A Musical Schizophrenia

There’s always one song — a crass, inelegant one. The genre doesn’t matter, the period does. Almost always this will be a song from when you were young. Perhaps in your early college days; a little more than three decades ago. (Needless to say, if you are still in college, or if you are just out; this won’t make sense to you.)

It is your favourite song. Still.

30 years ago, people around you, agreed with you. It was the best, they echoed. 30 years later, you dare not say it loud: I love this song. Most of us mature in our taste of music; some of us do not. It’s not something to apologise for. It is however, something not worth advertising.

*

I may have said this before. I lost my iPod Classic during travel, a few years ago; it’s been a while. Since then, the music experience has never been the same. Music, movies, books, have to be possessed – the cloud does not cut it. Imagine painstakingly tagging over seven thousand songs in your own way, and not being able to access your music in the way that you want to.

Discontinuing the iPod Classic is the worst thing that Apple did. Not that they care, but I will never forgive them for that.

*

I’ve lost my religion. I have to get back to Paul Simon and Simon & Garfunkel. True salvation lies in their words and their strings. For me. I do not know about you.

*

Obstinate are the trammels, but my heart aches when I try to break them.
Freedom is all I want, but to hope for it I feel ashamed.
I am certain that priceless wealth is in thee, and that thou art my best friend, but I have not the heart to sweep away the tinsel that fills my room.
The shroud that covers me is a shroud of dust and death; I hate it, yet hug it in love.
My debts are large, my failures great, my shame secret and heavy; yet when I come to ask for my good, I quake in fear lest my prayer be granted.

~ Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore

*

 

*

My life’s so common it disappears
And sometimes even music
Cannot substitute for tears

 

It Starts With You: #Anthem 19

 

In between these attachments, these threads, tangled threads
Along and in between your fingers
I search for a clue
For how they may untangle
this instrument of one string
Oh just one string.
Ah! The clouds sing for me.

How and why did you choose me; there’s madness about you
You heard all that I never said

Opposites like the day and night, we are
Hey, let’s meet in the evening.

You are like a day, I am night.
Come let’s meet like they both meet in the evening..

I wasn’t as carefree earlier
You are the destination of all my messages
They have found a place to go
I wasn’t as carefree earlier

On unknown and empty roads I will walk, eyes lowered
For no reason, I’ll get there.

Conversations with Ghosts of Past

“You aren’t online as much these days,” he said. I detected a note of regret in his voice. Wishful thinking on my part, I thought — there’s so much online these days, no one’s going to regret my absence. He’s just making an observation.

I nodded my head in agreement; smiled just enough so that it could qualify as a smile.

“It’s a bit boring, you know, to keep reading your old stuff.”

“I know the feeling, I have done a lot of reading — all my old posts. There’s not a lot, but there’s enough.”

“You are not just re-reading the posts. What are you searching for?”

“Who,” I said, looking away from him to street. There were so many people on that street. I wondered what they were doing, moving about, talking, walking. Some standing. All of them going about their lives. It seemed so strange, suddenly. Strange strangers. I’ll use that in one of my post.

“And did you find him,” he asked, stirring his coffee. He did that a lot; stirred his coffee, before every sip; I was almost sure of that. It could be irritating, if not distracting.

“I recognise shades of that person. He seems somewhat alien. It’s like … I was perhaps infected with that alien DNA a while ago, and as I read the posts, some sort of recognition causes green and blue neon-like pulses to emit through the screen and connect with a part of me. Just a part of me. It’s there, but it does not bind.”

“Why”

“I don’t know. Maybe I am a million galaxies away from that DNA. Or some million light-years away or something like that, there’s a connection, but it’s weak.”

“Too much of Netflix-binging?”

“Yes, mostly time-travel,” I said. A real smile, that would have almost qualified as a laugh.

“I know you don’t travel as much. I mean in this time/space construct; needless to say. Not time travel. You aren’t even capturing time, so to speak; you have stopped taking photos. Right? And you have stopped writing. In short, there is no movement, there is no new experience. Is that why there is no new documentation? Are you falling short experiences to describe? It’s perhaps not as simple as that, but I have to ask you – is it as simple as that?”

“Not having “experiences”; is that also an experience?”

“Doesn’t the mind hold a million times more possibilities than the real world,” he asked, not really meaning what he asked. He was perhaps interested in my mind. The possibilities in my head. I heard him but I wasn’t there.

Voices, with amazing clarity whooshed in that empty coffee shop.

You deserve more than this.
I’d rather be talking with you.
I like being with you, but…
I love you.
This is a great evening, I’ll cherish it forever.
I wish it were different.
Why didn’t you say something then.
If only…
I hope we can meet again

“My mind is full of regrets,” I said, “not necessarily mine. Not my regrets. And I may have a few. But my regrets are overwhelmed by the regrets I hear from them. Every regret was a possibility, come to think of it – it does not matter whether it was mine or theirs.”

*

“Write about them, then, those possibilities,” she pleaded.

She was grace. Unlike him who constantly stirred his coffee. She was a possibility. Looking in her eyes, then, I was reminded. Everything is possible. I don’t recall the new-age music that was playing in the cafe; but I heard:

Like a tunnel that you follow
To a tunnel of it’s own
Down a hollow to a cavern
Where the sun has never shone
Like a door that keeps revolving
In a half-forgotten dream
Or the ripples from a pebble
Someone tosses in a stream

Like a clock whose hands are sweeping
Past the minutes of its face
And the world is like an apple
Whirling silently in space
Like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind.

