Monday, December 25, 2006

Cute, Rocking Babe in blue

Met the cutest, rockingest babe today….

Today I finally put down the first draft of Chapter 1 of my third Novel “Perl and the exploding buffalo”, after months of fooling around with the plot line and scenario, and gathering inspiration to start the formal writing.

To reward myself, I decided to check out a new Rajasthani restaurant in Koramangala. The Rajasthani Thali was very mediocre. The dal bati was passable, but the gatta, gwarfali and kheechri were decidedly sub-optimal. Then I browsed around in Forum and picked up an interesting looking book “The Jesus Papers” by one of the authors of ‘Holy Blood, Holy Grail”, the guys who are now better know for bringing a court case against Dan Brown for plagiarism.

On the way back, on the first signal on the Koramangala-Indiranagar inner ring road, I saw a babe on a motor bike at the red light. Now you don’t often see babes riding motorbikes in Bangalore. Maybe in Mumbai or Delhi… I don’t know, but definitely not in the depths of Bengalooru. She had on a light blue wind cheater and scuffed jeans and practical looking black sandals. A cascade of brown hair streaked with blond under her light blue helmet. I could see a cute looking face and a perky little nose peeping out under the visor. She was really fair. Maybe a firang, but I am inclined to think she was a punju or a gujju with dyed hair. She was driving a battered looking Hero Honda, or something of that description. Anyway, it was either that or something equally infra-dig from that stable, but a babe-on-a-bike is a babe-on-a-bike. It doesn’t have to be a Harley Davidson.

Yes, she was cute, but did she rock?

The traffic indicator counted down from 40 to 30 to 20…At 10 the road was clear this babe went of like a bomb, not worried too much about the niceties of starting on green.

Yes!!! The babe rocked as well!!!

I gunned my T-bird to life on 5. To whom the T-bird has come, does not indulge in kiddi-behavior like jumping the traffic lights. It is infra-dig. The babe was still going like a bomb, but overhauling a Hero Honda with a T-bird on a straight and empty road is child’s play. Seconds later I roared past her. Then I slowed down. Would she take the bait?

Yes she did! Babe was furious at being overtaken, and squeezing the last ounce of speed from her HH, wizzed past me. Racing a T-bird with a HH on a great road like the inner-ring road is not much fun on a Saturday afternoon, when it is empty. Overtaking her again was just a matter of twiddling the throttle a bit. Then I slowed down again. For the next few seconds, we played this little game, roaring down the curving IRR at high speed.

Then my stupid helmet decided to spoil the game. I have this weird futuristic jutting out visor on my electric red helmet, which is good for absolutely nothing except that I imagined it might be a babe magnet when I bought it. It wasn’t. Trouble is, at high speeds, it catches the wind blast and rotates the helmet right around my head so that the chin strap strangulates me, unless I keep my head at a low angle. Decidedly infra-dig.

Well, I forgot to keep my chin down, and very soon I was getting strangulated. With the babe giving me a funny look, I slowed down to readjust my helmet at a more dignified angle, while she wizzed past and took the Airport road flyover. When I speeded up again, she was far away. I went on the chase, anyway. Almost caught up, but the Indiranagar signal caught me, and babe was far away again. Anyway, I had to turn right there, so I gave up the chase and mentally said a sad bye-bye to the rocking babe in blue.

I think I am in love again ;(

Dear cute rocking babe in blue….if you are reading this blog, how about a re-race? I have tightened my chin strap really tight, so you won’t have it so easy this time. Maybe I’ll throw away that damn visor as well. Anyway, I’ll let you win eventually… I am very chivalrous, that way. Maybe we can stop at Barrista and have a coffee afterwards?

Monday, December 11, 2006

Rock Day at Bengalooro Habba

Saturday the 9th was Rock Day at Bengalooru Habba, at the Palace Grounds. The BH guys attempt at being cool and rocking…but hey…a full day of the towns best rock groups, with a great sound system and comfy seating, all for free, with cheap beer thrown in…. I would be nuts to complain.

It was supposed to start at 12 Noon. I got there sweating at 1 PM. Discovered it wouldn’t start upto 2:30 PM. The place was deserted except for the organizers. No problem. Grabbed a cool draught beer at the Royal Challenger stall (at 20 bucks it was cheaper than the coke!), barged into the VVIP section with the nice red sofas and sun shades, plonked down, put my feet up on the seat in front, sipped beer and watched the rock groups setting up the equipment and tuning-up with an indulgent smile.

