Ek aawaaz meri bhi…

Zameen se uthi ek fariyaad meri bhi,

Is shor mein ghuli ek awaaz meri bhi.

 

Sehemi hui yeh rooh dhoondti hai panaah,

Chaino-sukoon ki ek talaash meri bhi.

 

Behte behte samandar mein mile bahot maanjhi,

leheron mein doobti, ubharti ek naao meri bhi.

 

Kis firaq mein hai dil, bhatakta hi rahe,

Abhi tak na bhuji, ek pyaas meri bhi.

 

Zameen se uthi ek fariyaad meri bhi,

Is shor mein ghuli ek awaaz meri bhi.

 

 

Monday

I am getting back to blogging after 6 months on the unlikeliest of days. A Monday.

So many weeks and months passed, where every Friday, after a week of maddening work at my start-up, I would tell myself I would finally write a blog that weekend. The weekends brought their frolic, and somehow always managed to subdue the thought of sitting and typing my thoughts out here.

Today is the first Monday in a long time I am not working late into Monday night. I thought it was a good idea to use these minutes to come back here and drop a note, for myself to read later.

Work is the same – part fun, part stress, but overall very satisfying. My moment of joy on weekday nights is coming home to the wife and the dog, and spending some time just existing around them. Most days, that seems to be enough. It’s all I want.

Then there are days when dissatisfaction creeps in. With life, or money, or love, or career success, or social standing. All those petty things that tend to nibble away on your happiness. They come, bite sometimes, and leave a sting.

Although as time passes by, I am getting better at getting rid of the sting quickly. The dull moments come, take a toll. But I smile and tell them to move on. And I have found that if I assert myself strongly enough, the stinging feelings leave quickly.

Right now, that is my dominant thought, and the message to my future self. That only we, and we alone, can reason with our demons, and send them away. Other people can come and help, maybe show the way, but in the end it is us who must handle the difficult task of reasoning with ourselves and finding peace in chaos.

So keep looking. And keep rocking!

Doga: takes no prisoners

Growing up, I spent much of my time and money on comics. I probably bought my first Nagraj comic in 3rd standard. From there on, it was a quick move to patronizing other legends – Super Commando Dhruv, Parmaanu, Bhokal, Ram-Rahim (of Manoj comics fame). These comics had it all: Wizardry, icchadhaari naags (shape-assuming snakes), sensuously dressed damsels, violence, iconic villains – all elements needed to make a young, impressionable child part from his 10 rupees to buy these fantasy books.

This was a while ago, and most characters and mindless stories I read have since faded. However, there is one comic character I still respect to this day: Doga. Here’s a list of things that make Doga #1:

Image

  • He is an original Indian superhero. He doesn’t fly like Superman, isn’t bitten by a spider and didn’t fall into a batcave when young. Doga had a tough childhood, abandoned at birth and raised by strangers.  Growing up, he identified himself with stray dogs: orphaned and unwanted. When he becomes a vigilante, he makes himself a dog’s mask, as is ruthless like a dog too. (that’s 10/10 on the awesomeness scale)
  • Doga takes no prisoners. He doesn’t want to change the system, and doesn’t want to transform miscreants. He simply wants to eliminate the bad guys, and does it coldly and brutally to make examples out of them. He is the Indian Rorschach.

Rorschach

  • Doga the comic weaves stories around social issues. Two recurrent themes are: communalism and corruption. Doga is a cop called Suraj in the day, and through his eyes, the comics captures everyday corruption within Bombay police in great detail. Also, there are many strong Doga comics tackling the Hindu-Muslim divide in India. Read Doga Hindu Hai.
  • Perhaps no other Indian comic delves into a superhero’s psyche as much as Doga does. There are dark conversations and monologues he has with himself, when he is overcome by the violence he has himself inflicted, and still finds the reasons he went fighting for stand more broken than before.

If you’re a comic fan, you should pick up a few editions on Doga. You will not be disappointed!

Doga

Music unifies across cultures

I have a deep love for music from different countries. growing up in delhi, i got my dose of 80’s rock, in bangalore, i picked up the old school rock of Cream, Knopfler, Rush and Neil Young. in the last 5 years, i deep dived into two genres –

1. Indian classical – started with Hindustani, and then moved towards Sufi. Now, Abida Parveen and Nusrat are my Gods.

2. Indie easy listening – I discovered Nick Drake, and then went on to become a huge fan of Joni Mitchell, Jeff Buckley and the likes.

