in the darkness of the night, comfort of my bed; while writing, doing fitness, walking from my office to the parking lot amid traffic, and also driving. I ain’t tired of it yet.

But soon I will be. That’s always the case. The same happened for (these are just from the top of my head) one of A R Rahman’s previous albums – OK Kanmani, Iron and Wine’s Flightless Bird American Wine, Scorpions’ Winds of Change, Duran Duran’s Only in Dreams, Hero by Family of the Year, Titanic ending music by James Horner, A sky full of stars by Coldplay, Insomnia by DJ Tiesto, Sway by Michael Bubble, Chandelier by Sia, I surrender by Hillsong and many many more.  My ratings of the songs mostly depend on the duration I have obsessed over them. Once I move on, they become like those comfort-nighttime t-shirts; they remain in the list, appearing in between new additions as fillers – and skipped most times.

I enjoy the sway of emotions that the songs bring in; I enjoy it best when they arrest time. Some songs can really do that. They snatch you away from the rotating and revolving earth, to somewhere in the cosmos. And you float. Just you and the song. Such as these – Simple Song #3 by Sumi Jo, Victoria Mullova; Manta Ray by J Ralph and Antony, Ludvico Einaudi’s Elements and Experience, The XX – Intro, Yiruma – River flows in you, Angus and Julia – All of me. 

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Simple Song #3 Youth. Photo courtesy: http://www.youtube.com

And that’s why my vote for the Best song for the Oscars this year goes to Simple Song. Second, Manta Ray. Not that I did not obsess over Earned it by The Weeknd or Sam Smith’s Writings on the wall, but the former two remind me of white lily petals, the soft fur of my neighbour’s dog, my dad’s hands, mom’s young eyes wrinkles, sister’s face. It leaves me dangling in that grey area between the world and outside. A safe space, like a warm womb.

So much in a song


 

IMG_20160119_200559There is always a story. Be it in a visual or a song. I remember listening to Lying Eyes by Eagles for the first time, and cringing a bit when they spoke about a girl cheating on a rich husband for a guy “whose dreams can never be stolen.” That was way back in eighth grade or so. I have the song inside my head like a full feature movie. Another example, Hotel California. Taking the literal meaning, I have a very dark image associated with the song. A death trap is what I see. Eagles, for me, are great storytellers. They package the stories neatly inside their songs. It is like biting into the crust of hot lava cake to see the dark gooey chocolate ooze out.

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Glenn Frey. Photo courtesy: http://www.eaglesonlinecentral.com

This morning, I woke up to the news of guitarist Glenn Frey’s death. There was an ever so light pain somewhere. Like that associated with the word ‘Gone’. It’s like a whisper in the air. Hardly noticeable. But then, as the day went by, I kept going back to the lyrics of the songs by the Eagles, and somehow, I felt a little relaxed. You know, that feeling after you have a LONG conversation with a close friend – it felt like that.

Here are some stories – a few among the many I like.

Lying Eyes

The lyrics talk about city girls opting rich fellows. Right thing to do, they think, given the comfortable lifestyle and secure future. But soon into the relationship, they realise that they are missing their true love, who is waiting on the other side of the town. They lie to their partner about leaving in the night to just give company to an old friend. That’s when the he sings – You can’t hide your lying eyes, and your smile is a thin disguise. I thought by now you would realise, there is no way to hide your lying eyes.’ 

Take it easy

The guy is confused about which woman to choose. He has so many women behind him, but he is just not sure which is the one. Just when he is standing on a street with all this chaos inside his head, he sees a woman driving by, giving him all the right signals. This only whips up the confusion inside. He pleads to her ‘C’mon baby, don’t say a maybe. I gotta know if your sweet love will save me…’ And all the while, he pacifies himself saying ‘Take it easy, take it easy. Don’t let the sound of your own wheels make you crazy.’

Take it to the limit

The guy is midway in his life, and stops on his tracks to reflect on his past. He thinks maybe he has been so busy that he did not even notice the love that had come his side before. Putting all that in the past, he wants to fall back on the life’s track, and try his best one more time. And then there is a point when he doesn’t have anything to believe in, the time is trickling, the youth is fading. He sings, ‘Put me on a highway, and show me a sign. And take it to the limit one more time.’ But my favourite lines in the song: ‘You can spend all your time making money, you can spend all your love making time. If it all fell to pieces tomorrow, will you still be mine.’

