Thursday, August 29, 2002


My father was quite incensed when I casually remarked, "I will check in the web" to a question he had about some event. He complained that (I and in extension) the younger generation doesn't flex its brain anymore. It reminded me of a quote.

Yes, use of laptops in primary, middle schools may result in lack of fundamental understanding of math, science, but what's the harm in not remembering details. On the positive side, writing them down in a web page or a book frees the mind to pursue more lofty goals doesn't it? In this day of mobile devices, rather than knowledge, isnt attitude and understanding more crucial? Ah, well it doesn't matter. I don't use my brain to the fullest anyway!

Monday, August 26, 2002


My cavalier attitude towards pills took a jolt. I am telling you, you better finish that course of antibiotics that the doctor prescribed; otherwise, you will also be contributing to drug resistant strains of bacteria. That link is also a good read for ye Indian moms dwelling in the US of A, complaining incessantly to others in every party about how American doctors don't give enough medicines for your sick babies, about how they 'callously' ask you to ride your child's fever for the initial three or four days.

Not that the Indian doctors are all indiscriminate. They have to face a populace which is terribly suspicious of them. I have seen folks buying only 75 percent of a course of medicine, dismissing the rest as unnecessary (especially since they start feeling better after that); they also give a lecture about the nexus between pharmacists, labs and doctors. "The doctor gets kickbacks", they would declare. The worst part is sometimes that is also true!

Thursday, August 22, 2002

Indian men

It took me tremendous restraint to not burst out laughing. After a tiring day, in a crowded Indian grocery store, I had just walked out of an aisle to stand in line behind a couple. They were looking at the stack of strategically placed videos and discussing about the stars of a popular movie, in proper tamil. After a moment or two, they realized my presence and promptly switched over to English (with an accent) and started talking about skiing in Lake Tahoe!

Another similar incident happened last week. I was busy licking off the vestige of delicious tomato chutney, sitting in a popular South Indian restaurant, when a conversation from the next table caught my attention. "Do you know what happens when you ask an Indian women if she loves her husband? Even the women in this restaurant?"

The middle aged Indian with a curiously fiftys style hairstyle brandished a piece of dosa towards the white man who shifted uncomfortably, bestowed a 'challenge me if you dare' look at me and continued, "You get a blank stare".

"Do you know why?", he continued. Please pray enlighten us, I thought.

"Because the fault is with Indian men, including myself. Unlike American men, we dont bring flowers, we dont tell them we love them", he declared, ignoring whatever his friend mumbled.

That was the most bizarre statement in this topic I have heard till date. The last thing an Indian women would do is go blank.

On the way back I stopped by Mike's cube and asked him just for kicks, "So did you bring flowers to your wife yesterday?" His brows creased momentarily and he asked startled, "Oh God, did I miss her birthday again?"

Monday, August 19, 2002


To elaborate my previous post further, gamakam - the oscillations and nuances are the lifeline of carnatic music, they can make or break a raga rendition. But if I go pick up a book of krithis (there aren't that many) and try to render it going by the notation, it will sound very flat. I should have heard the krithi or atleast the raga before. For example, the notation will say sa-sa, ri-ri; but in reality it may have to be rendered sa-ni-sa, ri-sa-ri. So the notation fails to do justice to the piece.

I am not talking about the meaning of existence or some divine truth. This is simply musical notation. Take the western classical music, even the baroque period. They have oscillations like trills and mordents which are quite comparable to our gamakams. And lo and behold, they have notation schemes to represent it. Not in carnatic music, simply because, they didn't see a need for it. They taught orally.

This gives a control on who is taught and more importantly what is taught. A composition wouldn't reach the masses without the teachers' blessings. Ergo, the conclusion.

Sunday, August 18, 2002


For a music system so well developed, I find the notation schemes of carnatic music, quite lacking. Is there a common, defined way of representing say, anya swaram or a particular gamakam? This makes an accurate rendering of a carnatic piece, in terms of what the composer intended, without having heard it, somewhat difficult, however skilled one maybe.

At the risk of sounding like one of those conspiracy nuts, I think this dependence on guru-sishya, oral tradition learning is actually to preserve an elitist, casteist, patriarchal process. The fact that we have the knowledge but not the means to make it accesible is one of our greatest failings.

Thursday, August 15, 2002

Independence day

This Independence day, my thoughts turned to the independence struggle and Gandhiji.

Gandhiji during the last year of his life must have been a tortured soul - to see his country being torn apart, his own disciples growing distant, to realize he and his views were becoming dispensable, and worst of all to possibly not escape feeling a failure despite the enormous achievement of freedom.

In spite of all that, at such an old age, he had had the courage and energy to still continue fighting his fight till the very end - he had undertaken a fast unto death just a few days before, he had been planning a trip to pakistan. Amazing!

Friday, August 09, 2002

Write more

I am the kind of person that wouldn't write unless I had something dazzling to say and impress the whole world with. Either utter boredom or an utterly compulsive experience is what would push me to write. This blog thing is giving a jolt to that nature.

When I don't blog, I feel guilty like I didn't water my plant or feed my pet.

I don't know if I am going to look back and smile with a proud 'did I write that?' or shake my head with a 'god, what was I thinking?'

Wednesday, August 07, 2002


I am quite enchanted by the moonlight garden. All I needed was a little imagination (and some tissue to clean the horrible fingerprint marks off my monitor, I must add), to enjoy this water garden. I could see the half moon about to peek into the water from behind a silver lined cloud, could smell the scent of the wild flower that had strayed down just beyond the edge, sense the damp air and the gentle shower from the trees above against my skin, hear the whisper of the slumberous wind and the film of water flowing through my fingers.

I will, from now on, think twice before saying, no screensaver howsoever cute will equal my window however dreary.

Thursday, August 01, 2002

Much Mush

Apologizing to the Bangladeshis for war atrocities, extending support to Srilanka and hoping to sign free trade treaties.. For an amateur politician this Musharraf is one smart dude.

We better clean up our act!