Thursday, July 28, 2005

Pride and Prejudice!

Racial disharmony seems to have been the flavor of the times during these past few months. Sunil Laxman wrote about his personal experiences sometime ago. I wanted to post on it first, saying that in my four years here in the US, I haven't personally experienced anything like this (even at the height of the post 9/11 xenophobia), but for some reason the post did not materialize. However I did forget that I had been living in idyllic Athens for most of these four years.

My views started changing when a couple of weeks ago, Meghna and her roomies were yelled at by a passerby because they were "Indian". She also adds that a few days earlier, someone that she was talking about their used car, hung up the phone on her after she replied in the affirmative to the question - "Are you Indian?"! Apparently he mentioned that he wouldn't sell his car to an Indian. But like Sunil, she feels no anger. She says she just pities such people, perhaps on their misguided thoughts, I think.

And then, last week I joined the club too. Twice, I was subjected to a few choice slurs from people driving by as I was waiting to cross the road! I observed that in both incidents last week the parties dishing out the abuse seemed to be teenagers. Were they drunk? I don't think so, since they occured in the middle of the afternoon. Perhaps, the classic case of the devil inside an idle mind, with schools being still closed for the summer? I don't know..

But it would suffice to say that these has been one of those few moments of my life that I'd would rather forget and hope that in the broader sense, the world's much better than these few people.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The Essential ARR collection a.k.a ARR for Dummies

For a long time, I have wondered what I'd do if I met someone (an Indian that is) who did not know who ARR was. Every single time I played pool at the Students Center at univ, I decided that the next time I was there, I'd get a ARR compilation for them to play on the sound system to substitute for the usual hip hop/R&B fare. But that "next time" never came. And then a few months ago, I started making this list, a sort of "ARR for Dummies". It is quite different from what I had in mind earlier. This one is solely for the non ARR camp from a hardcore ARR fan!

For someone like me, a top ten ARR list would never do justice. So I have made this a two disc collection! The list has a lot of usual suspects (if you are Tam) from 1991 to 2004, but mostly the list comprises of all those gems that, according to me, slipped under the radar. To hear these songs, just go on to ARR's page @ (except for the one's from Andhimandharai) and click on the particular movie. So here goes.

The Essential ARR Collection - Disc 1
  1. Parkathe Parkathe - Minmini (Gentleman, 1993) [Check out the catchy whistling / flute / organ]
  2. July Madham Vanthal - SPB, Chitra (Pudhiya Mugam, 1993)
  3. Thee Thee - Carolene (Thiruda Thiruda, 1993) [The picturization of this track rocked, with rapid shots with a moving camera in tune with the song's rhythm!]
  4. Putham Puthu Bhoomi - Mano, Chitra (Thiruda Thiruda, 1993) [Mano's booming voice singing 'Sondha Aagayam Vendum' still raises goose bumps!]
  5. Yedhukku Pondatti - Shahul Hameed, TK. Kala, Sunandha (Kizhakku Cheemayilae, 1993) [I know this is a strange choice, but its a personal favorite, slightly risque lyrics not withstanding!]
  6. Uyirum Neeye - Unni Krishnan (Pavithra, 1994) [Personally, even if someone says Unni Krishnan did not deserve the National Award for Ennavale, he certainly deserves it for this song? The guitar riffs (?) that open this song remind me always of Thamizha Thamizha, but its Unni Krishnan all the way afterward!]
  7. Sevvanam - Mano, Pallavi (Pavithra, 1994)
  8. Markazhi Poove - Shobha (May Madham, 1994) [Always thought it was Anupama? Kavitha Krishnamurthi rocked in the Hindi version of this song from Love you Hamesha.]
  9. Vidu Kathaiya - Hariharan (Muthu, 1995)
  10. Kaiyil Midhakkum Kanava Nee - Srinivas (Ratchagan, 1996) [Srinivas's debut?]
  11. Unnai kanavilai netrodu - SP. Balasubramaniam, OS. Arun, Rafee (Kadhal Desam, 1996) [OS ARUN? The classical singer? But I distinctly remember the inlay card crediting SPB and Aslam Mustafa!]
  12. O Vennila - Unni Krishnan (Kadhal Desam, 1996) [My ragging song! For the most part of my first year at Shanmugha, part of my ragging was to lean on a wall with a outstretched hand and sing this song repeatedly without laughing or smiling while the seniors used to do all kinds of stupid tomfoolery around me. All because one guy explained the lyrics to me (along with an accompanying sob story) that brought tears into my eyes when I heard it first!]
  13. No Problem - Apache Indian, ARR (Love Birds, 1996) [The movie seems to be the inspiration behind Kaho Na Pyar Hai, with the equivalent song being Ek Pal Ka Jeena]
  14. Kappal yeri poyachu - SP. Balasubramaniam, Susheela (Indian, 1996)
  15. Sakhiye Nee Dhan - Unni Krishnan (Andhimandharai, 1996)
  16. Oru Naal - Swarnalatha (Andhimandharai, 1996) [Is it by Swarnalatha? I don't know, but can't find this song on Raaga or Musicindiaonline, which is shame!]

