Wednesday, November 30, 2005

van morrison

in my urge to re build my entire music collection that was drowned in the mumbai floods, i have recently begun downloading a van morrison discography. though i was always a fan i had only stuck to the ‘best of..’ collections with their greatest hits compilations, ‘astral weeks’ – that strange poetic mystical morning music and ‘moondance’ jazzy rolling drifter music. after that i had skipped the rest of the seventies albums directly to the nineties' ‘avalon sunset’ and ‘enlightenment’- which were quite nice- but largely i thought background music. i did not have the energy to explore further into his work and was pretty satisfied. nowadays, on the other hand, his unexplored seventies albums are blaring (when they are not throbbing with prince) on the car radio. ‘its too late to stop now’ – a great live album; ‘tupelo honey’- i love the title track.

it takes a bit of getting used to – his barking soulful voice, and the images do tend to feel a little predictable if you let them- rolling streams, flowing hair, forests, fields and the sunrise, but when you can let go of the hang ups and believe in his words, and his passion for the music- its can be breathtaking. the key word is there, i guess, is ‘belief’-in a great and wonderful god; in nature and her power, the goodness of humankind… and soaked in love- of the eternal kind – wide eyed, innocent, sun drenched and beautiful.

sudhir patwardhan, 'harry potter and the goblet of fire', 'shall we dance?', fashion show

after the udri meeting on monday where prachi, benita and me had a good bitching and gossiping session (though benita was left unsatisfied) mukul and me stepped into the museum art gallery for the opening of the new sudhir patwardhan and gieve patel show. patwardhans work can make my hair stand on end. there was this thing that i was thinking about just yesterday before i saw the show. to be a short story writer that does not care about the ‘event-narrative’- i guess is what you could call it. but rather the characterization- purely. i guess that means that the short story is the wrong form. i assume that no one would want to read a story where nothing happens- but where a time and place is captured. normal people in their ordinary surroundings. in patwardhans work i found landscapes where the people i know and could recognize.

the new harry potter, that we saw at sterling later with kuntals mother was a lot of very dark fun. either this is not a childrens movie- or kids have much more of a tolerance for scary things than even i do- at the grand old age of 34.

yesterday in between college ending and the evening fashion show, amit, mayuri and me decided to watch a fluffy piece of feel good hollywood. i had seen the original japanese version of ‘shall we dance?’ when i was in the us. i remember it very vaguely. a happily married man to (susan sarandon) takes ballroom dancing lessons with stone faced instructor jennifer lopez. typically, there is a dance competition at the end where we get to see some moves. nothing like the amazing ‘strictly ballroom’ but fluff was what we were looking for and we saw a kind of ok version of it yesterday.

fashion is such fun. amrita – amits sister- her college had its annual ‘alchemy’ fashion show at a beach house in juhu. amit, mayuri, amits mom and me had seats in the further reaches from the ramp from where we could see these models walk stone faced up and down the ramp in clothes that ranged form the outlandish to the (almost wearable)- if you have a body like that. the women were on the whole lovelier than the men. they at least seemed ot pretend to buy into the crap that was being spouted as ‘concepts’. the men on the other hand were trying very hard to let their inherent ‘masculinity’ not be compromised by the sequins, the fur and the frills of the clothes- or rather costumes. the weirder the clothes the more square their jaw lines seemed to get. i am thinking, that a fashion show must not be an event to see any clothes- really. i think it must be more like theater where a version of a world imagined is presented through a vision of the people that inhabit that world- their bodies becoming the medium for the message as they catwalk down to throbbing pointless music. the ‘theme’ as it was for the 11 finalists was ‘the east’, and in between the various contestants an old parsi woman was regaling us with the silly concepts of each of them through highly poetic badly written poetic descriptions in english elocution competition diction . ‘the west awakens and rises to the joys of the east.. they stare at the beauty and dignity of the rising sun over the mountains where the coral breaks open to reveal the stars in the ocean… here in the east, technology meets tradition in a smooth blend ,, modernity of the cut and the timeless textures of the bamboo leaves...’ all very entertaining for the first minute and thoroughly annoying immediately afterwards.

