Writing is like T20 batting. If you block, you might as well retire to the pavilion! -- Pete Langman
Expat in Germany

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Blotting out Boundaries...Raagas everywhere!!

"His father was in the foreign service. They used to move places. Hence he got to see various countries, their cultures, history, monuments, music. Well, one thing which bothered him the most was that where ever he went, he was asked the same question!! "Where are you from?" He never knew or cared.
" Does it really matter??, he always pondered!

It was on one occasion when they moved to that wonderful city which he instantly felt that welcomed him. It was in this beautiful Bangalore city that he met her. He met her in a rock concert. He observed that she was a trained classical singer which shocked him. He did not expect a classical singer to appreciate rock and definitely did not expect her to be humming the tunes of Joachim Andersen! The thing which attracted him the most to her was that she did not ask him where he was from! She didn't mind.
"Does it really matter??", she asked!

Soon, they were spending time together discussing music, she singing and explaining, him listening and trying to understand. His interest and enthusiasm appealed her. She used to ask him to meet her at dawn. The sunrise of the rainy season was a bliss with a canopy of green above the street and a carpet of the fallen golden flowers on the street. "What raaga better than lalit at dawn?," said she,

A song in the raaga lalit is what the soul craves for at this point of time as the narrator sets us in the middle of a golden Bangalore street lit by the orangish glow of the early morning sun with the sky filled and not so filled by clouds! This was how the narration went on during a lovely concert I attended in this nice city (honestly, this concert changed my attitude towards Bangalore, believe me!) Vidushi Chaitra Sontakke and company...enthralled a packed auditorium with an equal number of people sitting and standing. The Mohana Veena was instrumental in that musical journey.

The thing I liked the most about the concert, "Raagas everywhere" organised by the Bangalore International Center( an initiative by The Energy Resources Institute) was that not only did it have a blend of Hindustani, folk, Sufi and western classical, but the narration, the raagas which were sung accordingly, to match the situation, only to make the imagination that came with it very memorable. One more thing I liked about the concert is the way the lead singer moved her head in an inclination, with a faint smile on her face, raising her head by a small angle upwards in a swift action, in a nodding sense to her colleague on Tabla signalling him to start dancing his fingers on those thin membranes.

There was western classical too. The Italian Opera. "He moved to Italy. "Wow, the birth place of the Violin and the Piano!!,"she said. Music has no boundaries. It is all about learning, loving and leaving." The song went to Shud Kalyan raag(I guess) in India and some Opera song in Italy. They were the same(yeah, cool!) So, they did a bit of fusion. But when both of them were mixed, I did not like it much. I feel the song of a Nightingale is beautiful on its own as is the trumpeting of an Elephant on its own. But I am not sure if one can mix them both. However, the sounds of a nightingale and a squirrel might make a good combination (spring evenings!) One should know what to fuse together. I guess they did a good job!

The concert ended with the raag Madhuvanti, the raag of love. Oh! did it end? I guess it marked a new beginning. It broke apart boundaries and brought down Kilometers by a factor of ten raised to five!!

"You know what I liked the most about you?" He asked her. "The fact that you never asked me where I am from!" He told her on that sound instrument which keeps distances close by.
Yes, it doesn't really matter! 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A world (cup) full of surprises!!

Thanks to few of my friends, I got interested in football over the last four years. One day, three years ago I guess, I saw the striker for Arsenal play. He played wonderfully. Whenever the ball came near him, he carried it to the opponents goal post. I liked his game and became his fan ever since. I am a loyal fan of Robin van Persie. And I started following the matches he played. He moved to another club, Manchester United and I started supporting it (yes, I support the team because of him, else I am a Swansea city fan).
Messi scoring in world cup!! What more shock do we need?!? 

Now, my interest in football is quite high. As high as to bet on few games! I guess there should be not much doubts in predicting as to who might reach the quarterfinals. There are surprises yes, but not many shocks in the world cup except Costa Rica beating Uruguay and Spain losing very badly against the 2010 world cup finals opponents, Netherlands. Biggest shock actually is the corner kick by Wayne Rooney. I love the formation of Argentina. The way they have formed to assist Messi was wonderful and his goal was a treat!! I hope the semifinals will be a Germany vs Brasil and Netherlands vs Argentina matches.  