The first group, Ceasar’s Palace started at around 3 PM, after fooling around with the tuning-up for hours (“a bit more guitar on my monitor please”, and all that jazz). Nice wintry sunshine, everyone in a Sunday mood, everyone slightly high on cheap beer, groups fooling around with drums and guitars and not in a hurry to start playing as only a handful of spectators had assembled by then.

Caesar’s Palace eventually got rocking, and put up an energetic show. Sorry, don’t remember their songs. Wasn’t planning on this review, and didn’t take notes. They have a strong lead guitarist, strong in more ways than one – managed to break his strings and held up the show while he went searching for another guitar. They also have a charismatic bearded lead singer. They put up a decent show but didn’t set the place on fire.

The rocking mood was firmly in place and I wrote me a small haiku:-
20 bucks beer.
Loud rock music
Sweet winter sunshine
CP were followed by Galeej Gurus. This was one group I wasn’t looking forward to. I had seen them a year ago at ITPL Mall, performing teaser shows for a Bryan Adams concert. I remembered a cheerful plump guy on lead guitar with a habit of sticking out his tongue in surprise while playing, as if to say “Oops! Wrong chord! ”. They had been pretty raw and shaky at that time. I was surprised to see they had improved enormously. Plump guy was still there, still sticking his tongue out, but playing much more effectively. A stern looking second lead had been added to the team, who really played a good strong riff. The two leads had a nice little trick whereby they would get together once in a while in a huddle and play a synchronized riff, and then break away again, physically and musically. Very nice! The drummer was much stronger than I remembered as well…either he has been practicing hard or it is a new one. They also seem to have added a very enthu lead singer who put up a good show- jumping about the place and standing on the monitor and waggling his bums at the audience. Overall, a really good show!
There was also a pretty firangi lady (French?), slim and attractive, wearing loose dungarees that kept slipping and showing a generous portion of her pert bums, with chains around the waist, who put up a nice little side show, hopping all over the place, and even managing to get on the stage, taking photographs of all the groups from all kinds of weird angles. Love to get her number. Seemed to be a real rocking babe.
GG were followed by Bangalore’s “best band” (according to the press), Thermal & a Quarter (TAAQ). Headed by the ever-impressive Bruce Lee Mani, they put up a great show, as always.
By now it was getting dusk, and the crowd was building up. TAAQ were followed by an Indian-Folk Rock group called the Rahul Dixit Project, wearing colorful lungis, bandanas et-al, with a flutist, Hawaiian guitarist, tabla player et al. Interesting music, but not quite to my taste. I was sort of expecting an intricate interplay of Indian ragas on flute and rock-jazz riffs on the guitar, something like Shakti, but it didn’t quite come-off like that. But not bad.
By now, the place was properly full, and it was dark. The languid announcer was properly drunk and kept saying all kinds of silly things. Sivamani put in an appearance. Inspected his huge setup on stage and didn’t like it. Ordered it to be turned around and brought to the edge of the stage so that people could admire him better while playing. So the organizers scurried around dismantling and reassembling the gargantuan setup. Then he held up the show doing sound checks on the setup, coyly hidden behind a screen for whatever reason. Then he went around striking poses for the armature photographers. Quite acting the star.
RDP was followed in quick succession by a bunch of Rock and Jazz-Rock groups: Amit Heri Project, Gerardo Machado Network, Yantra: all competent without being spectacular. The organizers were hurrying them on and off the stage, as the crowd was getting restive for Sivamani.
Palace ground was really full by now, but most of the new comers looked strangely out of place in a rock concert – they looked as if they had strayed in from a kanada/ tamil/ whatever Film Music Nite. I suppose they had come for Sivamani. They seemed absolutely baffled by the music.
I had been waiting, waiting, waiting since the afternoon for one band – The Ministry of Blues (MOB), in my book, the best band in Bangalore, if not in India. I had fallen in love with these guys when I attended their performance at the Rewind Centre in Koramangala, playing hard driving blues. It was almost time for Sivamani, and the crowd was getting really restive and had virtually booed out the last group. BUT…the organizers decided to give MOB a shot – just 10 minutes, precisely.
The boys strode on to the stage with their gear: Philipe Haydon (lead and vocals), Rauf (keyboard), Vinoo (bass), Kesavan (drums). No sound checks, no nothing. No “Err… s’cuse me, cud u pls increase the guitar on the left monitor a bit?” They just plugged in and WHAM!

They burned like a white hot gush of lava from the very first chord, opening with a dazzling cover of Jimi Hendrix’s Voodoo Chile, played at twice the normal pace: all the Hendrix riffs played to perfection on Haydon’s guitar, but at twice the normal speed.

