Sunday, September 28, 2008

Post 412 : The gift

Was at Bhandup(east), parked and waiting for my sweetheart to join me back after picking up some veggies.
I see this gray-haired man, maybe around 45-50ish, black shirt, green checked squared running all through, cream trousers...and another grown person clinging to him. This was a special child, wearing half trousers. He had a weird bend on his right feet, his eyes were half open (the kind of chapta eyes and nose you expect on a chini). He had a moustache and beard (completely unkempt). He was clinging to the man (presumed to be his dad) by the ankle.
His dad kept focus and was walking facing ahead. The son, seemed too distracted and kept looking all around. And it almost appeared like the dad was pulling this son along (to whatever was their destination).

I sat back in the comfort of my cockpit and wondered...The world we live is such a confirmist bastard. This child would only gather sympathy and adjustment, but never the respect and acceptance which we (normal able bodied arseholes) have come to take for granted.

But as a life-form is this person any different than you or me? Is he worse than the politico type who rapes and loots, who we still accept and imbibe into the fabric of our cosmos?

One last point? I dont think the term "special/gifted" child is a misnomer. I genuinely believe they are "chosen ones". At least they preserve their innocence and pristine nature in this dog-eat-dog shark infested world. (Just as I believe Alzheimer is a gift and not a are going back to the basic child-like nature, which is our innate being's natural state).

Post 411 : (Livemint - A bedside story - Sidin Vadukut)

A personal connection. You win some, lose some....I liked this article.
L is dead, long live L.
Link at

A bedside story

The 1947 show ‘Mary Kay and Johnny’ was the first to show a couple sharing a bed on screen

What does the first sitcom in TV history have to do with a bank you may have heard of recently?

Ask many people what the first sitcom in TV history was and odds are they’ll say I Love Lucy. Unfortunately, that answer, as many quizmasters would say, is only a “good attempt”. Indeed from 1951 to 1957, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz were the most famous couple on television. Five decades after the show’s demise, I Love Lucy continues to top charts for the best TV shows of all time. But it was not the first sitcom.

And there is yet another less popular factoid about that show. In January 1953, Lucy gave birth to Little Ricky in the episode “Lucy Goes to the Hospital”. Many people believe that this was the first pregnancy to be shown on television. Wrong again.

The credit for both firsts, and for the central theme of this week’s column, goes to the 1947 show Mary Kay and Johnny — a show that has quite a few firsts to its name but is not remotely as well known as I Love Lucy. Just like that show, Mary Kay and Johnny was based on real-life married couple Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns and their life in an apartment in Greenwich Village, New York. When it was first aired on 18 November 1947 on the short-lived DuMont Television Network, the show became the first television sitcom to be broadcast.

And there’s more. It was the first to show a couple sharing a bed on screen (Lucy and Desi used separate beds, remember? It was a time when several shows, in public interest, ignored the concept of bathrooms, toilets and household hygiene altogether). And, in 1948, when Mary became pregnant, the producers simply wrote it into the show, notching up another first. When he was one-month-old, their son Christopher became a member of the cast.

Even though the show would eventually move to rival networks CBS and then NBC, it owed its genesis to the DuMont Television Network, one of the four great names that created network television in America. Today, three of that quartet remain — ABC, CBS and NBC — while DuMont, like Mary Kay and Johnny, was quickly forgotten.

In 1931, engineer Allen DuMont had started DuMont Laboratories, the predecessor of the network, with just $1,000 (Rs 46,585). An ex-employee of Westinghouse, DuMont had been hoping to manufacture high-quality picture tubes but hardly had the means to succeed. If it hadn’t been for a successful IPO that followed, DuMont might never have made reliable cathode-ray tubes, the tubes would never have revolutionized TV sets, and TV sets would never have become ubiquitous enough to make network television boom.

So, who helped DuMont take its business to the big league and, perhaps, helped kick-start the TV business? That key IPO was underwritten by a firm by the name of Lehman Brothers. You may have heard of them. In August 1956, DuMont TV shut shop. Fifty-two years later, so did their banker.

Write to Sidin at

Post 410 : When someone you love dies....

