Archive for the ‘Night Life’ Category

Fiction: The Park*

A park separates them.

If it can be called a park, that is. A grassy patch chequered with muddy patches, that turn into puddles in the monsoon. The dogs like it anyhow. They keep him awake at night with their barking. Nobody seems to care at 2 in the a.m.

One such night is filled with little vapours of heat rising from under his neck each time he shifts, on the pillow. He sits up and puts his feet down on the floor. The ground is cool and the thought of sleeping there occurs to him. But he turns it aside. He’ll only wake up with aching muscles. A sudden buzzing in his ear reminds him of the reason he woke up. Getting up is surprisingly easy. He supposes he didn’t really fall asleep earlier. So he crosses the room to draw the mosquito net across the window. Small relief, that, the mosquitoes still get in mysteriously. He curses the puddles, the lazy gardener responsible for the park’s upkeep, the real estate agents for whom it’s a reason to hike up the flat’s prices.

His head hurts. The EMI is due in three days. He could put it on his credit card but then what will he shop with for the rest of the month? The incentive. One windfall that’ll take care of all his problems. But he’s having trouble even keeping up with so little sleep. And the worry keeps him awake nights. Not for the first time he wonders how different his life might have been if he hadn’t bought this flat.

A thin rivulet of sweat runs down the side of his forehead. In the heat, it is almost a relief to feel something cold. The ice of his impotence.

A sudden gust blows across his cheek and he slides back the mosquito net and leans out to catch it. It’s gone. Great, a grand welcome to more mosquitoes. But he doesn’t pull back. He’s past caring now.

When he finally looks up, hand on the window to slide it back into place, he stops. The city is never completely dark. The lights on the billboards, the neon sign flashing the name of the mall next door (another reason the real estate rates are so high) all contribute to little stray beams. Like leftovers thrown to the dogs, even the park is aglow in an imitation of moonlight. The dogs are scampering.

And he realizes that he looked up because of the sound. He squints into the darkness for the source. All around the park, ghostly black shapes tower, the other buildings that share the park. It’s like a crossword or a reverse of one. More black but a few white (and yellow) squares here and there. He looks at the familiar visions of other late-nighters. A fan is going in one while flickering images of a TV from another throw out strange reflections on the facing building. And in the building exactly opposite, a blue-white window frames a dark silhouette.

He can’t see much else around it. And because they’re exactly level, there’s no sight of the walls and shadows that fall on them. He doesn’t know anything about the flat or its occupant. They face each other, separated by the park.

He feels the need to avert his eyes immediately. It feels like the figure opposite is aware of him, knows he’s been watching. When he looks up, the figure hasn’t moved. So he stares back, defiantly. But the same uncomfortable feeling overcomes him. He turns away and sits down on his bed. But once he’s sitting, he can’t see the window. So he stands up again.

His stomach flutters and little beads of sweat form on his forehead, this time a different temperature. It’s a curious, forgotten feeling, this knowing that someone else is awake at the same time. It feels companionable.

The dogs start whining again and he grimaces. He feels like he could strangle the barking ones. If he only dared. Suddenly a shout rings out and he hears what sounds like splashing water. The figure across is holding up something that looks like a plastic mug. He starts laughing. It’s effective, he thinks. The dogs vanish almost instantly.

The black shape has the left arm placed on the hip, or perhaps on the windowsill. The other arm is crooked at an angle and seems to be saying hi to him. But it isn’t moving so he concludes that it is resting on a screen. Then, impulsively, he lifts up his hand and mirrors the pose.

The figure shifts almost immediately and turns to its left. In that flash, he can see it’s a woman or perhaps a girl. Her nose is sharp and ends in an equally defined chin. She turns again. Then she lifts up her right arm and reclaims her pose. It’s like she’s saying hi back.

When he returns to bed, the clock shows that it’s seven minutes since he got up. He turns around again. The figure has gone but the light is still on. The dogs won’t come back tonight, he thinks. He lies down and shuts his eyes. In a few minutes he’s fast asleep.

————————————————–
* A story about neighbors and companionship in Mumbai.

