Monday, August 28, 2006

Blackout Blues or Bliss?

‘I SOOO miss load-shedding, you know!!’ Yup! Of all the absurd things that one can imagine someone to say, that little statement would definitely top MY list. Or at least, it did until I gave it some serious thought. That comment was made by a friend of mine, Rohena, doing her undergrad in the U.S.

At first I found her comment absurd. I mean how can one miss load-shedding?!! It’s SUCH a pain!!!

I mean picture this…You’re watching an awesome movie or a TV show, and they’re just at the precipice of the climatic scene….or you’re working on a report or case study which is due early next morning…like say 8:00 a.m. (yea, the faculty is just like Meryl Streep’s character from the movie ‘The Devil Wears Prada’)….right around that time everything shuts down….bam! The only comment that can encompass ALL your frustrations, irritation and general bad malaise at that exact moment is ‘Arrrrrrggghhhhhh!!!!’

But then while brainstorming about a copy for an ad with my colleagues, it just suddenly came to me…the thought that there ARE certain great things that go with load-shedding.

Since nearly all the modern entrapments of our life generally become obsolete during a blackout, suddenly everyone in the apartment or house veer towards a single room…usually the living space or the biggest veranda around…and by the flickering candlelight or, if your charge light’s still working then by its white light, you have an impromptu get-together… ‘ was your day?’ or ‘Hey! Wanna have a game of Ludo or Life or Scrabble?’ You share jokes and viewpoints, laugh at new and happening things. In short, you family gels…for a brief moment in time. And somehow because everything around you is silent…no hum of the AC or fan or anything…every other sound of nature…the cree-cree of the crickets, the rustle of the tree leaves in the breeze, the distant sound of a rickshaw bell…is beautifully enhanced.

I guess when it comes down to the crux of the matter…everything in life…has a positive side. My father recently jumped the ‘IPS’ bandwagon…and so even when we do have blackouts there’s still electricity…so we remain in our respective rooms, behind closed doors…literally as well as figuratively.

So the next time there’s a blackout…take the time out…think about all those people like Rohena who no longer faces load-shedding but misses its quirks. Do without the IPS’s so-called favor. And have your own impromptu family gathering for a brief moment in time.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Musings about Bangla Music

“There’s a lot more to music than notes on a page….playing music is suppose to be fun! It’s about heart! It’s about feelings and moving people and something beautiful in being alive! It’s NOT about notes on a page!”

- Richard Dreyfuss, as the character Glen Holland in “Mr. Holland’s Opus”

I grew up in a household where music was a daily part of life. As a kid, I remember rummaging through the numerous tapes in “the drawer” – yes, there was this single drawer on the bedside table in my parents’ bedroom where they used to keep their much cherished music collection. The rock and pop renditions of ABBA, BonyM, Harry Belafonte, Nat ‘King’ Cole and Cliff Richard. Debobrata and Chinmoy’s renditions of Rabindra Shangeet. The ghazals of the Jagjit and Chitra Singh duo and Pankaj Udhas. The adhunik songs of Hemanta, Lata, Shamol, Manna Dey, Asha, Bhupen Hajarika and Srabonti Majumdar. And of course, from our own soil, the works of Ferdous Wahid, Azam Khan, Fakir Alamgir and Pilu Momtaz.

The furniture may have changed through the years and the bedside table with it’s designated drawer might look quite different now but those tapes belonging to my parents are still there – my mother, being the better music aficionado of the two, have carefully kept them in as good a condition as possible so that when the mood strikes, one can still listen to Azam Khan belting out “Ischool Khuila Chere Mowla” or “Orey Saleka, Orey Maleka”.

Also, hats off to my parents for enrolling me in ‘Abbasuddin Shangeet Academy’, a music school run by Ferdousi Rahman (or Ferdousi Khalamoni as affectionately called by her students), Abbasuddin’s daughter and an eminent singer by her own right. There I was taught by her and other veterans like Abdul Latif, to fall in love with, among others, bhawaiya, bhatiali, jaari, shaari, Lalon geeti and Hason Raaja’s songs. Though I never did get to complete the requisite four years, the couple of years that I did spent acquanting myself with those songs are beyond measure.