~ Sting – Windmills Of Your Mind

I looked deep in her eyes. I did not blink. I was afraid, if I looked away, she would be gone, just like him. And I wasn’t prepared for who would be sitting with me next. I continued to stare in her eyes. I did not look away, but I knew that the strange strangers were looking at me. There’s something about a gaze.

“What a lovely pattern on your coffee,” she said, with so much of love and affection.

Patterns. Repetitive. Predictable. I am living those patterns. I look up, she isn’t around. I want to say something.

*

There is no Barista in the cafè.

*

No people on the street.

*

I walk out.

*

This world is empty of humans.

***

PS: Above post is all imaginary. It never happened. It’s a ghost story. None of my friends were involved in this story.

A Matter of Faith

In almost every Indian temple, you aren’t allowed to take a photo of the main deity of the temple. Some temples allow it, but without a flash. If you have been to an Indian temple, you will have noticed that the space where the main deity resides, is dimly lit, usually by oil lamps. Taking a photograph of a the deity, in such light conditions, is usually difficult, without a flash. In my experience, this rule applies only to Indian temples. I have not sensed this, severely enforced in mosques or churches.

Why this is so, is not something I can explain. There are a couple of scientific theories about why the deities should not be photographed, but they are based on faith and belief, not hard science, as we know it. Three of my best friends are atheists. My best friend believes in Jesus, though she is not a Christian. Given my engagement with these four people, my personal (inherited; would be more proper) sense of faith is often questioned. I welcome the questions, even, if at times I have no answers. But the questions do not shake my faith. They make me seek a deeper understanding of my faith. And the faith, and its understanding, is personal.

In a recent visit to a temple I saw a couple of my friends, who were faithful take pictures of a the main deity in a temple. One of my atheist friend was accompanying us. I did not see him take photos of the main deity, but if he had, I would not be surprised. Needless to say, I offered my worship in the way I do, and moved on, to take photos of some of the wonderful sculpture that adorned that temple.

I was, I confess, slightly disturbed by the act of my believer friends taking photos of the deity. After a while we left the temple and made our way home.

Stones, layer,

*

It was one of the most beautiful drives I have had in my life. We were circumferencing a large lake, in a valley surrounded by my favourite mountain range — the Sahyadri. Small village roads, meandering along the folds of one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world, a mountain road, cut across the Deccan Traps. My three companions in the car, juggling the role of the DJ; good music played. We sang along, we laughed: at each other and with each other. I was a bit preoccupied; my passengers thought it was because I had a flight later that evening; and was looking to back as soon as possible.

I was thinking of the meaning of faith. I was thinking of how I was disturbed because someone else did not follow the general belief and custom. Somewhere, in that question, I was asking myself why I was disturbed. It was not a good feeling, and I wanted to understand why I felt that.

*

All of this happened a week ago. And I cannot say that I now have a proper answer; the answer will evolve. I know this much, though: my faith, my sense of my faith is mine. It is personal. I need not seek justification for what I believe. I do not need others to practice what I believe. (For even if I could make them follow, it would be coerced; devoid of belonging) There is no science to it. In the same way that I seek answers, I have to understand that other people do too. They make their own meaning. And how we sense our answers varies from friend to friend. And it changes with time.

Faith matters. But there is no matter in faith.

The Album Tag

I was tagged on Facebook by Amit. Somehow, a tag for me, doesn’t look good on Facebook. I’ve taken the liberty of taking up the tag here, on the blog.

Amit Phansalkar tagged me to create a list of my favorite music, which has made a lasting impression on me. So, here goes.

The rules: Copy this & post as your status, delete my list. List 12 albums in no particular order that made a lasting impression on you, only 1 per band/artist. Tag some friends to do the same (including me, so I can, see what you listed).

