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When Life Imitated Art!

One of the most primal ways of realising life is sound. For the longest time people relied on the sound of the heartbeat to know if a person was alive or dead! While technology has come a long way, the sense of sound still is a part of the basic building blocks, more so for me personally and that is what draws me to music.

My first opportunity to deal with music came during my first year of MBA, when a bunch of guys were staging a play titled Azaan, and while I don’t remember much about it, I faintly recall it was a serious and dark play about a man coming back home after many years. To create an environment of reality on stage they wanted some help on the background score, while I had no musical skills of my own, I offered to create something by mixing ambient sounds and tracks, and they Okayed it.

The opening sequence of the play was set around dawn at a railway station in a rustic town in India. The task at-hand was to recreate that scene on stage and, at the same time set the mood and tone of the story to come. And this music was the only thing the audience would be hearing for the first minute or so of the play. I put together something (the opening lines of this paragraph have described the scenario, so I’ll leave it up to your imagination to figure what sounds would’ve gone in, anyway) and people seemed to like how it played out (and at the cost of sounding immodest, I too considered it a job well done!). That was seven years ago.

Then recently on a night when I hadn’t slept a wink and was in a state of mind when one ponders over, what otherwise would be an insignificant episode in life. The thought of the play and the music flashed right in front of my eyes. It was sometime before dawn. I finally decided to hit the sack, and just then I started hearing sounds of life coming from outside the house. Too comfortable to get out, I lied there listening.

It started with mild thuds (someone dusting a rug?!) and then began a constant flow of sounds, birds (including a rooster, not exactly chirping!), Fajr (the Muslim dawn prayer), open taps and overflowing water, clanking of baltis (metal buckets), broom sweeping the floor in a nice rhythm.

Revving mopeds (delivering milk and newspapers?!), delivery vans, an early morning bicker between a man and a woman, announcements from what seemed like a sports meet at an army camp, which would inadvertently be followed by the sound of a blank cartridge being fired at the start of an event, neighbours shifting furniture (yes, it was the sound of furniture being moved and not just shaking!)

Sounds from a kitchen, something boiling (water, tea or coffee?), mortar and pestle (pounding masala for the morning tea?!), a heavy grinding stone (probably rice and dal for the dosa batter), whistle from a pressure cooker, even the normally irritating and constant buzz of the refrigerator seemed to blend well!

Like a nice symphony, sounds seemed to fade in and fade out, at times it felt like chaos, but then things would come to base again. I’m pretty certain there were more sounds, too many to list here, and I heard it all of it in not more than a couple of minutes.

Who would’ve thought, there once was a time when I had to generate these sounds to portray reality, and now, those very sounds had become reality, and how?  In this case, life certainly imitated music (if not all arts!).

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Posted by on January 6, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Of Tea, Economics and Reality!

Discoveries and realisations happen at the most inopportune times and under most ordinary situations. While Newton discovered gravity under an apple tree in a park, Archimedes’ eureka movement happened in a bathtub (what happened right after is not something we’ll discuss here!). Something similar happened to me recently (no, nothing fell on my head, nor did I do what our friend Archie did!) in Goa where I had gone for a three-day series of talks!

Back at the conference, the talks would start in the morning and would finish late in the evening, and to their credit the organisers figured that these back-to-back sessions could be a lot for one to take and had made breakout areas in the lawns. Doubling up as a smoking zone, they also served good old masala chai on the house (which when stocked out from the breakout zone would be available for Rs. 50!) So, what I discovered and what I’m about to discuss now is the difference between economics and reality in light of tea!

Economically and logically speaking, a commodity which is paid for should give more satisfaction since a resource (in this case money) has been spent to acquire and consume that commodity as compared to a situation when the same commodity is available for free. But in reality the opposite holds true, one would be more than happy if something was available for free, wouldn’t we?!

As I experienced in this case, when the tea was available for free everyone was happier (especially if one had to pay Rs. 50 for a similar commodity, at the same place) and satisfied – the paid for tea came in a thermocol cup, where as the free chai came in a proper cutting glass (while this may sound intangible, any tea-lover will tell you which would be more satisfying!).

The evidence demonstrated above should suffice to demonstrate the difference between economics and reality, and now that we’re done, please bring on the Nobel!

 
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Posted by on November 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Why inebriated people have better memories.

Statement:
Prove that inebriated people have better memories than those who are not.

Given:
As kids, at home and at school we’re taught that the best way to memorise things (mostly study related things during those days!) is to read them over and over again, the idea being that the more you repeat it, the more you’re likely to remember it.