such a world away from sudhir patwardhans people- the people i know more intimately. they were the ones in the audience- the mothers, fathers, uncles, aunts and friends of the students- wearing their silk saris, and party shirts, made up to the tees; who had caught their trains past flyovers and concrete rcc buildings all the way from thane and borivili- to watch this strange new world perform its act.

and in between all of this a list of third grade celebrities was rattled on like each of them were trophies- one flop wonders from bollywood, tv stars from day time soaps, one time models and businessmen who want to be seen as tycoons.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

letters of recommendation / ajanta, ellora / ‘sin city’/ prince

letters of recommendation are annoying things to write. they have to be constructed so carefully, treading carefully over some rather delicate issues and raving madly about others. i always feel at the end of a letter, that i am describing a weird idealized (not necessarily better) version of someone. i run out of synonymns for good, efficient, brilliant, beautiful (not really) and sexy (not yet) and i wonder whether the intended audience even bothers to read them.

meanwhile, dad and mom have finally decided to go to aurangabad and take that long postponed trip to ajanta and ellora. i remember going there twice- the first time on that drive to amravati from bombay when i was in the first year of architecture. hemant mama’s sumo. the next time with ninads class. the first krvia study trip i went on. nashik and then aurangabad. can remember caressing the beautiful serene sleeping buddha. i cant keep my hands to myself when it comes to sculpture. the stone was cool and hard under my palm. since then it seems they have barricaded the sculptures from the roving hands of people like me. good for them- too bad for me.

mukul and me saw ‘sin city’ last night. saurabh had raved about the look of the film and it was definitely worth watching. like a comic book made into a movie. and like a comic book - not meant to more than a terrific thrill ride with great drawings translated into stunning noir imagery- stark high contrast black and white with bright highlights added for effect. the plot? straight talking good hearted violent men are our heroes, whether they are gangsters or cops; and the women are gorgeous- exotic dancers, waitresses, prostitutes. the story line involved some serial rapists and killers, corrupt politicians and clergy, werewolf children, mutant yellow criminals, and lots and lots of killing. very cool.

i am not really looking forward to next week. while the work in college seems like its gong to get worse with the caa inspection just around the corner, all my prospective clients seem to have woken up after diwali on the same day. meeting at 7.30 in the morning at sai baba complex and all day today- first the lokhandwala flat and in the evening raheja estates. and its only sunday.

in the car, right now, i am rocking to prince. i dont know why so many people are turned off by his pronounced sexiness- its not sexuality (is it?). it does border on the pornographic and like all pornography is alternately titillating, exciting, embarassing, hilarious and silly- but man it is so much fun. funky fun. great lttle songs all over the place-sign of the times (the entire album) especially 'if i was your girlfriend' ' little red corvette' and d m s r from 1999, anything from purple rain, kiss from parade.. the man is a god- and he can play the guitar.

here are two photographs from the goa trip on the drive back in the early morning.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

goa photos

chapora fort

at chapora fort

'dil chahta hain' at chapora fort

suman, guru and anita in panjim

our room at hotel shelsta

market at anjuna

the houses of goa museum

the car in front of our hotel- the view from rias

the moon at cavellosim

o coqueiros

shantadurga temple

rachol seminary

mukul in the rachol seminary

the band in the church at rachol

me at venites

dining room at the heritage house at chandor

judith and the palaquin

the hands that hold up the mirrors

a metal ceiling

painted walls

mukul at venites

cidade de goa

margao railway station

dona sylvia


Monday, November 21, 2005

'nico and dani' / 'lady of the assasins'

‘nico and dani’

pleasant coming of age stuff as two 17 year old boys explore each other and their sexualities in a summer together in a beach town. two equally curious girls and an older male author help them along. dani loves nico longingly, nico cant decide exactly. nothing particularly new about the plot - the usual heartaches and burning jealousies, but with a burning chemistry between the delicate actors and the palpably authentic adolescent emotions. took me back to all the insecurities and complications of growing up. lovely and more than a little embarrassingly real.