6593: My Own Song

  1. Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon: This is a 1963 Hindi movie, starring an actor, who is not known for his acting. Yet, all the songs are so wonderful. Perhaps it was a 60s pattern that some of the not-so-good actors got some of the most amazing songs. In particular, the song “Humdum mere khel na jaano” is one of my favourites. There’s a unique essence of romance that’s inescapable. Here’s the playlist of all the songs of this movie. Mohd. Rafi is at his naughty best, in “Phir Wohi dil laya hoon” and “Lakhon hai nigah mein.” Watch/listen to the full playlist.
  2. Nirgun Bhajan: I was introduced pretty late in life to this. Yet, the impression that this album (if you can call it that, as Amit says) is everlasting. The nature of the songs being spiritual/philosophical (#YouPrefer) they suit all times, moods, places, and situations. I remember, listening to about four songs sitting on a London street bollard, while waiting for a friend, a long time ago, on a cool Wednesday afternoon. I am shamelessly using the same link for these songs, that Amit used.
  3. Dnyaneshwari: A 13th C. Marathi translation of the Shree Bhagvad Gita in Marathi, using a poetic metre, very popular in Maharashtra, called an ovi. This translation was done by Sant Dnyaneshwar, a very famous saint of the later Bhakti Movement. It has taken me a while to understand some parts (it is in olde Marathi) – but the lyrical quality, the structure and the wonderful rendition by Lata Mangeshkar is a a treat. Listen to the full album here.
  4. Arth-Saath Saath: Why is this album of two movies? It has perhaps to do with the fact that these movies were released during the cassette-tape era; Side A and Side B. Both movies were released in 1982 and each song is a gem. Unfortunately there isn’t wasn’t a playlist of these songs, so, here is one I created for this post. Most songs in this album are a discovery of finding love, losing love, and knowing love. “Tere Khushboo Mein Base Khat” is an all-time favourite.
  5. Concert in Central Park: By far the best collection of S&G songs, and it’s live. New York often finds mention in S&G songs, but this is a concert that you have to listen to, to feel the spirit of NY alive and kicking, in the concert. Enjoy!
  6. So Beautiful So What: This is the album where I potentially break the rules of this tag. I say potentially because #5 above is an S&G album, and this one is Paul Simon. SBSW is a recent release, and all that is true, wonderful, lovable, heartfelt about Paul Simon comes back to life in this album. It’s different in many ways – but the sense of love is the same. I will not be able to put it in words, so why don’t you go ahead and listen to it. If you have time for only one song, don’t miss “Dazzling Blue.
  7. Essential – Roy Orbison: I admit, I didn’t know of Roy Orbison for a long time. A chance encounter, c. 1999, sitting alone in a place thinking of a love far away, I heard Blue Bayou. I asked the bartender who it was, got myself this album the next day. Since then, it has never let me down. All 36 songs from this double CD set, here.
  8. The Abbey – Monks and Choirboys of Downside Abbey: March 2008; soulful voices echoing through the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey. Enough said? I just could not find the playlist for the album that I have, but here’s a superset, to help you get the flavour of what I enjoy.
  9. Le Nozze Di Figaro: Two words — Shawshank Redemption. Red says, “I have no idea to this day what those two Italian ladies were singing about.Truth is, I don’t want to know. Some things are best left unsaid. I’d like to think they were singing about something so beautiful, it can’t expressed in words, and it makes your heart ache because of it. I tell you, those voices soared higher and farther than anybody in a great place dares to dream. It was like some beautiful bird flapped into our drab little cage and made those walls dissolve away, and for the briefest of moments, every last man in Shawshank felt free.” Never heard opera before in my life. After listening to an extract of one, in the movie, I got the album and it did not disappoint – though I still cannot understand it or tell you why I love it, I do.  Some titles aren’t available in this playlist, but it won’t be too difficult to find the Herman Prey version.
  10. But Seriously: The perfect album to have been released when you are seventeen. This album has been mine, since. And while I may discover and love newer music, this one is rock-solid, always there. And here it is for you.
  11. Pyaasa: No amount words can do justice to tell you what this album means to me. It’s not just the songs, it’s the movie, the man, the method, not in the least – the madness. Listen and lose yourself.
  12. Love, Actually – OST: If we were to ever talk of the best OST of a movie, this would rate way up in my list. Eclectic, evocative, emotional. Listen

Bonus: A Toda Cuba Le Gusta: If, you feel that I cheated with S&G/Paul Simon, here’s another one. This is an album of happiness and joy. Not just Cuba, I feel, everyone in the world loves it. This album is a Star Trek – like – teleporter. It can take you to wonderful places and wonderful times. All yours.

Feel free to take up this tag, and let us know of twelve albums that have had a lasting impression on you!

How Blue Should Be: #Anthem 17

If you have missed earlier Anthem posts, see all of them here.

~

51-SPMEH7fLThere may be people in this world who aren’t particularly fond of blue. I have, however, yet to come across someone who despises blue. It is pretty much an inescapable colour.

But how should blue really be?

There is no one answer to that question. Blue is different for all of us – whether we love blue or not. But there’s on shade that Paul Simon talks of, and it is a beautiful shade.

It’s Dazzling Blue.

I’ve always loved Paul Simon’s work, right from Tom & Jerry, Simon & Garfunkel, and later, when he was just Paul Simon. Name an emotion and there’s an S&G or a PS song for it. But Dazzling blue is different. Very different.

It’s a song of culmination, rediscovery, and existence itself. It’s love at its best.

And we wondered why, and imagined it was someday
And that is how the future came to be

There’s a timelessness to the words in this song; it is perhaps more relatable to me due to the use of the tabla. And not just the lyrics, the music is as visual as it can be.

For all the times that all of us have felt it, but never had a song, here it is.

PS: I must say, with some sadness, that the person who started this meme is not blogging anymore. But A’s A, if you are reading this, thank you!

 

Arth: A Conversation

When we smile, do we hide a lot? Are our smiles honest? It begets the question, what is honesty, really? When we express ourselves the way we want to — it is honesty. When we express ourselves without intention, that is honesty, too. Is the smile a manner of how we “are,” or how we want to “be,” or how we want to be “seen.”

Honest to whom? To ourselves, of course, I presume. Then, what we project is immaterial, isn’t it? Or is it? I don’t know. What we feel, what we think, what we want to happen, what we want others to think about how we “really” feel is all about being “happy”, with our being, in essence, it seems. So, whether we really feel a certain way of being “happy”, or we expect others to reinforce our own “projected happiness”, to be really happy with our own existence… well, I still don’t know what begets what. “Aankhon mein namee, haseen labon par” [Translation: Moist eyes; yet a smile on my lips]— we all need someone to see that moist eye, somewhere hiding behind the smiling face, I guess?

Are our tears a call for action, from the other, in that sense? When we cry, alone, are we really hoping that someone sees our tears? Not true, always, in my experience. Crying alone has its value; its virtue. Cathartic, some might say. We are to be responsible for ourselves. I am not talking of the social diktat. We have to dwell, twirl, and spiral within all that we feel. Poets, the good ones, have done injustice, for we borrow from them, the meaning and structure of what we feel. I utterly dislike poets. I have perhaps, said this to you before. As much as I love them. The sense of my feelings never seem to be my own.

