Tuesday, November 17, 2009

kafka in goa!

the undergrowth had gotten thicker n the clearing took a lot longer with more labour...the babus threw some more paperwork at me...but what's new?! c'est goa!!...but what does one do about the undergrowth in the mind that's getting denser n thicker?! stuckness reigns on my dad film front n not much else happening on the work front either...a good time to experiment one might think...but but but...am most excited about the spot we finalised to build...diagonally up across the plot facing northwest looking over the treetops all the way west to the sea!...

the labour situation being what it is in goa, every now n then, i feel i should just get a truckload of "ghantis" n do whatever it takes...but each time i go with the slow, steady, sometimes lazy local labour...so what if they work only from 8 to 11 and then 2 to 5...they're a mine of knowledge n folklore...there's this huge anthill just about bordering the "spot"...and they insisted that is what made it "not a good place" to build...i mean, what the hell, it's just a anthill after all...but nay, the king dwells therein n it is his place!...they tried reasoning with me but that much konkani i could not comprehend...turns out that there'd be a king cobra in that anthill and i'd have to appease him first with prayer n offerings before i embark on busting his home :) you live n you learn n i've been learning tons here...about dog ticks, about kingfishers, about which caterpillar results in which butterfly!...about how little one actually needs to get by...about how we fill our lives with so much distraction...

i try to generate as little garbage as i can...this time i trumped the last with just one small bag after a week!...and just 2 half blocks of ice over 7 days for all my chilling needs (beer mostly ;)...but so much around is already changing along the quiet road that winds up from handka to the plot...two apartment blocks, two row house projects, two fancy restaurants tucked deep near the local spring...the spring i was looking to do the summer workshop around...

it's the beginning of the season n there was a lot happening... stalin's dalit film played at the snooty new goa centre for the arts. up in altinho, my guess is that it's gonna be lost in the heady mist of ysl n channel, inert n out of bounds to those who'd really benefit from a space like this. a brazilian jazz concert got washed out by that bitch phyan....o but such awesome lightning and thunder!...madness tho, this climate change is showing up too often now...then there was the nsd repertory ka festival at this huge 800seater in margao...i went for 'kafka ek adhyay'...a hundred of us looked apologetic in that giant space. cellphones rang n calls were taken right thru :( an energetic performance it was combining video to cut betw archive n story. but waltzes, corsets, vienna didn't sit well in hindi, me felt...

lost my train of thought :(

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

yoga music film!

...i might as give up this blog, i remind myself each time i don't feel like writing...but then sometimes it all comes together...like this tuesday morning when the day ahead beckons brimming with energy!...
it's been over a month now of yoga n i never thought i'd last :) but it is such a good achy feeling after an hour of being put thru the blender!...so what if i still don't know the names of the asanas jawahar sir puts us thru...so what if my toes still don't touch the ground (let alone the entire palms!)...but man, yoga certainly reaches parts that other beers don't :) "your kidneys are coming in the way", he screams at me, eyes locked like heat-seeking missiles...fuck that hurt...never imagined i'd feel so hungry after.

last week, i began attending a weekly western classical music appreciation workshop at ncpa. riding high on beethoven's ninth, i signed up...who'd have imagined that the little theatre would be spilling over with young n old enthusiasts...i mean, they clocked a hundred n thirty participants! all surrendering to zane dalal's bewitching sweep of a thousand years of history...brilliantly presented with perfect references to the architecture of each age to illustrate music...they even pulled out two pairs of high-end speakers for the workshop! now to arrange my aunt's record collection composer-wise n go thru them one by one...hmmm perhaps even start a western classical lp listening club...say?!

