Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Potpourri IV

It's been sometime since I gushed out another installment of my potpourri.
There were either too many things on my mind to tackle at once or too less of it to make me bother.
Anyway, not much has changed except that I'm 21 now. I still remain uniformly random in my thoughts, with divergent lines of reasoning emanating from the single thought processor in my head. It can be disconcerting sometimes, I tell you! But how else would I have a Potpourri without my vagaries?

Oh well, Orwell : If you want the BEST jolt that reality can ever deliver, Orwell is the man. And by jolt, I do not mean he'd horrify you, nauseate you or gross you out. Unlike the path chosen by some of our modern authors, to make reality harsher and more gruesome than it really is, Orwell’s non-fiction offers them a lesson in balance and artistry. I was reading Down and Out in Paris and London. It is amazing how Orwell skillfully executes his duties both as an author and a journalist. He writes what he sees. He presents Paris through the eyes of a plongeur, devoid of all the beauty associated with the place.' Poverty is what I'm writing about' he says and he paints the great redeeming feature of poverty so well-its power to annihilate the future. You find an undercurrent of Socialist thought but Orwell, like a true journalist maintains a beautiful equilibrium between what he sees and what he feels. He points out how unemployment weathers a soul. Then again, amidst all the dreary accounts, you come across Bozo, the tramp. And when Bozo says, in spite of having the sky as his roof in the freezing cold, that "The stars are a free show; it don't cost anything to use your eyes”, I cannot help but be amazed at the resilience of the human spirit. Reality is harsh. It might not be beautiful. But Orwell shows whether one chooses to make it hopeless or hopeful, is a personal choice.

Mayer's Snare: Once you've started loving John Mayer's music, you are trapped. You cannot dislike him. Even if you don't like him as much as the last time you checked. Battle Studies proves that. My first reaction on listening to this much awaited album was disappointment.Frankly,the songs were too Pop for my taste and after a Magnum Opus like Continuum or Where The Light is, Battle Studies does fall short of expectations. But then I went back and listened to it, over and over again. And as always, it grows on you. My top picks are definitely 'Who Says?'(Basic Mayer tone, simple, quirky), 'Perfectly Lonely'(Probably the best written song in the album) and 'War of my Life '(The song that has some congruence to the name of the album, semified aggression).'Half of my Life',IN SPITE of featuring Taylor Swift is not hideous surprisingly. Now, the bad apples. Crossroads : I've always maintained when you try re-inventing a classic like this one, make sure it's better than the original or just shut up! Mayer’s rendition of Crossroads made me cringe! Hate the tone. Hate the bass work. The other bad apple is indeed Heartbreak Warfare. I mean we all know that Jen Anniston's been a lot of pain, and he needs to vent out. But the expression is clichéd and rather OTT.For the love of God,” Clouds of sulphur in the air, bombs are falling everywhere, it’s heartbreak warfare!” Lame imagery .This, being a post-break-up album, I did draw a comparison with Blood on the Tracks. But I guess I shouldn't for there's just ONE of that master-piece. However, Mayer does try to do something new in this album and I do give him credits for that. He has made a conscious effort to break away from his Blues mould. I don't know whether that's a good thing or bad, but I'm very excited about the future of Mayer's music.

The Tree Swingers: Laugh all you want to, but I've been obsessed with Orangutans lately. I’ve been watching Animal Planet and NatGeo all day and watching their antics. They are the most adorable creatures I've ever seen. From those needy-wise- eyes, to that absolutely delectable 'smooch-face' they do; from making the funniest leaf hats for shade or simply sitting there, majestically, they indeed are an amazing animal. It’s a shame so few of them remain. I wish I could have one as a pet but I guess the wilderness is where they truly belong. What amazes me about this species of primates as opposed to the others is their love for solitude, looking down on creation from up above the canopy. No wonder Sukumar Ray used them in his poem where he writes "Holde shobuj orangutan,It patkel chit-potang'. :)

The Truth Files : I've been a X-phile.Not the creepy kind but moderate one.It is the best Sci-fi series ever! Yes, the genius of Chris Carter did begin to fade towards the end,but then the beginning and what followed was magic. Mind-boggling plots, suspense you could cut with a knife and Duchovny-Anderson sure deserved the Nobel prize for chemistry! From corruption, to extra-terrestrial life; from denying information to citizens to passion-play, it was one gripping potpourri of sorts! And in the light of some recent incidents in my life, the X-Files tagline has suddenly become like a portent. The Truth Is Out There. And for those who hide it, it’s going to catch up with you soon you dastards!Sooner than you'd imagine and too late to run for cover!

I was feeling, to express in Sylvia Plath's words "very still and very empty; the way the eye of a tornado must feel, moving dully along in the middle of the surrounding hullabaloo."
I don't feel the same now.
I am a part of the tornado now,living the hullabaloo.
Or will be, for a few days to come.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Elusive Neverland

It has been a bad couple of days.
The utter hopelessness of the situations and the eventuality associated with them has been torturing me.
It's like standing on the sea-shore, fighting a war with the sand and the sea.
You try hard to sink your feet into the sand to retain your balance and it just keeps slipping away from underneath your feet. You try hard to regain your balance. You almost manage to do it but just then a wave comes crashing down on you and you fall.
You hope there is something to hold on to, to break your fall. But all you have are the memories to hold on to. And it engulfs you. You try to float on the surface, holding on to it like a log of wood. Instead, it swallows you! Chokes you!
That is the eventuality.
And these few days have seen waves after waves after waves.
But these waves come, crash onto you, go back and then never return. Never.