Dischordian + Gillian Grassi: UTV World Movies and Music @ Cafe Goa

Movies & Music with Bombay Elektrik Projekt

I was at Café Goa this Wednesday (20th January) for the UTV World Movies & Music event organized by the Bombay Elektrik Projekt. As it was, the trek to Bandra is a formidable thought (and I stop short of saying ‘unrealistic’ since that’s what’s I call travelling to town). In typical Mumbaiker fashion, I aim for efficient usage of time so I clubbed this with another event – meeting a longtime friend/reader of my blog. We decided to skip the movie in favor of coffee & chat and come back for the music performance.

Gillian Grassie

The opening act was by Gillian Grassie, a harpist from Philadelphia on a year-long tour of several countries including India to study the relationships between new technologies and independent music scenes around the globe. I managed to catch only the last few minutes of her act and what little I saw was quite mesmerizing. The harp carries associations of white-clad angels and an otherworldy, semi-religious feel of music. Gillian’s music was none of those things but managed to bring a sweet freshness to instantly hummable tunes. Her fingers seemed to be feather-touching, almost dancing on the strings of the harp (which was almost as big as her..and here I thought the harp would be a much smaller instrument). The harp provided only a very soft background to the songs which primarily rode on her voice. It’s quite impressive to create a song purely from one’s voice, virtually unassisted by the grandeur of an orchestra and Gillian pulled it off, holding the audience spellbound. I do wish I had made it to the venue earlier to catch her entire performance.

The headlining act of the evening was Dischordian, a venture by Garreth D’mello (also of Split). Dischordian is described as ‘an attempt to move away from the wall of sound and aggression and testosterone that makes up most rock music, an attempt to strip music down to its basics’.

Dischordian at Cafe Goa: 20 Jan 2010

Garreth was accompanied by Howard Pereira on his guitar and Agnnelo Picardo (Aggie), the percussionist/trumpeteer. The last began the evening, hugging a trumpet close to his chest while listening to Garreth and Howard spark up the show. I’ve never seen a trumpet that close. The advantage of a place like Café Goa is the proximity it provides between the performer and the audience. So I kept my eyes trained on the trumpet, an instrument I only have vague associations with, of loudness and some sort of stiff-necked wedding band. Thus it came as a pleasant surprise when the trumpet actually made its entry into the music at ‘The Old Whore’. Aggie led it in with the kind of regal dignity and grandeur that you would associate with a quiet, well-built black man who surprises you with jazz. Yes, jazz was unmistakably what I heard in Dischoridian’s sound everytime the trumpet was a part of it.

Garreth himself has tremendous presence on stage. His face is boyish and manner as laidback and easygoing as his Goan roots. But when he begins to sing, those notions melt away as you are carried off in the power and forceful magnetism of his rich voice. It’s a deep voice, the kind that sounds mature and all-knowing with wisdom that comes from having experienced excitement and grown past it. Possibly because of the selection of songs and the jazz feel that I described earlier, it also felt like a strong but gently caress, the sort that can crush but knows how not to.

I’ve heard ‘The Old Whore’ before, live as well as a recording. It has a classic country-western feel to it. Some artists sound much better in person than on the polished finish of a recording and Dischordian is certainly in this category.

Scourge of Love‘ revved up the tempo and suddenly the audience was drawn into the performance, before we even knew it, thumping our feet and trying to sing along (or hum along at least). This is when Swati who had accompanied me clapped her hands and called Garreth, India’s answer to Kurt Cobain (which elicited a weak smile from Garreth when I told him later, followed by a hasty retreat).

The piece de resistance of Dischordian‘s performance has to have been ‘Bucket of Blood’ (I actually thought that was ‘Bucket of Love’ when I tweeted about it);-). It’s a racy, foot-thumping number, all adrenalin and blood-rushes. I’ve not seen Garreth in his former avatar but several people I know have given me a pretty graphic account of his rockstar days as a tee-shirt ripping stage-stud, girls screaming et al. His shirt stayed firmly on and he remained seated but this song was a more than adequate hint to those days. And yes, there were a lot of people screaming, even in that tiny room in the café, men and women alike.

Agnnelo Picardo of Dischordian

The trumpet was replaced by a sort of bongo (hand-drum?) for the same song and served to showcase Aggie’s talent. All artists are trying to communicate something in their own ways and media. Musicians face that challenge by appealing to something whose response can’t often be quantified in words – melody, beat, the combination of the various sounds made by wind and strings and voice. Some instruments like the guitar and indeed, the human voice make that connection a lot more easily but it is a greater challenge to connect with the audience with the more distant (but grand) percussion. Aggie displays as much presence as Garreth does, in a different way. As the lead guitarist and vocalist, albeit with his own brand of showmanship, Garreth is the flash-and-dazzle of Dischordian but Aggie makes his presence felt subtly and yet, noticeably. It’s an impressive talent and makes for a great performance.

