Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Soon, no one will call me by my fathers' first name again!

The telemarketing calls on my cell phone has gone up a lot recently! Some of them are downright irritating. If you answer the call, a mistake, you get a taped message in a artificially friendly voice promoting  things neither you need nor want to know about!

Then there are the persistent callers who are taught to be informal, friendly and not give up. They are even trained to give you the impression that you just got lucky! It is as if they picked up your number out of a hat and were doing you a favor.

Their tone automatically becomes condescending, reminiscent of the quota days when you would be required to pay an advance for a thing which would be delivered whenever! Those days the sales guys would act supercilious and the boss man would not even deem to look at you.

Received such a call yesterday, a bad day, the carpenter was  still on his way since morning and it was close to 5 pm and we had leave for dinner by 7 pm. 'Nothing new' a seasoned Bangalorean would say!

'Doreswamy' she asked 'How are you today?' in a tone which probably a rich aunt would use while addressing a poor nephew! She obviously had not read my blog on first names  used by her breed of sales persons!

'Doreswamy is no more, gone!' I said and added 'Srinidhi here!'. There was a slight pause as she probably figured that I only knew colloquial English and replied 'Not there! No problem, can I interest you about the special offer we are making for a chosen few?' I would have pulled my hair out, if I had any. But trying to be polite, you do not mess around with people who sound like rich aunts, said 'Sorry some other time' and switched off muttering to myself 'Is there some way we can stop them?'

An answer of sorts came as I scanned the classifieds in Deccan Herald as we circled over  Pune airport waiting for the weather to clear. There were scores of insertions for a 'Change of Name'. Curious I read them seeking to understand why so many wanted a change in their names.

There was one insertion where parents changed the name of a minor from 'Tejaswini  Shamma R.... N....' to 'Tejasri Bangalore Raj' in the USA. That probably makes sense as we all know how people struggle to pronounce our names (God only knows why!) in that  God's own country.

Then I saw another change from "Hanamant' to 'Hemant'. Makes total sense as which girl would marry a 'Hanamanta' however divine the name  or perhaps his bride must have persuaded him later on their honeymoon. I am sure he is still getting over the trauma of being constantly teased in school!

I have no clue why Ashok K B changed it K B Ashoka H..., except may be as per advice of a numerologist! Probably Ramamohana became Ramamohan for the same reason.  While Karpagam became Karpagam Sarah she would have no issues with the telemarketers as she would still be Karpagam, unless of course she wanted to be known as Sarah.

I noticed that some changes were totally drastic; like Shankar Singh became Ishaan  Mehra. There could be many reasons for this. In one change the children adopted the name of the step father! Could become a fascinating study if we could interview them and get the real reasons for the changes they sought to legalise.

It is about this time, as the pilot announced that the weather was cleared to land and there was no reason for us to fly to Mumbai and we all applauded in relief,  I found the way to stop the telemarketers from calling me Doreswamy! I noticed 'Pushapalatha G' had changed her name to 'Nikitha'! Just only one word.

That is it, I am all set to make an affidavit before a notary and let it be known to the world at large 'Henceforth I shall be called 'Srinidhi' only'. Of course those who are used to calling me 'Nidhi' may continue to do so! The only problem seems to be to tell the telemarketers about this. One way is to call them up one by one. Should be no problem as I have their  numbers on my cell phone!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Tara'sri' is part of Sunaad in Benagluru

Sunaad presented Swar Katha Upanishad at the Jagriti theatre and Tara was part of the event which, to borrow a line from Sunaad is all about Drupad, Drama and Divinity. It proved to be a heady mixture and I am still under its influence after I saw the first show on the 14th July and am eagerly looking forward to the 17th July one!

Tara is known as Tarasri in Sunaad. The other two Taras are 'TaraRa'jagopal who introduced Tara to Sunaad and 'TaraKi'ni who is the Director.

Quite a while ago, one Saturday morning, I woke up to see that Tara was all set for a walk! When I raised my eyebrows, she said: 'I told you about a group who practice music every Saturday on Sankey road!' I nodded and gallantly offered to drop her and continue to do so! It is almost impossible to get an auto early in the mornings in Bengaluru.

That is all I knew about Sunaad and that they were very nice people and very committed. Tara'sri' said that they hailed from all over Bangalore, from Indira Nagar, Koramangala and so on. I am used to getting up early in the morning to play Tennis and that made sense in 'hot' Bangkok. But getting up on a weekend in the glorious weather of Bengaluru for Music was beyond me!