We borrow, where we fail to express well. However, in essence, the point is that there’s a form and meaning to the emotions that we all feel that these poets provide, so to speak. A vehicle, in a way. But that’s besides the point, no? Are our tears, shown or not shown, a call to action for the other? Well, we want to hide the best we can what we don’t want others, including our loved ones, to judge us on, at any point of time. Point remains – any emotion , when unexpressed, is what we appreciate much more when felt by the ‘other’. As for the expression of these emotions, through those vicarious, or through some ways external to us – like these songs from Arth, are just a channel. In some sense, I feel, it’s useless in way. Because, such oral and obvious expressions are not what we’re looking, for when we expect latent emotions to be really “felt” without specific ventilation on our part. When you lose your primary audience (you know who I mean) and that medium of conversation (with those channels cut off), these songs become your emotional anthems.

So, these songs are our crutches, in some form? They are, perhaps. But, given that these songs are so beautiful, I’d rather not attribute ‘crutch’ to them. But that that’s just me. So, when the lover asks, how could I ever burn those wonderful handwritten letters of yours, he speaks of the dilemma of the beginning and the end at the same time. But the sense of burning never leaves him, for even when he submits her love letters to the Holy Ganges, he speaks of lighting a pyre in that pure water. Purity of fire, meets purity of the Ganges.

“Him”; I think of ‘me’ every single time these words pass through me. Beauty of these words, somewhere, lies in the fact that it’s so close to the feeling of a sense of loss, that you feel, is not warranted. The connection, the emotion, the whole ventilation that goes through you, is what makes these songs immortal, at least as far as I’m concerned. Despite all the things we do in our regular lives, we live for those moments that remain with us. A letter, handwritten, garnished, conceived from start to the end, in the heart of someone that values us for “just existing,” for God’s sake, is something that cannot be burnt. That age-old paper, with that ink, lost in past, with those emotions buried within those strokes of ink, lends you, your life — today. And, that’s a big deal.

“Despite all the things we do in our regular lives, we live for those moments that remain with us.” — well said. I once said, that our lives are just a count of incidents. It’s the same, when you refer to them as “moments.” And, as most corny and cheesy memes on Facebook and Twitter will tell you, it’s these moments that determine our life. I disagree. Moments are so personal, they can never be generalised to a population. When, in “Jhuki Jhuki Si Nazar” – he asks her to count the heartbeats of her young heart and asks for comparison with his own, that’s not his real question — he is seeking a sense of oneness; a sense of a shared, common existence. I go back to my question of the smile. In the song, in the last stanza, he displays braggadocio – but it’s not; he is as much scared in his expression of love as much as she is scared to admit it.

“He is seeking a sense of oneness”. Hoping. That’s what a lover ends up hoping for, and hopes for it to be the truth. I sense; a sense of optimism mixed with romanticism, with a purport of really knowing what the other person feels. You only know if it’s what ‘you hope for’, or ‘is the truth that’s being hidden behind all these facial expressions of casualness’; if you’ve really gone through it with a person yourself. Depending on where you are in any relationship, you could be anywhere in the continuum of possibilities — hope to reality. And, when things in reality don’t really converge with hope, then, you end up blurting out – “vo jo apna tha vohi aur kisi ka kyun hai, yahi duniya hai to phir eisi ye duniya kyun hai, yehi hota hai to aakhir yehi hota kyun hai…”. [Translation: That which was mine, why is it someone else’s; if this is how the world is, why is the world like this] Sometimes, it’s all about hope. Even in despair, poets find a way to find hope. Even if that knock on your door is in your imagination, you seek to open it. Oughta learn?

Are you in love?

A lover is always in.

Haha. Good one, mate. I expected another word to end that sentence of yours. But, by the stroke of slashing that word, you have described a true lover. Love is not about being loved. It is about being “in” love.

Aah, there’s my clue! Did you notice that we have two words – “Lover” and “beloved”. Loving is the action, and that’s the only one that you’re responsible for. Being a beloved is not in your hands. So, yeah, Love is about loving. As for being loved, well, keep hoping. Being loved is not in your hands. So, all you can do is love. And, being beloved? Well….

I like that. Being in love, i.e. It was Voltaire, if I remember well, who said, “it is better to have loved and lost, than not to have loved at all.” And I reiterate — I like being in love. The sheer essence of the feeling makes my world go round (or around, whatever the word is). May there be more who seek love, in the true sense of what it means (and that needs to be discovered, for who knows, what love really means.)

You said it – “Who knows what love really means”. ‘Koi ye kaise bateye ke vo tanhaan kyun hai,..’ [Translation: How does one know if another is lonely]. Who knows whatever ‘whatever’ means. In the end, like Jagjit Singh says… ‘Aas jo toot gayi, phir se bandhata kyun hai…’ [Translation: Why do you try and bind the hope that is broken] – It’s all about hope, mate. Whenever I listen to these songs of “Arth”, I get a sense of melancholy and hope — in love, combined, if it makes sense; that’s what matters, immaterial of the possession of that ‘you’.