You get the best of my love

This can tear you up. It’s about a couple whose relationship is going through a rough patch. The singer dreams about how it was like before and how now, it is so difficult to even have a mere conversation. But no one is to blame. He says that she tried to give the best of her love, and he is also trying to give the best of his. Best lines: ‘Every morning, I wake up and worry what’s gonna happen today. You see it your way, and I see it mine. But we both see it slipping away.’

Desperado

This is a deep one. It’s a call out to those who are too busy “riding fences” (keeping busy) to find someone to love them and settle down. There would be a point, when highs and lows don’t matter, and your prison will be the world – as you would be walking alone in it – and you might just regret on all the love you could have got/given. Best lines – ‘Don’t you draw the queen of diamonds, boy. She will beat you if she is able. You know the queen of hearts is always your best bet!’ 

My niece


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When my sister and I were small, we used to play these silly games where we would act like neighbours, bumping into each other in a park and talking about our imaginary naughty children. My sister would get angry if I made my child seem naughtier in description than hers. She always wanted the naughtier one. So if there was ever a measure of who was winning in the game, the one who picks sentences like – ‘My son actually rolled in the mud and cane home all drenched and dirty, with a couple of scars, a torn shoe and ripped bag’ – would have the edge.

This was, say, a decade ago. All of it came back to me on December 27, 2015, when my niece was born. I woke up that morning to see a very pink tiny human being’s picture on my cell phone. It was heart warming, like taking a big gulp of hot chocolate. I looked at her short needle-straight hair, pink mouth, and the fur-white cloth wrapped around her. Like a Russian nesting doll. But in a cute way.

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This is how the Russian nesting dolls look. Image courtesy: http://www.etsy.com

The first week, from what I heard from my mom, she did not let anyone sleep. Long spells of wailing, and then brief sessions of slumber. ‘She is crying like someone is hurting her’ – my sister said nervously on call. The next day, I woke up to a miraculous video – she was turning on her stomach, except for her tiny hand, which she couldn’t slip out from underneath her belly. ‘It’s just the fourth day, and she is already turning!’ – my father’s excited voice. I watched that video over five times that day.

She is a US citizen, born in the cold of Ohio. My mother holds her for me in the faint sunlight some mornings, during our Skype sessions. She looks like the swirls in the strawberry softy ice cream. So soft and pink. Two weeks old now. She only smiles in her sleep, but pays attention to claps and loud voices. ‘She is so cranky these days. Sometimes in the night, she suddenly begins crying, and it is almost like she has forgotten how to drink milk.’ My sister is tired, but never gets angry at her. She can’t. ‘She just asks the baby to ‘understand her’,’ laughs my mom.

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Courtesy, the hospital

One day, I told them to keep the video on as they dressed her for her first visit to the pediatrician. Her bed was strewn with a-little-over-palm-size T-shirts, and slacks. Finally, zeroing on a white jacket, my sister slides her tiny hands into each hole of the sleeve. But her hands get lost somewhere mid-way in the over-sized shirt. ‘Every dress is big for her,’ my mom says, taking a neat white thick blanket and wrapping her up. She looked like a momo then.

Sometimes, during the nights, after a long day at work, I wonder what her hair smells like. It just comes like a whisper of thought. Nothing that I dwell upon. Sometimes, even in the middle of work. Just the thought that a little of me, just a little, is in her – almost always cracks a smile on my aunt face. I guess it’s just a family thing.

Going head over ‘heels’ !


 

Design your own or pick from the collection. Now, wear your personality on your feet with the custom hand painted shoes available at Azariaa.

Musings of a shoeaholic — Cinderella was outright careless. Sympathies with her wretched childhood, but she adandoning her little glass sandals like that? Not acceptable.

Ignore this with a laugh. But when a child pours red ink on her shoes to transform them to those magical red ruby sandals which Dorothy wears in the Wizard of Oz, or stitches up cardboard sheets to get those hooker boots of Julia Roberts in Pretty women, the obsession is evident.

What reinforces this camaraderie between girls and shoes now is the new range of hand painted ones, that is eccentric, loud and yes, customised.

“It requires courage to wear them,” says Shweta Patwari, Owner at Azariaa, the only showroom in Chennai that sells hand-painted shoes. “And the right personality to carry them with elan, because obviously you are going to get noticed wearing those,” she continues, pointing at the shelf, on which rest the pieces of art.

