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The singing sensation, The ultimate bathroom singing list & The band…

The singing sensation…

Sometime in the very hectic last two weeks, I did something I haven’t done for ages…sing out aloud!

Music is a big part of my life, like it is for any normal person and for a brief phase of my life, singing away to glory was a potential career option. I sang at every opportunity in school, trained myself in music and did all that jazz (pun intended!). That was before the damned disease that plagues teenage boys struck and my voice cracked and crashed my life. After that phase I could never cross a certain high-pitched note to my satisfaction. And yes, I am self-critical and obsessive, and like to do something in an excellent way or not do it at all.

For completely different reasons, that was when my dream of being a cricketer was also done and dusted with, so I had to figure out what to do in life 🙂

Thankfully, I did okay in my career so livelihood was taken care of. But I have never sung with others around after that. I mean, if I am with a few good friends who can tolerate me, I do break into a song, but it is otherwise restricted to the bathroom (looking at the mirror proudly after that!), or with my headphone on when am alone at home. And yeah there are times when I can’t hit a high note (like when I want to sing Hey Ajnabi from Dil Se, for example), and I curse myself for that.

But this time around, my friend Silja and her sister were keen on doing Karaoke with some funky system they have at home. She has this pretty cool contraption, which plays the lyrics as you sing along so you don’t make a fool of yourself with the words. And that is very important for me, because I have always had an ear for notes and tones, but not lyrics.

Filtering through the few English songs she had that I knew, I realized how out of sync I am with most artists, songs, and bands. And so I kept saying “Next song please”, for every song I could have done a karaoke for, till they got impatient.

I finally saw the words PINK FLOYD and I sprung to life. Bloody hell, I could sing most Floyd songs that have some vocals in them! (Or so I thought!)

And so for the next few hours I broke into a wonderful musical journey till it was so late, that the peace loving swiss neighbors would have called the police! I can tell you I haven’t had so much fun in ages, and at some stage it didn’t matter if I mixed the words, even with a neat display on the screen. We all had a huge laugh riot about it….

I’ll leave you with a bunch of songs in Hindi, Thamizh, and English, that have come out in the recent years, which I find most suitable for humming along. This is not my favorite songs per se, just songs on my mind from recent memory.There is something about them that is haunting and makes me sing along, and you would enjoy it even if you can’t understand the language…music is without any barriers!

My ultimate bathroom singing list:

1. Tum ho toh, Rock on:

2. Pehli baar mohabat ki hai, Kaminey:

3. Aaogi jab tum saajna, Jab we met:

4. Kangal Irandal, Subramaniapuram:

5.  Strawberry swing, Coldplay:  

6. Fix you, Coldplay:

7. City of blinding lights, U2:

The band…

A bunch of my expat friends have decided to start a band. I was hanging out with Mark, James and Daniela (James’s wife) at Cargo Bar (where else?) the other day. James said he wants to start a band, but he knows s**t about music. Mark nodded in agreement and then they decided they have enough in common to start a band. (Actually those gentlemen know a bloody lot; James has the most mind-blowing music collection I have ever seen in anybody’s house, and Mark can name more than half the tracks. I was the only one who was speaking the truth when I said, I know s**t about music).

Daniela was immediately appointed the manager of the band, and I felt so out-of-place as I had no role in the band. As the evening wore on, and the basic rules of the band were laid out, I decided I have to have a role in the band. No, it is not that of lead singer, and I am very thankful I avoided that temptation.

I am going to be the official recorder of the band’s story. After 20 years when they become famous I am going to make a hell of money publishing my diaries. And after 30 years when they split up, I am going to write about why they split up and make even more. As an excellent blogger/  writer (!), and an eye-witness to the historic night by the Rhine when the band was formed, I have earned my job.

I’ll keep you guys updated on how the band progresses, starting with when we decide to have a name 🙂

Cheers!

Vasu

P.S: If you liked this post, you may also reading: https://vasusworld.wordpress.com/2009/11/15/friends-jazz-rain-bombay/

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Friends, Jazz, Rain & Bombay

Well the title sums up the weekend that was.

It was one of the better weekends in the charming little town of Basel, Switzerland, where I have been living last six months. I have a lot of socializing opportunities with expat groups, travel groups, tennis club friends, and friends from work. I feel so much at ease with my circle of friends in Basel, that I can call it my third home after Chennai (where I was born and partly grew up), and Bangalore (where I spent most of my adult life).

 It started with my Brit friend (Cumbrian lass as she calls herself) H’s birthday party on Friday evening. Now H was a wonderful host and I have no words to describe how well organized and fun the event at her place was. To top it all, there were 3 men and some 10 women, and you can’t ask for more luck in life  I was amazed at how well maintained her place was (mine is a perennial mess in spite of being half the size of her place), how well planned she was with the music, drinks and snacks. Now if ever I have to throw a house party in Basle, this would pretty much be my benchmark.