‘lady of the assasins’

in medellin, colombia as law and order disintegrates violent gangs rule the streets arbitrarily dispensing justice with guns. a jaded author comes back to his hometown and falls in love with a beautiful hit man and installs him in his barren flat overlooking the sprawling city in the valley. through their relationship and the tragedy that was inevitable, the madness of the city and the surreal nature of life in it. we see a world gone mad - caught between the apathy of the government, the lure of easy money, the ambiguous role of the church, the casualness towards the value of a life, the machismo and the desires of the young men who now rule the city. it’s a complicated thing, showing us this place- and barbet schroeder mixing realism and magic realism, made it seem very frightening- this place where there was no escape from violence but death.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

shahapur/ goregaon/allergies/’super size me’/tamil culture and me

shahapur - saturday monring where i had gone to the site with ganesh and his son sudhir. the survey work began today. there was also some debate on some land in the middle of the plot that seems to have run into some ownership issues.

on the way back i went to tushar and sharmilas place. he wanted some advice on a place in goregaon that he is thinking of buying to set up his studio. a mhada lig house that seemed to me to be in a very bad state. i said no.

this week i have been trying to recover from my holiday. i cleaned the office myself a few days back and promptly got a terrible chest congestion. my allergy does not seem to have gone. am completely antibioticked courtesy mrs prabhu – the pretend ayurved.

at home friday, saw ‘super size me’ with mukul. this guy ate mcdonalds food for thirty days- and predictably fell very ill. interesting and entertaining enough- if not very illuminating. at the end i wanted a chicken burger really bad.

and as an important footnote: as a good non practicing half tamil iyer i am suitably aghast at the affront to our tamil culture by that north indian actress khushboo when she advised us to have safe sex! sex? and us tamilians! doesn’t she know our species propagates when the monsoon winds blow pollen from stamens through pleated polyester trousers to pistils wrapped under folds and folds of kanjivaram saris?

quote from pink kanjivaram clad doctorni on ndtv: “tamilian culture is a truly great culture with hundred of years of great tradition; and should be respected and not insulted by making such comments.”

you go girl!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

a s byatt, kate bush, madonna, derek jarman

a s byatt: 'still life'

beautifully detailed about the difficulty and joys of language, of words, of forms of speech and writing; the urge to capture the details of the everyday and the struggle to be able to express it. metaphors, poetry, art.

kate bush: ‘aerial’

on one half she revels in the erotic and the beauty of the everyday. a love song about a washing machine where her skirt swirls around his trousers and she walks into the lather. in the other half she exults in the shifting light in the sky through an entire day. lazy, loving, soft.

would i be sexist in calling both of them gloriously and unabashedly ‘female’? - Sonal help!

madonna: 'confessions on a dance floor'

the key words here are ‘confessions’ and ‘dance’. as she gives us her now usual platitudes about ‘finding herself’ she manages to tie it all together with some killer hooks and choruses. her sensibility as a pop diva- shameless borrower, eclectic sampler and tune queen does not seem to have diminished by her current domestic bliss- thankfully.

derek jarman : 'blue'

as he was dying of aids british director derek jarman made this experimental film that constitutes a soundtrack played to a completely blue screen documenting his illness and his coming death with painful detail- the difficulties, the fears and the ironies. sometimes it feels like he is right here talking directly to you describing every emotion, every image seen and imagined, every single ordinary act with exacting clarity. very pretentious it may sound - but it is also very moving.

4 days in goa (and two days driving)

10 hour drive to goa and living at fountainhas in panjim at rias opposite the exotic panjim inn. from our room we could see the rising hill and the small church on the hill along with the pedestrian bridge over the canal.

dinner at venites with italian portuguese french scrawling all over the interior. our table was on in a balcony overlooking the streets and in the distance the lights of night cruises.

day 1 we drove to colva to find a hotel in south goa. ‘amigo plaza’ it was - on a side street with a view of the palm trees along the beach. satisfied, next stop was the margao railway station with the huge overhanging roof on the correa columns that we saw again at dona sylvia. then a strange visit to a heritage house- the braganza house in a nearby village- chandor. judith, upright and proud on one side with stories of glory days and ball room dances; and on the other side a drunk man mumbling incoherently to three irish young men on their india trip. then the rachol seminary where in the interior of the high ceilinged church we found a group of young men practicing to play music. by the time we got to the shanta durga temple we were exhausted and skipped old goa and the mangeshi temple for a drink at venites again- this time as the sun was setting. night at colva and dinner on the beach at ‘boomerang’ where we had our first close up look at a ‘bbb’ (boy bed bike) a young goan boy who offers all of the above mentioned to lonely european traveling women.

