NCPA was the venue for the my first EVER Opera Act… and boy was it an experience! It was a congregation of the classes (them) and 3 scruffy looking guys (Fuzz, myself and Amar …. in order of relative scruffiness! Amar wore a Google T-shirt… Shilpi’s mind went: What was he thinking???Beachboys???? On the other hand thankfully he had his jeans on… ’cause most of the time, he wears a hybrid between a boxer short and cycling pants!). Above all, Shilpi maintained that she looked classy… and as always our opinions never really mattered! Anyway apart from us… there were The Elites (3 piece suits, low cut blouses and knee high skirts), there were these jewelery shops/glitterati ensemble trotting in high heels few inches above the terra firma… add to this random foreigners professing love for world music … and finally there were The Italians… La Italianos… El Italianouvos. Of notable mention, were the lively and frail ‘one foot in grave’ ladies, who were there in scarves and chiffons, Pradas, Christian Diors, D&Gs and Glucon Ds. There were music lovers, there were the clueless and there were the talkers… who actually knew when to say an oooh and when to say an aaah, while conversing with another ooh-aah person! There were the animated ones and then there were the stone-cold ones. And we… well we tried hard to fit in somewhere, camouflaging ourselves behind our intellectual looks and talking as if we KNEW what the whole deal was about. Shilpi needed help… and we like very chivalrous gentlemen helped! (Note: this could very well be… my last post!)

Anyway, we amble in slowly… and take seats at the back, knowing that sitting in front could be potentially risky. A very wise decision in the end! Now then the thing is that all 4 of us were big music enthusiaists. Fuzz, the most experienced of the lot with years and years of experience with classical music, was our guide to the whole thing. Our quartet comprised of me with li’l Carnatic vocal training of roughly about 3 months, Fuzz playing the classical guitar, Amar who plays the drums, and Shilpi, who has great taste in music and who plays…. err… with Cats ( not to be confused with the musical)! So then, the show started off with instrumentals… a piano, a violin and a cello! Brilliantness! I fell in love with the pianist lady’s hands… as they glided along the black and whites, like a paper aeroplane in flight! All went well till the vocals started. The Soprano lady came and started singing her arias (small pieces of an opera). Now the thing about Opera singing is that you treat you vocal chords like a string/wind instrument, and typically end up having to touch all the notes, and that too in quick succession at times. So the singers were sort of the 4th instrument in the whole act. It is a very tough ask, and took years and years of experience to do what we witnessed. We sat… and listened intently… and to be frank… it sounded weird! But, not one to make decisions based on first impressions, I tried to find and invoke a liking for this.

Opera Singer

Sometime into the performance a little earthquake started…. on probing for reasons… I saw that Fuzz (of all the people) had started giggling away looking at the Soprano singer, who was a thin, petite, beautiful lady in mid thirties! Apparently Fuzz couldn’t help imagining that the Soprano, resembled an ex-colleague of ours! Shilpi gave me a whack, asking me to stop shaking the seat! I pointed that it wasn’t me but Fuzz… and she was in for a shock. The shock was soon overcome by the appearance of the Baritone on stage. A proper Italian dude… long hair, black tux, black shoes… Shilpi melted away like ice in defrost mode! Now to say baritone guy was expressive would be an understatement! He gave all the expressions from ‘Ants-in-Pants’ to ‘Look Maah I am on TV’ to ‘ Marlon Brando in Godfather’, all in less that 10 seconds. And he was singing to us as if Italian and not Hindi, was our second language in school . Shilpi… had to be propped up time and again! Fuzz had completely lost it around this time… and he was re reading the handouts for the 10th time, biting his hand to control his out of control funny bone! Both Amar and I had contracted the Giggle-virus from Fuzz and were soon like fish out of water! I was particularly in a bad state, with sighs on one side and giggles on the other! Amar, after futile efforts to find a pen to write something than look at the singers, finally walked out after three-quarters of the show… I think I saw blood! An old lady turned and glared at me… I didn’t even breathe, afraid that my breath would knock her head off, and inturn cause a landslide of frail limbs. 25 didn’t seem like a good age to go to prison with multiple homicide… plus I was yet to find my elusive she-Floydian!