The workplace I currently work for is being bought over soon. With the acquisition will come all kinds of "expected" issues.
1. Culturally, we were Americans so far. There is a fair chance we shall either become Brits or Japs or Koreans or .... (man none of the options sound remotely exciting)
2. Some of us will lose jobs and careers (conversely some luckier folks will make a killing ; oppurtunity is a 2 headed "fence sitting" monster. It all depends on which side of the fence you are though!!)
3. Old networks/relationships will lose meaning. I knew my boss well and 3 layers up. And locally I knew the whole India team/I helped build most of it. Am not sure in a few weeks from now, how many of these connections will remain (A LinkedIn can never replace what a good cup of coffee can do a relationships).
4. Salaries/Designations/Roles/Functions - expect a upheaval in all of these and more.

I manage a large enough team, and hence am not allowed to let the weakness show on my face. But internally, (I think) my emotional side (Jekyll) is starting to crack...My other "ruthless/mercenary" (Hyde) continues with the day to day doped drivel.

When I look at the organization I helped built, and when I contrast to what will happen in a few days, it feels like a mass tragedy, a huge grave we are all helping dig.

For the first few days (the turn of events is less than 2 weeks old as of today), I neither denied not rued over the future. Even today, it all kind of feels surreal. A lot of people I know are in the same boat. We know the facts, but the mind bends around it. In short, most of us, dont want it to happen, if we could help it in any way.

Maybe this is how I will feel when I am dying, or am surrounded by death. Am I sad? Yes and No. Yes, in the current context. No, because I do believe that the ashes will feed a new web of life, and the circle will keep rotating (as if nothing ever unusual happened).

Post 409 : Where have all the conversations gone?

I left my first job out of despodency (to join a startup). The startup did not last too long. (It was called Indus Re). When I went back to the industry in search of a job, for all practical purposes I was looked upon as a pariah. "You need a job? Why? Well, serves you right for leaving a well set job and joining a shady startup..."

In those days, a close college friend of mine used to call me daily night. His name was Roy Paul. He used to prod/console/emphatize/encourage/sometimes just listen. Almost every night we used to talk for about 30 mins. This is over 10 years ago. When I look back, that is probably the last time I shared/spoke continuously (with anyone at all) about anything which mattered.

And the weird part is, I was considered very reticent and "anti-social" by folks who knew me then...and come to think of it, I was.
Today, well, very few folks who interact with me, would end up calling we "anti-social", I do talk quite a bit, and yet.....all I talk about is meaningless drivel.

I seem to have lost this capability to talk about items which matter. I am becoming a more closed system. This has impacted all my relationships over years - no one has been spared the scathe. Brother, wife, friend, parents....

Is that really a bad thing? I dont know.
Maybe its for this release that I blog. I crave for someone to listen (without judging) and a "brainless" (quite literally) web-tool is the only one who has the requisite patience I demand...

One last point....
When I grew up the only way we could communicate was letters, or a land phone. Today, hazaar different web-tools/communicators/email/phone/mobile. We are "connected on always".
I can't help but wonder, has communication increased? Strangely it appears, the always connected on, seems to take away our sense of "personal" space, and yet, paradoxically, our desire to fill it all up, seems that we are always in a hurry to consume "drivel", "to eat/not digest".....

Don't you ever crave for a leisurely conversation? One-to-one, and the only one, undisturbed by phones/blackberries/IMs/doorbells/video cameras and "other what the f@@#s" ?

Well, if you do, then welcome to new world order, where YOU shall be condemened to be lonely, and YET crave for a day of personal space. Oops, I need to run, my beeper just went off, it must be my boss!!!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Post 408 : Bandish 5 (Jhini Chaadariya - Lyrics Kabir- Kumar Gandharv)

My association:-Sung by Pandit Kumar Gandharva
- Raga unknown
-Thaat unknown
-Time unknown

झीनी रे झीनी रे झीनी चदरिया,
झीनी रे झीनी रे झीनी चदरियाके
राम नाम रस भीनी चदरिया,
झीनी रे झीनी रे झीनी चदरिया
अष्ट कमल दल चरखा डोले,
पांच तत्व,
गुण तीनि चदरियासाइँ को सियत मास दस लागे,
ठोंक-ठोंक के बीनी चदरियासो चादर सुर नर मुनि ओढ़ी,
ओढ़ी के मैली कीनी चदरियादास कबीर जतन सो ओढ़ी,
ज्यों की त्यों धर दीन चदरिया

jhinee jhinee binee chadariyaa
kahe kae taana, kaahe kae bharni,

kaun sae taar sae binee chadariyaa,
ingla pingala taanaa bharni,
sushman taar sae bhinee chadariyaa..
aath kanwal, das charkhaa dole, paanch tatt gun tinee chadariyaa,

saanyee ko siyat mas das laage,
thok thok kae binee chadariyaa..
so chaadar sur nar muni odee,

odee kae mailee keenee chadariyaa,
daas 'kabir' jatan sae odee, jyon ki tyon dhar denee chadariyaa..

