Monday, January 30, 2006

Rock on.

Lots of shit been happening. God, I think the last time I had his much fun was back in college. Damn, I miss those days. Final Year was brill.

Where do I start... Right. Last Wednesday this Bangalore band, The Galeej Gurus came down to the BCL for a night of Rolling Stones and Coldplay. They ended up not playing Coldplay but who cares! I came for the stooooooooooones. They opened with Start me up (could it have been anything else?) then Satisfaction and went on to Only Rock n Roll (but I like it) and then Jumpin’ Jack Flash and loads more. They took a twenty minutes break in between while we sat on the floor and watched this DVD of some footage from one of the Stones' earlier concerts. Ruby Tuesday (God, I love that one. Beautiful song) and a couple of others. I thought the break went on longer than it should but hey, no harm done. They came back and got us on our feet with Stones and a few of their original compositions once more.

A concert at the BCL is a really wonderful thing cause it's smaller and intimate and the courtyard is just such a great place. I'm actually surprised that a lot more ppl don't turn out, the passes being free and all. I thought they'd be more music lovers in the city than this! But then again, the crowd at the BCL is really quite different from the normal concert-going public. No kohl-eyed, Black Sabbath-clad dudes, hardly any headbangers, a few oldies and actually a couple of (argh!) kids. But it's cool. It's small, intimate and laid-back without being cold or indifferent. There's a lot of respect at those concerts, for the band, for what they do, for the other concert-goers. A lil more civilised, a lil less raucous.. fun and cool all the same. Didn't stop Michelle and me from appearing on the tabloid section of Sunday's Deccan Chronicle, There we were splashed across the whole colour-back-page, the party whirl section Maybe I'll scan that picture and upload it later.

After that, went to Light Music Night at IIT Saarang on Thursday night. IIT Saarang. What can I say? The last time I was there was with all my college friends in the Final Year. 15-16 of us sitting crunched together in this overpacked stadium waiting for the KK show. That was one of the most magical nights of my life, especially during this slow song, when the lights were all off and the ones on stages were dimmed to a deep red hue, everybody in the audience whipped out their cellphones and slowly waved it above their heads. It was like a million brilliant stars dancing white and blue against the midnight sky. Or the time he struck up the opening chords to Summer of 69. Man, we went wild! Everyone was yelling and screaming and singing and crying.. that moment was pure euphoria. At the end of it, all my friends were hugging each other and practically choking back tears. That was our last big blast. After that, some of us moved to the States, some of us moved to different cities, some of us lost touch... Memories remain.

This night wasn't as great as last time, I knew it couldn't compete in any way but still.. It was fun as usual. Ten of us, new faces, new friends, tightly crunched in an already overcrowded stadium. We were on our feet the whole time. It was a beautiful starry night. I wish they had played something besides all Hindi. Just ONE English song would have been nice. Anyway...
This time at IIT though, there was something else that I was looking forward to. Something besides the light music night that I was waiting for with bated breath as I counted down the days to it.

Led Zepplica @ Rock Night, IIT.

Yes, they're a tribute band. They came, They saw, They conquered. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Parikrama played too. We went in and comfortably parked our asses on the asphalt when they came on stage and opened with AC/DC "Highway to Hell". From then on, it was nonstop pandemonium - Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, some original compositions. A lot of ppl, a couple of my friends included, went down to the pit to headbang, me I stayed back. By the time they finished up at nine, we were just getting started.

Nine Fifteen. Led Zepplica walk on stage. If you're one of the unfortuntate few I call a friend then you know how many nights I have spent (and you have spent, no doubt, listening to me) in excruciating agony, lamenting the fact that I was born 30 years too late. Ever since I first heard Stairway to Heaven belting out of my dad's old gramophone, I've been hooked on Led Zepp.
So what's Led Zepplica? Alright, I'm gonna reproduce the writing on the Saarang website here.
"There's a feeling I get when I look to the west, And my spirit is crying for leaving. In my thoughts I have seen rings of smoke through the trees, And the voices of those who stand looking. Ooh, it makes me wonder, Ooh, it really makes me wonder."

Welcome to the time portal at Saarang where we take you 30 years back in time to pay tribute to one of the greatest rock bands in history, Led Zeppelin. Yes, Led Zepplica is here to rock Saarang. Led Zepplica has been performing in concerts since 1989 and has developed a reputation of being the next best thing to a live Led Zeppelin concert. With over 90 performances since 2001 all over the USA they are coming here to rock you. Their shows are charged with such emotion and realism, that people who attend these performances often forget that they are seeing a simulation.

So that’s Led Zepplica. Now you know.