day 2 we walked into the sea before and after our first english breakfast of the trip. then a long day lounging in and out of bed. in the evening we set out to the southern tip of the colva stretch to betul and cavellosim. the betul bech is pristine white sand and has almost been completely usuruped by the leela hotel. had a fight with the watchman there and also saw akshya kumar and twinkle khanna taking a casual walk along the shore and playing volleyball with the kids. the water was gentle and soft and the sky was a glowing slab of pink marble. that night we took a walk in the moonlight at cavellosim.

day 3 we decided to move hotels to the far touristier north goa beaches. after driving past aguada we found a place on the main calangute road : shelsta. a little room with a garden in front. more driving afterwards- a lunch of rather awful “authentic” goan food at o coquieros and a rather disappointing trip to the ‘houses of goa’ museum by gerard. its like the area around this museum in gerards equivalent of disneyland with the architect playing the part of mickey mouse. you can buy models, postcards of the house as if it is a new taj mahal; or you could even get a guided tour of the museum by the architect himself. all very well, i suppose if the building is something special- but to be quite honest after the eccentricity and love that i remember seeing at nrityagram, i have not been able to enjoy his work for a while now. what was once a peculiar gentility has now this baroque overexertion which can be quite off-putting.

‘dil chahta hain’- that epic of upper middle class adolescence had one of its key scenes shot at the chapora fort- a spectacular ruin overlooking a river meeting the sea just north of the anjuna beach. sure enough, we found hordes of young men posing for photographs like aamir, saif and akshay swarming all over in the hot afternoon. wonderful location though. the anjuna beach was quite disappointing and we decide instead to swim at calangute instead. the water was yellow from some strange seaweed, and the sky still spectacular.

day 4 was visiting day after a swim. anita, sumanand guru at their miramar apartment and then lunch at the ritz classic- brilliant seafood. gave up a search for the wendell rodricks showroom- as if it was going to be open on a sunday afternoon.. that evening we met ajay for dinner and drinks. he took us to brittos at baga. i perhaps had too much feni. and that was the end of the saga.

the drive back was as the drive to, quick, comfortable and uneventful.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

jigsaw puzzle

under construction a week back

its done. finally. mom and me patiently have put together a 1000 piece renoir. you really get know the nuances of the brush strokes and the colours while doing it.

it was great fun. and now we need to get ourselves another. shall buy one when i get back.

.. and, oh yes, am leaving for goa in two hours. driving there. shall write more later..


'komal gandhar'

the’ komal gandhar’ is a woman is a nation is a note.
a theater troupe is preparing for a performance of ‘shakuntala’ as jealousies and love start tearing into the lives of the actors. this time the poetic and mind numbing allegories and metaphor were a little more obvious than those in ‘subarnarekha’ or ‘meghe dhaka tara’ and perhaps that is why a little less effective. still tremendous in parts though.
some images i cant forget, the half completed railway track leading to the other side of the river and the newly created nation; the rattling of the toy on the pavement behind anasuya in the arcade at night.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

trip photos five

chamba and the chowgun

chamba from way up


morning mist on khajiar 'lake'

rambunctious boys in the train

dalhousie mall road

chamundadevi temple- chamba

the waterfall at the hydro electric plant at chamba

laxmi narayan temple: chamba

the ravi river

the lobby at astoria, amritsar

golden temple at night as we swam

sachin and nikhil and a big tree, ram baug gardens

the lobby as our living room late at night

bicycling to swim, amritsar

trip photos four

siddarth and the pink drink

the golden temple complex from the tower

amita ina amritsar

amita, nikhil and sachin taking a nap in the tower

the summer palace of ranjit singh in the ram baug garden

the university building at guru nanak university

langar at the golden temple

rickshaw: sachin and nikhil

nikhil and amita in a chamber in a tower in the temple complex