This is fine, this is fine cloth.
It is been dipped in the name of the lord
The spinning wheel, like an eight-petal lotus, spins,
With five tatvas and three gunas as the pattern.
The Lord stiched it in 10 months
The threads have been pressed to get a tight weave.
It has been worn by gods, people, and sages
They soiled it with use.
Kabir says, I have covered my self with this cloth with great care,
And eventually will leave it like it was.

jhinee = very light, transparent
binee = to make
chadariyaa = chaadar or blanket
taana = thread roll
bharni = charkha or charkha's spindle
taar = thread
ingla = Moonpingala = Sun
sushman = sushma
kanwal = lotus
tattva = elements like five elements
gun tinee = three gunas namely tamas, rajas and sattwa
saanyee = God
siyat = to sew
mas = month
thok thok = to make carefully
sur nar muni = gods,humans, saints(or sadhus)
mailee = to make dirty
jatan = with caution
jyon ki tyon = as it was

in the above poem kabir jee is describing the subtle and gross composition of human body using the rural imagery of charkha-taana (or weaving eqipments, he himself was a julaha or a weaver by profession..)


Post 407 : Music 36 (Rock : Tum ho tho)

Forget the lyrics listen to Farhan & Raman build a great crescendo.....

Tumko hai maangti....yeh zingdaaaaaaggggggggggggeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!

Thats how it is in the song. Amazing piece of improvisation. Would make any rock artiste proud. Farhan, Raman Mahadevan take a bow. (In the movie/album, this is included as a part of "Sinbad the Sailor" song).

Post 406 : Music 35 (Rock on - Pichle Saat Dinon mein)

Add this song to your repository. Lovely, classic rock song. A very "Strings" kind of song. I wonder where have all the classic rockers gone? This song will just perk you up (esp the live version). I am going to run and pick this DVD the day it releases.

Lyrics : Javed Akthar, Singer : Farhan Akhtar
meri laundry ka ek bill
ik aadhi padhi novel
ek ladki ka phone number
mere kaam ka ek paper
mere, taash se heart ka king
mera, ik chaandi ka ring
pichhle saat dinon mein maine khoya
kabhi khud pe hansa main,aur kabhi khud pe roya

present mili ek ghadi
pyaari thi mujhe badi
mary jane ka ek packet
meri denim ki jacket
do one-day match ke passes
mere naye naye sunglasses
pichhle saat dinon mein maine khoya
kabhi khud pe hansa main,aur
kabhi khud pe roya

kaise, bhoolun, saatva jo din aaya
kisi ne, tumse,
ik party mein milwaaya
kaisa, pal tha, jis pal maine tumko pehli baar dekha tha
hum jo mile pehli baar
maine jaanaa kya hai pyaar
maine hosh bhi khoya dil bhi khoya
kabhi khud pe hansa main,aur
kabhi khud pe roya
maine pichhle saat dino mein
ye sab hai, khoya..

Post 405 : Music 34 (Rock On - Sinbad the Sailor)

On the first hear of this album (much before I saw the movie), I cringed. "Javedbhai was losing it", "sad lyrics"...."what inane Sameer type lyrics".

And then, last week, I saw the movie, and guess what, the songs just fit in.....not as an embellishment (as songs in Hindi movies usually are), but as part of the film. Heard the lyrics carefully, and realized Javedbhai had done a fantastic job. He had gone under the skin of a rock artiste, who is also a pop poet - once you look from that perspective, everything in the vista packs in perfectly.

Love this song, and Pichle Saat Dinon Mein from this movie. I must have heard these 200 times in the past week. Looks like I will still be listening to these 7 years from now. Both these songs just go right into my "long shelf life" collectibles.

This song is perfect as a theme song for the movie. (BTW, thats not how it is presented, and I admire that subtlety of the director.). Remember the whole movie is about "chase your dreams, no matter what the world around you says, they are a bunch of jerks anyways"....and now, read/listen to the lyrics.