The atmosphere was electric. These guys have everything down, right down to Plant's flick of the wrist. It was beautiful, everything I could have ever hoped for and more. Immigrant Song, Heartbreaker, Livin Lovin Maid (She's just a woman), Since I've been loving you, Ramble On, Moby Dick.

During Moby Dick, the lights caught fire. I am assuming those were flares. The entire set of lights that were above the drummer on stage caught fire and shone brilliantly and it rained sparks all over the drums and the drummer. I bet that was the first time anything like that ever happened to him, he's up in a flash and down to the front of the stage. And then Joe (Plant) cracks a couple of jokes about him being a scaredy cat and then he's back on the drums again!
You know, this is what amazes me. If it were any other band - Moksha, Parikrama, Euphoria, Strings, whatever. They'd have jus walked off stage in a huff. No explanations. No words to the audience. Here's your mic back, thank you very much, I value my life, I'm not staying on and performing. It’s not safe.

ANY other band, I bet. But these guys... these guys are jostling each other about it - 'Maybe it’s a pepsi commercial! Come on then, do a Michael Jackson and get back on the drums and under those sparks!' So he does. Gets back on the drums and goes straight into his drums solo on Moby Dick. It really was an amazing thing to watch.

Finally, It's the last two songs. Stairway to Heaven starts wafting thru the speakers. The audience goes wild. I'm sitting here and it's really something else watching a bunch of guys who look like Led Zepp and sound like Led Zepp actually playing Led Zepp. Everyone sobers down, it's already a few minutes past eleven and about half the stadium empty (fuckin posers! Go back to your warm beds then! *shakes an angry fist*) the ones that have stayed back to hear Stairway to Heavem go silent and get lost in their own personal universe. And the band played on.

TILL... right in the middle of the song, the lights go out on stage, the music's cut off and the stadium flood lights zap into life! We're mad and angry and upset and everybody starts howling and after a few minutes the lights and music's back on. There's police on stage. Surely, it's not that stupid eleven pm curfew on concerts and public events that they'd come to uphold! But really, in the middle of the fucking song. IN THE FUCKING MIDDLE OF STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN!!?! What kind of sadistic Asshole would pull the plug in the middle of that performance!

Led Zepplica's visibly shaken. They play for about ten seconds longer and it happens again. Now we're really agitated. The security forces come into the stadium. Riot control? Who the fuck cares. What does it matter now.

To the band: I'M sorry. I feel personally responsible.. as a Led Zepp fan, as a concert goer, as a decent human being, I want to say *I'm* sorry and we love you and all I can feel right now is shame. Because If it WAS the 'moral' police that pulled the plug and cut you guys off in the middle of 'Stairway to Heaven', f@#k them cause you know what. It doesn't matter. Tonight was one of the best moments of my life.. and that’s something you cant jus pull the plug on.
I did post that on the led-zepplica forum. Apparently so did a couple of other concert goers (and IITians?) If you were there that night and you saw what happened and whatever the hell it is that you are feeling right now.. Go there and post!
Led Zepplica, you guys rock. Peace out

Monday, January 23, 2006

An Eventful week

A flurry of activity at work this week. And then last Monday, set off to Pondicherry on the spur of the moment. Aunt and Uncle came down from London and asked if I would join them at Pondi so minutes later, bag in hand, I'm at the door with half a tub of Sunblock on my face and oversized sunglasses.

What can I say about Pondi. Sun, Sand and Sea. It's been lovely, this mini-vacation. As usual we stayed at the quaint Hotel De L'Orient, a heritage hotel that was a crumbling fright before it was renovated into a hotel. Quintessentially french (Altho my uncle insists it has more a Spanish influence than French) it has about fifteen traditionally furnished rooms, with colonial furniture and an eclectic collection of brik a brak.

I came across a colonial furniture showroom in Pondi and purchased the two most marvelous cane and wood chairs. From the 1920s apparently and so my father promptly has a fit at the very idea of purchasing anything old. He insists on brand new. In an antique shop.
I did have my way in the end and so any moment now (Come to think of it, its been a week already.. why isn't it here) I expect my patio to be adorned with those leftover relics from the 1920s. Incidentally, those furniture fellows have agents who go around rescuing antiques from delapidated buildings and restore them and sell them. Brilliant stuff.

In other news, I have regained my will to read! Oh darling, I missed you so... Mummy will not be so neglectful in future *gently strokes the spine of her moroccan bound Henry James limited edition* I wonder if there is such a thing as Reader's Block. Brought on no doubt by those ghastly tabloids. Beastly things. I wonder if they've permanently damaged my brain. Not to mention fiercely offended my rather delicate and senstive literary tastes. Anyway, I have purged them with a liberal dose of Tom Sharpe. That should do the trick, I think.