The Essential ARR Collection - Disc 2
  1. Ayirathil Naan Oruvan - Mano (Iruvar, 1996)
  2. Narumugaye - UnniKrishnan, Bombay Jayashree (Iruvar, 1996) [Everytime I hear this song, Satish's the face that I reminded of. Dude, in case you read this, you rock. Jagadish, do pass this on to him, if you read this!]
  3. Oru Poiyavadhu - Srinivas / Hariharan (Jodi, 1999) [Two different versions of this priceless gem that went unnoticed in lieu of the other songs that were repeated from Doli Saja Ke Rakhna]
  4. Theendai Mei Theendai - SPB, Chitra (En Swasa Kaatre, 1999)
  5. Swasame - SP. Balasubramaniam, Sadhana Sargam (Thenali, 2000)
  6. Nenthukitten - Karthik, Chitra Sivaram (Star, 2001)
  7. Azhage Sugama - Srinivas, Sadhana Sargam (Parthale Paravasam, 2001)
  8. Nee Dhan En Desiya Geetham - Balaram (Parthale Paravasam, 2001) [Balaram's Debut! Where is he now? He had another awesome number with Vidyasagar and one with ARR, but seems to have gone missing now]
  9. Vellai Pookal - ARR (Kannathil Muthamittal, 2002)
  10. Vidai Kodu Engal Naadae - Balram, MSV (Kannathil Muthamittal, 2002)
  11. Vaanila - Srinivas, Karthik (Kadhal Virus, 2002)
  12. Pookum Malare - Hariharan (Udaya, 2003) [A beautiful song that went widely unnoticed]
  13. Udaya Udaya - Hariharan, Sadhna Sargam (Udaya, 2003)
  14. Yedho Yedho - Karthik, Gopika Poornima (Enakku 20 Unakku 18, 2003)
  15. Azhagiya Cinderella - Hariharan (Kangalal Kaidhu Sei, 2003)
  16. Thotal Poo Malarum - Hariharan, Harini (New, 2004) [All you non-Tams should hear the original first and then this remix to see what ARR's done. Too bad SJS's attempt to recreate similar magic with Mayilirahe and its Maramkothiye remix did not work!]
(P.S Before all you IR hardliners sharpen your knives, I have to say that such a two disc compilation would be totally impossible for IR, just as a top 10 list cannot do justice to ARR. Mottai rocks, but ARR impresses me in his own way! Peace!)

Friday, July 22, 2005


Have been in a bad funk whole week and I need this weekend to recharge with a really key week coming up next (don't really know, but just feeling it). Am not doing anything specific, but sometimes just a change of surroundings can help. So here's hoping for that. Ciao all...

Friday, July 15, 2005

The Crush

She flitted across my line of vision like a butterfly high on nectar and my eyes followed her. Her movements, though urgent, were graceful and she soon had me transfixed with her dance.

The devil riding on me won and I willed my straining heart to join her dance. As I looked on and followed on her wake, she almost bumped into some bodies and caused a few voices to rise in anger. But she passed by them uncaring, as fast as she had come by. Another day, I would have commented at the lack of basic courtesies in such a fine young lady. But not today. As I said, I was transfixed.

Soon she found herself caught in the midst of a slow pack and I found myself alongside her. I did not know if she had noticed me earlier when she passed me, but this time she seemed to. She flashed the silent smile that the “I know I am being ogled at and I love it” types seem to possess, at me and I knew immediately that she was reading my thoughts.

And even before I realized that I had a voice – well, the one that you humans can’t hear, she was off again, screaming in delight in a manner that reminded me of Thelma and Louise. She left me staring ruefully at her tail lights flashing against the backdrop of the rising moon, as she sneaked through gaps that a old minivan like me would not even dream about getting into. So much for romance.


I was riding shotgun on the front passenger side of a Honda Accord (yesssss, I know it's not a minivan) sometime last Sunday when I observed a Acura RSX weaving its way across lanes trying to beat us all on the ultra busy I-95 South. Watching it move while almost asleep after a heavy lunch and with U talking to his cousin on the phone, I had a creative rush of blood, the likes of which I have never experienced before. I wrote most of this post right then. I don't know how good it is, but I think I did ok for a first time writer of such things as minivans having crushes on sports coupes. Needless to say, some of this story is autobiographical and the Acura RSX does find a place on my list of must own cars. But I will leave that list for another day!