Javedbhai, take a bow. Perfect.


Music Director : Shankar Ehsaan LoySinger(s) :Farhan Akhtar, Raman Mahadevan Lyricists :Javed Akhtar

Sinbad the Sailor
Sinbad the sailor jahaaz me jab chala
Mere yaar sun lo sun lo
Dhoondh raha tha ek nayi duniya ka pata
Mere yaar sun lo sun lo
Woh anjaani raahon me thaa..o-o
Woh lehron ki baahon me thaa..-o

Sab ne kaha tha in samundaron me jaana nahi
Mere yaar sun lo sun lo
Khwaabon ke peeche jaake kuch bhi hai paana nahi
Mere yaar sun lo sun lo
Woh apni hi dhun me rahaa..o-o
Woh sunna tha dil ka kahaa..o-o
(Uske the jo sapne, wohi uske the apne,aisa tha Sinbad the sailor (sailor)) (2)

Uska jahaaz khila toofanon me
Mere yaar sun lo sun lo
Phir bhi na aayi kami uske armaanon me
Mere yaar sun lo sun lo

Woh Deewana aisa hi thaa..o-o
Woh Sapnon ka humrahi thaa..o-o
(Uske the jo sapne, wohi uske the apne,aisa tha Sinbad the sailor (sailor)) (2)
Woh kuch paane ki chah me..o-o
Woh badhta raha raah me..o-o

Gehra samundar tha, unchi unchi lehren
Mere yaar sun lo sun lo
Kashtiyaan jin dekhi mushkil se thehre
Mere yaar sun lo sun lo

Woh saahil tak aa hi gayaa..o-o
Woh manzil ko paa hi gayaa..o-o
(Uske the jo sapne, wohi uske the apne,aisa tha Sinbad the sailor (sailor)) (2)
Tum ho toh gaata hai dil

Tum nahi toh geet kahaan
Tum ho toh hai sab haasil
Tum nahi toh kya hai yahaan
Tum ho toh hai sapnon ke jaisa haseen ek samaa
Jo tum ho toh yeh lagta hai ki mil gayi har khushi
Jo tum na ho yeh lagta hai ki har khushi me hai kabhi
tum ko mangti yeh zindagi

Post 404 : Music 33 : (Kidnap : Mit Jaye)

A typical club thumper.....Bass drums going thump thump thump.

But I had an interesting observation. I instantly liked the know why? Its exactly like the 80s RD Burman Disco number. Sandeep Vyas' vocals are so reminscient of the Shailendra Singh of Khel Khel Mein fame. I was a big Shailendra Singh fan and miss him. If I am not mistaken, I last heard him on Gurudev (1993) a Vinod Mehra film (Jaipur se nikli gaadi, Dili chale haley haley...)

So if you liked Shailendra Singh or the 80s Shaan kind of music, listen to this track. It will be pleasantly nostalgic. It helps that this track is a car thumper.


If you are scratching your balls trying to figure how did Shailendra Singh sound ? Heard "Jaane do na" from Saagar, heard "Humne tumko dekha" from Khel Khel Mein....


( I am desperately looking for Gurudev's songs for long. If you have them, let me know....)

Post 403 : Knots (R.D. Laing)

Jack can see he sees
what he can see Jill can't see
and he can see
that Jill can't see that she can't see
but he can't see WHY
Jill can't see that Jill can't see

(Knots R.D Laing)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Post 402 : Where does the Raga live?

I was reading somewhere, that Ragas cannot be learnt. They can only be remembered.
Supposedly, ragas live as dormant beings in our minds. When we hear a good rendition of a Raga, all we are doing is remembering (recalling) the raga - bringing it to the foreground. All ragas known, and all yet to be discovered ragas are (already) there embedded in ourselves.
Hence you can neither learn, nor invent a raga. You can only recall/remember and eulogize it.

Do I believe this to be true? YES.

Post 401 : Paradox

He hoped and prayed that there wasn't an afterlife. Then he realized that there was a contradiction involved here and merely hoped that there wasn't an afterlife.
- Douglas Adams

Post 400 : Book 9 (Namita Devidayal - The Music Room)

Read this book in a breeze. Its all about Namita and her music teacher. At times slightly fictional, at times real, its a touching book.