The highlights of the day… Figaro! Brilliantly sung… we all applauded enthusiastically! Another particular piece that I liked(and knew) was used as a soundtrack in one of them Wong-Kar Wai Films. Mother of all performances, came in the form of some exquisite free gelatos at the venue… We did hear music with every scoop! Having said that … I am game for the next Opera in town! And perhaps… just for the kick of it… we should sit in the front!

PS: Name of the Opera and it’s singers have been with-held to avoid a lawsuit!

The Premise: Nothing short of a South Indian version of the Amazing Race. A bus ride down-south to a holy place and back again, with just more than 48 hours on you!

The Cast: 5 families complete with chintar pintar bachha party, super hyper enthu moms, visibly frustrated Papalog, bro and moi!

The Bus: Green, with 18 seats, fitting in 19 people (spare driver came along…otherwise we Mallus are good at math!), and luggage enough for 38 (Correction: Mallus are good at math… except with luggage and certain exceptional exceptions)!

Road Trip

The Story:

Night I
– First Blow- DVD player conked off… EVERY FREAKING TIME!!! So that means… a whole lot of Hindi music from the CD player in the Bus, in the coming! I hope not Himesh.

-No switches for the fans overhead! Naked wires instead! The guy went, just pull it out, if you don’t want the fan. The wire overhead sparkled through the night… some comfortable sleep!

-Next realization: chintar pintar people means chintar pintar bladders! Susu Pit stops every now and then. Point to be noted: All chintar pintars have different Susu cycles!

-Packed food and water from home, since outside food and water might harm li’l ones and elders alike! Mom packed enough water to solve the Kaaveri (aka Cauvery) issue! Can’t believe they fell short!

– After the kiddos sleep, we halt at Food Court. WadaPavs and Chai at midnight in the wintry surrounds. Bliss.

-Kiddos wake up randomly, howl, yell, scream and then sleep again, with great innocence on their parents’ shoulder. My Dad goes to sleep on mine. Full circle. I smile into the night.

-Felt real sorry for my Music Sir, who had come along, as he sat on the first seat, and got woken up just as soon as he fell asleep everytime… thanx to a brilliant concept of toll nakas! I mean, come on…dead of the night, you wake up a sleeping man and ask for money… Daakus do that! And it was a made worse with bizzare tolls ranging from 152 bucks to 13!

– Mother of all bizzares though was the amazing Road Tax! 330 bucks per person crossing the border from Maharashtra to Karnataka! It was like crossing from India to Pakistan. Nearly 6 grands for moving from one state to the next, in one’s own country… blasphemous! I snuggled into a foetal position in the seat, and slept away disgruntled, soon after.

Morn II
-I wake up to find a blasted pain in my arm, apparently on which I had slept for a long long time. It hurt real bad. Music Sir snored away musically a few seats ahead. Last night had clearly taken its ‘toll’

– 16 sada dosas and 1 puri bhaji ( that was me 😛 )+ tea and coffee. We rake up a bill of nearly 400+ at a chotu restaurant. Imagine the number of tea and coffee consumed!

– The estimated 16 hours of one way duration were long gone… and there was no sign of no temple. But the so called bhajans continued to blast away in the form of Om Shanti Om. Dard-e-Disco indeed!

-Highlight of the day was my Dad getting total enthu and jumpin and singin in sync with the bus’ speakers … POM PUPPY JAM from Partner … I was flabbergasted… Didn’t have the heart to tell him that he had the lyrix wrong ( like he cared. Hah!)

-After 21 gruelling hours we reach… I promise Maa, that this was the last bus journey I am undertaking to this place. A sumptuous lunch of cold idlis and dahi rice at 4:30pm… nice!

-We go to our rooms, bro runs into take bath, Dad knocks on door asking for soap. I hand him a pouch and he goes, “ This is Pears not Cinthol Old!” Seriously after 21 hours of dirt grime and sweat, I didn’t stop to think once, that the blasted brand of the soap mattered! I glared at him. He got the point and he walked away ( Note: Dad’s version of the story is slightly different… According to his, he left me in some pain… like you all would believe that!)

-My bro is halfway through his bath in the icy cold water realizes that a certain knob somewhere gives hot water. For once, I was glad that I allowed him to go first and freeze his sorry Mallu ass. Muahahaha

Night II
-Bro and I do this No Swearing game, considering the holiness of the place. The person who swore more loses. I win fair and square, barely 15 minutes into it, after my bro loses it trying to overpower the mundu, which was sort of mandatory. $&^%&^%**(%&$% Rofl…fun that was!