They are nothing like the strappy sandals that you find every second woman wearing, or the thongs sandals which you have abandoned in your attics. And, if you thought the Mexican Huarache, an overlap of straps running over the feet was the ‘in’ thing, or T-strap was the only solution for a chic look, you are in for a surprise.

Imagine the ‘peacock’ eye feathers imprinted around your feet or a fresh-blown ‘rose floral’ at your toe tips. If that’s too sassy, there are the subtle retro types – the ‘black and white’ collection or the ‘black lotus’ that has a single radiant lotus adorning the shoes.  Also, one can’t ignore the vintage style polka dots and the whimsical ‘candice’, an abstract beauty. These designs are among the 15 innovative ones which are available at Azariaa that has its brainchild back in Kolkata under the banner Spirited-soles, founded by Anis Salim.

“Each design is carefully selected amongst hundreds of different art-work and colour pallets,” says Anis. What follows is colouring on the rexine, based on the art-work. This is done using high grade acrylic paints that are applied and dried. The secret behind that glossy finish, he says, is a protective layer that is applied after the paint dries. This layer in turn makes the pair chip and water resistant.

The suave shoes, though can find its way to your home in two weeks by ordering online, Shweta says that it’s better if the customers actually touch and feel the shoes before buying it. “There is not enough awareness about this style. Though people want it, they don’t know whom to approach,” she adds.

Despite this bottleneck, she has sold more than 500 pairs since its opening in last November. The shoe brand has made its presence felt in Lakme Fashion week and Meena bazaar exhibition.

While you await the new themes on your wedges, pumps and ballerinas, brew ideas to make your own unique pair, and aloha! Spirited-soles would get them ready. Because, even they, like us agree with Carrie Bradshaw’s words in Sex and the Citysometimes it’s really hard to walk in a single woman’s shoes. That’s why we need really special ones now and then to make the walk a little more fun.

 

INFO

The shoes are priced at : Flat shoes – Rs 2,000; Kitten shoes – Rs 2,200; Stilettos (4 inch) – Rs 2,500; Stilettos (6 inch) – Rs 2,800

Contact them at https://www.facebook.com/azariaaclothing

 The article was previously published in The New Indian Express. Check out – http://epaper.newindianexpress.com/c/1335995

 

Giving a form to notions


Subtle and haunting. The paintings and sculptures at Sarala art gallery take one to the realms of unknown, surpassing which, one finds oneself reborn. Such an impact shouldn’t be surprising given the names like Amitabh Sengupta, Jatin Das among the other 15 revered artists whose works have been exhibited.

Abstract, sparing one that is a landscape, the untitled paintings find themselves in the milieu of bronze and stone sculptures. These look mysterious. Almost like the sacred gods of the gallery who keep a look on you while you look at the paintings.

So when you see the painting with voluptuous women bound to their livelihood, your attention is also drawn to the sphinx look-alike stone structure that rests beside it. The women in the painting are busy with their chores. One of them has a basket of fish on her head and there is another playing flute. It is hard to decode what’s on their mind. But of course, they are women, so the attempt is as good as futile and you move on.

A worn-out page of a manuscript, with embossed letters sprouting occasionally — Like a grand secret or a clue which Robert Langdon, the famous Dan Brown made symbologist, carries around —  Sengupta’s twin paintings almost make you take a step back in the fear that you have exposed yourself to something which you shouldn’t have. Focusing on the written lines that are smudged by the brush strokes, you find yourself turning into a cryptologist trying to challenge your linguistic proficiency.

The next step you take is into a pool of bluish-green ocean. The smooth transition of colours from dark blue at the depths to a lighter shade at the horizon, makes you want to wet your fingers in the chill waters that they seem to be. If this felt like an aqua therapy, the next painting whisks you away into a misty land dotted with red-roofed houses and tall trees. You think twice before even exhaling, fearing that the slightest of movements can disturb the tranquility of the place. The chatter grows, and you fight the urge to silence the gossiping women folk in the adjacent painting – an art by Jatin Das. However, you immediately lose your will as you are drawn to the jasmine in their hair that lusciously falls until their midriff.

As you exit, you find yourself face to face with a family of, well, penguin and human hybrid forms – black faces and grainy body. Carved out of stone, they gaze at you with a hope-you-liked-it look. You can almost hear yourself giving your reviews to them. Outlandish! But, so was the collection.