The wonderful part of the beginning of the world cup is...Persie's flying header (I can't forget his half bicycle kick, especially because it came against Swansea city FC) ...though I loved Robben's cross shot into the goal against Spain!
Oh wait! Spain gone (my friend stopped watching the world cup!!) and now either England or Uruguay ready to crash out! What more shocks can we expect??

Monday, June 9, 2014

Not even a bite!! Never!!

Of course!! Of course...that's Roland Garros and that's Rafael Nadal! He owns it. Like Bill Gates owns Microsoft! And he owned it the hard way. Nine times, and not always, it has been easy. His biggest enemy, his body has been troubling for the past..never mind..all through his career. So much that he quotes 2013 season to be his best as he has come out of 222 days of injury and with a bang!! By the way, all this he achieved against the fans of Federer and Djokovic together in recent times, even when he played against one of those!! The king of clay he is!!
Seriously, I am ready to spend and sacrifice anything to watch him play in the Philippe Chatrier court on that final day of French Open (he always will play on that day, until he retires!!)


Eight of his French Open titles have been different. Seldom did he come under a threat of losing the trophy. He did once, but that's due to injury..all of us know it. But, I felt this ninth one to be different. One: obviously, his body is sore again. Two: the opponent is Novak Djokovic!! If there is anyone who can claim to beat Rafa on clay, it's him. Three: He did just that at Rome and had an advantage of winning the last four clashes coming into the finals. The difference I felt is that, though this is a clash of equals, it has been more of a mind game than anything else. I haven't seen such fierce mind game in recent times. Of course, it became famous thus!

Djokovic's co-coach, Boris Becker said, "It is a wide and huge court and clearly Nadal has a visual advantage!" As if Djokovic was half blind! Djokovic put Nadal on the back foot by talking about the recent head-to-head. Nadal went on to reply that Djokovic could never defeat him at Paris on clay. Both the players went to the match happily agreeing that the other is the clear favourite!! I doubt if losing the first set was part of a plan Nadal had on his mind because he played so well in the rest of the three sets!! Anyway, one interesting fact I found is, back in 2012 too, Maria Sharapova won the women's singles and Nadal beat Djokovic in the finals in four sets. And the winning points game of double fault by Djokovic...Same now!

So, for nine years in the last ten, Rafael Nadal kept on biting the French Open title, for once giving a chance for Roger Federer, his favourite, to taste it. It is tough for any other to get a bite of that huge trophy as long as he is playing there!! I hope so too! VAMOSRAFA!!!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Transforming through Technology!

I belong to that generation of the "1990's kids." I only knew to read Tinkle Digest in my free time, play cricket alone by bouncing the ball off the wall, run with a stick and a tyre on roads with street friends and vanish from home on Sunday mornings to play football with school friends. The only time I had access to television was when I visited my grand parents place. I used to fight with my grand father for the remote, especially at 6:30 PM when there used to be both Tom & Jerry and News simultaneously. Almost always, I used to win, with my grand mother being the ultimate judge!!

Like every other typical Indian, I love cricket and follow it better than the Pope follows religion. It might be in the air, in the waters and in my blood. Naturally, I inherited another important trait from my father in following cricket especially with us having no television. To listen to commentary on Radio! During a match, I might be out in the garden, watering the plants, out on the streets playing Seven Stones game or I might be doing my homework. These never bothered me. I just used to tune to the commentary on radio. Few overs in Hindi and few overs in English. Hey, it offered me free language classes!! One more advantage it had over T.V. I carried it wherever I went. No wonder, people say "glued to the T.V" but never "glued to the Radio." It was a gadget, connected to the world even when I was on the move.