Garreth solo

Garreth performed solo on ‘One of these days‘ and ‘How I wait”, which while melodious, didn’t quite send me into rapture like the earlier songs. They could just be the kind of songs you’d prefer to listen to within the intimacy of headphones and in solitude rather than with a big group of people. Fortunately Howard and Aggie returned to perform ‘She lied to me’ and a cover version of Jello Biafra’s ‘Are you drinking with me, Jesus?‘ which really had the crowd howling in appreciation. The other songs they performed were ‘Same old conversations‘, ‘Your Right Heel‘ and ‘Baby, Maybe’.

The performance closed a few minutes after midnight.

The neighbors are complaining. You wouldn’t think an acoustic band could make much noise. But apparently we can.

was Garreth’s wry observation as the audience begged him for an encore.

In sum, the evening was well-spent and totally worth the trip to Bandra. The second half was good but I think the first few songs took away the show. Dischordian is great, live in action and I’ll gladly make the trek again to hear them. I would also like to hear their recorded songs to be able to compare it to their live performance. But my feeling is their real talent lies in the tangible connection they are able to make with their audience when they are right in front of them.

The BEP Movies n Music event at Cafe Goa

* Dischordian is on Facebook and Twitter. The Bombay Elektrik Projekt is on Facebook. My tweets of the event are hashtagged #bep.

Stupid Stupid Stupid – Album Launch Gig

It feels like in this time-starved city, it’s hard enough to fit in one interest (I have two) along with a career, family life, social life and love life. One prioritizes so I picked books & writing while a lot of other wonderful things got left behind. But every now and then you run into one of them and it’s like meeting someone you believed you could be in love with if there had only been the time.

I have never really been a part of the music scene barring the occasional Roger Waters or Mark Knopfler concert (okay, okay Bryan Adams as well…sheesh..). But that’s stuff that EVERYONE in this city does, it’s practically a ritual. But to truly enjoy something, you need to be able to experience as many variations of its existence as possible and not just the well-marketed ones. So I jumped at the opportunity to check into the music scene.

I was at Zenzi Mills last night with Swati and Sumanth for a gig by three bands – The Mavyns, Sridhar/Thayil and Medusa. I was there courtesy my friend AmZ who plays bass with Sridhar/Thayil. The event was to launch Stupid Stupid Stupid, an album compilation of various young and upcoming Indian musicians including the three bands that played. I got there too late for The Mavyns and didn’t catch much of Medusa so I’ll focus on Sridhar/Thayil since I was there through their entire performance.

Amit Ahuja (AmZ)

(more…)

I Style! – Spell Tail With A Tee

This is Kenneth Lobo. Apart from the fact that he organizes a really cool event or two each week (Movies! Poetry! Music!) as a part of The Bombay Elektrik Projekt, he looks just like a regular guy.

The Bombay Elektrik Projekt dude

The Bombay Elektrik Projekt dude

Ah, but appearances can be deceptive. Does this look like the face of a man who waltzes off to Ladakh on a whim? And breaks a toe while making tea? Ah, again. What’s he hiding? Turn around Ken, and let’s look at your back instead. (more…)

Live Earth 2008 in Mumbai

Live Earth 2008 is scheduled for Sunday December 07, 2008 at the Andheri Sports Complex.

Stars include

Joining Grammy-winners Bon Jovi and Live Earth India spokesperson and actor, Amitabh Bachchan is a list of global superstars includingRoger Waters, WIILLAm, Anoushka Shankar, Abhishek Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Hrithik Roshan, Preity Zinta, Blpasha Basu, Shiamak Davar, , Farhan Akhtar, Arjun Rampal, Purab Kohli, Hard Kaur, Vishal & Shekhar, Daler Mehndi, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, Sunidhi Chauhan, Sonu Niigaam, Shaan, Pentagram, Shaair & Func, Jalebee Cartel and more join the first two legends announced last month, Western headliners Bon Jovi, and actor and Live Earth India spokesman, Amitabh Bachchan.

