Monday, March 26, 2007

I remember the times that I used to struggle. Work from dawn to dusk in the unrelenting sun, until time gave the king of the sky a sign to retire. And until the cock crowed the next morning to call the sun back to begin its travel in my portion of the world, I would rest.
Tending to the soil, tending to the crop, tending to the harvest. I was tending to something or the other throughout the day, throughout the month, throughout the year. I knew no respite. But I found comfort in the harsh rays of the sun, the roughness of the soil. My feet eventually got used to the unevenness of the ground that I walked on, so much that, I had a hard time finding my footing on smooth surfaces. My skin was the colour of the soil, and unfortunately unlike the colour of the grain I harvested. I used to look forward to the time that I would have lunch sent to me, to the fields. And the short break that I used to take for water. Of prancing about at dusk, and wishing that dawn took a little longer to break.
Time passed, fortune smiled upon me. I had people working on the same soil that I worked on as a boy, as a youngster. I have a wife, children. A huge house. And I am a person of reckoning in my own small world. I now eat with people fanning me on both sides, men-fridays at my beck and call, nay, I had everything that a man of my beginnings could wish for. But yet I felt a void. I felt there was an emptiness that I could not explain. As days trudged by the feeling grew. It now had a strength of its own, a mind of its own, but I couldn't figure out where it was leading me. What I was supposed to do. I had no idea how to feel complete again.
And then one fine day, much to the consternation of everyone around me, I took to the fields. To work, to be under the blazing sun again, to feel the rough soil beneath my feet, to feel the beads of sweat meandering down their own paths on my skin. I went back home after a short while. I realized what comfort was. Like a drug, it gets you addicted and there is no therapy yet to free yourself from its clutches. Except freedom within you. I drank a lot more water that day than usual. But the feeling remained. The emptiness remained. It was like a vacuum. I returned to the fields the next day. It threw the others off balance, but slowly they got used to my presence around. A few more days passed this way, with me not finding the answer, Frustration gnawed my insides, seemed to corrode me at times, and then retarded to being a gnaw. The next day, I decided to share my food with the farmers who worked with me. Though they were highly hesitant at first, we eventually ate and drank together. And that's where my answer lay. In the pot of water that I consumed. Not mine, but that of the others'. In the pot of water that was not pure by any standards. In the pot that was made of clay, by the neighborhood potter. And it struck me then. I knew what I had been missing all this while. It was nothing actually, but it brought back a rush of memories.
And I realized that the waters of the mountain springs anywhere in the world, or the water freshly made from the sky, nothing would match the taste of the water. The water, the taste of which I had been missing all along. And the gnawing of my insides, which I thought was ceaseless, finally ceased. For the drop of water with the taste of the soil.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I have always needed support in my lifetime. I could never be on my own. I always needed an anchor. Or a pillar. My beginnings were humble. Not many thought I would be as beautiful today and that I would make a difference in the world around me. Save one. She took care of me. Nourished me. Nurtured me. And slowly but surely I grew. In spite of all her efforts, I didn't seem to me doing anything worthwhile than look for more support, ask for more, want more as ever. But she was unflinching, never impatient, always there for me. She gave me the right support, the right care, the right guidance, to grow and be what I am today. Slowly, I grew stronger, I was able to take care of myself a little better. If she went out on her work, and had other things to do, I could sustain. But I would not be able to get by without her. Her touch was soft as a whisper, and her love boundless. She seemed to give her all to me. I grew taller, for one and finally all her efforts seemed to be worthwhile. My roots were stronger. In the meanwhile, she went through changes in her life as well. She got married, and I couldn't see her for a long time. But I got by. In the garden of my life, I met many more people, who contributed to my growth. And now I am a somebody. But I look out for her. Dawn to dusk, dusk to dawn. And then finally one day she arrived, she didn't seem to have forgotten about me. And she had her daughter with her. A doll of a girl. She laid her small hands on me, and I reached out. Her touch had the same quality. As soft as a whisper. "Say hello, Blossom", said her mother. And for some reason she hugged me. Thereafter I stretched out and gave her mother the best of mine. The best of my blossoms. For I was a creeper, which needed a lot of care and needed to be supported at all times. And she was the one cared to give it to me.