What I liked:
1. Its a "Bombay" girl writing - there is a part of Bombay in the book, you cant miss it. The texture of the prose is simple, everyday-like and non-esoteric - to put it simply, its human.
2. Its about Hindustani Music, and how that has influenced Namita's personal life.
3. Gives a Glimpse into the life of Kesarbai Kerkar and Alladiya Khan.
4. I never heard of Dhontutai before (and here I was believing, everything I need to hear on Hindustani, I had at least sampled).
5. Honesty. Namita comes across as a average joe - caught between the draws of the beauty of the art, and the grossness of everyday drudgery.

What I did not
1. The book ambles along without a "story telling " premise. It is more of a diary than a novel or a book. It spans about 30 years but still "narrates", does not make you think or ruminate.
2. It leaves you incomplete, no character is completely etched out including Namita's own. You only glimpse their incomplete appendages (six blind men & an elephant)
3. There is no emphasis on hope, tragedy, valor or any of the rasas you expect in a story/narrative.

Overall - 7/10.
1. I would still strongly recommend a read. Its a brave effort. Its a book that I wish I had written not for its prose or story telling, but for its content.
2. Go grab it, read it, it is about Hindustani Music, the only God worth knowing and reading about.

All images from

Post 399 : Bandish 4 (Ghan chhaye Gagan Adh Ghor Ghor - Raag Megh)

My association:
-Sung by Rashid Khan / Ajoy Chakrabarthy (this version remains one my all time fav classical compositions, if you must only listen to one of these listen to Ajoyji)
-Raga Megh
-Thaat Kafi
-Time : Late Evening

Ghan Chaaye Gagan Adh Ghor Ghor
Sana nana chalth pawan jor jor
Piya ghar nahi aaye jiya tarsey
Bhamani Jalath kahin ghan barasey
deketh dagari mukh mod mod

Post 398 : Bandish 3 (Ab Mori Naiya Paar - Todi)

My association:
- Sung by Rashid Khan
- Raga Todi
- Thaat Todi
- Time : Morning
- Teentaal Madhyalaya Drut

Ab Mori Naiya Paar, karo Rey
Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia
Dukha Daridra Saba Door Karana
Hara Taan Ras Khan Ki lio Khabaria
Gata Sautana ke lara laraiya

Alternate version
ab mori naiyya paar karo tum
Hazrat Nizaamuddin auliyaa ab mori
dukh darid(r)a sab door karat hai

Tanras Khan ke leeje Khabariya
Ganj-e-shakar ke hooN laRaiyaa ab mori

Oh! Lord Nizamuddin take my rocking boat to the shore of the river. Save your devotee Tanras Khan (the poet) from sorrow, poverty and miseries of life.

Gurus of Bandish - Rashid Khan

Post 397 : Markets are down (Round 15 Ali Vs. Joe Frazier)

The Markets are down. My own portfolio is down over 50% (52% to be precise) from its highs. Whereas the benchmark (Sensex) is down about 35% in the same period. If there was ever one indication of I not being suitable for the role of a fund manager, here it comes.

The only difference this time around (unlike 2000 wherein I lost my all - except my spirit), I shall not liquidate, nor shall I stop from buying stuff I like. I continue to buy bits and pieces as much as my fund position allows me.

My stocks to watch include
-Gitanjali Gems (current CMP (all approx range) Rs. 230)
-Entertainment Network Limited (Bennett Coleman promoted Radio Mirchi) (Rs. 280)
-Adlabs (Rs. 520)
-Suzlon (yes, I continue to bet on this battered one) (Rs. 220)
-Moser Baer (Rs.105)
-Chateau Indage (Rs. 380)
-Bayer Crop Science (Rs. 290)
-Mount Everest Water (Rs. 140)
-Pyramid Saimara (Rs. 120)

I will continue with swollen eyes and a battered nose, my spirit is still hopeful. Will someone pull me out of this battle, like they pulled out Frazier in the 15th round?

Post 396 : Bandish 2 (Raag Bihag Lat Urjhe suljha ja balam)

My association:
- Sung by Jasraj / Another version by Dr. Soma Ghosh with Ustad Bismillah Khan
- Raga Bihag
- Thaat Bilawal
- Time : Night

Lat urjhe suljha ja baalam
haath ma mehendi lagee, more baalam
Lat urjhe suljha ja....