It is only when I saw their program Raag Katha at Jagriti some months ago I got to know more about them. The event was really an exhiliaring experience. In fact, I recorded a few songs and placed it on my FB page. And the theatre Jagriti was an equally unexpected delight. I did not know such amazing theatres existed in Bangalore. I have heard of Ranga Shankara but have not seen it yet.
Sunaad is about, to quote from their FB: Many Voices... one passion.
Sunaad is an eclectic group of singers from Bangalore city composed of the school-going and retired, professional performers and hobbyists, home makers and working professionals, all of whom share a common passion – a love for Hindustani classical music.

As one can guess, the task of putting together a program of this dimension is monumental and with actors participating in addition to the singers, it would be real hard work. I can vouch for it as Tarasri has been practically missing the last two weeks! I can imagine about the others as many also went to Bhopal for practice and a number of them live far from the venues of practice.  If you read the flyer about 'How did it all come together' (I hope they will publish it in their website), you will understand how complex was the process!

  It was fortuitous for Sunaad that Gundecha brothers offered to compose music for them. I was even fortunate to attend their practice session with Ramakanthji in Bangalore . An experience I cherish and also the opportunity to meet the gracious brothers again having met them in Bangkok. Nice of  Taraki to let me listen in.

 Sri M whose autobiography is a fascinating read, spoke to Sunaadians about the story of Nachiketa and especially about the 45 slokas which were chosen for this swar katha. Again it was lucky that I could attend one of the very thought provoking lectures by Sri M.

The more I thought about the program my only concern was, will they pull it off? They did and how!
 The fact that there were 29 participants and they switched from one group of singers to another, instruments and actors came in and out seamlessly without a baton waving conductor was impressive and actors spoke without the support of a prompter. It was as if everyone knew how the whole program went and that could come only by practice and more practice.

There were a number of wonderful reactions and I borrow a few from their site.

Dear Sudha,

Absolutely a super evening - thanks for your invitation, and remembering me. Besides the excellent and unique presentation, I was delighted to catch-up with many old friends whom I had not been in touch for years. My comments are best expressed in my e-mail to Vivek, as below:
Last evening Sudha had invited me to her music group "Sunaad's" unique and superb presentation of "Swar Katha Upanishad". I attended it with Vasanthi, at a very special auditorium 'Jagriti' at Whitefield. Sudha was participating as one of the singers, under the guidance of their charismatic and enthusiastic guru Tara Kini. This was a very unique interpretation of Katha Upanishad with Dhrupad music in a very contemporary style, with the recounting of the story and philosophy of life and death (in English) narrated by Yama to Nachiketa, whom his father  had dedicated to him, interspaced with Drupad rendition of the Slokas by the singers (in Sanskrit). I must confess that the music was so soothing that really put us in a trance! To it, was added the most powerful interpretation of the life and death philosophy by Yama, excellently crafted. They succeeded in conveying what they had stated in their own words: "... the realization that the Katha Upanishad is not about death, but about life, about living."
I am sure the next performances will be equally great. Keep it up....
With love, Uncle Ashit
Ashit K Sarkar

....anyway it was a memorable evening and a wonderful opening to Sunaad's most ambitious project yet. A lot of people I did not know, too came up to me and were extremely appreciative.

Ramakantji said that he did have a few misgivings about a largish group like us pulling it off, but was proved wrong and said that we sounded very "professional". Thank you Tara and All.
I think feeling it made all the difference.
Good luck for the rest of the days!

Dear All,

Srinidhi felt that we all deserved a standing ovation. ( They did the next day!) Geeta Hegde was amazed by the clarity of the voices and highly appreciated the choice of ragas. She said that we had maintained the sur and of course praised our adorable Nishant. The Hegdes' were very happy to have been there for the show as they had no clue about what to expect and were pleasently surprised by the way the program was packaged. I also think that the warm up and silence till the
start of the show helped maintain our focus.
With Pranams and warmest greetings to our guru, Tara Ki for Guru Pournima.
With love
Tara Sri

A Huge Congrats to everyone who starred today!!

Ramakanthji told us that our sur was indeed perfect.
Best of Luck for tomorrow, in the hope that by the time we finish all these shows, we will have realized the self. (just kidding)

The Sunday show:
 While the first day was very good, I could perceive a little bit of tension in the performers. The Sunday show went amazingly well. I guess, as Nishant hoped, they all had realized that, if not the self, they had jelled well as a group and gave a splendid show!
I had asked Tarasri  what she thought was the defining moment. I suppose it is difficult to say as there was so much one could choose from. It was the play- the acting, the costumes, the setting and so on for the drama buff; the clarity of the sloka for the sanskrit scholar and purity of the swara for the lover of music.