The radio became better and better. It never allowed me to leave it. I had it on my MP3 player, my car, my phone and now, my tablet. Of course, even I advanced to listening to songs of various genres across the globe and again the ever developing technology allowed me to store whatever songs or audio bits I wanted. 64 Giga Byte storage?! Well, in my childhood, we used to carefully chose various songs, painfully putting aside a lot of nice songs to accommodate as many songs as possible in one Compact Drive. Now, I am actually carrying various videos, half of which I never saw twice!! I sit in a public bus, leaving the traffic tensions to the driver and enjoy a song by Linkin Park or an episode of House. I sit in an autorikshaw in an unknown city and take the help of the Global Positioning System on my mobile phone to see if the driver is taking the proper route or not, silently thanking technological developments. I sit in a movie theatre and tell the entire world that I am watching the movie feeling as if I acted in it!! Even our Prime Minister has a lot to thank technology for!

Whatever the other technological developments are, I thank all the scientists involved in developing technologies. It helps me connect to my parents and best buddies from anywhere using a mobile! That itself is a blessing! I did experience that feeling when I had to search for a public telephone for miles to contact my parents when I went for an adventure tour in Kashmir. I am more than grateful to technology for keeping me updated on the scores in various matches, commonwealth games, olympics, FIFA world cup, cricket or my favourite Tennis, where ever I am!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The P.M, the BMW and the Message

"I am Narendra Modi. I request all my fellow Indians to buy products manufactured only by Indian Companies for the next ninety days. Please kindly keep rotating the rupee in the country and contribute to its strengthening." This is a message being circulated in social networking applications like Facebook and Whatsapp. The prime minister has not given any such official statement. He has not held any press meet nor did he post a tweet. It is quite ironical that, when the entire country and even the world is interested to see what plans are in store for foreign investment by the cabinet of the man who now moves about in a BMW 7 series, here we are, telling among ourselves that the prime minister has urged the country to use only 'Indian products.'

Do not buy BMW, Audi, Ford cars. Buy only TATA, Maruti Suzuki and Mahindra cars. This is a nice call. We can and should encourage Indian companies to rise. Government policies can be made to help indigenous power. However, we have to understand few things. Almost all the known automobile companies have manufacturing plants in India. Tamil Nadu is a hub of the automobile industry. It is well known that Chennai is called the 'Detroit of Asia.' India exports a lot of automobiles too. Hyundai and Ford companies are two of the largest automobile manufacturers in India. Many of these manufactured automobiles are exported. The Hyundai i10 is manufactured only in its Chennai manufacturing plant, is exported globally and is considered a highly successful car! Most of the automobile companies, well, except BMW, have a Research & Development wing in India. According to Business Line, India is set to become the top R&D hub of the world in coming years. What if we do not buy and encourage the products of these companies?

The government of India allows Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in many sectors except fields like real estate, cigarettes, atomic energy, betting (legal in many countries) and chit funding. Apart from increasing competition and subsequently leading to an increase in the quality of products and decrease in the cost, foreign investments will clear a lot of budget deficits. Personally, I feel that FDI is very much important in our defense sector which is limping with second hand equipment. The only major complaint is job production. This can be taken care of, by policies adopted by the government. Indian companies can be encouraged by the government in its own way. There might be as many drawbacks due to FDI as many benefits there are.

But what the message being circulated says is that the rupee should be kept in India itself so that its value rises. But if we keep our cards to ourselves, can we achieve that? It all depends on how much we import and export. The more the exports are, the more is trade surplus and higher goes the value of the rupee. If the imports are higher than the exports as is the case in India, more is the account deficit and lower the rupee value. So, we need to improve on exports. How do we do that? Solution: more manufacturing plants in India. If we do not encourage any foreign company into India, how can we expect a surge in exports and in the rupee value? And what about job production?

Apart from all these, we have to consider one more thing. I do not remember if any Indian automobile company (TATA excluded) has done this but I know that Ford India invests a lot in Corporate Social Responsibility. From educating poor children to relief funds, they do a lot of social work in India. Cocacola has come up with the concept of 'Open Happiness', Live-in denims launched eco-friendly jeans made out of waste plastic bottles. We should be strong and accept the competition from foreign companies and make sure that Indian brands are equally good. That doesn't mean that ideas are copied from the foreign market into the local one and low quality replicas are sold at cheap prices. No, Indian companies too should invest in Research & Development a lot and with the potential India has, we can definitely keep up in the race!

It is not only very immature to use the name of the newly elected prime minister to forward such messages but also, it does no good to the country as it is being propagated.