and then there are films!...mami - never mind the acronym, slated to be better than usual with mostly 2009 releases at fun republic in andheri...what hits you at first is the complete corporatisation of film festivals. it's all about marketing n sheer visibility of the sponsors. in this case 'reliance'...we're still willynilly contributing to 'papa's sapna' ;) so what if the projection sucks, so what if they don't provide drinking water, so what if improper earthing makes ear-splitting crackle n so what if wannabe rj's are thrust upon us...you grin n bear it n hope to catch at least a couple of really good films...so far, winterbottom's 'genova' and soderberg's 'the girlfriend experience' have been good...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

spellbound in spiti! - chotta dhara

rajkumar the guestkeeper agreed to put us up for 250per person incl dinner n chai...basic room with blankets n attached bath toilet...couldn't have asked for more in this spectacular location
nestled deep in a wide valley with the enormous chandra-bhaga ranges on both sides, the pwd guest house at chotta dhara looked miniscule. as day slowly turned to dark, a veritable magic show had begun!
sunset was obscured by clouds but then it cleared n the night sky was so thickly crowded like i've never seen before...spotted two satellites in 2minutes!!...and then this huge blazing cool moon rose with jupiter for company sans it's moons! shivering cold but what an incredile sight to see the entire valley light up...talk about images being imprinted in one's mind!goodnight!
we left early the next morning for chandra tal but not before almost kissing my dear friend goodbye!...he'd adopted us for the brief time we were there :)we stopped ahead to take pics of the glacier after which this lil place is named...my first glacier!

Monday, September 28, 2009

spellbound in spiti! - rohtang to chotta dhara

much of the conversation over that fab jap dinner was planning our trip, esp the drive to spiti...the plan was to stop over either at batal, which is almost halfway or at chotta dhara, just before batal. the choice was between a basic pwd guest house at chotta d or shacking up at a dhabba in your sleeping bag@batal! gramphu comes 85km from manali - the junction where one road turns southeast towards spiti n the other continues up to ladakh. we stopped here for a hearty meal of deep fried aloo parathas! hardly 14kms into the lahaul valley and the greenery has all but disappeared...no tall deodhars n other evergreen pines...just a few scrubs n v little grass.the air feels colder n the sun drier...the road is almost non existant, just a mud n gravel path that forces our qualis to15kmph at the fastest...but there's no hurrying about, no 8.09 fast to catch...it is amazing how everything here slows you down to sanity...we're moving now beyond the central himalayan range to the greater himalayan range...the pwd guest house at chotta dhara appeared out of nowhere...3huts dwarfed deep into the valley. of course, we didn't have prior permission or booking but hardly anyone ventures into these parts n of course, there's room for us...it must've been around 5pm when we got here...in time for chai n sunset!

spellbound in spiti! - manali to rohtang

so it was over that absolutely super jap dinner that we decided to hire a jeep to spiti instead of taking the direct 15hr bone-rattling bus...this way we'd get to be on our own, stop wherever we felt like, choose our pace n most importantly, be able to go up to the magical chandra tal...the next day it pissed down like it does in bombay n the big joke around town was that these bumbaiyas have brought crazy amounts of rain with them...not funny at all, we weren't able to go around manali or walk up to the vashist springs :(so cafe phuntsook once again provided much solace with her consistent roasties...grated boiled potatoes, extravagant amounts of grated cheese n garlic and stuffing of either spinach, tuna or chicken!...yummm...got to crack how to make this at home. mercifully, it didn't rain at night n we left the next morning.
manali to spiti is a mere 200kms...but nothing could've prepared us for the mind-boggling continuously changing landscape. but more about that later...the take2 drive up was completely different from our earlier trip up...it had rained, the roads were a mess n there were more delays...it was around this time that sur called from bombay in panic...the road from keylong to baralach-la has been closed thanks to heavy snowfall, hundreds of tourists have been stranded, so guys, pls don't go! luckily for us, we need to turn right before keylong n the road there is open...more delays?
but it hardly mattered this time round...we didn't have to reach anywhere at any particular time...we had just begun our journey!...it reminded me somehow of robert pirsig's 'zen and the art of motorcycle maintanence'..."and what is good, phaedrus, and what is not good - need we ask anyone to tell us these things?" fresh snow!...of course!! wow! so much of it...just the other day it was all dry n barren...amazing!...once again steered clear of the honeymooner hordes went ahead n went berserk into the snow!...but right up at the pass, bihari labour!!i mean, far from the bowels of their coalmines, here they were in sub-zero temperatures, eating their sabzi-roti unmindful of the apparent incongruence...we drive on, our driver -naresh, patiently stopping for photos...like this oneit is bad enough doing it on motorbikes, but we encountered couples on bicycles on roads like these!! riding all the way from shimla to spiti to ladakh! loco! complete madness! moments after i took this pic, the guy skidded n i ran to help him up n pushed him back onto the road...from here on, we had the river chandra for company all through the lahaul valley.