I see you, and this thought comes to my mind…

~o~

PS: The above post was a “live conversation” that occurred on a shared Google Doc that I had with Ashish Bhagwat. We were together, facing each other, as this post developed. Before we started this “experiment,” we talked of much, and as a blogging experiment, we had a ‘digital’ conversation. The conversation was centred around the songs of the movie — Arth. No edits were made. This post was linear; one paragraph by him and the next by me. His conversations are in italics; mine are regular. My blogging experiments continue. If you have an idea, let me know: we should experiment more.

Ashish Bhagwat - Co-blogging

Ashish Bhagwat – Co-blogging

I Do It For Your Love

What makes a lover say no to the love that stands, with open arms, asking only, that he take one step towards love?

What purpose or gain, if you love me
Other than being scattered in the whirlwind of my milieu.

What makes a love think so much of the life he has lived and the life that he sees in front of him, that he does not take that step?

I am the denizen of the hovel of grief and pain
It’s only me, who can stay alive in this haunt.
Why would I dream a dream whose reality is remorse
For, in my remorse, you may rue it too.

What makes a lover not see a better life and drives away the love to a better future?

Pray, what purpose, that anyone share this anxious weariness
Let my world remain dreary and dismal
Let the steps in your life be easier, in the least
In traveling with me, nothing but regret awaits you

What makes a lover hope for a good life for his lover, away from him?

What of me; there are many admirers to come
Many tunes that will echo of love, for you
Many tales of love that life is yet to tell you
You have no reason to believe you will not forget me.

Love.

*

I’ve taken serious liberties in translating the song, but have stayed true to the sense this song causes, within. There is an inherent beauty in sad songs, like I mentioned earlier. Even in your happiest moments, these songs remain beautiful, because of the weave of the words and the purity of the emotion that they convey.

It’s love.

*

“Pyar Mujh Se Jo Kiya Tumne”, from Saath Saath (1982), sung by Jagjit Singh

The Unexplained: #Anthem: 16

It’s been a while, since I posted an Anthem.

Songs of tragedy, pain, and loss are usually difficult to write about. One, the original context of the sadness is often very personal to the song’s author. When we listen to a song, the meaning changes — because the author’s context makes way for our own. Two, most sad songs are beautiful. So when you say you like a sad song, it isn’t clear if you like it because it’s beautiful, because you relate to it, or both. And finally, they enclose emotions that there aren’t words for, it can only be an experience.

But it’s a wonder (for me) how the poets do it. What kind of pattern-thinking do they posses that allows them to choose and lay out words that can make meaning to thousands, millions of people and relate to that inexplicable experience? The abstraction that they create, reaches far deeper than a simple statement would. There seems to be, to me, a sense of protectiveness of the sorrow, and if it has to be displayed, it stays behind the lattice-work of abstraction.

Perhaps that is why some sad songs become beautiful. In a single instant, there’s meaning, and there isn’t.

*

When I first heard this song, I didn’t understand it much. There was something however, about the song that never left me. This is the song that people sing at picnics and outings, after all the dance has been done, all the drinks are over. Like a full circle. This song, is essentially, full of questions. Mostly, none of the questions have answers. It’s the phenomenon of no-one-knows..

Here’s a decent translation (And a link to the same song, with better Audio, but no video)

I cannot, but think of a doha (couplet) by Kabir:

ऐसा कोई ना मिला जासों कहूं दुख रोय।
जासों कहिये भेद को,सो फिरी बैरी होय।।

None could I find, as such, to share my sorrow, sad profile
To those in whom, I did confide inimically turned hostile.

Above translation by Daduzen (DN Harjani), from Kabir Speaks

 

 

The Lost Lovers: #Anthem 15

Not all lovers are lost. Some are.

And they are lost differently. Notwithstanding how and where they are lost, they never cease to be lovers. They are as much lovers as the person standing next to them. Though, given that they are lost, there is perhaps no one standing next to them. And yet, they are not alone. There’s always someone calling out to them. Sometimes, these lost lovers hear the calls, sometimes they don’t, sometimes, they ignore.

The lost lover is conflicted. Between the head and the heart. Between the here and later. Between the discrete and the abstract. Between some this and some that. The lost lover is unable to love something or someone. The lost lover is trapped being in love with love itself. The abstraction of being in love, in the first place — and then, the added abstraction of being in love with love. That’s a sure place of being lost.

095532: Squinches

Those of us who do not understand the lost lover call the lover selfish. Dry. Empty. Soulless. And then, Loveless. We can call them anything we want. We cannot call them loveless, however. They me be lost. But they are lovers.

*

I am not a big fan of Ranbir Kapoor – the lead actor in this movie. #Statutory #Disclaimer. I love this song, however. And the irony, that this song is titled Kabira (I am assuming after Kabir) is not lost upon me. This is an accusative song on the face of it.  Tochi Raina and Rekha Bharadwaj  have rendered this song with the kind of sensitivity that it deserves. It’s not a dialogue – even though it is a duet. On the face of it, it is a come back home song.

We may do it a disservice however, if we leave it at that.

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For those of us who would like to know the literal (not philosophical) meaning of the song, see this page. If this video doesn’t show up in your region, use these key words to search for the song: Kabira, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, Ranbir Kapoor, Deepika Padukone

Sparrow: #Anthem 14

Some of us find shelter. Some of us find it easily, for the rest it is difficult. For the rest, why it is difficult, varies. Some of us just can never find shelter.

Who will love a little Sparrow?
Who’s traveled far and cries for rest?
“Not I,” said the Oak Tree,
“I won’t share my branches with
no sparrow’s nest,
And my blanket of leaves won’t warm
her cold breast.”