Corollary 1:
Using that as a starting point, we can assume that people who talk more should have better memories than those who don’t. This, for the simple reason that the more one talks, the more he/she is likely to narrate stories, hence the chances of repetition are that much higher. So going by what we have been told to us by two of the most revered sets of people, namely parents and teachers, we can conclude that people who talk more should have better memories than those who don’t.

Corollary 2:
Base on Corollary 1 and using the knowledge we gain (which is usually) after we move out the shadows of the aforementioned learned group, I shall prove what I set out to. Now, most of us would agree that alcohol is one of the finest lubricants when it comes to loosening our tongues. After getting suitably inebriated even the most silent of characters (almost all!) tend to talk more than usual.

Conclusion:
Using logic, I would deduce that inebriated people talk more (Corollary 2) and people who talk more have better memories (Corollary 1). Simplifying the two corollaries and cancelling the commonality we can conclude that inebriated people talk more and people who talk more have better memories!

Why inebriated people have better memories than those who are not.

Why inebriated people have better memories than those who are not.

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

The Konkannama: Part 1 – Of hamlet-hospitality, shady spots and nothingness!

Vengurla beach

Vengurla beach

These are the chronicles of a trip that started out as a figment of imagination of two MBA students with ample time to spare (not at all uncommon among B-school students!) over a post-dinner tea and walk, and what ended up being the adventure of a lifetime (at least for me!). I present to you Konkannama a multi-part story of what happened in the lives of eight individuals between 22nd & 30th March 2007, en route to, along and on the way back from the Konkan coast.

So, while we were nearing the end of our MBA, we thought of going for ‘one last big trip’ before all of us headed out to start our corporate careers. Since the trip was qualified as ‘big’ we decided to plan out something that would be around ten days. So after a bit of research, pondering and a simple process of elimination, we decided to go beach hopping along the parts of the Konkan coast that lie between the southern parts of Maharashtra and the northern part of Karnataka. One conscious decision we made while planning was to avoid all known and commercially developed locations. And so with a list of ‘relatively unknown’ places to visit and one set of rail tickets, Ahmedabad to Kudal and Bhatkal to Ahmedabad, the eight of us were off!

Technically, things were on a roll right from the time we started from the campus to catch the train for the trip, but following the many a famous writers, I’d rather keep that to make an interesting prequel 😀 and start with the first destination first.

Vengurla
Once our train from Ahmedabad halted at Kudal (a town in Sindhudurg district, Maharashtra), all we knew was that Vengurla – our first ‘destination’, was a few kilometres away and an auto would get us there, little did we know, what awaited us…

Before that, a bit about Vengurla; it is a quaint hamlet set on the Konkan coast in Sindhudurg district, Maharashtra. The primary occupation here is fishing, which during off seasons is supplemented by the Mango, Cashew & Coconut crop (and the allied industries, including Feni factories ;)) that grows around here.

Now back to the station, we knew that an auto will be able to get us there so the eight of us packed ourselves in two autos and reached what looked like a decent place to stay (we did have three girls with us!). As we got there we found all the hotels, and lodges shut… it began to seem that, the place had either been deserted or closed for the season. But like is common all over India, we had the ‘always-happy-to-help-you’ auto guys, who took us to a lodge.

Nothing much to write about the lodge – it had beds, lights, fans and running water; all in all pretty functional and do-able. But one thing worth a mention here is the mysterious locked door we had in our room. While the others were freshening up, curiosity got the better of us and we enquired! As it turned out; it was a western style potty pot, and since it was considered ‘modern’ and ‘luxurious’ it was chargeable extra and after agreeing to it, the owner was more than happy to unlock the mysterious door!!!

All of us (with yours truly behind the camera) on the steps at the lodge in Vengurla

The lighthouse

After ‘checking-in’ we unloaded the luggage and went around the place exploring what looked like a very interesting neighbourhood. In our immediate vicinity we had the government guest house nicely perched atop a hillock overseeing the ocean, next to it on a slightly higher hillock was a light house and right opposite the lodge was a jetty, which we learnt later was the unloading point and main market for the fisher folks.

Sagar: The government guest house at Vengurla

The jetty: Busy, even well past midnight

After getting back to our rooms, settling down and freshening up; we went to town looking for some alcoholic beverages (read beer!). On our way to the main market a local guy on a cycle came to me and made some conversation in Marathi (thankfully I’d learnt some Marathi in school which came in handy, a good 10 years later) what follows is an approximate transcript of the conversation we had:

Villager: (very obviously so from our appearance) “You guys not locals?”
Me: “No”
Villager: (again quite obviously) “Oh, so Vengurla is your native place?”
Me: “No”
Villager: (now in an askance tone) “So you know someone in Vengurla?”
Me: “No”
Villager: (very very shockingly) “So then, what are you doing here?”
Me: “We’re tourists!”