Maathe ki bindiya, gir gayee sej pe (bikhar gayi balama in case of the Soma Ghosh version)
apne haath sajaa jaa baalam
haath ma mehendi lagee, more baalam
Lat urjhe suljha ja.....

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Post 395 : Shoba Narayan - Live Mint Lounge - Living, walking, growing up in their shade

Yet another one from Shoba which I thought was very sprite-inducing.....
Living, walking, growing up in their shade
Most builders use nature as a lure in their marketing brochures with photographs of a villa perched amid trees and birds while they raze down a thousand trees to build a project

At the corner of Cleveland Road and Coles Road in north Bangalore is a lovely old champak tree. Anyone fortunate enough to walk or bicycle past it will enjoy its heavenly fragrance. This tree bears the lyrical botanical name of Michelia champaka. Indigenous to India, belonging to the magnolia family, and ancient of provenance — it has been written about in Hindu Puranas — the champak flower is a key ingredient in sensuous heavy perfumes such as J'adore and Joy Jean Patou, both of which, as it happens, I adore.

One of the pleasures of living in Bangalore is the privilege of close encounters with ancient gnarled trees that spread their branches over Maruti showrooms and municipal graveyards, Ulsoor Lake and Cubbon Park. Many of them were planted by German horticulturist Gustav Krumbeigel at the behest of the then Mysore maharaja. The feature that probably earned Bangalore its Garden City moniker was its avenues of flowering trees that blossom in sequence, delighting pensioners and schoolchildren alike. We have jacarandas, gulmohurs, cassias, tabebuias and millingtonias that provide outrageous, orgiastic floral displays.

Bangaloreans are passionate gardeners and proud tree-huggers. Prem Koshy, the effervescent owner of Koshy's Café, once hugged an old mahogany tree right outside his café when the government's lackeys came and threatened to cut it down to widen St Mark’s Road. The tree still stands, and the old woman who has sat under it for decades still sits there. Koshy distributes mahogany seeds to anyone with horticultural proclivities, urging them to plant seeds.
It is one of those Indian paradoxes. All of our big cities have beautiful trees. Pretty much every Indian I have met loves trees. This is not a detached, “oh, how pretty they look” kind of admiration. We have passionate attachments to particular trees. We have favourite trees on our walking or driving routes. We sleep under them, live under them (some of us anyway). Then how come we allow trees to be cut? How come we don't do more to preserve trees? How come our urban environs are so grey, not green?

The diplomatic enclave of Delhi has broad tree-lined boulevards that provide a soothing canopy against the scorching heat. If you are lucky enough to drive down these roads in the rain (as I once was), the verdant green against the chocolate brown branches will take your breath away and bring tears to your eyes. After a peg or two, you will be sobbing at the poignancy of the beauty surrounding you; beauty that is always on the verge of being cut down and lost forever.
Mumbai too has its leafy neighbourhoods, which are all the more startling because of the high-rises all around. Yet they exist, in Bandra and Khar, in Matunga and Malabar Hill. I didn’t grow up in Mumbai but I imagine that walking hand-in-hand under these trees, slurping a cone with your sweetie, or taking shelter under them during Mumbai’s famed monsoon was one of those “growing up” experiences that percolate through every Mumbaikar’s collective unconscious.
Mumbaikars are famous for their morchas — why not organize one to save their trees?

As with any systemic failing, who is responsible is, of course, the big debate. Should the government write more stringent laws against the cutting of trees than they already have? Should we as citizens make an effort to plant more trees? Or should the builders who are taking over urban India write trees into their blueprints?

Planting trees in public spaces seems a formidable enterprise. In Bangalore, a wonderful NGO called gets permission from the local authorities and plants trees pretty much anywhere. Run by Janet Yegneswaran in memory of her husband, this NGO makes the whole thing easy. Best of all, they do it on request for free, thanks to donor contributions.

When I moved to Bangalore, I decided that I would buy a flat from a builder who was at least marginally eco-conscious. At that time, only Good Earth Homes, with its penchant for solar power, natural materials, energy conservation and rainwater harvesting, fit the bill. Total Environment System was my other option. I was determined to buy a home from one of these two builders. The problem was that they were not building anything in north Bangalore; nothing near my children's schools, or our jobs. My point is that even concerned citizens are sometimes hostage to a city's geography. I ended up buying from Sobha Developers, who have no environmental plan worth writing about. I think in today's eco-conscious world, a smart builder can turn environmentally friendly building practices into a brand advantage.

