Saturday, October 28, 2006
I am talking about Syd Barrett. 6-Jan-1946 to 11-Jul-2006. The band he created wrote songs about him. They knew exactly what they were saying when they called him a painter, a prisoner, and a martyr. And Crazy Diamond.
They called themselves the T-Set, till he named them Pink Floyd. In a spur of moment. Like all good things, absolutely randomly out of the names of two blues singers. And the name stuck. Almost 40 years now and there are enough people who can vouch that "See Emily Play", "Arnold Layne", and infact the entire "Piper..." still sound as haunting as they perhaps did all those years ago.
Not to mention his singles, songs such as "Bob Dylan Blues" and "Gigolo Aunt" which were written when he had reached advanced stages of vegetation. A numb, white-washed brain that could still create strange rhythms, often forgetting what he wrote or sung. Thanks to Dave for recording all that. I guess that's the least he could do. After all, he probably wouldn't be in the band if it weren't for Syd cracking up one fine January morning in 1968.
He lived for music. He also died for it perhaps. We don't know whether he consumed LSD or did the LSD consume him. I guess being a legend is about leaving notes on pieces of paper, for others to figure and complete. And the Floyd did a pretty good job of it.
Everybody wonders what would Floyd be had he remained. We don't know. We don't want to know infact. It's a bit like asking how much sense it would make if fireflies could glow incessantly for an hour, and not just for those flickering moments. They wouldn't be fireflies then, would they? Syd was just like that. And that's how we want to remember him.
"Here today, gone yesterday". That's what it feels like. Hope you are good wherever you are. They knew everyone would miss him when they labeled his greatest hits "Wouldn't you miss me...?"
Thanks Syd for all the music. And the images. And the themes. And the words.
And for Floyd. Shine on...
Thursday, October 26, 2006
...Or actually it's me who's not so happy about the whole thing. I am not saying it's over. But it's been a strange friendship. In fits and starts. Like fervent telegrams sent to enquire about a friend's health. And then a long lull. And all I am left with, is unconvincing excuses to justify.
It began almost four years ago if I remember correctly. And there was an immediate craze with which I took up the guitar. Cuz being a rock fanatic causes your fingers to twitch very often and there does come a phase when you realize that playing air-guitars while listening to the likes of Satriani and Clapton, is just not quite cutting it. And so I went to a teacher. And I practiced. And yes, there was a big smile on my face when I could effortlessly switch from D# to Bminor to Emajor (not a very interesting sequence musically, but for a beginner, generally results in good finger movement).
And then the long exile. Accompanied by the usual excuses -- "Time hi nahin milta hai". The same words that I have oft repeated for so many other meaningful things in my life. Thus continued the Morse-codish behavior. Periods of sounds, with gaps in between. Uncertain, unplanned, perhaps avoidable, but gaps nevertheless.
I picked up the instrument again yesterday. Like an old letter that you don't want to read, but something draws your hands towards it. The second string was showing signs of rusting. I moved my finger over it repeatedly, as if the harsh surface would serve as an atonement for the neglect that I had shown. And then I tried tuning the guitar. Thankfully I could tune it in five minutes. Not bad.
And then I tried "Wish you were here" (Floyd), after a long, long time. I remembered all the chords. The intro solo as well. It came out decent. Consolation prize. Then the riffs of "Hotel California" (Eagles). Then the opening riffs of "Outside" (Staind). Then the intro of "Closer to the heart" (Rush). And this is where it hurt. Except for a few intros and riffs, there were hardly any songs which I could cover fully.
But as I said, it's not over yet. It won't ever will be. Can't be, actually. Though for the time being I suppose I have to contend with the air-guitars. But someday soon it will again be the melodies of songs that shall emanate from my guitar, and not the sound of muffled sobs...
Saturday, October 21, 2006
The time it had been since I had home food. And with every morsel came flashing back the memory of Mahalaxmi station's vada-pavs consumed as dinner. Or Garcias Pizza's garlic bread. And all the others whose numbers I have been dialling all this time.
There was this one time when I called up a restaurant and before I could finish articulating my order, the receiving party blurted the complete order and didn't even bother to ask my address. I had become a "regular" there. It's said that it's a matter of some pride when a bartender greets you as you walk in. But I believe it's a cause for concern when a home delivery joint can predict your order and doesn't need to wait for you to tell your address.
Today I could partake of all the items without having to stress my mind to identify what exactly was I eating. Or the "unbalanced" nature of the diet. Or the calorie values...
Very simply put, thank God for mom.
Saturday, October 14, 2006
They say that working from home is becoming a rage. But there are those of us whose forty percent of working hours are spent in moving vehicles (the word "moving" becomes a misnomer at times, especially if Mumbai roads are the medium to "move" on). In the early days I used to look out the car window trying to enjoy the scenery. This continued till I realized that the city being Mumbai, there was no scenery really and I had therefore not been enjoying anything. Gautam Buddha attained enlightenment about the futility of everything, under a Banyan tree. I achieved the same under a metallic roof.