The crowd was stunned into an awed silence. The show was blown apart. The last chord of Voodoo Chile slashed through the moonlit night and there was an abrupt silence. The crowd, for the first time that day, got on its feet and screamed its approval. Even the Film-Nite bunch. Without a pause, MOB launched into a Gary Moor number, followed without a break by another hard blues number. Haydon came to the edge of the stage and did all the Hendrix tricks: playing with his teeth, behind his back and between his legs. Public went wild. The last song ended abruptly in mid chord, and before the crowd could react, MOB had packed up and stalked off the stage. The crowd was bewildered. What happened? Then they got their wits back. “More!!” they screamed. The languid announcer was back on stage. Do you want more MOB or Sivamani? Crowd in a quandary. So Sivamani was announced. But MOB had already stolen the show.
Sivamani walked on to the stage in a curious garment – something like harem pants and a turban. He brought with him a troupe traditional dhoti clad temple musicians from kerala, with long dholaks played with curved sticks, a huge arcing horn, and cymbals.
This looked like it might be interesting!
It wasn’t. After the MOB, what followed was bathos: the juxtaposition of the sublime and the ridiculous. Frankly, I never “got” what Siva boss was trying to achieve. He had this huge percussion set, with every imaginable form of percussion instrument. He walked around in circles in this setup, playing what sounded to my lay ears like fairly basic rhythms – generally the sickening dhum-da-da-dhum rhythm used by wedding bands all over India – you know the one I mean. And these temple drummers faithfully copied whatever he did, tapping it out on their drums, while their horn kept wailing short irritating cries. Siva boss played this simple rhythm on every instrument – bongos, snare drums, electronic drums, tablas, kettle drums….and the temple troupe kept pace. The rock crowd was as mystified as me, but the Film-Nite crowd went wild every time the dhum-da-da-dhum was played. There is a certain, very large, section of the Indian populace, which goes into a delirium and starts jumping up and down and clapping whenever dhum-da-da-dhum is played, and the Film-Nite gang obviously belonged to it. Rockers DO NOT belong to this group.
This painful scene went on for about an hour, after which Siva boss mercifully called it a day. Was it some form of acoustic comedy? If it was, it was a pretty bad joke. I had come for this because Sivamani was supposed to be this famous percussionist whose photos come in the papers once a month, playing for the president and what not. Now I am not sure what exactly he is famous for. Anyway, it was a free show, so I laughed it off and went home after that. If I had paid money for this show, I would have been seriously annoyed.
A pop group called Bandish was supposed to follow, but I didn’t stay for it. This is apparently another of those new groups that play Hindi pop-rock, and I avoid it like the plague. That probably sounds snobbish, but I don’t care about being politically correct, esp. on my own blog. I like Kishore Kumar and Manna Dey as much as the next man, but these groups are the pits. If they insist on singing in Hindi, they should at least brush up their Hindi diction and write decent lyrics. Their anglicized Hindi and trite translated-from-English lyrics makes my stomach churn.
Anyway, MOB’s ten minutes made the whole day worthwhile. That, and the cheap beer!

Who said Bangalore is cool?

Bengalooru Habba…

Had a blast this week. An amazing super-duper fantabulous week. Bangalore is so hot it is just shades away from going to Hades. Culturally, I mean. The weather is cold and blustery and everyone’s catching the chills. I had three of them, back to back, over Nov-Dec.

Sunday 3rd Dec: The week blasted off with the Sunday Jam free rock concert by Bangalore’s brightest. It takes place on the first Sunday of every month, usually at Gurunanak Bhavan off Cunningham road. This time, it was at Chitra Kala Parishad– CKP to the cognoscenti, where the budding Bangalore artists get trained.

At the same time, there was a presentation by Kundan Shah of his latest Hindi comedy flick at Bangalore Film Society.

What is more, Bengalooro Habba (BH) also got underway, and there were Hindustani and Carnatic classic music concerts all over the place.

Like a true Libran, I couldn’t decide which one to go to until 6 PM, after which it was anyway too late…I would never have made it to either given the traffic at that time. So I sat at home feeling like an idiot. Actually, to be honest…I was still recovering from the last of the chills and couldn’t get around to moving ass.