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Celluloid dreamers and dreamy numbers

The future of Bollywood seems to be in good hands. This one year old link (thanks George) lists all those usual suspects who have made their mark (sometimes silently and unseen by many) these past two years. Hope to see more from the Kashyaps, the Dhulias, the Amins and the Akhtars in the future. And going by the initial efforts of these guys, if this is going to be the Bollywood of the future, then I will have no qualms, five years from now, in accepting Bollywood as the representative of Indian cinema!

A side benefit from spending time with the likes of M and N every weekend is the chance to hear Bollywood numbers that otherwise would pass under my radar. Case at point - Aao na from Kyun Ho Gaya Naa. Sadhana Sargam's melliflous voice elevates this song to levels that I haven't seen in a S-E-L effort before. The classical touch to the song is very evident and probably adds to its allure. Heard it for the first time (with concentration) over the last weekend and have been hooked. It's just beautiful!

Another song/video came to my notice through one of my co-workers here is Blood Brothers by desi hip hop group Karmacy. Karmacy's singles have been featured in different hip hop compilations along with the likes of JayZ. Their single Passage of India was on the American Desi soundtrack too. Now they are out with their debut album "The Movement". And Blood Brothers is a poignant look at the American dream and the issues otherwise unseen by the family back home. Another single that's been on continuous play this past week!

Maru dhil, my heart, maru loi, my blood from the start
Mari nath, my family two worlds apart,
How do I move on bhai,
Kevirithe jais, cuz no matter where I go,
My soul is in the same place......

Speaking of heart and soul, have been listening to Ilayaraja's Thiruvasagam in Symphony this past two hours. I have always wondered what it is that makes IR's voice so calming (some people hate his voice, but he is par excellence when it comes to soul). Somehow his voice and esspecially his orchestration makes me close my eyes and TiS certainly acheives that.

Btw, TiS instantly took me on a flashback. In 1997, one of my friends, unfortunately not with us anymore, introduced me to this Malayalam soundtrack called Guru (incidentally, India's entry to the Oscars in the best foriegn movie category that year) that he had picked up in Chennai while on a visit. Repeated listening for the next couple of months made me realise that if there was a zenith that IR could reach, Guru was IT! Bought my own tape on my next Chennai visit and then one of my friends borrowed the tape from me a couple of months before I left India in 2001 and I haven't seen it ever since! Listening to Tis reminds me of Guru. The sounds are so similar and I wonder if Guru was recorded with the same musicians. The feel is the same, if I remember right. My next music purchase will be Guru for sure. So now I have a new item on top of my list for my paycheck!

Monday, July 04, 2005

Blog Mela @ The Maanga

The Mango guy is hosting the next blog mela on the 9th of July. Interested parties head there to nominate the best posts from the Indian Blogosphere that have been (or will be) posted between the 2nd and 8th of July (both days incl.) Most of the common Blog Mela rules and instructions hold true.

However, you can trust Nilu to do something different (or stupid as your opinion might be!). He wants you to describe the post (that you nominate or self nominate) in a short paragraph not exceeding two or three lines. And he has an example (mentioning Freud) for the same too. Go here and check it out and to participate by nominating posts.

(P.S Nilu, done da...)

Friday, July 01, 2005

All MY Circuits are fried

My cell phone plan is from a company endorsed by Catherine Zeta Jones (and more recently the choice of LG) and I have had this plan for just over a year now (currently out of contract). For quite sometime now, my friends have told me that a lot of times when they try to reach me, they get a a message that starts with "All circuits are busy........" or something to that effect.

But now that my cell phone is more or less my primary phone (the landline at work not withstanding) and now that my contract is out, I have finally become proactive about this problem. So much that, since the 22nd of June (my current billing cycle began on the 19th), I have spent a total of 140 minutes of talk time (toll free) talking to my provider about this. In comparison, I have used 131 regular daytime minutes and a total of 367 night and weekend minutes since then.

I know the first question that you would probably ask is, why am I still sticking to the provider. First thing is, they have an awesome deal thats very easy on my pocket and I am still going to be in the "need more minutes, but will pay less" mode for atleast a few more months. Second thing, I know a number of people in Delaware who have the same service provider and apart from the two of us who have the same 740 area code (which originates in Athens, Ohio), no one else seems to face this problem with receiving calls. So I am pushing this case strongly for the past week to get them to resolve it. At least I was hoping to.

I spent one hour yesterday searching for "all circuits are busy" on Google. I was surprised to find that this problem is common to almost every other one as well. So, I have lost hope that this issue will be resolved any time now. A chat with G, someone who's techie enough to explain in detail to me how cell phones work, reaffirms this conclusion. He advises me that the best solution would be to change numbers, while my other friends advise me to change providers. But should I really change providers, when mine has topped the JD Power quality survey last year in 4 categories, including the Overall Satisfaction Among Wireless Telephone Users"?

Actually the bigger issue is my number which might have to be changed, unless this issue is resolved. I might have to change my number since the next best provider (going by rep) does not seem to have the "number porting" facility in Delaware. Ughhhhhhhh!