Most builders use nature as a lure in their marketing brochures anyway, with photographs of a villa perched amid trees and birds while they raze down a thousand trees to build a project.
Trees do more than give us a green cover and convert carbon dioxide into life-giving oxygen. Just looking at them is salve for the soul; balm for the ego. Like great works of art or a pet dog, their worth cannot be measured in economical terms. Simply having them around can make you live longer — quite literally, as studies with the limonoids in the neem tree will bear out. As botanist Diana Beresford-Kroeger says, trees are a “living miracle”.

Shoba Narayan's favourite trees are Azadirachta indica, Tabebuia heterophylla and Ficus religiosa. Write to her at

Post 394 : (Shoba Narayan - Mint Lounge - When did you last ‘use’ your friends?)

If you haven't read Shoba, I suggest you do. Her grace comes from being falliable, being one amongst us. She writes with insight and blends personal vignettes into almost all her pieces.
I have reproduced an article by her, about how we choose our friends (or how we dont choose friends) depends how you look at the dimension.

I can't but agree 100% with this. I dont have too many friends (the anti-social animal that I am), but I can't but feel that our society, especially the Indian one does not allow cutting across class/economic/power strata. I have never seen a maid who is best friends with a home-owner. How come? Is it limited to just " keep those types away, you become too friendly and they will ruin you?" or is it also "maid...she is so lowly in my scheme of things", or better still "my maid is a service - use and throw".

This problem also exists in offices - most people at levels only talk to their counterparts/peers. How rarely do we see a Vice President who is best buddies with a "lowly" clerk.

I tend to believe it is a very India specific problem, deep-seated in our ethos and background seeped in caste distinction.

Here is the article verbatim.

All of Sobha

This article

When did you last ‘use’ your friends?
After a certain age, pretty much after college, most of our friendships are class-based

It really kills me to write this for it goes against everything I believe in — about friendship and the class system. But after much deliberation, I have come to accept the sorry truth about friendships, and it is this: After a certain age, pretty much after college, most of our friendships are class-based. Most of us end up hanging around people who are “like us”.

Speed dial: Does geography, class or the need to network dictate your friendships?

There are exceptions. There are executives who will cut across class and professional lines and socialize with, say, school teachers — noble profession, but let’s face it, not so well paying. But for the most part, the rich hang around other rich people (or sycophants); the middle class socializes with others like them; and…you get the picture.

I am sort of stunned by my conclusion because I am one of those suckers who believe in the “purity” of friendships; that the only rule for friendships is that the other person “gets” you with all your quirks and eccentricities and you have fun together. For me to conclude that middle-aged friendships are class-based is heresy. But there it is: my theory. You can stop reading now.
I am not a cynic. If anything, I am the opposite. So let me explain how I came to this conclusion. Many things dictate our friendships, but after living in three cultures, I believe that geography is a key element. Although many of us maintain long-distance friendships, it is not the same thing as having friends within the same city.

So there you are, living in Delhi, Mumbai or Bangalore. You make friends: at work, and near your home (geography again). Other friends introduce you to cool people and you make more friends. Now, I ask you: Tell me honestly, are your friends people like you? Are they all professional, roughly in the same economic bracket and with similar personal concerns? My guess is that your answer is yes. And why not? In order to do things together with friends, whether it is eating out or vacationing together, you have to be on the same page with respect to many things, but also budget.

Tomorrow is World Friendship Day, which is what got me started on this in the first place. Unlike childhood friendships, which operate in a tabula rasa, friendships in today’s global world are complicated. For instance, most people believe that you should not “use” your friends, whatever that means. But I find that I am doing this all the time: I call them for contacts; ask them for recommendations; call in favours. So I’ve decided to scratch that notion. Like it or not, I use my friends.

Then there is the whole business of “networking”. We are told to network and develop a circle of friends who can then be tapped for information and advice when needed. But professional networks aren’t friendships. You can network with people you don’t like; but you can’t stay friends with people you dislike.

I used to think that friendships are lifelong. I have a slightly different view now. With so many of us moving towns and travelling often, I find that friendships may last a lifetime but their strength depends on geography. A dear friend just moved to Hong Kong. I know that my affection for her will continue, but I also know that we will drop out of touch. I used to think this was a tragedy. Nowadays I accept it as a fact of life.

