August 14, 2010

Journey in a Book

Last Saturday it was around 10:00a.m. I was done with washing my clothes. It was a cloudy day with gentle breeze kissing the cheeks. There were four books on my table; one among them was ‘Interpreter of Maladies’ (IoM) by Jhumpha Lahiri.  Picking IoM (a book collection of short stories) to read, I looked for a calm place in my home but I had to escape to a park nearby. I could spot a Neem tree around one of the corners of the park which was void of noise but filled with good light and breeze of fresh air. Relaxing on the long bench under the tree I started reading the first story, told from the third-person perspective of the husband, deals with the disintegrating relationship of an Indian couple. The plot kept engaging. Left hand took the pleasure of holding the book and right hand was turning the pages. It was different for right hand which normally scrolls the mouse. Cerebrum collected the feedback from Iris manipulated and transmitted right neurotic signals to that palm that beautifully adjusted the book at a convenient angle and distance to the eye.  My eyes had to adhere only to the book and one range of light in the park (or a room). It is still not clear why I am not able to keep correct brightness and contrast in my LCD monitors. Half an hour passed I was done with the first story, continuing with the second story my fingers were not able to flap the page, but my fingers willfully took a touch of saliva and managed to turn the page. Turning from one page to one page was like watching scene 1, scene 2, in movie hall But wondering whether I could get the same impact while vertically scrolling the pages. My hands were in no hurry to turn the pages, but hands will be in a hurry to scroll the mouse. In a way my patience is improved.

Children’s and parents were walking from the school nearby to their home via the park, reminded its lunch time. I had a delicious meal followed by a petite sleep. The brownish tinge in the vertical edges of the book indicated that it was half way through the book. In the evening it was raining heavily so could not escape. Guiling my granny I got her easy-chair for an hour and continued with the book.  My sister passed a title Maharaja for me while she glimpsed my crossed legs heading to the ceiling. Placed a small request for Tea to my granny. While waiting for Tea, the cheeks felt a mild air, with a fragrance of bleached chlorine, while I was scrambling the vertical edges of the starched pages in the book.   Leaning on the chair, the spinal cord was enjoying the trajectory of the chair, right hand served the tea to the lips and left palm continued to hold the book. Now I was reading a story about a NRI husband who was waiting for a couple of months for his Indian resident wife’s arrival from India in subsequent weeks. The plot triggered in me few Haiku poems and riddles about my sweet heart. Wrote it softly with a blunted pencil (blunt provided a soft touch) in the book, however I encrypted her name with an equivalent used in Medieval Era so that my siblings don’t decipher it. I guess my son while reading this book would ask me ‘Pappa did you meant Mom here?’ In lended books I could see people underlining their favorite sentence quotes, bracing the portion they liked very much in the lended. Long back I read a novel which was a collation of several chapters of a historic novel ‘Ponniyin Selvan’ (in Tamil) which was a series for five years in 1950s in a weekly magazine. This collated books (rare even in old book shops) carried pictures that are not available in books today and it carried short stories in the last page of each episode. Those short stories were bonus to us. It was 8pm now; my friend walked towards me, pulled the (IoM) book, read it for ten minutes and reserved the book for his train journey to Chennai in next couple of weeks.
After my dinner, I continued with book. Unequally spaced brownish tinged lines on the edges indicated that I am left with only a few pages in the book. Like Krishna laying on Adishesha I laid on the spread mat and started reading the book. I could see a kind fragrance leaf (called Marikozhundu in Tamil) preserved by my sister, Oh! This book has served as a herbarium. By 11pm I was done with the book, hence placed where my hand could reach comfortably and retired to bed. Next day morning I could see somebody has kept the book on the table. But I still have three books on my table to be returned to my friends in couple of weeks. These glimpses of the books on the table constantly drive from my cerebrum to create time for reading. Though my personal book rack is relatively small, it reminds me that there is lot more to read. When my friends come they pick a couple of them to their home. However if it had been in my desktop I doubt whether they would have had patience to dig into my personal folders and find an e-book. In Nai Sadak (A dedicated lane for old books in Chandni Chowk, Delhi) or Moor Market (in Chennai), when a long-wished book is found the excitement is unique. Or if I walk to my favorite book house HigginBothams, I can ramp on the rack of new arrivals to spot some good books. Using my index finger, I can pull the book from its top corner and read for while and decide to buy the book which normally wouldn’t go wrong. In HigginBothams and other book houses we could see many people of different ages looking out for books. As years pass we start to share our share our likings.