It is best I quote Tara Kini:
Dear SKU team
 I think we were all in a different world the whole of the last week -rising, rushing through morning chores, including getting the costumes ironed, packing for the afternoon and rushing to Jagriti. Then it was a well-oiled flow from snack to changing to warm up to silence and then performance!
The response of the audience and the packed theatre on all four days has been quite heady! I for one, never imagined, that such a serious theme, with such deeply classical music would be so popular. It makes me re-think the meaning of the word popular! We normally think of it as Pop culture. But what appeals to many is true excellence in any field. That to me is a discovery.
 The fact that a group of non-professional musicians with perhaps very little experience in theatre, could render a show like SKU that became 'popular' because the quality was high, as certified in all sincerity by some of the musical greats who were there and the seasoned theatre people we worked with, is a discovery.The discovery that complete and focused engagement leads to the development of all that lies surging within each of us, waiting to be ignited! I want to thank each of you for that complete and focused engagement that made this whole project so thoroughly enjoyable.

and I also quote this:-)
we are resuming regular Sunaad this Saturday - July 23rd - at 7 am - we will start exploring the Ragas we sang in SKU - in greater depth!
See you for sure!

In conclusion:
I did not take any pictures during the show as Tara kept reminding me about 'No photos and Videos' during the show. But here are a few before and after the show.
Those keen to see more could go on to their website and buy the DVD when it is released!

As I wait for our friends to arrive I looked around the foyer.


As we wait for the show to begin.

The show begins!
Final moments:
After the show:
Nishant waits for Guru Lalit Rao, on the left, to come up the stage.

In the foyer after the show.

The work is never done. Time to pack up!
A job well done! Time to say bye!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

What should one do?

Cousin Rangaraj sent me this link.
In Fight for Better India, Best to Look Within By ANAND GIRIDHARADAS
Published: July 1, 2011
 A brief glance at any newspaper is certain to spoil the day for you. We in India are concerned for sure, and we try! Each day we see many articles in papers and interviews on TV which (over?)analyse, show disdain, turn to sarcastic humor, get cynical, go spiritual or become despondent. The anchors and the participants are experts now in enacting this daily drama. A sort of reality show.

Finally the conclusion we are able to arrive with some dejection and in apparent relief is 'it is in our genes'. My own conviction is that we do not want to change. If we do hear to the contrary it is mostly a posture and a pretense and just to show! (We call it 'katachara' in kannada!)

Aiming to be proactive I sought solutions:
On dealing with corruption, my suggestion was, to repeat, 'Amnesty to the corrupt as long as he or she deposits a percentage the unaccounted money stashed at home and else where, at a place of religion (Thappu kanike -guilt donation!). The governament would then collect 10% of the donations received in cash and kind. 
My suggestion has some hope of success in Karnataka, especially if they are urged to go to Dharmasthala to offfer their guilt donations! Others states could follow suit. There may be some worries about a few spiritual places, some of them have been in the news recently. But we can rely on our Supreme court to keep an eagle eye on them.

There are many more issues, in addition to the ones mentioned in the article. The road rage for instance. Young speeding drivers who are formula one race aspirants. Who try their skills in residential areas where the police are usually missing. The police seen occasionlly in groups, who hide behind trees to trap drivers and collect fines for themselves and for the exchequer.Those who continuosly honk. Once I saw a sticker on a car which said 'Honk if you are horny'. If you have heard the cacophony you understand why India will soon have be the worlds largest population.

The list is endless! I was hoping that yoga guru  Baba Ramdev and Sri Sri Ravishanker who teaches us to breathe well (what can one do if the cities are polluted!) would go beyond their speciality and take upon themselves more challenges and try to effect changes in the faulty genes in many of us. So far it seems the high and supreme court judges are our only hope. Of course not the retired ones!

I now  quote from the aritlce:
"So what to do about it?

Misdiagnosis is dangerous. If the problem remains in the public mind a problem of bad people in power, it may well remain unsolved. If it can be acknowledged as a deeper pattern of Indian life, perhaps something can be done.
That something will have to be more than removing 10, 100 or 1,000 scoundrels from office.
It will have to turn practices now thought acceptable into practices that disgust. It will have to use shame and achieve what other movements of moral suasion — the anti-slavery movement in the 19th century, the anti-smoking cause in modern times — achieved: persuading millions of people, one by one, that the old ways will no longer do and that life will be better for everyone — for them and for their rivals at the airport gate — on the other side."

The writer probably hopes the Anna Hazare type of mass movement will initiate the changes which will finally change our genes as it were! First thing to change would be the DNA that has made us quite shameless.

While his single minded efforts are admirable, being unaware of the existance of other annahazared' villages next to his own village Ralegoan Siddi and all over India does not give me much hope. Where is the so called grass roots impact of his achivements I wonder?

It should not be that we are satisfied with just one model village. It is equivalent to us being happy with one Rama in the whole period of Tretayuga and possibly with only his janmabhumi Ayodya being the only place which could boast of Ramrajya!