Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The end of an era.

Pt. Dinkar Kaikini passed away last week. He was one of the greats of Hindustani Music, and was also the father and Guru of my Guru.

He was elegant and dignified, stoic and assured. He had kind eyes, and a tiny smile was always playing on his lips. I was in awe of him in my younger days, but he always made me comfortable with an affectionate word.

His music - where do I start? Before I was introduced to his music, I had a number of albums by the more popular and well-known musicians. I listened to them with great enjoyment and reverence. But after hearing Pt.Kaikini's music, I started classifying those very albums as, to my horror, lounge music. I couldn't even bear to listen to some of those albums again!

But what is it about his music? It is profound and sincere. And very heavy. It's the real thing. It's magical, the way his voice wraps itself around some notes - guaranteed to move me to tears. Listening to some of his recordings is like meditating.

But that is not all there was to him. He was a composer too. Most of the compositions in Hindustani music are small - four-line compositions that form the base for the development of the Raaga. Unlike Carnatic Music, which is rich and brimming with elaborate compositions, Hindustani music doesn't lay much emphasis on the lyrics. But Pt.Kaikini's compositions are magnificent. Like my grandmother once observed, "I thought Hindustani music compositions are all about separation from the beloved, and the occasional prayer to God, but Pt.Dinkar Kaikini's compositions are something else."

Beautiful lyrics, wonderful meaning - about God, nature and philosophy. And not only that - the words themselves are so beautiful that you want to pop them in your mouth, roll them about with your tongue and savour them, if you know what I mean. He was a genius!

He was a music scholar - with immense knowledge about music. He was also well-known for his lecture-demonstrations.

I understand that his music might not have popular appeal. For that, I am all the more thankful that I have been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to know his music, to have been given the resources to appreciate it and soak in it.

I've hardly met him ten times (he lived in Bombay), but the loss feels very personal.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Papeeha Once Again

There are a few old posts on which I keep getting comments and mails even now, mostly from people who land there via search engines. But no post generates as many mails as the one I wrote ages ago, about Sai Paranjpye's Papeeha.

Almost all the mails are similar - It was telecast on DD, I watched it and loved it, I haven't heard anything about it ever since - Do you have any idea if the CD/DVD is available?

When I wrote that piece, I had a completely different set of readers, and so I thought I'd link to it and see if any of you have something to say!

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Did you watch the eclipse? I did! It was beautiful. I have never seen the sun eclipsed so much (with my own eyes - from behind sun filters!). As Puttachi said, it looked like a "'C' in the sky."

What saddened me no end was that Puttachi and I were the only ones on our terrace, apart from another mother-daughter pair on the terrace of a neighbouring block. Out of the entire neighbourhood, only the four of us were eager enough to catch this fascinating event.

The rest, I am guessing, more out of false beliefs than out of disinterest, stayed inside.

I don't get it. Our ancestors didn't know what was happening. They had reason to believe that something evil was happening. But we are in 2010, for heavens' sake! We've been to the moon, we've been to space, we've photographed things from space - we know what is happening! Just that the moon has come between the earth and the sun! So why the fear? Why the fasting? Why the bathing? I am trying so hard to keep myself calm here, but indulge me a bit while I scream - IT IS RIDICULOUS!!!!

Puttachi and I went out into the eclipsed sun's rays, we ate during the eclipse, and we did not bathe after the eclipse, we did not offer prayers to propitiate anybody. And I am living, and hale and hearty, and writing this post. And this is not just us, everybody in my family has sat and eaten through a countless eclipses over the last 6 or 7 decades. Two of my aunts have gone out during eclipses when they were pregnant, and they have strong, healthy, intelligent sons.

What further proof can I give you? What else can I say? I know that there are some people who are "careful", you know, "Just in case". But think. The sun's rays are coming onto you. The moon blocks the rays for a while, and then moves away. What can possibly be the harm? It makes me want to cry.

Many people are trying to eradicate these silly superstitions, but is it really working? Rationalists do it, yes. But look at this. During the last eclipse, the seer of Murugarajendra Mutt of Chitradurga sat outside with his followers, and watched the eclipse, and even served food to them, and ate it himself, during the eclipse. (can't find the link to the report). During this eclipse, a couple got married at his Mutt!

I am your fan, Seer of Murugarajendra Mutt! We need more people like you! If people don't want to believe rationalists and scientists, at least I hope they will believe you spiritual leaders!

If you know Kannada, you might like to read this.

This post is too late for this eclipse, so I'll probably re-post it before the next eclipse. Please, people! Wake up and see the eclipse for what it really is!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


There was a Dennis the Menace cartoon in which Dennis' father was trying to open a medicine bottle, saying, "How do you open this child-proof bottle?" And Dennis walks in through the door, saying, "Lemme show ya!"

Not too far-fetched, I realized, when my then ten-year-old cousin taught his mother how to use the child-locking facility for TV channels, in their new TV set.

So it didn't really come as a complete surprise, when, after "helping" me load the washing machine, Puttachi reached out and tried to activate the child lock!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Children's story in Open Sesame

I'm mighty kicked right now. Deccan Herald's children's supplement, Open Sesame, has published my story today.

Just a simple story - tried writing for children for the first time.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

The Terrible Twos

I would read of tantrums and meltdowns, and I would read about the Terrible Twos, and then I would look at my sweet-tempered child, shrug and leave it at that.

Serves my complacence right.

Overnight, Puttachi has transformed into this kicking, clawing, screaming little thing that I cannot recognize. I am just recovering from a 1 hour 15 minute session - and the issue? Taking off her frock.

Let's take off your frock
I'll do it myself
No, you take it off for me.
No I'll do it.
I don't want to take off my frock.
Ok don't.
It's dirty. I want to take it off.
Ok take it off.
Take it off for me.
Ok, come here.
No, I won't.
Ok, come to me when you are ready.
I am ready.
Ok come.
No I am not ready.
Ok, whenever you are ready.
Take it off for me.
Ok, come here.
I won't.
Ok don't.
Help me take it off!
Ok, come here, I will help you.
I don't need any help.
Great, take it off yourself.
No I won't.

So basically this was going on in a loop for those 75 minutes. And all this while Puttachi was screaming at the top of her voice, and crying, tears streaming down her face, running up and down, kicking, occasionally clawing at me, hitting.

In the middle of all this, I was trying to distract her by singing silly songs, speaking in strange voices, jumping up and down, behaving like a clown - basically trying to get her to turn her attention to something else. I even tried leaving her alone to calm down, ignoring her, hugging her and speaking soothing things to calm her down, everything.

After about an hour, she was so tired, hungry and sleepy (she'd just got back from playschool) that she didn't even have the strength to cry.

Finally, I put on one of her fave rhymes on my laptop, and turned up the volume. She protested, asked me to switch it off, but gave in, and came to me, sat on my lap, kicked for a bit, then calmed down, and fell asleep on my chest.

Where has my sweet little girl gone? :D
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