-We visit the temple, have a very good darshan. Prayed for most of you guys reading this 🙂

-Music Sir and Dad then sang at the temple, a few bhajans and devotional songs. Many thronged to hear. Was a very beautiful moment. ( Dad lost his voice the next day… was even more beautiful! Had a great time torturing him!)

-We hear this sudden commotion, and see that entry to the temple had been halted. Unfortunately, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of the Art Of Living Fame, chose that night to grace the place. There was a much unwanted attention to the man, with people momentarily forgetting the real purpose of their visit. Both Bro and I agreed, that we would have respected him, had he stood in the line like everyone else, given his age, rather than doing the VIP act! The charade continued throughout the evening… much to my and bro’s disgust!

Morn and Night III
-5:30 am bath! FIVE FREAKING THIRTY! Come on… Post bath: Comfortably Numb!

-We perform a few more pending ceremonies and gather some fundoo ladoos as prasad. We pay the pujari guy his Dakshina… He had grey eyes! Freaky!

-We board the bus back home at 9:30 am. I pester the driver to get us home by 12 am that nite, so that I could attend a dear friend’s very special 30th birthday party.

-I sleep

-I wakeup. I sleep again

-We stop at an off the hill Kamat’s restaurant. Totally like mirage in a desert. First good food in two days!

-Bro and I order north Indian thalis. Unfortunately, they give us 2 ice creams for desserts. Ice cream do…chintar pintar chaar…bahut naa insaafi hain. The vocal prowess that followed would have put the Madonnas and Celine Dions of the world to shame. Disaster Management happens… but new records are out by then!

-I sleep

-I wake up. I sleep again…. but not before catching a beautiful sunset!

-I rudely wake up knowing that it was Monday the next day! And that I was hours away from my party that night. The kids were singing Om Shanti Om againnnnn… they didn’t look cute anymore!

-I reached home at 6am finally after spending 42 odd hours inside a bus, missing a party, and having to go to work in 2 hours. Then Akhand Pratigya happened. I am NEVER doing this again.

Afterword:
At the end of the day … after acquiring in depth info on Childcare and urinal cycles in 2-8 year olds, Disaster Management with ice creams, Bollywood Song reviews after listening to same song for 28 times, Being able to identify between horrendous and super horrendous food / identifying that it is food in the first place, electrical wiring systems for air cooling without electrocuting oneself, Interior design for buses in 5 colors recognized by guys (blue, black, white grey and others!), Ergonomic sleeping postures for comfort for minimum 42 hour semi sleepy zomboid states and at the same enjoy the little pleasures in spending time with family, I was just…… Tired… Very Very Tired!

I have a friend, who is owner to one of the most overworked sets of lachrymal glands in the history of human kind! She cries … to the extent that she makes Rudaalis look like amateurs. She cries when she is sad… she cries when she is happy… and she cries for all the emotions in between! She cries for friends, foes, animals, trees, inanimates, Sun, Moon, Stars, Martians, Ulaxoton-23 ians, atoms, molecules, particles undefined… She cries at home, work, libraries, theatres, parks, concerts… She cries! She cries on meeting friends and while talking with then and most definitely when they wave goodbyes…She cries! No she is not a whiner… her emotions are uber-pure…she is one of the most innocent people I have met! She cries. She made me think… 🙂

I have a friend, who rocks the Richter every time he revels…which in turn is every time! When he laughs… the joke, bows itself out of the way, and the joke thinks to itself, “ Damn I did not know I was that funny!” when he laughs, everyone goes silent for a minute… and then they all laugh. He maximses even the simplest of joys to the greatest extent, and in turn spreads a cheer about him. He laughs. They laugh at his laugh and then he laughs at their laugh and they all laugh, knowing not, whats laughter all about! Always upbeat… always laughing. No holds barred…uninhibited… pristine… and perfect like a sinusoidal waveform… He laughs. He made me think… 🙂

Smile

What the hell is happiness anyway??? I know that somewhere between these extremes, is a guy who defines Happiness. I am on an attempt to stay happy. And for starters, all I know for sure is that there is a beautiful happiness in making others happy! Why? I can only speculate! I get reminded of that scene from Schindler’s List, where they discuss the ability of someone to forgive another. I find this on similar lines… except this being wholly fulfilling and far less egoistic.

