Monday, August 29, 2005

When's Yuvan spinning that shit up for real?

I am currently listening to this (thanks to Nithya's recco for the whole album, which I strongly second). Personally speaking, YSR seems to be good at this genre. Another of his earlier numbers, this one from Raam, was impressive too. For some reason, I listened to Boom Boom only when I watched the movie and it did not stick. But I saw the movie twice on successive days and soon I was humming it all day. Ok, parts of the song did make me cringe - especially the references to Britney Spears, Norah Jones and George Michael, but it helped that the song was picturized very well and that made me react positively.

Nithya says she does not exactly care for Yuvan's voice usually and yeah, I agree to this too. His screeching is definitely cringe worthy (case at point 18 Vayathil in Kadhal Konden, Idhu Kadhala from Thulluvatho Ilamai and the yodelling in Nizhanil Nijamum from Raam). But his voice is unusual and suits these two numbers, possessing Shaggy-esque tonal traits, if you ask (the "inexperienced in hip hop or any other kind of non-Indian music") me.

I remember reading sometime ago (on one of The Hindu's Take Two series of articles?) that he was working on a Tamil hip hop album. Going by these two singles, that album could set trends.

Hey yo, Yuvan, you there? Yeah? Spin that shit up... soon!

Monday, August 22, 2005

China and India - What you need to know now

I was (in some ways, I still am) in the midst of a small blogging hiatus forced by a lot of issues when this caught my eye. Saturday being sort of auspicious, I and a couple of friends decided to drive down to the Siva Vishnu Temple in Maryland. And later in the day, we decided to take a small detour on the way back and explore the sights of the Baltimore Inner Harbor along Pratt Street. Stepping out of ESPNZone, we decided to peek into the adjacent Barnes and Noble and get a cappuchino at the Starbucks inside.

Standing in the queue I came upon a copy of the BusinessWeek and instantly picked it up to read while waiting for my cuppa. The special double issue dated August 22nd, but going by the quality of the copy that I got, seems to have already been well thumbed through and in addition to the copy that i chanced upon at the Starbuck counter, the store had just one more copy. But this issue seems to have gone under the radar as far the desi blogosphere is concerned.

As the cover indicates, the issue is all about the rise of India and China with the tagline - What you need to know now. The issue covers a wide range of subjects that are actually quite well known to anyone in tune with the recent business trends. The coverage seems to be from three different levels – a neutral academic’s outlook, a close look from ground zero (in India and China) and at last from the US’s point of view as the “affected party”.

From the desi standpoint, among the major pieces written from China and India, is a success story from Wipro – a feature on how Wipro’s medical claims BPO has adopted the Toyota Production System (complete with flashing lights to warn managers / supervisors of a potential bottleneck) to great success. The description of this system (which has been so successful in manufacturing) adapted to back office operations might sound straight from an Orwellian scenario of indentured labor, but the system is effective and has proven to increase employee morale and esteem significantly. I had heard of such a system in an insurance company’s operation here in the US, but this was an eye opener. Accompanying this story is a slide-show, a look into a particular Wipro BPO’s employee’s daily life.

Rounding out the issue are a pair of articles, one looking at the whole outsourcing issue from the viewpoint of a laid off Maytag factory worker and another outlining what the US needs to do to cope up with the changing landscape.

Overall this double issue is loaded with feel-good stories with a few cautionary tales (like the one about basic education in India). Compelling to say the least, but the horror stories like those of spiking stress levels among the workers in these new age enterprises, seem to have been brushed under the carpet.

I am still not done with all the articles, so I shall end here. You can check out the rest, here.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Fiddler on the second floor!

I touched a violin again after almost 8 years on yesterday! Last time I remember, we were at CIT for Harmony-97 when I borrowed a friend's violin (who was there to compete in the classical music events) and made a fool of myself by offering to play for the other guys. This time, I had no audience and I let my hair down, well sorta. I should have realised that I was not exactly playing well, when about a minute into the exercise, M excused herself from the hall to get some work done. But my senses were clouded by the exhilaration of playing after a long time.

First, in order to get the tuning right (N, who owned the violin had not played for a couple of years at least), I tried to play Jana Gana Mana and it was not too much trouble. I seemed to have got it right as soon as I was able fix the tuning. Thus emboldened, I tried to play the simple Vara Veena and nailed it (without too much improv) in the 5th try. Next I tried Ra Ra Venu and gave up halfway when my fingers refused to move as fast as my mind willed them too. I thought mebbe the dryness on my finger tips were the cause, but since N was not at home, I did not want to do anything, especially since I was playing without her permission (she did not mind when I told her later). So I tried to play something slower, another geetham - Mandhara Dhara Re and I found that I actually sucked. And try as much as I did, I couldn't get my fingers to move to the tune of Tulasi Dhala! So on the whole, it was a downhill journey.

But the future is not completely dark. I could come to some conclusions pretty easily, once I put the violin down after 15 minutes.
  1. I haven't exactly lost the feel of it, but I am not completely there either..
  2. I should probably start playing again, now that I don't have to choose between the violin and the cricket bat.
  3. My fingers are longer now.
Suddenly I feel the urge to get back and play the violin again. I realise, now that cricket and music are not competing for my time, I might just be able to play without worrying that my friends are having fun without me. This was mainly the case when I learnt it while at school. Usually my classes were scheduled by my mom who wanted to use it as a tool to keep me from getting into trouble (apparently cricket was "trouble") and soon it became a case of me being mentally absent while being physically present! I actually have had the whole story of my violin lessons as a (unfinished) draft for quite sometime now. Maybe one of these days, I will post it.

And I should probably ask my people to take my violin out of storage at home in Chennai and get it serviced or something. My mom would certainly be happy.