And I remember how when a bunch of us cousins or friends would get together, there would be a harmonium in the house or somebody would have an acoustic guitar, and we’d dance or sing along to the beat of someone doing a cover of the awesome rock and pop songs of the 80s and 90s era - Runa Laila’s “Shilpi Ami” or “Bondhu Tin Din”, Sabina Yasmin’s “Ei Mon Tomake Dilam”, Ferdous Wahid’s “Biral’er Chana”, or “Amon Akta Ma Dena”, Feedback’s “Melai Jai Re”, Souls’ “Mon Shudhu Mon Chueyeche”, Miles’ “Dhiki Dhiki Agun Joley”, Khaled’s (Chime) “Shorolotar Protima”, Dolchut’s “Pori” or “Gari Chole Na”, James’ “Ma”…the list is endless!

Through all the years of my eclectic experience of music, I have learnt one irrefutable fact – the most prestigious asset of the Bangalees is their culture and the brightest element of Bangla’s cultural heritage is its songs. One cannot deny that Bangla music forms an integral part of any Bangla cultural festival and that on any given day, when you are struck with a desire to indulge in nostalgic feelings, the best way to spark that particular mood is to listen to your favorite Bangla song be it a time-immemorial Rabindra Shangeet or a classic adhunik gaan.

It’s no wonder that BBC Bangla recently had listeners nominate their top five choices for the all time best Bangla songs to create a top 20 list (see below). The local HSBC bank also decided to pay homage to Bangla music through compiling some of the most memorable Bangla songs composed over 100 years, from 1905 till 2005. They recently arranged a four-hour gala performance with the participation of some of the most prominent vocalists of the country. Starting with our national anthem “Amar Shonar Bangla Ami”, renowned songs like “Aji Bangladesher Hridoi Hote”, “Karar Oi Louho Kopat”, “Shedin Dujone Dule Chinu Bone”, “Oki Garial Bhai”, “Ranar Chuteche Ranar”, “Ore Neel Doria”, “Kobita Porara Prohor Esheche”, and many more, were presented to an enthralled audience. At the insistence of the invited guests and performers, HSBC later came out with nearly 5,000 audio CDs of the live performance, as gifts for their patrons and associates.

Needless to say, such efforts were received with great appreciation by the veteran members of the music industry; maybe due to the fact that so much attention is now being given to today’s generation’s need for fusion renditions, they were starting to feel a bit left out.

I am of a similar opinion.

Though fusion is a great step being taken by artists and bands like Dolchut, Habib, Bangla, and Fuad (of Maya 1, Maya 2, Re-Evolution and Variation No. 25 fame) to revive the interest of the youth in Bangla music, it is also important to ensure that complementary steps are taken to keep the original nuances and styles of these songs alive. Otherwise the historical impact of a language and culture that on the global front, are now the envy of many, will slowly fade from our hearts and memories.

As so beautifully put by Mr. Holland, we have to ensure that Bangla music holds on to its own special ingredient of ‘feelings and moving people and something beautiful in being alive’ for many years to come.

BBC Bangla “Shorbo Kaaler Shorbo Sreshtho Bangla Gaan”

1. Amar Shonar Bangla (Author: Rabindra Nath Thakur)

2. Manush Manush’er Jonney (Original Author/Composer/Singer: Bhupen Hazarika, Translated to Bengali by: Shibdash Benarjee)

3. Amar Bhai’er Roktey Rangano Ekushey February (Singer: Abdul Gaffar Chowdhuri, Composer: Altaf Mahmud)

4. Coffee House’er Shei Adda Ta Aaj Aar Nei (Singer: Manna De, Author: Gouriproshonno Mazumdar, Composer: Shupornokanti Ghosh)