They say smiles are infectious, and I believe that this applies to happiness as a whole. You see strangers passing by, you smile, and when they happen to return… a momentary spike in our ‘Happiness Quotient’. They made an Oscar winner out of In Pursuit Of Happyness! Guess how many lost out the title of the film in the emotional overflow of the characters. There was a moment in it called – ‘ This is me being Happy!’, where in the protagonist works his skin off for 6 months, warding off hordes if trials and tribulations, before finally getting onto what he most desired. To me somehow what he felt at that juncture, wasn’t simple Happiness, in my opinion, what he felt was Joy!

To me Happiness is a state of general well-being. Joy on the other hand is momentary. One is definitely happy, when one is joyous, but this may not hold true vice vera, and there in lies the difference!

The way I see it, it is very easy to cry… also easy is to laugh… but maintaining a smile is the toughest! ‘Cause a smile, is something that has no definitive reason, behind its appearance. And smiles are the real measure of Happiness. I continue to smile anyway… and I try to be happy!

The total number of happy people, in this world just increased by 1 🙂

Oh no… not counting me…but YOU! You have a beautiful smile by the way!!! 😀

Of all things that you come across while serving time as a human, some of them are things that you don’t understand readily, and they stay on, accumulate, over time forming a repository of open-ended questions! These questions may find answers somewhere, but sometimes it helps not wanting answers, and just letting Life carry on monologues with you.

Silence

Silence is definitely a sound…that you hear, when no one’s around.

A perception of sonic detachment…
A purposeful aural disengagement…
A probable lack of concentration…
A loudness beyond audible limitations…
Silence is all that, and none of the above.

Silence is a myth…you always hear when you want to be heard.

I saw six movies this weekend! Yes…my social life kinda sux! I am kinda living my retirement every weekend or so been the trend for the past few months. And to say the least, I enjoy this stimulation of the eyes, ears and brain, more than getting a weak tan from outdoor rendezvous’, much to the chagrin of my parents! Anyway my weekend was drawing to an end and I was looking back at the 48 hours that whiffed past me, when I made an interesting observation…

I experienced a range of emotions, thanks to them 6x70mm works that I inflicted upon myself, but in general, I emerged happy from most. Happy, ’cause irrespective of the end of movie, every movie watched was an achievement in itself. I dunno who I compete with, or why I harbour such ego inflating notions in this head of mine, but let’s just say that … I feel happy at the fact that, it’s one movie less from my endless ‘to be watched’ list. Anyway, this weekend too, I did a tidy job of striking off 6 ‘to-be’s, and was just contemplating as to which was the most happiest moment that I enjoyed the most. For the record, I saw a Hindi film, one Jap Animation, one British and 3 Hollywood films. Strangely, the happiest moment that I had, was not from a movie, it was from a random conversation that I had with my brother!

Brothers In Arms

Bro had come home late, I was awake and we got on to generally talking about things in our lives etc. and were reflecting on the same. Then out of the blue, he asked me something … “Hey do you remember, my first day at school ?” < RTC: New school. Bro was in 5th and me in 7th!> I said, ” No, not particularly! Why?” Bro said, ” Well you helped me that day!” Now it turned out that, apparently the kids in his class had gotten homeworks to be done over the vacation, and were supposed to be submitting it that day. Punishment was predicted for those, in the form of Miss Sylvia, who didn’t manage to do it. Bro remembers that our classes shared the same corridor, and he had run up to me, and told me of his this very scary predicament. He recollectes me having acted all ‘big brotherly’, consoling him and telling him to reason with his teacher that he was a new admission, and that he shouldn’t be punished! He found himslelf feeling super-mega-ultra relieved after that! And, I found it very very surprising that he cherished a memory like this, about his Big Bro coming to his rescue! Then he said, ” By the way, I remember the name of the guy in class who sacred me with that homework shit… it was Bow Mean! Hahaha!” I said, “You mean Bhowmin”. “Yeah re… but what a funny name though!”, he chuckled and cuddled into his bed to sleep, without knowing that he just made his elder bro feel very very very happy!

I interact a lot with the films I watch, and I get to meet a lot of people, through them. I know and connect with these people, but sadly, they don’t know me. And what my brother taught me , with that conversation, was that, interaction must be two ways … and that sort of brings greater joys! Well … guess my weekends won’t be the same anymore!