I am afraid that the fast growing eBooks would restrict people to home shells and chop them off from the society at libraries, book shops and book houses. It might change the way, just like the digital photographs have erased the charm of a carefully prepared album with photographs pasted. While viewing a photo album with your family and your children popping their head from the top we move to the days those photos were taken. But today digital albums tick you to rush the 500 snaps of one trip in one hour. So virtually we don’t get back to decade old trip at Shimla or Ooty. Similarly reading eBooks might not provide the same charm a bounded book provides. In my opinion receiving a closely covered envelope of the salary is a mush better a unique experience and spending paper money from your hands gives more satisfaction and completeness. However spending through a credit card doesn’t seem to fulfill our spending. The same is applicable for books too, every book  in our  shelf has a story, reminds the years in which we read the book, reminds you a friend to whom this book has to be returned and some of them carry few currency notes given by special persons in life. Even the stout Oxford Dictionary reminds you the heavy beatings you received from your sister on the head, when you teased her. Booking reading is not just reading, it is journey. Enjoy the journey. 

August 09, 2010

Art is independent of language

On 6-Aug-2010 Friday, I planned to attend the second day event of the Parampara Festival 2010 at Kamani Auditorium. I was keen to attend the Violin Duet of Ganesh and Kumaresh. However each day had a dance performance followed by a musical performance. The first one was an Odissi (a dance form in Orissa) Dance performance by students of Sri Guru Gangadhar Pradhan. Initially I was not much interested in it. Because I don't know much about Odissi as well as Oriya language. However I tried to follow it up and started taking some snaps. The first choreography was not drawing my attention. However the second item was a Dhasaavatharam performance, about which everyone has an idea. Now I was really engaged in looking up to their performance. The students did a brilliant performance. Among the students I found a father-son together performing (Sachindananda Pradhan) in Dhasaavatharam. The girls also did an excellent performance.

Last choreography was on a small spat between Krishna and Radha before their reunion, announced the anchor. Sachindananda played the Krishna character. He and his partner Lakshmi Rekha Menon bowled the audience with a classy performance. It was simply brilliant. Radha expressed her disappointment that she was unhappy with the separation and Krishna apologised. However Krishna apologised for a long time to give the best at the end to the audience. They expressed their love beautifully with a subtle divinity which should be felt. It was like a butterfly, dancing and circling to rainy tunes of a piano, is collecting nectar from a sunflower, which is oscillating to the gentle breeze.  (i.e., sunflower not allowing the butterfly). Krishna and Radha were crawling, dancing, kneeling, and fighting. But Radha was completely over control of Krishna in the spat. Krishna's plots didn't work easily. Somebody next to me murmured that people who really don't love are expressing love but people who love are not able to express it.  I guess it has to be debated. Meanwhile I noticed Sachindananda father, relaxing on the wall, on the right, in the audience side. He was watching his son's romantic performance. He was twisting his head to every expression and his eyes glittered with joy and pride.  As the choreography came to an end, Krishna and Radha reunited to give us an aesthetic feel of love. Their cuddle was felt. Krishna and Radha enacted Unjal Urchavam beautifully [Unjal is a wooden swing or a porch swing]. I guess many in Kamani Auditorium would have felt like themselves romancing with their beloved (if any or spouse or spouse to be) at the Valley of Kashmir on a dusk with little showers from heaven. And I really don't know how these ninety minutes went. Sachindananda and Lakshmi performance would definitely be in my minds for a long time. 

'ஊடல் முன் கூடலா' அல்லது 'ஊடல் பின் கூடலா' .. எது சிறந்தது ? பாப்பையா எங்கப்பா

Nothing but Chess .,

குறிஞ்சி - தலைவன் கூற்று 

அமிழ்துபொதி செந்நா அஞ்ச வந்த 
வார்ந்திலங்கு வையெயிற்றுச் சின்மொழி அரிவையைப் 
பெறுகதில் அம்ம யானே பெற்றாங் 
கறிகதில் அம்மவிவ் வூரே மறுகில் 
நல்லோள் கணவன் இவனெனப் 
பல்லோர் கூறயாம் நாணுகஞ் சிறிதே. 