Monday 4th Dec: BH in full swing. Flute recital by Pravin Godkhindi at Ambedkar Bhavan followed by a Hindustani vocal by Kaushiki Chakravarty. Godkhindi was nice, and tried out some fancy stuff like intermixing vocal phrases with the flute, and switching dynamically between a concert flute and a common flute, but the net effect wasn’t terribly impressive. Wish he had just stuck to playing straight music. Fellow Bong Kaushiki was amazing! Her vocal pipes are obviously of a high order, and she soon had the plaster falling off the ceiling. She has an amazing octave range, from deep bass to crystal clear high notes. She looks ridiculously young (and pretty), but she sang with the panache and pizzas of a doddering old prima donna. The only irritating thing was the smug, self-satisfied “Look…I know I am good”, expression on her face. But I guess that is a Bong failing. And when you are that good, I suppose you have earned the right to be smug.

Tuesday 5th Dec: My day off from concerts. Prepared for a presentation in my French class next day. But lots of stuff going on at BH.
Wednesday 6th Dec: Went to St. John’s Auditorium in Koramangala to see “Bunny Brunel and the Jazz All Stars”, a multi-national jazz-rock group. Took the 500 bucks seats. Was disappointed to see that it was on the balcony, not in the main hall. But didn’t feel like shelling out 1000 or 1500 bucks for the more expensive seats for a bunch of guys I had never heard of before, esp. now that I am not working. Most of the cognoscenti seemed to have the same idea, because the balcony was packed and the main floor was virtually empty. Actually, it was a pretty good move, because from the top, you could see right into Vergil Donati’s drum kit, and see what he was doing. The All-Stars consists of Bunny Brunel (French) on Bass, Mitch Forman (US) on Keyboard, Frank Gambale (Aus-Italian) on lead and Virgil Donati (Aus) on Drums of Heaven (just joking). Each of them is apparently a star in his own right, reading their impressive CV’s in the handout. They started with a bang, and these guys played mean, hard driving jazz rock. Brunel was impressive with a firm and authoritative baseline, which was the foundation for the groups sound. But the man who truly impressed was Vergil Donati.

He was billed as “the world’s best drummer”, and he lived up to it. The man was truly awe-inspiring. He looked like the god Shiva presiding over the drums, he literally "looked" as if he had six arms and legs. "Looked", not just "sounded". You could actually see 6 arms and legs. The sound was that of 3 or 4 world class drummers playing simultaneously, each a different, and complex, rhythm. The crowd was stunned into reverent silence. It sounded like a Russian artillery battery doing shelling practice after a few too many vodkas. A lot of Thrash Heavy Metal drummers practice the rat-a-tat-tat rolling thunder effect on the bass drums. Well, Vergil baby sounded like three different simultaneous rolling thunders. And not just the monotonous rolls of the average thrash drummer either, there were three complex syncopated rhythms going on at the same time. That was just with his feet. His arms were meanwhile doing amazing things with the high hats and cymbals.

On some of the “slower” pieces, which were still a good sight faster than the fastest pieces of most other jazz groups, Virgil filled in time by juggling with his drum sticks, playing across, and other antics, all the while playing at a speed that would have left other drummers exhausted.

Truly a mind-boggling, awe-inspiring performance. It is probably the only concert I have seen in recent times, that truly deserves that adjective - “awesome”, which is the only adjective that kids nowadays seem to know.

Thursday 7th Dec: Back to BH Hindustani classical recitals at Ambedkar Bhavan. A lovely sitar-cello recital by a Mallu-Dutch husband wife duo, Shubhendra and Saskia Rao. The lady was trained in western classical music on the cello, and having fallen in love with all things Indian, switched to Hindustani classical. I believe she is the only Hindustani classical musician who uses the cello. It was a revelation hearing her...the ragas sounded so grand and majestic on the cello. It was counter-pointed by playful flurries of notes on her husband’s sitar. They looked really cute playing together. I liked the way she sat back and smiled smugly at her husband, every time she played a particularly impressive phrase. And each time he gave her a quick smile and she got back to playing looking like a pampered child. All very sweet and homely.

It was followed by a wonderful Dhrupad recital Gundecha Brothers. They had an unusually long and impressive aalap, which was remarked on in the press, so I won’t repeat it. But what stuck in my mind were their brilliant, electric yellow sherwani’s and the saintly expression on their faces (I wonder what was going on in their heads, in reality?). Along with the two pretty young things wearing bright red and white salwar kameez playing the tanpura at the back, it created a visual treat as well. The one on the left was especially pretty. I wonder if anyone has her number?

Friday 8th Dec: A German jazz group, the Wolfgang Haffner group, sponsored by Max Muellar Bhavan, playing at the Chowdiah memorial hall. Went crazy trying to access the hall. It is easily visible from the dramatic curving road along Sankay lake, but boy, it doesn’t seem to have any roads leading to it. Got there eventually, late, but they were late starting as well, so no loss. They played some nice neat jazz. Nothing spectacular, but nice and melodic, with lots of electronic effects. Germans seem to go in for that a lot…remember Kraftwerk?