spellbound in spiti!!! - manalii

angmo!after an authentic japanese dinner in vashist complete with sushi(!!) it was 2nhalf yr old angmo who took a group pic of the 6of us!! she's totally obsessed about taking pics n no, no toy cam for her...she'd click incessantly n dive to you asking, "theek hai?" what a sweetheart! - half japanese, half pahadi fully adorable :)

spellbound in spiti!! - manali

..so like i was saying...we decided to do the round trip - enter spiti from manali n return via shimla...that way we get to go thru the kullu valley then lahaul next spiti and finally kinnaur...being able to appreciate the dramatic changes in landscape n drive those bloodcurdling roads!so back we were at vineet n rimli's absolutely gorgeous home by the beas at vashist...the last time i was here, the mountain tops were all covered with snow n the apple blossoms had just about begun to sprout...this time, luscious red apples shone thru the green...every shade of green...the view from each of their rooms was so fabulous...i kept wondering what the hell am i doing in the city!their bedroom!the beas raging swollen with recent rain.
the plan was to spend 3-4 days with them, go up to rohtang-la, walk around, acclimatise...going from 0 mt above mean sea level to 5000 is best done slowly...and given our fantastic levels of fitness ;) imperative! but then, it is never easy going up to rohtang. there's always traffic jams due to perennial road construction, widening or landslide clearing.so you just sit back n enjoy the views or walk arounda fab day it was, clear skies n strong sun. what should've taken two and a half hours took over 5hrs!! the border road guys are quite amazing...day in n day out toiling to keep the roads open mostly for us n occasionally for the army (or is it the other way round ;) rohtang itself, arrived shrouded in fog crowning a long drive with exhilaration.but once the fog lifts, the highest parking lot in the world reveals itself! complete with dhabas, yak rides n ski photo ops for honeymooners!...we fled right past n walked towards the lahaul valley overlooking the chandra river...as expected, the altitude kicked in with the heaviness in the head n deep rapid breathing...to acclimatise well they say, climb high but sleep low...we were at 13,000ft! cold crisp n beautiful:)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

spellbound in spiti!


...haven't been writing...haven't felt like for some time now...various reasons...but that's another post...ever heard of spiti? am suprised to learn that very few people know or even heard about spiti...tucked deep inside the twisted himalayas, spiti - the "middle land" lies betw tibet n the indian sub-continent...
while doing geo at xavier's i remember spiti being geologically a very imp site but never imagined i'd ever go there...i mean, for starters it is far, very far...you got to go from bom to del then to manali (like we did) or via shimla then cross two very high passes, go thru the lahaul valley n ONLY then are you in spiti!...no wonder then, that Kipling described it as "this is no place for man".

Friday, August 21, 2009

shine on you crazy patrook!


the worst news in the recent past came this afternoon in the form of a brief email - my cousin, patrick passed on suddenly in london. past 60, he was to have an angio done next month...but i guess there's no need for that now...that bolt from the blue couldn't have struck harder n deeper...he was afterall the guy who introduced me to tull, floyd, salif keita, stevie wonder, mj, etc...painstakingly he'd make tape-to-tape recordings n airmail them to me in these bubblepack brownpaper envelopes...i'd squeal with joy n hug the postman whenever he'd deliver one of those packets...each one labeled on tdk d90s...he'd record live concerts off-air on vhs n send me...and films...derek jarman, one world one voice, peter gabriel...i'd see them so often that the tape wore out n he'd have to make me a new recording...this is before cd's n dvd's...tape.....analog!...and i'd sync the vhs video of peter gabriel's secret world live tour with the cd when i finally got one...and we'd dance to it, blast it...
he died alone n i don't even know how...in a sparse cold state-provided home outside london...on my first trip abroad, he was was the first one to greet me with his huge bear hug n his chinky smile when i got off enroute to miami...he took me home to a hearty meal n we talked our heads off n i nearly missed my connecting flight...
he dreamed of coming back home to goa to his ancestral property in colvale, of having a family...but that was not to be...he came often while things were still good when he had a job n the economy was booming...the proverbial santaclaus!...he even gave me his walkman once before leaving...we were his family he used to say n i now feel we weren't around when he needed us most.
he'd end his letters with love and xxx's - bamboo...how much we wrote each other...almost every week for years...until email came...i'd write less n less to him n started this blog primarily for him to know what i was up to...he'd check EVERYDAY...and i wouldn't have written...
he was the first person i interviewed for my goa pedophila film when he had an organisation 'people against pedophiles abroad' papa...i better stop...fuck , am going to miss him so much...i don't think i've come across a person who gave more n expected so little...