Globally produced by Control Room, worldwide executive producers of Live Earth India and the Live Earth global concerts in 2007, and in partnership with India promoter and producers, Wizcraft International Entertainment, the concert will feature never-before-seen collaborations of western and Indian artists, a variety of musical genres from India hip-hop to American rock. Appearances and messages from former U.S Vice President, AI Gore, IPCC Chairman and Director General TERI India, Rajendra K Pachauri, environ­mental advocates and celebrities are expected as well. Live Earth India will highlight personal and policy solutions to the climate crisis, offer support for India’s more important environmental issues and causes, and provide a platform for India to solidify its leadership role on climate issues.

Tickets can be booked here.

Shame On You Mumbai

This makes my blood boil. Bombay has for ever been one of the safest cities in the world, especially for women. But two occurances like this last year and again this year, is just not acceptable.

A mob of 70-80 men groped and molested two young women for some 15 minutes on a busy main street in Mumbai’s glamour district Juhu early on New Year’s Day.

An identical incident had shamed India’s safest city exactly a year ago — a girl was molested by New Year’s eve revellers at the Gateway of India. That incident was captured on film by a popular Mumbai tabloid; Tuesday morning’s horror was shot by two Hindustan Times lensmen who happened to be on the spot.

The women — one in a black dress, the other in a jeans and top — emerged from the JW Marriott with two male friends around 1.45 am, and began walking towards Juhu beach close by.

A mob of about 40 got after them and began teasing the women. One of the women swore loudly at the hooligans.

But the mob, now 70-80 strong, wouldn’t let go. They trapped the women near a vehicle and a tree, and pounced on them. A man in a white shirt tore off the black dress. Another, in a blue shirt, led the assault. As the women fell on the ground, dozens of men jumped on them. [link]

The newspaper article goes on to say that the inspector rushed at the mob weilding his cane. For once I wish he had removed his gun and fired a few rounds.

No seriously, you may say….arZan…that’s barbaric. And I reply that yes what the mob did was barbaric, and for once should be dealt with in equal measure.

Shivaji Park should be alcohol free ?

This is another entry in the “WTF Mumbai” category.

Seems that some stupid Congress corporator wants to stop the New Year’s eve party at Shivaji Park Gymkhana, because of the consumption of alcohol at the party.

“Shivaji Park is a pawan bhoomi (sacred land) and here the members of the Gymkhana will be drinking alcohol. By doing this, the members will be insulting not only the leaders but also the rich and varied culture of Maharashtra,” said Sawant. “If alcoholic drinks are served in this park, it won’t be tolerated.” [link]

How the hell does Shivaji Park become “pawan bhoomi” is beyond my comprehension.

New Year Eve Hotspots

OK lets contemplate a hypothetical situation. It’s Dec 27, 2007 and I still havent made plans for New Year’s Eve in India’s most happening city. Not wanting to just land up anywhere….and with money and accessibility to tickets no issue, where do you think I should go. And why do you make that suggestion.

I would love to see your answers in the comments section.

1353

That is the total number of people who have been imprisoned this year for drunk driving. Mumbai traffic cops’ campaign against drunk driving has led to a sharp decline in alcohol consumption in the city, setting off panic among hoteliers and bar owners.

According to figures made available by the excise department, September saw a steep drop in alcohol comsumption. So this weekend when you leave home to get a drink do forget ur car keys at home. Kudos to Mumbai police !!!

Rakhi Sawant Goes Civic

The Item Girl that the whole country loves to hate, donned a civic persona today.

There was an unusual visitor at the BMC headquarters to meet Commissioner Jairaj Phatak on Friday. Item girl Rakhi Sawant had a civic item on her agenda this time.

“Despite repeated complaints from Oshiwara residents in Serenity Complex, the place where I live, Phatak had time to only visit Oshiwara for a club inauguration 4 days back. After today’s meeting, we have some hope. There are open drains outside my gate. Two children were injured after they fell into the gutter,” said Sawant. [link]

Its nice to see that she is putting her brains and star power to work for a good cause. Now all you Rakhi Sawant bashers, be quiet till tomorrow. Then start again.

Terms of use | Privacy Policy | Content: Creative Commons | Site and Design © 2009 | Metroblogging ® and Metblogs ® are registered trademarks of Bode Media, Inc.