Friday, November 23, 2007

The mild winter

Mornings are getting more and more sleep-conducive.

The onset of sun has become mild and day begins with a hazy and diffused light. Even my east-facing bedroom permits me to stay in the bed a little longer.

And when the golden blob becomes a little strong during the course of the day, it feels good in the bones to be underneath it.

Finally, when the evening comes with the leaves on the trees swaying in a calm joy, and the birds chirping ‘Homeward Bound’, you feel like going for a long walk.

The mild winter of Bombay is here.

ps: I miss the extreme winter of my hometown.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Morning Music

Like many others, I begin my day with a heavy shot of music. It plays in the background and forefront of my waking hours while I go about doing my routine activities. Yoga, Hindustan Times, Orange Pekoe, staring from my window at the newly built crows nest on the tree outside etc., while what I call as ‘Morning Music’ keeps playing in my world.

'Morning Music' because all music can’t be played at the beginning of the day, as there is a certain mood associated with mornings. Something which our very own Indian Classical gurus from the past understood clearly and composed Ragas suitable for different times of the day. I can’t imagine beginning my day with the Tom Waits album ‘Closing Time’ while I completely relish the ‘The White Album’ with its aircraft landing sound (Back in the USSR, the opening track) every time it becomes a part of my mornings.

Let me take you through the chain of melodies that I queued up for this morning.

It began with the delicate piano note of Satie’s 'First GymnopĂ©die'. Its gentle melody feels as if a mother is lovingly caressing a child’s head to wake her up from a good night’s slumber.

Then it moved into the brilliant three violin and a bass piece called ‘Canon in D Major’ by Pachelbel. I've already mentioned it in my earleir post and along with GymnopĂ©die, it has become a permanent fixture of my current being. Its slow beginning and full bodied yet gentle finale makes one ready for the day.

A change of genre happened here with Mr Neil Young coming in with songs from his brillaint early albums, ‘Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere’ (2nd album, 1969) and 'Harvest' (4th album, 1971). The master’s guitaring in ‘Down by the River’ and the honesty of poetry in ‘Heart of Gold’ is exceptional.

The old country crooner, Hank Williams came next with his melodious and simple ‘Lovesick Blues’ and ‘Cold Cold Heart’. The latter has been sung by so many other artistes including Dylan and Norah Jones but nothing beats the rawness of Hank Williams's voice.

The morning’s chain of melody ended with ‘I Feel Free’ from Fresh Cream, the fabulous debut album by Cream (1966).

I switched on BBC World to know whats happening in the chaotic state of Pakistan and the rest of the world. The channel also informed me that the first exibition of Bob Dylan’s many paintings has opened up at a museum in Chemnitz, Eastern Germany.

ps: I spent the Diwali weekend in the peaceful surroundings of Kerela. I had gone there for important personal reasons. The visit was nice and peaceful with a lot of good Malayali food (specially Fish Molly & Prawns Chilly), car rides and a boat ride thrown in. I enjoyed myself completely.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

A well spent Day

While Phish wants me to write on ‘good writing’ and circumstances want me to write to my mother, I chose to write about today because I'm unable to sleep without doing so.

After seeing off my friend on a train headed towards Trivandrum from CST (popularly known as VeeTee), I thought of treating myself to my old neighborhood…the area known as ‘town’. This area was my first exposure to Bombay because of my stay at the YMCA, Colaba during the beautiful first two years in the island city.

So, I began with a walk inside the porticos of the old gothic buildings, which has a million DVD (pirated) and old books stalls. Between the many calls to buy porn DVDs from the Dhoni/John Abraham look-alikes, I ended up buying two books from these pavement people. 'Tales from Underground' (as my original copy was missing from my library) by Fyodor Dostoyevesky and a collection of funny writings by Woody Allen, called 'Without Feathers'.

Happy with the purchase and humming ‘The Wedding March (for some reason)’ by Mendelssohn, my next stop was at the institutional Tea Center next to the Curchgate Station. I sat there sipping on the excellent Darjeeling Flowery Orange Pekoe, First Flush along with some French toast, and funnies from Mr Allen’s book. ‘I wonder what happens after death. Will we be able to take showers after we die?’ he writes. The man is genuinely funny.

After relaxing for an hour at the place, I came out with a fresh mind and a pack of Apoorva Makaibari tea. My next destination was the great 'Gokul Restaurant & Bar' in Colaba to meet my brother in law, Shoaib. By now, the evening had started asking the night to replace her.

The cabdriver who gave me the ride from Churchgate to Regal was happily singing an Alaap in what felt like Raaga Bhimpalaasi (the excellent Bhajan, Allah Tero Naam, from the old movie, Hum Dono is based on this raga) to me. He was singing it very well. A quick conversation revealed that Dinkar, the cabbie has learnt Indian Classical, vocal for 5 years and loves practicing it while he is taking people here and there. When I asked him if he uses it for commercial purposes, he replied, ‘I just like doing it for my happiness and nothing else.’ I felt wonderful about meeting such a man.

The great and once again institutional Gokul was absolutely the same…guess it will always remain the same. It lives in a time warp. Smokey, No Nonsense, Quarter system, Mostly men bar (many say its a gay joint too). The gang of friends who are always there on their regular table had come. The first time I had seen them was some 8 years ago and ever since, they come there everyday. Once, even I used to go there everyday.

Shoaib and I had a good time with conversation on important and unimportant subjects. The conversations were laced with Teachers, Port and good old Gokul food. Later, we caught the cabs to our respective destinations.

Back at home, before sleeping I took a shower while Pete Dorge sang ‘Small Time Blues’ from the CD player. Contrary to the popular theory, it didn’t help me drift into a sweet slumber and here I am writing this piece.

That’s how Victoria Terminus (Vee Tee) used to look in 1908.

ps: I've started on the write-up, Phish.