We’ve heard of the excuses. Go away, I have nothing to offer and what I may have to offer, will not work for you. A predetermined manner of avoidance.

Who will love a little Sparrow
And who will speak a kindly word?
“Not I,” said the Swan,
“The entire idea is utterly absurd,
I’d be laughed at and scorned if the
other Swans heard.”

The haughty ones. The snobs. The less said, the better.

Who will take pity in his heart,
And who will feed a starving sparrow?
“Not I,” said the Golden Wheat,
“I would if I could but I cannot I know,
I need all my grain to prosper and grow.”

The apologists. Aren’t they the worst ones?

Who will love a little Sparrow?
Will no one write her eulogy?
“I will,” said the Earth,
“For all I’ve created returns unto me,
From dust were ye made and dust ye shall be.”

The last truth. It is not the end, however. Our knowledge of a potential end guides us. But unless we knock on the doors that reject us, we will never find the place where we belong.

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I’ve known this song for a long time. I’ve always loved it. In recent times, it has started making sense. I hope you enjoy it, as much as I have.

[Text that is right-aligned in italics, is © of one of the greatest song-writers, ever. If you would like to read about a philosophical take on this song, read this.]

Our Sweetest Songs: #Anthem 11

In the “Ode to a Skylark“, PB Shelly writes:

We look before and after,
And pine for what is not:
Our sincerest laughter
With some pain is fraught;
Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.

9315: Sounds of Innocence

Certain words, in any language, haven’t got their due, methinks. Especially those that are not about happiness, joy and anything that is overall goody-goody. We seek happiness; we encourage it even. In the small and trivial messaging we send out, we ask our people to be happy. Have fun. Enjoy. Have a blast. And such. Being happy is a norm. If we are sad, armies of friends, family, and well-wishers swarm around us to extract us, almost, from the depth of sadness and despair (or whatever name you have for it). They pull our limbs, even if it means we will be torn apart, for they seldom realise where we are stuck

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I am calling it out.

Being sad is an equally important emotion as being happy. When I see people who are perennially happy, my first response is that they are faking it. Some of what we feel is utterly personal. There is no need to share it. Even if we are lexicon-editors, words will fail us, when we want to say how we feel. Silence, often communicates more than words. All the negative emotions that the world is telling us to get rid off, are real. But, they are ours. We have to experience them, if we are to experience ourselves. Unless we know them, we will not experience true happiness. They are, in a way, counter-related. What we should not do (and what our friendly armies and swarms are really trying to tell us, but are failing miserably) is to dwell there. One of my friends, who regularly reads my blog keenly points out the mood of my posts. She dislikes it when I am sad. Perhaps, my sad posts make her sad.

Perhaps, that is where our well-wishers miss it. There are moments of sadness. If we continue to be there, it’s a different thing. It’s called depression. It’s a medical condition, which requires a different solution.

But being sad, or in a grave mood, is just as natural (and I say this without any psycho-medical knowledge) as being happy or elated.

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Paul, long ago, started a ten-anthem challenge. I completed it, in my own sweet time. I posted my ten anthems. I felt, however, 10, was too less to express what music meant to you. And without a number in head, here is the eleventh. This is a beautiful song (playback) by Manna De. The last line in the above-quoted Shelly stanza is the base of this song. [Trivia: The actor in this song, Dev Anand, was often called the Gregory Peck of India]

The Long 400kms

It will be an unearthly time by the time we reach home. Two cars. The other car’s home is a couple of dozen kilometres less than where I have to reach. I have an offer of staying back. 24-odd kms means much less, when you are homeward bound.

It’s dark. Late evening is upon us. I am a little over 400 kms away from home. The road ahead is good. It’s a dual-carriageway. We later discover that this is only a half-truth. But that’s later. My present is very different.

Fog Lights

A very young co-traveller is in my car, i.e. younger than me. I am driving. There’s three of us, I soon realise: the two of us, and the generation gap. The third passenger shows up every time a song plays from my playlist. We exit the city streets and are on the highway.

Man on the Moon, by R.E.M. plays.

“Do you know this song?” I ask.

“No.”

I let a minute pass by.

“Do you like it?”

She says yes, but I am suspicious.

“If you have any songs on your phone that you’d like to play, feel free to plug your phone into the AUX.”

While I offer her that, and because I have arranged my playlists, Losing My Religion starts playing.

I feel I should tell her something about the song. I do not.

She says she is happy with what’s playing. I wonder what she is thinking. Perhaps, allowing my kind of music to play will allow me to focus on driving. 400kms in the night is not a small thing. I smile. Smart kid. I say to myself.

“You don’t speak much, do you?” I ask.

“No.”

Wilson Pickett is describing the Land of a 1000 Dances. We’ve spent the last five days together, looking at broken buildings of yore. Alane, by Wayfinder is playing. I recall that in most conversation through the ruins, she has amply demonstrated her presence, yet, hardly participated. Claudette, by Roy Orbison. I offer again; she is free to play her music. Ella Fitzerald says Oh Lady Be Good. She refuses; say’s she’d like to hear what I have on my playlist.

“You had your chance.”

I hand her the iPod. “Skip what you don’t like.”

She owns the iPod instantly; doesn’t speak much, but the quietest, longest conversations I have ever had, is the one that I cannot forget.

Somewhere within the 400kms she feels compelled to make conversation. We play a diminutive version of 20 questions. It keeps me alert; and I think she feels good. She now skips songs on the iPod with ease. It’s a playlist I have curated. I wince every time she skips a song.