The exhibition is on till July 20.

This article was previously published in The New Indian Express. Check out – http://epaper.newindianexpress.com/c/1293541

 

When art becomes the lingua franca


God is watching you – A familiar saying used by every parent to control their kids’ tantrums. If you hadn’t believed them then, it’s time you changed your decision.

Those captivating eyes, probably of the supreme, are everywhere. They bewitch you, along with the interplay of colours in the paintings, which blend and breathe. At points where the colours merge, you almost want to look away as they moan with pleasure celebrating another creation by Vandana Jain, in her collection, An eternal endeavour at La Galerie D’Expression.

One of the pieces, done on a tray had a couple’s faces at the centre, bulged out – like how you see yourself at the back of a spoon. Then to make things slightly creepy are eyes staring at the couple from the parting of a curtain of colours surrounding them.

“Sometimes I just don’t know what I am painting. See this one here,” said Vandana, walking towards one of her paintings which had eyes drawn on rectangular frames, like reflection of ones face in broken pieces of a mirror. “I just did many geometrical patterns initially and then left it for two days, after which I got a spiritual calling to paint Durga’s face and a tiger’s to complete it.” The piece, however, looks like a result of several months’ planning.

If the eyes didn’t remind you of Karma enough, a few paintings ahead, you find yourself face to face with the huge Gomateshwara, a deity worshipped by the Jains. The 35-year-old painting, seemingly real and intricate, had not missed out even the creepers which, as the history has it, had grown on his hands due to extended meditation.

An ardent meditator herself, she recounts how in the past her emotions have been guided by god himself. “I still remember the night when Ganesha came in my dreams,” she said, automatically joining her hands in a pranam. “The next day, the first thing I drew, almost effortlessly was his eyes,” added Vandana, who has done her thesis on Chinese pottery as a part of her MFA programme at Stella Maris.

Thus, if one wishes to see a lingering obsession with Chinese art in her paintings, there is a series of Chinese literati works at display, which have succeeded in capturing the ecosystem of Mount Fuji and the Indian landscapes, in its magnificent form, all in black and white. Chinese art, she said, focuses a lot on perfection – a flaw in a single stroke will result in your work being discarded. This makes one appreciate the simple bamboo tree, or the more abstract ones like Japanese orchids, even more.

Be it abstract pieces like the portrayal of four seasons on one canvas or concrete ones that depict Shankeshwar parshvanath, the snake god for Jains, and his wife, Padmavathy, one can see the use of peacock feathers, the geometrical patterns of circles and triangles, or the ripe orange sun, being used in most of them to retain a sense of divinity.

While packing the spiritual grace apart from the artistic pleasure, be sure to stuff in some luck from the Waterfall exuberance, which she refers to as her lucky painting, as it got her son married and helped raise her financial status.

The exhibition is on at Ambassador Pallava till June 30.

This article was previously published in The New Indian Express. Check out the link : http://epaper.newindianexpress.com/c/1230369

 

How do I define this love?


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When darkness consumed the forest

It lit up and fluttered like a ray of fireflies;

Eyes couldn’t help but wander in unrest

Is it real or a mirage of lies?

 

How long can the wings flap,

How long can I see them shine before they take that curve;

Oh those who loved, please tell me how do I define this love?

 

Like the colors of rainbow painted after the rain

Which misguide a then new-born about the reality of the sky;

It tempts us to erase the possibility of hurt or pain

Sensuously parting its doors to say, “Wont you stop by?”

 

The sky was awash in blue before I could count the layers

So this is the only span of admiration I deserve?

Oh but why, can someone please tell me how to define this love?

 

It’s like the lure of the rafting waters

Which can make a man jump off the cliff

All wet, I search for the molecules; but it no longer matters

As I realize, they were gushing forward, while I had stood stiff

 

I couldn’t have followed the waters even if I wanted to

To jump off the height and swim with a freeze, oh boy I did have the nerve!

Now just tell me this, how do I define this love?

 

Why wouldn’t I let the wood get transformed to coal

I keep taking off the pieces and extinguishing the fire

It took a long night’s thought and interrogation with the soul

To realize that I was killing my own desire

 

I cut the woods anyway

and it burned to coal in the heat of the fire stove

Waited long enough, now let me find out how to define this love.