There were a lot of common friends from previous events and I also bumped into a lot of new friends. There were a lot of interesting conversations before we all started dancing, and in particular I remember touching upon a rough comparison of how friendly or not the Swiss, French, German, and English are. Since I was with people mostly from UK or its former colonies, it was no surprise as to who were considered the coolest lot. But my take was simple, utopian and idealistic: every person is about as friendly as you are irrespective of race, religion, color, age, or sex! To me, everyone is as cool or uncool as every other one, and the only thing that matters is how friendly and open you are. As you guessed nobody took me seriously, but being disagreed with and / or saying something not popularly accepted, has never stopped me from calling it as I saw it!

Later that night we headed to Noohn, one of the chic lounge bars in town. Now this is another interesting thing about Basel – there are about 4-5 hot spots a few streets apart in town, where most people are headed to on the weekends. The chances of meeting a familiar face are phenomenally high, and I have taken to this small town culture like a fish takes to water. The ladies stayed on till fairly late in the night and I left early. I can’t stand smoke for too long and I am not too much a late night party person in any case. I had such great fun overall that I didn’t bother eating much…now that’s a rarity for a big foodie like me 🙂

Saturday was mostly a damp squib with the overcast weather and my laziness. The only good thing I did was to make up my mind to review, refine, and publish a lot of un published blogs lying as silent documents on my laptop. I had all the time and inclination in the world to do just that Me and my Indian friend V was yearning for a men’s night out in Basel, and my reputation as being clued onto every exciting event or place in Basel was at stake. We headed out first to the formal and relatively sophisticated “Birds eye jazz club”. Now the most interesting thing about this club to me is that on my very first day in Basel, after a long flight from India, I headed there and had my first conversation in Switzerland with a cute girl out there. And she was there yesterday as well. That’s how Déjà vu should be:)

We listened to a pretty good “Bakustic jazz” show from a band that looked and sounded pretty much Middle Eastern. We had a 12 CHF entry free and while we felt that there was a value for money, there was some spark, or excitement that was missing. That being the case we headed to a very ghettoish Cargo Bar, right by the bank of the Rhine River, and every bit as the name sounds! There we hear the most awesome jazz band in ages play and they all looked like university students. I wish I can get their name and get a CD of them, they were simply mind blowing. My mind was wavering to how the music scene in India is. I think we have a really strong classical, and film music tradition. But up until the last decade or so, I really did not find our youth bands come up with anything spectacular. I guess it’s fairly harsh to say, and my knowledge is limited, but I did feel that we were not creative and original enough. Whilst on this topics, I’ve got to say that a couple of my Indian friends in good old Bangalore are budding musicians who have their successful bands. Ananth Menon is part of Bangalore’s top notch band “Galeej Gurus”, and Aditya Vikram Mukherjee is the lead singer with “Today’s special” and Cheese. If any of you reading this happen to be in Bangalore, don’t miss my friends’ shows. That’s pretty much as good as it gets back home! You could hear a sampling of Aditya singing here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_IpXnJac7m4

Sunday morning was as lazy as Saturday, and in the evening my American friend S reminded me of our plan to watch a film. This is part of a series of Inter cultural films playing in a small theater in Basel, with an intro and discussion session. Today, it was the Indian film “Bombay”, in my native Tamil language with German sub titles. I made it a point to go and check out how people perceive a film that pretty much symbolizes where I am from. I realized pretty late than S is just learning German, and it was so sweet of her to agree to watch the film in any case, with my translation every time there was a song (that’s why Indian films are so uniquely useful!)

Bombay was a pretty good choice too, as most western audiences equate Indian films to the meaningless SRK – Karan Johar movies. Well they too are Indian films, but they are not the only Indian films. That’s a huge topic in itself, and may be you could start by reading my responses to an article in Hindustan Times.  Check “Reflecting countries and cultures and crossing cultures in movies” at: http://blogs.hindustantimes.com/expat-on-the-edge/2009/11/04/reflecting-countries-and-cultures-and-crossing-cultures-in-movies/

While, not one my favorite films, it’s a good film with a universal message, and it was interesting to hear S, who had little trouble understanding the movie say how the visuals were so brilliant, and helped her follow the key messages. I wouldn’t expect anything less from Mani Ratnam, a master craftsman, and one of India’s finest directors. A. R Rahman’s music was also thoroughly lapped up by the audience, and it’s a pity that Slumdog Millionaire, and that irritating Jai Ho song won him an Oscar, when you consider that a phase of his career which included Roja, Bombay, Dil Se, was one of his finest ever, and hardly got noticed outside India.

 We had a fascinating conversation over Italian Pizza and German beer (now that’s a combination made in heaven) about religious identities, secularism, our lack of understanding of different religions and yada yada.

In the course of an eventful weekend, I lost my umbrella and cap at different places, and should have been pissed with my terrible absent mindedness. But sometimes when things are going well, when you’ve had a nice time, and when life is as exciting as it can be, you could just ignore the rain & cold conditions, forget who and where you are, and just run hard with the rain on your face and a huge grin over nothing in particular. That’s what I just did…

Cheers!

Vasu

P.S: If you liked this post, youmay also enjoy reading: https://vasusworld.wordpress.com/2010/04/23/the-singing-sensation-the-ultimate-bathroom-singing-list-the-band/

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