To most of us, the last question, might sound rude, but trust me; it was followed by exclamation marks rather than question marks. Further during our conversation I found out that he was an entrepreneur who made and sold a local brand of soft drinks. The true flavour of small town hospitality came to fore when without even knowing us, we were invited to his factory for a free drink 🙂

Our trip to the market was quite interesting; however, what we bought was even more interesting – Beer & Kokam concentrate. Eight thirsty souls and a beach, so the beer is quite self-explanatory, but why the Kokam concentrate will always be a mystery to me (the mystery aside, the Kokam will make another interesting and if I may say, a convoluted cameo in one of the posts to follow!).

Armed with beer, it was that time of the trip that we had set out to do… hit the beach, and like someone quite unsuspectingly suggested we look for a ‘shady’ spot on the beach to settle for the afternoon. That done, we spent rest of the day at the beach with beer for company!

Back home!

The evening went by pretty uneventful till the time we decide to hit the ‘shady’ spot again with Jeet and his guitar in tow. Far away from the city lights, we had the moon and little lamps aboard fishing boats as sources of light, add to this the sounds of the guitar strumming and the waves, what resulted was a feeling of having been transported to a different plane altogether. A plane so different that even staring blankly at the sea made sense, and that wasn’t the alcohol at work; it was the moment that did the trick!

 
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Posted by on June 22, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Why doors are not the male of the species!

Growing up as a kid in Mumbai, I had a good old solid iron Godrej almirah to myself, which being really old and almost ancestral – to put it mildly – was a tad difficult to unlock. The trick to open it was to give it a nice thwack with the knee and voila!

Now, I’m sure many of us (if not all) have encountered similar situations… the house door (especially during monsoons!), the loo doors in trains, trial room doors and so on! And well, the trick to open them remains the same, a nice wallop with the knee about 2 feet from the ground and its all cool!

Which brings us to the moot point, how many men you know would be ok, if they got a good one with the knee on the location mentioned above??? Which gets me to the conclusion that doors are not the male of the species, let me know what you think 🙂

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

How I finance my own salary!

And so recently a bunch of friends and I were sitting on a lazy summer Sunday discussing capitalism, consumerism, the new way of life, depleting natural resources and so on… so while watching the video The Story of Stuff I was struck by a moment of inspiration about ‘How I finance my own salary!’ So, here’s my logic about how that happens…

How I finance my own salary!

Corporates earn when I purchase their products using the salary I earn > To sell more, corporates hire the services of professional agencies (I work for one!) and pay them for their services > Such agencies hire people like me for the work and pay a salary for it which again is used to purchase goods! …and so the cycle continues!

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

The ‘dawn breakers’

The ‘dawn breakers’

For most people, self included, who have read about or visited Pondicherry (or Puducherry as it is officially called now), it is mostly about good food and drink. The numerous eating joints serve an array of cuisines from around the world, and like all coastal towns, seafood being a speciality.

During a recent trip to Pondi, an excursion on a sleepless night (which very naturally extended to dawn), I happened to chance upon something one wouldn’t bother noticing, especially on a holiday, that too in such a laid-back town. That something is the source of all that good food – the fishermen, or ‘dawn breakers’ as I would like to call them, who venture out to the sea everyday for all the fresh catch that is served. This post is about them, and an attempt to capture a slice of their life in photographs, so read on!

The natural cove formed just under the pier used by larger boats with engines forms the base for the fishermen. What you see here is all that they require to ply their trade - rafts, oars and fishing nets!

 

At nature's mercy, in middle of the sea, all this on a raft made using four logs of wood tied together using nylon ropes on either side with the only element of engineering being the curve of the logs!

A couple of rafts making their way into the sea

Happy to be back 🙂

The last of the fishermen making their way home

 

An elderly fisherman 'lifting' his raft ashore...

...while this guy decided 'to walk' his raft home!

 

End of a journey, the raft rests, waiting for the next trip out

So the next time you enjoy a sumptuous lobster or a crab, think the following lines written by Mark Knopfler for ‘The Trawlerman’s Song’, “…dark is the night, I need a guiding light to keep me from founderin’ on the rocks, my only prayer is just to see you there at the end of my wandering, back in the dock.”

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2011 in Uncategorized

 
 
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