Once in a while, she says, “I like this song.”

That gives me the opportunity to tell her more about the song.

I do not know where 400kms went by. We come to the point where the road forks. We say our good-byes. She gets into the other car. I am homeward bound alone, for the next 80 kms.

I smile every time a song she skipped, starts playing.

Salaam-e-Ishq: #Anthem 10

It’s a love song. A salute to love. At the least.

But we haven’t cared much. The boys know it is a love song. Yet we haven’t cared much. We sing it for the joy it brings us. There’s of course a story of “we”. A friend and I love this song. We have been in in Karaoke bars. We have been in non-karaoke bars. We have been at his place. We have been at my place. We have been in posh places. Irrespective of the places we have been, we have sung this song. With as much emotion that was possible. Our wives and girlfriends have been suitably embarrassed, and we have sung this song with all the passion we could gather. No more. Perhaps, for good measure, but I miss it.

Like my first anthem, which I will only ever sing with that one friend of mine, this is a song that I will sing with this other friend of mine. That’s the only the back story of the song. The song by itself? That’s another story.

Your choice, if you will poison me or cure me; how you seek love, I leave it to you. Favour. Favour.

This is the magnum opus of the #Anthem Challenge. And I reserved this song for this count. It is the greatest love song ever, and it is just a coincidence that it gets posted on this day. I did not plan it that way. No one day can be the descriptor of love. Because if that were true, then what are we for the rest of the year?

Being in love is a full-time business. You may have more than a day when the celebrations come to the fore, but if we are to wait for those days to celebrate love, we aren’t, already.

I am posting a video of the anthem with English subtitles. I can assure you, they do not do justice to the emotional array in this song. Like so many love songs that you know. Same difference makes so much more meaning in this context. There’s a way to be in love.

I often feel, people miss the point.

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Enjoy the Video.

The End of Things

First, I thought I’d title this post, “The End of Good Things.” But I wasn’t going to write only about the end of good things, I was also going to write about the end of bad things. So, things made more sense. The thought occurred to me because I now have only one post due in the Anthem challenge that I have taken up. And there has been so much music playing in my head since the last #Anthem post, I am in a state of utter confusion. So many songs play in my head, stringing an additional sarcastic note, “Oh, so I don’t make the cut, do I?”

A part of me wants to make sure that the last post has to be the greatest Anthem. A magnum opus of sorts. And I do have a song in mind. I know, I will think of another song after I post #Anthem 10, and that undeniable sense of aarghness will set in.

Who Erased my Lines?

That’s what prompted “The End of Good Things.”

But then, bad things also end. We tend to think that they never do, but they do. It’s just that we shower so much attention and importance to bad things, we inadvertently prolong them that the seem permanent. (We should practice tactical ignorance.) But they do end, because, if bad things didn’t end, you wouldn’t have good things. And we know for sure, that all good things come to an end. And the very fact that good things exist, which we know, because they come to an end, means that bad things also exist and come to an end. While I am unable to put my finger on it, some sort of double-proof is going on here. To what purpose, I am not sure. What I am sure of, is that I have amply demonstrated that both good and bad things exist, and both come to an end.

They are not necessarily linear, successive, or predictable. They can co-exist. They’ll come in sharp bursts or stay long, like uninvited guests.

The Anthem Challenge was a good thing for me. And it will end, when I post the 10th Anthem. I have a feeling, however, that I may not allow this good thing to end. And while Paul asked for only 10 Anthems, he never said we have to stop at that. So that’s what I going to do, I am not going to allow a good thing to end.

So, while bad things may come and go, I’ll keep a good thing going, for as long as I can.

Din Daa Daa: #Anthem 8

This is a post where I (potentially) let all of you laugh. At me. For some of my readers, this is comic beyond expectations. For me, and some of us who lived in these time, it is epic. #YouChoose. This is the #AnthemChallenge

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IMG_4554It’s the late eighties. I am surviving the most critical academic years. What I should be doing is studying. The Grammys are on. There is no such thing called the Internet. No YouTube. And for the first time, ever. Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel” video is being shown. Eighties was the time when I was young, nimble. Breakdance. There is an extended video of the song. The national channel has a rerun of the Grammys. Next week. Late night. We’ve seen the video once. We don’t believe it. We pool money. Hire a VCR. Inadvertently, we get an education about cables. Buy a blank VHS tape. We record the show. We don’t move an inch when MJ’s “The Way You Make Me Feel” is playing. We pray to God that it gets recorded. Towards the end (when the song is almost over) there’s a small piece. MJ does a moonwalk. A circular moonwalk. For the life of me, I cannot find that piece, online. But it existed. I can tell you, because I learnt it, watching him. We wore down the rewind, pause, and play buttons for that one piece. I can still do it, though nobody likes to see me doing it now. We gather below our abodes and perfect the moonwalk. Linear & Circular. We practice the Wall and the rope. We join hands and do the wave, till we are satisfied that we have done it well.

This has nothing to do with the girls that we otherwise try to impress. This is religion. We, breakdance.

The VHS library procures some more movies. We only want breakdance.

And along came (a bit late to our local VHS borrowing library) Breakin’ (1984) and Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo (1984). And without warning, we were introduced to Din Daa Daa. (also released as “Trommeltanz (Din Daa Daa), by George Kranz. Here’s the video of the original song. (Which might help explain the laughter factor, for you kids). But the video that should be embedded in this post is this. All you have to do is imagine a younger me doing something similar. Not with this kind of finesse, though.