Monday, July 13, 2009

jullllly she will fllly!...

give no warning to her flight...
so many things happening n me just not feeling like writing...the rains they finally happened n me was ready with clear acrylic sheets that kept the rain out but not the fab view...something i'd been wanting to do for years!...chai n bhajias by the window IN the rain :)
am back to class again!...every year i go thru the motions that this is my last year at sophia's but then i go back to another enthusiastic lot, feel all charged up, etc...this year the majlis bmm project also gets off the ground. five bmm students each from five courses get to make a short film around the 'cinema-city' theme. lots of work n tons of excitement!
a quick dash to goa to figure progress of permission to construct...but then, goa is goa...even a snail is faster ;) but the train to n back was awash with green n swollen waterfalls...just the time of year to travel...haven't been on a monsoon trek in years :(
my first ride over the bandra-worli sealink was long overdue...our first attempt ended with a hasty about turn after being stuck in bumper to bumper freebies!...but it is quite a trip! esp how the landmass over shivaji park gets silhouetted by the dancing flames of the refineries further east! the view itself marred by the high barricades that deny a view of the sea. bleah!

...and the first screening with my new projector!...'waltz with bashir' - a film i had seen before, after coming back from my israel palestine trip. brilliantly executed but with some seriously flawed n problematic politics...an animated docu! now that was a first! brilliant but disturbing...however hard we try we can never wash away guilt...it seems...

this time last year i was at camp in maine having the time of my life by the lake pleasant...i need so desperately to get down to my plans for my goa plot n of course my film about my dad...the roller-coaster's still in spin...hopefully will stop soon n i'll be able to get off n do some real work...

delhi in summer i have avoided like plague!...but on a whim, dropped in to say my namaskarums to ramathatha n meekapati...
meanwhile, back in bombay, my sister is hosting an exchange student from belgium for a year...while my nephew readies to fly off to amrika on an exchange...next year, xavier's! :)
also worked on easily the ikkiest show i've ever done for television...moment of truth...never before have i come back home feeling worse about what i've been working on...see it for yourself n tell me what you think...star plus mon to fri 1030pm. or maybe it wasn't as bad as i was making it out to be...maybe just my own state of mind...

saturation!...would i ever be able to quit it all n go do live music lighting design!?!or a commercial bollywood film, perhaps?..