Monday, March 19, 2007

I saw you coming from afar. I had seen several like you. But you seemed different. Even at a distance. While you appeared in my field of vision. And while your form slowly took shape in my eyes. Here I was, unmoved over years. Nothing could really change me. I met with several things that had an effect on me. You seemed to approach fast. Yet, you seemed to take forever. You smiled. And suddenly you rose afresh, buffed yourself and you were taller than I envisaged.
And finally you met me. I couldn't help smiling back at you. I remember telling you that you looked familiar, but I am certain I had not met you before.
You sounded fresh. Deep. Then I heard you telling me that you took ages, to travel and meet me. A journey of several thousand miles, starting from literally nowhere and moving at a painfully slow pace. But it seemed worthwhile to you, or so you said. You did not have much time. You had to go back. Your friends were buying time for you. They helped you be with me. But I knew, you knew, it wont last longer. And I knew, you knew, you would return, but it won't be the same. You would have changed. Only a few minutes would have passed since I met you, and it already seemed like I knew you. Rather, I knew that I knew you. There were several people around me. My face was wet. And at that time you decided to leave, with a promise to return. And you left something in my hands, that I treasure, looking for you, and I would know when you come back to me, even if you are miles away. Nothing fancy. But it was a beautiful seashell. Of a pink hue. A hue I had never seen. You said that you had traveled to the depths of the ocean to fetch this one. I smiled. Then slowly you withdrew. I saw you leave. It would never be the same. I shall wait. If it takes forever then so it shall be.
For you... were the wave, that washed up on this shore.
And I still wait clutching the seashell between my hands, hiding it in the grains of my sands, that no one can see it. And shall wait forever, even though I know you will take a long time to come back to me, and our meeting will last but for a short while. But still...... what else does the shore have to do than wait for her wave?

Friday, March 16, 2007

The air is chilly, and the wind seems to be blowing in earnest. Like almost it is paid to make me bring the ends of my jacket closer. Having a river flowing by doesn't really help to keep me warm, but the sound of water strangely calms me. It will be a while before dawn breaks and I can feel the comforting warmth. But now I have a companion. A bird which seems to be way too close to me for her comfort. No matter how hard I try to stay in, under the warmth of the covers, I wake up each morning before it is even 4. I trudge along, alone and go to the solitary bench. I have never once questioned as to why there was only one, so far, and not more. But then how many benches would I need? And there I find myself, a river that flows by, not quietly of course, sometimes she gurgles, and a bird and a few trees around, and the leaves that fall off them. Day after day I come here, trying to find some meaning, trying to find something new, trying to know something new, but it evades me. Life trudges along with the same sickening clockwork precision and for once I wish that there were some changes. Something new to look forward to. I didn't want the clock turned back to the times I have had, but I wanted change. But strangely when I had it, even if it were minimal, I didn't quite relish it. There as always something missing.
Nonetheless, my early morning jaunts were something I had begun to look forward to. There are more people in the world now than there were when I was born, and strangely enough, most are lonely. So many lonely in a crowd, I see people eating alone, being alone. What is it at the end of the day? Should we expect more from life and remain dissatisfied, or just try and be content with what you have, knowing fully well that you are only trying and not being?
Time seems to have passed quickly and I see the horizon warming up. Just like my life seems to have passed. It is time for me to get back home, and yet another day dawns. And my feet of 69 years trudge back home, and the sun rises behind me.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Pictures taken in Australia are finally up.
You can see them here

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Issue uploading pictures

I am having trouble uploading pictures on blogger
It comes up with this error code
Has anyone else encountered the same issue? Please let me know


Saturday, March 10, 2007

Almost done.. home beckons

And we had an awesome performance today. I finally mustered enough guts to shake a leg..
In case I didn't mention before, this concert also had Mrs. S Janaki, Mr Mano, Shyam, Mukesh and Actor Santhanam. Shyam and Mukesh have an amazing stage presence when they go in together.
The music lovers in Sydney and Melbourne were highly responsive and I had a great time performing here.
This is Janaki Amma's 50th year in the Music industry and these set of concerts were to commemorate that. We have a final concert tomorrow, for Telugu music lovers and with that we head back home.
Tonight was thankfully warm. I saw that though it is sunny in Melbourne, as opposed to showers in Sydney, I still felt cold at most times.
Probably the weather here decided to be kind to me after all :D
This trip has been pretty good so far. Hope there will be more concerts and better concerts... :D
At Sydney we visited the Tower-360 degree view of Sydney, went on the OZ Trek, the simulated ride on Australia, checked out the Opera House (someday, and hopefully soon, I would like to perform there), went on the 'train ride' around Botanical gardens. This was a trackless train going, which started every 5 minutes from the Main entrance and had about 4 or 5 stops at vantage points in the garden. You could get off at one point and once you are done there, you can wait for the next train to arrive and hop on. The girl who 'drove' the train also spoke to us through a speaker system confined to the vehicle, and explained all about the fauna and some birds there. I also happened to see a lot of people on training session, mostly running and I saw some trainers, who I am sure are slave drivers.
We checked out the Melbourne tower here, the Observation Deck which gives a 360 degree view of the city, drank some coffee at the cafe there ,saw the video on Melbourne which lasted some 20 minutes, went into the aquarium, which was pretty good. It was a good feeling in that one where sharks swam above your head :D
We were also lucky to catch a feeding session where the divers went in and fed the sharks so that they dont eat the other fish. And quoting the guide who was speaking to us, expecting the sharks to tear people apart limb to limb is not going to happen. But what surprised me was when he posed this question, there were people who actually said that they would like to see a person being torn apart by a shark. I really hope, for my sake, that they were joking. So several types of eight leggers as well. Creepy crawlies and since they were ensconced in their cages, it didn't make my skin crawl. This was more or less the tip of the iceberg. There is obviously much to do in Australia, but we had time for this much alone.
Shopping didn't really catch my fancy in this country. But then I am not that interested in shopping anyway.
And I must say again, after like ages I got some eye candy. Doesn't look like there is any left in India, and definitely not in Chennai or in Bangalore, or in Mumbai.
And finally as long as it is music, I wish that it plays on!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