Incidentally, I've placed Huxley's "A Brave New World" up up up on my all-time-favorites shelf, nestled between Anthony Burgess's "A Clockwork Orange" and George Orwell's 1984. Fine company for a fine piece of work. I am still desperately hunting for a copy of Arthur C Clarke's "2001:A space Odyssey" to call my own. I did borrow it from the BCL and read it but really, having to read a book and then give it back is like giving up your child for adoption. You must you must you must read. And all the right sort.

I watch Porterhouse Blue the other day and it's been such a long time since I actually laughed out loud while watching a film. Its this wonderful typically British satire about stuffy British traditions. If you have a DVD membership at the BCL, I urge you to borrow it and watch it! Its positively hilarious.

The other movie I watched this week was Rebel without a Cause. I knew it was a 50s classic but I really didn't expect it to be so heartwrenching and so powerful. I really can't do justice in one paragraph in a post so not going to say any more except that I was simply blown away by Dean's performance. How tragic that he died so young. Rest in Peace.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Black Wednesday...or should I say white?

It's finally happened.

My first white hair.


I am 21. On January 11th, 2006, a day I shall never forget, I found a white hair in what can only be described as an otherwise full head of black hair. Yes, I know, It isn't quite black. Years of daily shampooing (no conditioner, I hate the greasy stuff) and blow-drying and hairspray, tons and tons of hairspray, have finally taken its toll.

This is me, Lavanya R N, young, vibrant, spirited, passionate, ambitious, hot-headed, et cetera et cetera et cetera. This is NOT me, Lavanya R N, suffering from early onset of mid-life crisis and white hair.

To be fair, it isn't fully white. One gloomy, completely uneventful Wednesday evening, as I was idly flipping thru the pages of a magazine, completely unaware that a bomb was about to be dropped on my head (pun unintended!), my mother walks over with all the swagger of Attila the Hun and smugly proclaims 'My dear child! I do believe you are now white-haired like the rest of us'. (Oh alright! It was more to the lines of 'You stupid cow, how many bloody times have I told you to stop putting all that muck in your hair! You've got white hair now and you'll prob be bald by 25!' but that doesn't really make for interesting reading, does it?)

Coming back to the hair in question. It is not completely white, oh no, which is not to say that it's silver (God forbid! No, it does have the audacity to stand picket-fence-white in stark contrast to the rest of my *cough cough* tumbling locks of raven black hair). It is rather a half-n-half.

White at the roots, unapolegetically, defiantly white right uptil the silver lining (oh, i wish!) after which it turns an innocuous strand of deep reddish brownish blackish hair. Doesn't look very menacing at first glance, you know. Sort of throws you off with its inconspicuous dark-brown tint till you travel midway up and reach the tumultuous battle between the divine dichotomy of the ages. Good vs Evil. Black vs White. And then... and then.. then.. the dark clouds part, the struggle ends, the turbulent times of shadowy grey make way for shining, brilliant white. Good sense prevails in the form of a white-haired old sage, or in this case, a twentysomething unmarried working woman with wisps of white hair, which, really is much much worse.

This is my battle scar. And despite the subtle, eloquent words of dissent from my close friends and family (Are you bloody mad then?! Just cut the damn thing off!) I wear it proudly signifying the end of an era.

I suppose what I am so upset about is not the appearance of wisdom(ha!) per se, not the dawn of another epoch in my life, but the closing of one of the best, most memorable and in fact, the ONLY sort of life that I have thus far been privy to.. Student life. Unabashedly young and reckless with all the diplomacy of a shipload of blood-thirsty Vikings. Oh yes, and one mustn't forget the tumbling locks of thick black hair cascading down my taut, distinctly student, back.
But like the scores of cuts, scrapes and bruises left behind by an eventful childhood-

(Exhibit A: Inch long mark on right knee caused by fall in the 4th grade down the stone stairs to the Assembly hall and then subsequent wound inflicted on same area caused by overzealous game of Dogdeball and then AGAIN, same area, pushed by a somewhat giant-sized 5th grader.
Exhibit B: Half-inch long deep cut in left shin caused by monkey bite during 6th grade while attempting to communicate with said primate species by extending a peace-offering in the form of a Frooty tightly gripped between knucle-white fists.
Exhibit C: Thin, long mark on wrist caused by razor sharp nails of fellow student during a proverbial cat-fight in 7th grade all-girls catholic convent. To my credit, I walked away with sizeable clump of opponent's hair.
And so on. )