Saturday, June 27, 2009

that mesmerising night...13yrs ago

me a mj fan..nah!...never. way too much of a snob to even listen to his music considering how big it was then. my cousin, pat introduced me to his music way back then even before i'd even heard of floyd n tull. but it was pop...cheee!...turned my nose up n walked away...until while at tv18, i couldn't resist any longer n joined the gang going for the concert. mj live in bombay! is really going to come? will thakeray "allow" him to perform? that too at the andheri sports complex...uncertainty prevailed...but then he came...and how!!...we had tickets way back from the stage...but that rocket capsule entry catapulted us over barricades and to the front...a few hundred feet away from the biggest stage i'd ever seen, speakers stacked higher than ever before and so many moving lights, etc that it filled four planes!!...
a hundred thousand watts of music...my heart hasn't pounded like that since...nothing after has come remotely close to the scale of that performance that night of november first...two hours non-stop back to back he moonwalked from one side of the enormous stage to the other...such energy...appearing disappearing magically just like he did in his videos, save that this was for real!...the stage and lighting effects were stupendous like at the end of thriller when this white sheet rolled down out of nowhere n covered the entire front of stage n the song ended with men falling in silhouette to a staccato of ear-piercing gun fire...
the concert ended as suddenly as it begun leaving us riveted to the ground mouth open unblinking...we did not know what hit us. i remember walking up to the stage which was some 2storeys high in a daze...shaking hands with the guys who'd worked backstage thanking them...
the next morning, in office, a colleague lay sprawled on the floor still in a trance...another walked in...no, you cannot share this space sonia, you weren't there last night...
like a shy pre-pubescent boy i trolled the music shops for HIStory, coyly asking, "would you by any chance have any mj cds?"...of course they were sold out!...three days later in sheer desperation, i send an sos to all my friends to puleeze pick up the cd for me...no luck...desperation to dismay...when hemu bails me out...he found one last album...blew the house down finally!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

spot

class 2A dabba batli matunga! i remember almost all their names!!

pure blisssss!


so it arrived finally yesterday!...my technics 1210mk2...after years of looking!...and i haven't stopped spinning since :) for years, my aunt's western classical lp collection sat in boxes ever since i salvaged them from nagpur...bach beethoven haydn tchaikovsky strauss vivaldi handel...music we woke up to during the christmas break...such a purist she was...berlin philharmonic for her, that too conducted only by karajan!
o to hear them in their analogue beauty...warm, rounded, scratchy n unhurried n most importatntly, uncompressed! of course i was way to young to operate what looked like an immensely complicated piece of rotating machinery...it was the madman who let me...years later...first, to only touch the records n eventually pretty much everything. that i think was my first taste of hifi!...arphi aquarius speakers, soundcraftsmen equaliser...shakti mahavishnu manhattan transfer paul simon eric clapton jean luc ponty ...i remember exactly how it sounded even now...and today, remembering him 25years later n wishing him the sweetest sound of music...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

50 years ago (pt2)

let's do mass here, she said...only us familyfor it was here they got married - don bosco matunga...moments before mass...such happiness!we later settled in to a cozy quiet chinese joint that anil m had taken mira to over 25yrs ago!over dinner, we got her to recount for us that day, 50yrs ago!...for the first time :) slowly n very reluctantly...

Sunday, June 07, 2009

finally!...


...2years after we won back some family property n lots of family pride...and 6months after we had celebrated the win, anil n his family moves into the spacious chembur apartment today. such a momentous moment (!)...anil had been pivotal in this n it is just right that he's going to be staying there now...one guy up there is gonna be smiling so widely :)

Monday, June 01, 2009

50 years ago

summer's almost over but the drought is not :(

...it's been a torridly hot summer parching my brains dry...barren...desperately waiting for the monsoons to revive them...
the further you travel , the less you know...n even after getting to know, i haven't been able to write all about my israel-palestine trip. project goa languishes meanwhile and my dad film...the less said the better...n the only silver lining is some work end june n july...till then, i'm hoping for an early monsoon :)

anju's farm@dahanu

end-may june is that time of the year when the family goes out for it's annual overnight picnic...last year, we'd had a fabulous time at gupte's farm at amba ghat...this year, the picnic almost didn't happen...as the years go on, it seems harder to get all 12 members free at the same time esp when the kids have grown beyond school...after much juggling we settled on last weekend at dahanu. anju's farm 120km from bombay seemed next door...ac rooms with food in a sprawling 12acre chickoo n coconut plantation.da car just back from servicing, purr-ed down nh8 with half the family...mum stayed back n so did ro n s. somehow, this year felt differentmaybe, just in my head...next year, baba won't be there :( but we're all excited about his year ahead in amrika!pooja finishes with srishti this year-end as an editor!...while ro hopes to finish his be-it...mira pondering...jim n anil celebrate winning pictionary - the family's official game!!the next morning, dahanu beach beckoned...dirty black sand, brown churny waters n a garbaged beach ensured the fat lazy noronha clan got no walk at all!