In Mumbai, even if you have to visit a place which is a stone's throw away from yours, you will take a stone age to reach there. There are folk lores in every Indian village. Most people are not aware that in Mumbai too, there are songs which old women sing at 4 in the morning mourning lost stones and pesticides. This particular song claims that a jilted lover tried throwing a stone from Malad towards his beloved who was sipping Coke by herself in Andheri on a calm Wednesday evening. But the stone got stuck in a traffic jam and the beloved died of pesticides.
And it is for this reason that I am not left with a choice but to type meeting minutes while inside the car. Amidst the horns and the slowly creeping trucks it is a remarkable experience. It is believed that your surroundings affect your thoughts and that in turn affects what you write. The readers of those meeting minutes have frequently commented that they almost heard a noise as the email opened up, like the desperate blare of an autorickshaw who has placed his vehicle perpendicular to the traffic. It has also been observed that the words seem to be somewhat cramped, like a biker squeezing between a cement truck and a BEST bus. And that the general undertones in "Action Items" are very similar to those that pedestrians on Mumbai roads can be heard mumbling -- a delicate mixture of prayers and abuses, both said at the same time...
Sunday, October 08, 2006
...In an earlier post I had promised a separate entry on Cinderella because of my fascination for her. Let's see how far I can keep my promise.
...So once upon a time there was a girl who turned, from a daughter, to a stepdaughter. Though she belonged to a noble background, her stepmother made her run around for all the work and did not allow her to wear the good dresses. And this girl had nothing to sleep on but the heap of cinder collected in the scullery. They say it is for this reason that she was called Cinder Maid, or Cinderella...
But this is not her story.
This is the story of all the velvet shoes we step into, of the sea-colored dresses we wear to the parties, and of the golden chariots we ride in. And of everything that disappears if we fail to leave before the clock strikes twelve...
Because this is our story.
We refuse, even for a moment, to acknowledge that there will always be (as Goo Goo Dolls would put it), "the moment of truth in your lies...". We all have become modern-day Cinderellas, racing around with an artificial demeanor, till we lose track of time. Till we get to a stage where we cannot say with certainty as to what is artificial. Till we repeat our lies so often that not accepting them feels like a folly. Till we are left with no choice but to run over the fence, leaving nothing but a velvet shoe behind.
There's one difference though. Cinderella was justified. She didn't pray for it. But the gifts were given to her out of kindness. But what we carry around with us, are strange burdens. Mask after mask. Layers of it. Donning one after the other, but some traces of our real face still surfacing occasionally.
And then we become criminals. When it's not the soldiers of the Prince who come looking for the foot that will fit the shoe. But the minions of our disgruntled, paranoid Karma frantically catching up with us. And then we are too afraid to put our best foot forward...
Go home Cinderella, the clock's ticking...
Monday, October 02, 2006
It's been raining again. Yesterday morning the lashing rains at six confused a lot of happily asleep Mumbai citizens. And it didn't stop throughout the day. The rains had revisited as if they had forgotten something the last time. Like an absent-minded scientist who forgets his umbrella and after having traveled half a mile, comes back to ransack his lab and disturbs the happy white experimental mice.
Of course, the umbrella was never in the lab anyways...
Shifting house, or "moving", can be a rather moving exercise. So here I am, on Sunday night, typing away from my new house. Shifted to Bandra (East) from the heart of South Mumbai - Breach Candy. Felt like a culture shock the other day. Breach Candy looks like a car parking lot, because every house has at least three cars -- "one for the master, one for the dame, and one for the little boy...". Well, certainly not for the boy who lives down the lane, but there is no dearth of takers for that one extra car anyday.
I remember Pushkar mentioning in one of his posts about never underestimating the importance of home food and free laundry. Now home food is something that I have almost forgotten. I have learnt to live on pizzas, burgers, and strange oily veg curries from restaurants whose only identity I have with me, is their phone number. But free laundry, that's a different story. A PG acco can spoil your habits. And so it was with me in my last house. Clothes were washed and ironed and placed neatly near the bed every day. I guess those days are over. As I struggled with the washing machine and the erratic Municipal water supply today, and walked in the rain to pick up clothes for ironing, I once again realized the number of things we take for granted every day. Or as Joni Mitchell said in "Big yellow taxi", "Don't it always seem to go, That you don't know what you've got, Till its gone..."
My room doesn't have a curtain yet (another thing that most people take for granted). I can see everything that's on the other side. Obviously the same holds true for the onlookers on whose other side I happen to be. But with my room being on the third floor, there's not too much peeping that people on the road can do. Though frankly, there's nothing in me or my room that's worth peeping at anyways...
And of course, in all this flurry of facts and emotions, let me not forget my house-mate. He left for Uncle Sam's hometown the day I landed in this house (in case I haven't mentioned it yet, it was the last day of September 2006). And so the first evening was spent in what I call the "Discovery Walk". I do that whenever I land in a new place. It is a process by which a person, by randomly walking for a couple of hours, finds the eco-system necessary for survival. Places such as the local grocery store, the chemist, the roadside vada-pav joints, the bus stop, and similar places of tourist interest. Though as a custom, such a walk requires the participant to take any turn that catches his/her fancy with no regard to consequences. The net result being that I usually forget where I started from after two hours of such a session of brownian motion.
Needless to say, forgetting the road to home can be a rather moving feeling...