Both genres, extremely beautiful in their own ways, have nothing in common (or so I thought). Sufi music is primarily driven by love for the Allah, with most quawaalis songs for the love of God. Artists such as Joni and Jeff, however, are inspired by life and the absurdity of it, the few joys and the many sorrows of love, and the blues that come with thinking about things.

However, I had always wondered – the soul of the music is the same. its love – how it takes you to places you’ve never been, and makes you feel you never thought you were capable of feeling. sometimes its the love for a higher power that takes away your cosmic loneliness (like in sufi music), and sometimes it is the pain of losing the girl you love (blues).

More than two months ago, my roommate Brian and i were talking about this very topic – how music from different cultures and times has always tried to make sense of love. my favorite artists is Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and he is a big fan of Jeff Buckley. As our conversation progressed, he made me hear a beautiful piece from one of Jeff Buckley’s live recording albums – Live at Sin-e

During the performance, someone asked Jeff if he had ever heard of Nusrat. Jeff paused, and then said, “Nusrat is my Elvis.”  And then, in what was a moment of complete shock for me, Jeff went on to sing “Yeh jo halka halka suroor hai” from Nusrat, in almost impeccable Urdu. Check it out here –

I was mesmerized. I have all of Nusat’s music on my iphone, and i am a huge fan of this quawaali too. Here’s the original from Nusrat –

This brought a huge smile on my face, and led to a deep realization. It’s that music binds. Here i was, hearing one of my favorite artists from America playing a quawaali from my favorite singer from Pakistan. Born in different countries and raised in remarkably different cultures, they had nothing in common but their belief in music as a higher power. And the two genres I had loved individually for years, just merged in a moment.

This post doesnt really have a bottom line, i know. but if you’re a music lover, and a die-hard one, i hope you will understand =)

till next time,

sanjay

An IMDB approach to life

As a cinema lover, I revere IMDB. 9/10? I’ll suck it up. 5/10? Not this life, and the next. In my experience of trusting IMDB ratings for many years, I’ve seldom felt cheated.

Applying the same paradigm to my life – what would my life’s IMDB rating be, if it were made into a movie? Right now, it’s headed towards a 5/10 “masala”-less (spiceless) documentary with no message. That’s not cool. I should be targeting at 8/10 travel documentary or spiritual drama.

Must… work… harder… on… life’s… plot!

Speaking musically

Music is very close to my heart, as is the case with many people. Often, I think of recommending music to friends, but never get down to it. So this blog is a small step in that direction.

Night song, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Michael Brook – I am not a big fusion fan, though I like some work by Shakti that I heard. However, Night song is not a fusion album. It is all about Nusrat’s brilliance. The guitar and the occasional keyboard camouflage their original flavors to suit sufi. These songs make as much sense on a quiet walk as they do in a crowded bus to office. You may have heard some of these songs, though mutilated and “mastered”, in some music videos that read Nusrat’s name in credits. Remember tere bin nahi lagda dil mera? Hear the original!

Aerial boundaries, Michael Hedges – I love, love, love this one. My idea of acoustic guitars has mostly been Tears in the rain, and of late, thanks to free records available on candyrat.com, Antoine Dufour and Andy Mckee. But late Michael Hedges made acoustic guitar music in the 80’s. Dufour et al are more advanced in techniques, their guitar has more depth, and the speed in insane. But I miss soul in their music, which I thought Aerial boundaries had in abundance.

Everything by Nick Drake – He made just three-four albums. The music is very blue, so if you are highly sensitive to music, this may not exactly cheer you up. Sorrowful but brilliant, I love many of his songs. I cannot immediately think of a parallel, but if you like songs like high hopes, comfortably numb etc, this has the same dark poetic undertones, though the songs are played mostly with just an acoustic guitar.

Ghazals..

..I dont understand them, but there’s google for that.

In Infosys, information security regulations have really tightened over last 3-4 years, Im told. So, most of us music enthusiasts are enslaved by what our forfathers aka ex-software engineers, now PLs/PMs uploaded on the network back in the day. So when you join a team here and get your cubicle, a huge folder labelled “Music” finds its way on your hard drive via some friend. After you filter it for filthy britney pop/westlife/all that jazz, and mind you that’s a gargantuan task, there is still much left.

you find a lot of vintage stuff, all genres. When i moved to chandigarh, a friend passed another huge folder i earlier did not have- ghazals. to put it mildly, I’ve been bloody hooked last 2 months. That’s all i hear. I’ve actually googled chitra singh’s ghazals (mirza ghalib written) to figure stuff out, but all i can say is that before this, i was missing out on some exquisite poetry. it will take the bob dylans and led zeps of the west another century to get there. Make that two. (i like dylan btw)