I watched Finding Neverland the day he passed away. It gave me some solace. But finding solace in a fairytale might be a luxury for my cousin who has just lost his father. Maybe someday I will get myself to explain to him about life in Neverland.

Neverland offered momentary solace.
That is until the day, my Funny Valentine passed away.
Every Valentine's Day I'd get a Valentine's Day card from my 92 year old Valentine. Even when age caught up with him, he made sure he sent it. His hands trembled while he wrote these days. But unsteadiness had never exuded such confidence, as in him. He had trouble reading, but he devoured every new book he got his hands on. They tell me that he would have only suffered more had he lived longer. But rationalization is not helping me cope with the loss of my favourite Valentine. I’m dreading the 14th of February and I wish time would stand still!

I don't know whether I'll be able to stand, fully grounded on the seashore, at one with the sea, admiring the sunset.
But for now, death and sunsets are only painful eventualities to me.
I fail to see the beauty.
I fail to see a happy ending.
I fail to find Neverland.

Such is life. Or is it death?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

When You Got Knopfler,You Sure Get Lucky.

Mark Knopfler is truly like old wine.He gets better with each passing year.
He amazes me.
You see him perform. There are no crazy, possessed-by-the-devil antics on stage .
His voice caresses you.Gruff.Tender.Deep.Intimate.His guitar : intricate, precise and gentle. There’s a certain austerity about him. However, an austerity that doesn’t isolate him from the world, but makes him one with it.He’s a Budhha with a guitar.

Get Lucky bears testimony to all that and so much more.

It’s amazing how this man continues to play what he believes in, instead of radio-friendly pop-ish music.He has a niche audience and he has stayed true to them and himself never compromising with his style and music. Thus you get something as beautiful and true as Get Lucky.

Border Reiver,with its beautiful fusion of the accordion and flute brings out a rustic Irish flavour.Hard Shoulder follows : a wonderful ballad with a definite Motown feel.The vulnerability in his voice cuts through. You Can’t Beat The House has Knopfler betting on the blues.

Before Gas just proves Knopfler’s mastery in the art of story-telling. Simple words strung together to weave such nostalgia and the appeal in his voice resounds through you.”If heaven’s like this/Well, then here’s where I’ll be/On the edge of the world/On the edge of the field/Before gas and TV

Monteleone is one of my favourite songs in the album.It’s amazing how Knopfler takes something so personal and manages to create an universal appeal without going into details and compromising what his is very own.The string arrangement is beautiful and flows in and out like a wave.
Monteleone,in memory of the guitar-maker who made Knopfler a beautiful guitar is exquisite. " My finger plane’s working; gentle persuasion/I bend to the wood and coax it to sing.” Art for art’s sake .
Cleaning My Gun is classic Knopfler with a heavy dose of Americana. The last verse stands out for me: “You can still get gas in heaven and drink in kingdom come/In the meantime, I’m cleaning my gun.”

The Car Was The One” inspired by racer Bobby Brown is another masterful execution of Knopfler’s treatment of his personal reflections “Remembrance Day” kind of sums up Knopfler’s search throughout the album for the days gone by and raveling in the memories. “Piper To The End” has the rich Celtic sound of Knopfler.

So Far From The Clyde” is another of my favourites.Pathos seeps into you. It revolves around the famous shipping industry of Scotland that existed once upon a time.Knopfler said “A breaking yard in India is a long way for beautiful Clyde-built ship to go to die” and he portrays that forced desolation so beautifully in the song that it becomes more universal than specific.A brilliant composition.

And that brings me to the title track,Get Lucky , another master-piece. This song heals you. It is optimistic yet realistic :”And what about happiness for money?/Tell it to the breadline.” It’s not what he says in this song, but what he leaves unsaid :”And I might get lucky now and then, You win some, you might get lucky now and then/You win some.” Knopfler does not feel the need to complete the age-old saying.Being cliched is not his forte.The Psalms teach you about the Philosophy of Supplication. I just think Mark Knopfler did that with this song,in a far simpler way.

Get Lucky is an ethereal amalgamation of poetry, folklore and a heavy dose of nostalgia adorned with Motown blues, acoustic folk, Celtic richness and topped off with the unique component that makes it special : a generous quanta of Knopfler’s soul that pervades throughout the album. He tells his story and he sings it to you. For you.

Jonathan Livingstone,the seagull says “ Heaven is not a place and it is not a time.Heaven is being perfect.” Mark Knopfler I believe is there. And with him,I feel, you might ‘get lucky’ and have a semblance of what heaven is, on earth.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Losing You

I've known you for long,
From the day I came along.
Since childhood years,
You've gifted me moments so dear.
And now that you're gone
All I have are the memories bygone.

Memories near.
Memories far.
Memories lost.
Memories found.
Memories to which,
I shall forever be bound.

‘And up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky’,
I know that's where you will live,
Though they tell me you've died.
And when I look for you in the infinite sky,
Just shine for me, please don’t say goodbye.