Saturday 9th Dec: But...the week was topped off by Rock-day at Bangalooru habba. This deserves a whole another posting, so no more here.

And it doesn’t end here…next week, The Shakti concert featuring Zakir Hussain and John Mc Laughlin, and DEEP PURPLE on Sunday!!!

Is Bengalooru hot, or what?

Being Funny in French -5

The last lot of funny french dialogs for my 1B exam. The Viva is tomorrow. Hope it works out well!

Dialogue 1 – Agence de voyage

- Bonjour monsieur. Est-ce que je peux vous aider ?
- Bonjour ! Je recherche une destination passionnante pour mes vacances
- Quels sont vos loisirs préférés, monsieur ?
- Je n’ai jamais vu une course de taureaux. J’aimerais la voir une fois dans ma vie.
- Mais bien sûr, monsieur ! Je peux vous offrir notre voyage-olé : une semaine en Espagne avec les billets pour la corrida.
- Ça a l’air intéressant ! Ça coûte combien?
- 500 Euro tout compris. C’est un prix spécial !
- 500 Euro ! C’est trop cher pour moi!
- Combien est votre budget, monsieur ?
- 10 Euro.
- 10 Euro ! Vous pouvez aller gratuitement, peut-être ?
- Oui ! Bien sûr ! C’est possible ?
- Naturellement ! Mais, vous devriez loger dans une remise de bétail.
- Ça m’est égal.
- Et il faudrait aller par un camion de bétail.
- Ça m’est égal. Mais, est-ce que je verrais la corrida de près ?
- Bien sur ! De tout, tout près !
- Et est-ce qu’il y aura d’autres activités ?
- Oui, vous pourrez jouer avec le torero. Il vous chatouillera par une épée et vous devriez courir.
- C’est incroyable !
- Vous aimez notre offre ?
- Mais oui ! Comment c’est possible ?
- Naturellement, nous vous enverrions en tant que un taureau !
Dialogue 3 – Vacances avec des amis

- Allô Martin ? C’est Ramoo ici !
- Quel Ramoo ?
- Ramoo, ton ami en Inde, Naturellement ! Combien de Ramoos connais-tu ?
- Oh non ! Mon Dieu, pas lui encore !
- Ecoute ! Je vais venir en France pour mes vacances en mai.
- Mais pourquoi ? Tu devrais travailler plus.
- Naturellement, je logerai chez toi.
- Ça Alors !
- Dis-moi, qu’est-ce que nous ferions en mai ?
- Le nouveau sport en France, c’est ‘Le Suicide’. Nous ferions le suicide.
- Ça a l’air intéressant !
- Oui, c’est très intéressant.
- Qu’est-ce que je dois faire avant mon départ ?
- Tu dois t’entrainer bien, pour te suicider.
- Comment on le fait ?
- Il faut trouver un puits.
- Un puits….bon…
- Un puits très profond. Très, très profond….
- Bon, je le trouverai. Et puis ?
- Et puis, il faut sauter dans le puits.
- Bon, je sauterai dans le puits. Et puis ?
- Quoi puis ? C’est tout.
- Bon ! C’est très facile ! Je le ferai.
- Très bien ! Alors, en mai ! Au revoir !
- Merci ! Au revoir !

Dialogue 7 – Réserver une place pour le spectacle

- Spectacle spectaculaire, j’écoute.
- Bonjour monsieur, je voudrais réserver une place pour la danse des fées.
- Excuse-moi monsieur, mais, est-ce que vous êtes une fée ?
- Pourquoi ?
- Ce spectacle est seulement pour les fées.
- Je ne suis pas une fée, mais je suis un apprenti fée.
- Bien ! Vous voudriez réserver combien des places ?
- Seulement une. Je suis une fée seule.
- Et où voudriez vous vous asseoir ? Il y a des places de roses, des places de pissenlits, et des places de lis.
- La place la moins chère, s’il vous plait.
- C’est la place de pissenlit. Et quand ?
- À la pleine lune prochaine.
- Bon ! Je vous ai réservé une place de pissenlit à la danse de fées à la pleine lune prochaine.
- Où est-ce que je trouverais le billet?
- Vous trouveriez le billet à la sortie de la forêt noire. Vous pourriez l’acheter par la carte de crédit.
- Merci. Au revoir.
- Au revoir.