5. Ek Shagor Rokte’er Binimoye Banglar Shadhinota Anlo Jara (Composer: Apel Mahmud, Author: Gobindo Haldar)

6. Ami Banglai Gaan Gai (Lyricist & Composer: Protul Mukharjee, Author: Mahmuduzzaman Babu)

7. Mora Ekti Phulkey Bachabo Boley Judhho Kori (Author: Gobindo Haldar, Composer & Singer: Apel Mahmud)

8. Tumi Aaj Koto Durey (Singer: Jogonmoi Mitro, Author: Pranab Roy, Composer: Shubol Dash Gupta)

9. Ek Nodi Rokto Periye (Author & Composer: Khan Ataur Rahman, Composer: Shahnaz Rahmatulla)

10. Dhono Dhanno Pushpey Bhora (Author & Composer: Dijendhrolal Roy)

11. Muchey Jawa Din Gulo Amai Je Pichu Daakey (Singer & Composer: Hemanta Mukharjee, Author: Gouriproshonno Mazumdar)

12. Salam Salam Hajar Salam (Singer: Mohammad Abdul Zabbar, Author: Fazle Huda)

13. Joy Bangla, Banglar Joy (Author: Mazharul Anwar, Composer: Anwar Parvez)

14. Khachar Bhitor Ochin Pakhi (Author: Lalon Shah, Singer: Farida Parvin)

15. Akbar Jetey Dey Na Amar Chotto Shonar Gaaye (Singer: Shahnaz Rahmatullah, Author: Mazharul Anwar, Composer: Anwar Parvez)

16. Karar Oi Louho Kopat (Author: Kazi Najrul Islam)

17. Ei Padma Ei Meghna (Singer: Farida Parvin, Author & Composer: Abu Zafar)

18. Chol Chol Chol, Urdhogogone Baajey Madol (Author: Kazi Najrul Islam)

19. Ak Tara Tui Desh’er Kotha Bol (Singer: Shahnaz Rahmatullah, Author: Gazi Mazharul Anwar, Composer: Anwar Parvez)

20. Tumi Ki Dekhecho Kobhu Jiboner Porajoy (Singer: Mohammad Abdul Zabbar)


movie quote of the day

from the movie 'fools rush in' starring matthew perry n salma hayek...i LOVE this flick

there's a scene where alex (matthew's character) goes:

"What is dating anyway?! Except some long drawn out process of elimination where you both try to present your best side, while hiding the real you. And that can only last about 3 months anyway, because eventually it leaks out, and then you have to spend the next 3 months getting to know your real selves. Then one of you wants a commitment, the other one wants to bail, and then you have to start all over again. I mean, dating... dating stupid."

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Monsoon Memoirs

I laugh with raindrops,
Drunk with the fun of them…
And hold in my two hands
One hundred and one of them…

I read those four lines somewhere once – and my immediate thought was how appropriately it expressed the joy one feels when getting wet in the rain, on any given day, during the monsoon season.

If someone denies the innate earning to feel the touch of rain drops drum an addictive beat down on one’s person, I’d say that he or she were lying through their teeth. No matter the age, this desire will never, ever fade – it’s part of our childhood, our culture – in short, it’s in our blood.

Monsoon season is weaved with memories that repeat themselves every year like an ongoing love affair. The green garb of Mother Nature somehow seems more lush, the sky is always overcast as if the heavens above will open up any minute and a curtain of rain will come down, washing away all the stains and coaxing forth all things pure and cleansed. It’s as if the earth is re-born each time. There is the rather tense, caught-in-a-moment, oppressive mood right before it starts to rain and once it stops, a blissful feeling of peace permeates the air along with the unforgettable smell of the damp earth. And of course we get the refreshing cool, cool breeze – I even have a friend who opened an email account ‘xirxire’, a connotation of the phrase jhirjhire batash, because she loves it so much!

Here in the city, we see tokais jumping with unconcealed joy in the rain. We see the romantic picture of a couple huddling under an umbrella. We see families and friends enjoying a hot cup of tea with daal puri or jhaal muri or a lunch of dola-khichuri with bhuna-goshto and aachar. We see little kids playing hari-patil or making paper boats to float down a make-shift rain stream or puddle, dragging their elders into the fun, who are only too happy to join in. And can one forget cruising by inside a car and drawing childish nonsense on the fogged up windows? I STILL do that.

Farmers in the rural areas look up to the sky and shed tears of relief and joy in cadence with Mother Nature shedding the first onslaught of monsoon rains…filling rivers, canals and streams to the brim that help water parched lands and yield bumper harvests.

Monsoon memoirs thus entail romance, happiness, hope, good fortune and new beginnings. So it’s time to get drenched in all that is monsoon – time to get drunk with the fun of them.