In Melbourne

For the 2nd set of concerts and I leave from here on Sunday night..
Though I have always known that I am a workaholic, I see that I am not able to handle free time.
We have rehearsals this evening. And I see that songs from my discography that are not that popular in Chennai are pretty popular here.
I ma having a great time with Janaki amma here.. We have some family connections that got wayyyy back.
We drove around Melbourne a bit and checked out the shopping malls. Nothing interesting to shop here though.
Things I got to know here:
I see that you will be fined if you hit a spider or a snake that comes into your home.
Wear a seat belt even if you are in the back seat
A lot of Indian faces
Most Oz men are good looking and tall. Awesome!!
People get paid here on a weekly basis or fortnightly basis as well.
Supermarkets shut down between 5 and 6 in the evenings but remain open during Thursdays and Fridays until late as those days are paydays
Fuel prices go up on these pay days by about 10 or 20 cents and they rollback by Monday.
And generally life is pretty laid back here. People go to work at about 8 in the morning and are back by 5.
Melbourne doesn't have a stable weather. Temperatures drop and rise well at the drop of a hat.
I like the game shows on local TV here..
SUN TV is telecast here one day late. They record all the programmes on Sun TV and play them the next day.
People use the horns in their car only to convey their displeasure about the other drivers. Ah for silence.

Last weekend was the Mardi Gras here. Was supposed to be a major event, but I seem to have missed it.

Any way, I am waiting to get back home. .That is where my heart is.. and where the music is.

(Disclaimer: the information I have posted about Australia is hearsay. It need not be a super fact)

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Sydney Day 4

The first concert took place yesterday at Bankstown Town hall.
People sat through for almost 5 hours and it was a very successful concert. Saw the Opera house and the Harbour bridge at night when we drove back after the concert. Tried taking some pictures but looks like I have to learn taking pictures in night light. :)
Got to hit the road again... Sydney has narrow roads and there are not too many chances to take U Turns as I noticed. And haven't set my eyes on a fancy car yet. A whole lot of Hondas and a few BMWs and a few VWs. I see that the Taxis here have video and audio monitoring so there are stickers saying watch what you say. Almost everything is quarantined. Intend to look around tomorrow and see what the city has to offer. As of now majorly sleep deprived!!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Australia Mate!!

Currently in Australia for a few shows in Sydney and Melbourne.
Came here after a pretty tiresome journey.
Two things connected to airports. While in Chennai, there was unclaimed baggage, and in no time there were sniffer dogs, police personnel and the bomb squad. And a lot of worried people wondering whether something is gonna blow.
Transit at KLIA for almost 4 hours. It was boring and cold. And I llove technology. We forgot the Malaysian currency at home. And were wondering how to have a cup of coffee since they didnt have credit cards. And I see an ATM in front of me. Turns out mom noticed it earlier. Pushed my card in, and out come the awesome looking money I have ever seen in my life :) All for a cup of coffee. Small pleasures sometimes turn out to be pretty importnat :)

Once at Sydney, we saw the airport officials refused to let the Tabla inside the country because they said it is animal skin, and it has to be quarantined. He says he is doing his job. And after a struggle of more than an hour, we had to forego the instrument. And we can take it back from Syndey when we go back. I found this saddening that a musical instrument can't make through such regulatory problems.

Have a fairly long stay in Australia and intend to look around quite a bit and for super shows with Janaki Amma, Mano ji and Mr. Mukesh.

Rehearsals start in a while gotta go hit the note~