-I refuse to dye, cut or camoflauge in any way, what I take to be the result of my hours of preparation for irrelevant questions on outdated technical subjects and a fitting tribute to my glorious black-haired college days. That is to say that I will not be taking my grandmother's stoic conviction to heart (You youngsters these days, always shampoo and hairgel and whatnot! Put parachute oil everynight ma, it'll make your hair so shiny and black you can see your reflection in it. Put egg and henna once a week and take oil massage on Sundays. None of us ever got white hair till late in our 40s.) Incidentally, my father started going grey at 21, both my aunts in their late teens, my brother at 14 and finally, my family legacy has caught up with me. Just a little FYI

No, I will not hide what Mrs.Indira Gandhi proudly strutted down the corridors of Power with(Although I sincerely hope it doesn't come to that. One half-white hair, I can handle! Any more isn't very promising in these turbulent times what with all the good men seeking 'tall, thin, fair [and implicitly understood black-haired] bride wanted for ') But I'll wear it with pride and dignity. My final battlescar.
Behold! Exhibit D.

(Hold on, whats that.. Is that a wrinkle?! Oh Good Lord!)

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

And now for something completely different

Sometimes it takes an outsider to point out what we've become too old, or too dull, or too jaded to appreciate. This man's (almost detached) potrait of India moved me more than the climax of any Vijaykanth movie with scores of flag-bearing indians shouting 'Vande Matharam'. Do read it.

Tuesday, January 3, 2006

Happy New Year 2006

Another day, Another year.

I still can't get over the fact that its 2006. I'm practically ancient! I vividly recall the ruckus we kicked up during the 2000 millenium new yrs celebration in Goa( yes, yes, I know TECHNICALLY the new millenium started on 2001 but stop being such a stick in the mud! Its the x000 digits that knock the message home that by now, according to screenwriters in the 1960s, we should all be wearing silver with hoops and flying thru air traffic with backpack jetpacks)

My family finally broke the pattern and went to Indonesia for this new yr. The last 4 years we've been at Bangalore. Now it's so bloody difficult to get a room on any regular night, leave alone a couple of suites on new years eve, and really its only the weather that Blore's got going for it.. I'm really glad we decided to spend a week in Singapore instead. New years weekend tho, we took a ferry and landed up in this small island in Indonesia called Bintan. The resort really was like something out of a postcard: crystal clear water, clear blue skies, white sparkling sand and sunny but breezy weather.

Unfortunately a rough sea meant that we couldnt go for any water sports and so the aquatic ecosystem in Bintan was saved from total annihilation by the deadly duo that is the talented Mr NKR and the unstoppable Mr NN (a.k.a Dad and Bro). Me, I generously douse every inch of exposed skin with SPF 600 and cover myself from head to toe in sheaths of fabric and then go lie on the beach looking like Michael Jackson meets the Corpse Bride (I READ about holiday romances, I KNOW they exist but I've never been asked out by some 6 foot 2, eyes of blue, bronzed and beefy hunk on the beach. I cant for the life of me figure out what I'm doing wrong!) If I'm particularly adventurous, I remove my combat boots, pull up my 300kg jeans with swarovksi crystals and dip my toes in the water.

So without water sports, all we could do was lounge about on the beach. But my brother, Destroyer of all sea lifeforms and all-around pain-in-the-youknowwhat, simply cant stay put and gaze at the sea for hours. Which is why, for some reason I found myself on top of a small elephant desperately clinging on for dear life instead of lazing on the beach. To its credit, it really was a very well behaved elephant, small, infantile even. Poor thing had to lug my dad and me around the island. I strongly recommend you try it, if you're the type that enjoys sitting on a high sack of large blunt rocks with nothing to hold on to and being dragged in the hot midday sun.

Some sightseeing, some Go karting, some shopping and lots and lots of alcohol. The New Year eve's party was really nice. My brother and I are responsible for the 47% decrease in the goat population of Indonesia. Oh yeah, and we did eventally annihilate the entire aquatic ecosystem, one seafood salad at a time. My self-proclaimed unlucky uncle won the lucky draw. We were just breaking out the champagne to celebrate this reversal in his fortune when we found out what he had won: A bottle of wine. With an alcohol content so low that my cough syrup fell off the table laughing. We drank our wine in gloomy silence after which it suddenly vanished, flicked no doubt by those charming ever-smiling Indonesian waiters who take 'yes, I will have some more wine' to mean 'Take the whole bottle, my good fellow, and run like the wind and while you're at it, feel free to dip into my wallet'. We then drowned our sorrows in cough syrup while Lady Fortune pointed and laughed at my poor unlucky uncle, who for one shining moment, nestled between three scantily clad women bearing gifts, thought he had it all.

The live band was good. After one hour of enduring what I thought was the Indonesian National Anthemn, I realised she was in fact singing 'Summer of 69'. In English. Wearing white spandex and crocodile boots.

Sir Elton would be so pleased