குறிஞ்சி - தலைவன் கூற்று

காலையும் பகலும் கையறு மாலையும்
ஊர்துஞ் சியாமமும் விடியலு மென்றிப்
பொழுதிடை தெரியிற் பொய்யே காமம்
மாவென மடலோடு மறுகில் தோன்றித்
தெற்றெனத் தூற்றலும் பழியே
வாழ்தலும் பழியே பிரிவுதலை வரினே.
                        -அள்ளூர் நன்முல்லையார்.

August 08, 2010

மழையே யார் மீது காதல் இப்படி பொழிகிறாய்

[Translation: Hey rain, on whom you want to rain]

ஏ மைனா அந்த நொடி நீ நானென்றால் நான் ஜென்ம சாபல்யம் அடைந்திருப்பேன் 

Independence Day coming 

 அரந்த வாலுங்க

வயலினில் லயித்தேன்

[Translation: Got immersed in Violin]

Since July 2010 I was reading all newspaper regularly looking for the Parampara Festival 2010. Fortunately I saw the advertisement last Thursday (5-Aug-2010). Paramapara is a three day annual festival organised by Sri Raja Reddy and Srimati Radha Raja Reddy, and Srimati Kousalya Raja Reddy on behalf of Natya Tharagani (A school for Kuchipudi Dance). This year the premise of the festival was duet. On the second day of the series they had an Odissi dance performance by the students of Sri Guru Gangadar Pradhan followed by a Violin duet performance by Ganesh and Kumaresh (G&K). I went mainly for G&K. However the Odissi performance was also a highlight which I have discussed separately.

After a divine romantic performance by students of Guru Gangadhar Pradhan, the stage was set aesthetically for G&K. Brothers started with a contemporary music (This piece was Ragha Prabhavam in Ragam Gambira Naatai in Adi Taalam) which is not a traditional Krithis, Varnams.  The performance was like a cut shot sixer  hit by Sehwag in the first over the match. After that they performed a Muthuswami Dikshitar’s Krithi,  an Alaapana, a Thyagaraja’s Krithis and Mangalam which had one of my favourite Harivarasanam (A song rendered while closing the Lord Ayyappa Temple @ Sabarimala). Their rendition of the Thyagaraja’s Kirthi showed their mastery. On the whole the Violin performance, which lasted for ninety minutes, had all ingredients of a fruit salad which everyone in the Kamani Auditorium enjoyed. For couple of minutes, audience praised  with a standing ovation.  Once the concert was over, I took the opportunity to get autographs from G&K as well as from Jayanthi Kumaresh (Venna Artist, her programme was scheduled for the next day). Here I got introduced to a friend Varun Koundinya from Hyderabad. We shared about our list of collections of G&K. We quickly shared a good wavelength. Varun happily accepted my request to take a photograph of G&K & I. Later I and Varun were discussing with G&K about their future albums. G said they are working on their new album in lines of CC. I am waiting for it …….. On the whole it was a unique unforgettable day for me.

About the relationship between RBA and G&K

In early 2007, I started learning Violin (Carnatic Classical Music). Around this time there was a hoarding, in Mount Road (aka/alias Anna Salai, Teynampet, Chennai] advertising the album ‘Carnatic Chills’(CC),  by Violin Duet Ganesh & Kumaresh (G&K), is released by AR Rehman. Only for the name AR Rehman I went exploring about Ganesh Kumaresh. But reading about G&K I was stunned by these child prodigies. In the subsequent week ‘The Hindu’ praised the album very highly.  Now I didn’t had a second thought to buy the album. I straight away went to Music World and purchased CC. It was the first CD album I have brought even though it was too costly for me at that time. But CC was worth buying it. Couple of the tracks [‘Dance like a Man’ and ‘Flights of Fantasy’] in the album are some of the best I have listened so far. This album is not regular classical stuff. It was neither a fusion nor Carnatic music with a western flavour. It was straight from heart to heart and it was fresh, scintillating. Since then I became a big fan of G&K. They have become an inspiration for me to learn Violin much better. While writing I guess in future I would try my hands on a duet performance. And would even try  a Jugal Bandhi with my friend Xavy playing Veena. It would happen one day

(RBA, Ganesh and Kumaresh)

(Varun, Ganesh, Jayanthi Kumaresh & Kumaresh)