Someone told me that the older you get, the fewer new friends you make. I disagree. I have lived in Bangalore for three years now and have made new friends. What has changed is the profile of my friendships. I used to hang out with a variety of people; now all my friends are of the same texture. I used to have a lot of gay friends but finding them in Bangalore (particularly if you are enmeshed in the kiddie carpool wagon) is turning out to be a bit of a problem. And when I do find people with opposite views, I hang on to them.

Where do you set your bar for friendship? Mine is pretty high. In order to call someone a friend, I feel that I should be able to pick up the phone and call her or him anytime. Without thinking; without hesitating. That’s pretty tough to achieve when you are dealing with busy professionals. But not impossible.

Getting into a routine with people you like has been my method. One of my closest friends in Bangalore is a cross-cultural trainer named Gauri. We used to carpool together every day for a year; that turned out to be the bulwark of our friendship. I don’t see her often anymore but she is someone I can call anytime.

Meeting once a month, I have found, is a fantastic formula for friendship. Going out for drinks; getting a pedicure together; or attending a book club are all good ways of nurturing friendships. Saying “No” is another.

I was once a victim of the party trap. Some acquaintance would invite me to a party and I would feel obligated to attend. This grew and grew to a point where I was party-hopping four times a week. I knew a lot of people and had a hectic social life but somehow it felt empty at the end of the night. Things are different now. As my professor, Leonard DeLonga, who hung out with his wife, a potter, every evening said: “I have a great social life. I am just choosy about my social partners.”

Vacationing together is a great (albeit frustrating) way to maintain friendships. As I speak I am trying to coordinate a vacation with our friends from Singapore. Simply matching holiday schedules is a challenge. But we persist because we know it will be fun in the end.

Shoba Narayan defines friendship as a joyous connect. Write to her at

Post 393 : Bandish 1 (Mandir Dekh Dare Sudama)

My association:
- Sung by Bade Ghulam Ali Khan
- Raga Malkauns
- Thaat Bhairavi
- Time : Early Morning

mandar dekh Dare sudAmA
(Seeing the palace(where his hut used to be) Sudama is (shocked) and surprised)
yA to atI morI vAm manRaiyA [vam=left, manRaiyA=hut, ya=here, ati=was ]
(This is where my hut used to be....)
kaun bhUp utare, sudAmA [Bhoop = King. (Bhoo-paal, Bhoo-pati), utare=take down ]
(Which king has brought down (my hut))

ek taraf hAthI jhUlat hai
(On one side there are elephants twiddling around)
dUje asab khaRe [asab=ashva=horse]
(On the other side, horses are standing)
ek taraf shivjI baithe
(On one side there is a statue of Shiv - (probably a decoy planted by Krishna to lead Sudama away from suspecting him of this transformation))
hIre ratan jaRe
(Bedecked in jewels and rubies)

1. Capital 'R' to indicate the heavy 'r'
2. It describes Sudama coming home after meeting Krishna in Dwaraka, to what used to be his dilapidated hut, and has been transformed without his knowledge to a grand palace.

References :
Almost entirely copied from (all I did was make it presentable)

Post 392 : Bandish ( Quintessence of a composition)

Within Hindustani Classical (music), the Bandish is the boundaries (limits) of the dominant notes. This is obviously different from the technical definition, but then I was never a stickler for the "tradition".
A Bandish is also commonly used to denote the words, (limited) lyrics some of these songs do have. Hence a Bandish is what defines (or embeds) the Raga in popular memory. Like Malkauns for me has (and will) always be "Mandir deke dare Sudama".
Some non-conformists (like me) do tend to fall in love with bandishes' though that was never really the intent of them being there. They are actually just supposedly to help the singer stud the notes together in a melodic motif. And yet, here I am....I love certain ragas just because some of my fav bandishes come from their world.

For years I have struggled to find bandishes put together as a book or explained (a lot of them are in awadhi or traditional dialect) and hence impossible for a pseud city dweller like me to understand. There are books but all of them only ennumerate, they dont explain...and wait, almost all of them are perenially out of print.

I do find a few Bandishes here and there on google. I plan to start copying and pasting them onto this blog. Over time, if not for anybody else, but for me they shall become a single reference point.

This post was just to kick start this series. Do drop me a note with your favorite ones. I will add them on here.