And, it’s ok, if you don’t believe me. This song happens to be one of the best things that ever happened to me. That’s good enough.

 

 

 

Cruising

Hello and welcome to 2015.

Your social media timelines and pretty much everything that you may have read in the past week or so, would have been about the year gone by. Of resolutions, new year wishes, trends, the end of some things and the start of some other. Of the new year wishes, some would have been beautiful, some corny and trite, and some, even cynical. That’s a recent phenomenon, though — the cynical new year wishes.

On the first day of the year, I’d like to avoid any of the above.

IMG_2083 - Version 2

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It’s a beautiful road.

It’s neither like those lifeless multi-lane dual carriageways that suffer from a superiority complex, nor like the pot-holed dirt roads shamelessly pretending to be paved roads.

It’s just a beautiful road.

The traffic is sparse, and I can see the road clearly for miles, ahead, tempting me to roll-up the windows and speed up. For some reason however, it doesn’t seem like the right thing to do. Maybe, it’s because, fatefully, Kris Kristofferson is singing This Old Road. It seems like a better idea to cruise. Speed becomes irrelevant when cruising. You could be going slow or fast. What matters is that you aren’t focussed on going slow or fast.

So I am cruising, alone in my car. Perhaps this is a good time for me to reflect on life and times. The weather is a perfect example of a wintry late morning on the plateau. There’s wind in my hair and the view is calming. The road’s lined with trees masquerading as one long canopy and fields of green, brown, and gold whiz past me. This experience is so transparent, nothing reflects. Kris’s song seems to be doing that for me, in a way. Reflection, doesn’t seem to be a good use of “this” time.  Some other day, some other experience may show me a mirror. That day, I may reflect.

For now, I am happy cruising.

One Sweet Day #Anthem 7

I have no idea why I love this song.

I suspect, “shining down from heaven” makes some sense to me. But I think it is more than that. I have no more words for this anthem. I have no story.

This song is definitely an anthem; however, for this one song, I cannot tell you why.

True Love: #Anthem 6

A couple of years, and this song will be fifty years old.

C. 2007, when I was living in London, an unsocial person I know, was working somewhere in Eastern Europe. I call him a person, because he is more than a friend, more than a brother. I do not have a word for what our relationship is. Something like this song from Khamoshi.

It’s just a feeling, experience it with your soul, let love be love, do not give it any other name. (YouTube: This is not the #Anthem Song of this post)

I have traditionally been a Mukesh and a KL Saigal fan. In the last few years, I have tended to become choice-less, and perhaps, this Anthem is at fault. There was a party at my place, I remember. He was supposed to attend the party. Unfortunately this person took a flight into Gatwick and (obviously) reached when the party was over. He came home, when I was cleaning up. However, for me, and for him, a new party started at 1AM.
Alone Again

Paul Simon is one of our many glues.

After he had been fed and hydrated, he asked me to play a song. I said, I didn’t have it. YouTube to the rescue. I had, obviously heard the song before. I rediscovered it that night, around 3AM.

An entire night was spent talking about this song. Of the views that this song has on YouTube, we have contributed the most. It was playing in a loop till the wee hours of the morning. Somewhere, in that late-night and early-morning, in the dense conversation about this one song, we discovered ourselves, while we rediscovered this song.

It’s a love song, needless to say. But it’s a love song with a twist. For those of you do not understand Hindi/Urdu, I highly recommend this translation.

As I move towards finishing the Anthem Challenge that Paul proposed, I am not sure if I am doing justice. But these songs do work like an Anthem for me. And I’ll go by the comment that Paul left, on one of the anthems—the songs are my anthems. This song is one of them. I play it rarely. When I do, it is an orchestra of emotions.

The Layered Love Song: #Anthem 4

There’s no such thing as a romantic.

Wait. Scratch that.

There’s no one way to say if someone is romantic or not. Like so many other things in this world, there’s no single, commonly accepted characteristic of a romantic. Every romantic is different. I think you get the idea.

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I was introduced to Paul Simon, way back in school, by a friend who isn’t a friend anymore. If we start delving into the purpose of someone’s life in our life, I guess he fulfilled his purpose. But, thankfully, this post is not about that, or him!

I am a bit surprised that the first post of the Anthem series was not about Paul Simon. He is my favourite musician, singer, and songwriter of all times. When I take time and think why his song didn’t feature earlier in this series, it is actually easy. Almost all of his songs would end up featuring as an anthem, by the nature of this series.

This one’s a love song.

In the sense that it is a song of love. It is not a love song in the sense that it expresses love for someone. It does not glorify love. It does not venerate a loved one. If you ask someone else, they may say it is a sad song. Perhaps. Quite a few fans may say, it autobiographical. Perhaps. I’ve been listening to his songs since the mid-eighties and I long gave up trying to find the exact meaning of his songs.

But then, Paul Simon is a stellar songwriter.

There’s never a single layer in anything he creates. I always think of him a weaver of emotions and leaves it to you to feel whatever you feel. He is a true artist in that sense — the kind I like — who allows the audience their own meaning: meanings, actually. In terms of the number of times I have played this song, it may not amount to much. When I think of the number of times I have felt this song, however, this song for me is an anthem, in every sense. This song has been with me more than thirty years and it is the most evocative song of love — it’s full of love and bereft of lovers, if that makes any sense. To me, it makes perfect sense.

Here’s the aptly titled song, which I carry in my heart and feel it in my bones.