Thoughts of a troubled soul.

November 2007.

Why do good things in life come with strings attached? Why can’t they be just unadulterated? Can the lunch be actually free sometimes? Why do we almost always have to read the fine print in between the lines (and the clich├ęd 'conditions apply' with the asterix before it). Why does life throw installments at us in carefully calibrated measurements with the unfailing precision of a great mathematician? Why doesn’t the earth stand still for sometime so that we can complete that rain dance with our beloved in our dream before the alarm rings? Or for that matter, why doesn’t it miss a spin so that the long awaited warm embrace of two people in love happens sooner? Why do we see the water in the desert and yet it vanishes into thin air as we approach? Why can't we choose the color of the rainbow we want to slide down from? Why can't the Almighty for once forget his laws and just roll the dice !!!.

The rockstar who sweeped the streets.

October 2007.

I grew up with the usual lessons that most parents give their kids in the hope of making them rock stars at work -

Do ur work properly and the attention will follow.
There r 2 kinds of people, those who quietly do the job and those who look for attention. Try to be in the first category. There is less competition there.
Do the job with the right motive etc, etc.

These are the few statements that i can remember along with the occassional "thats what Krishna said to Arjuna in the Gita - karma without expectation right!" stuff which incidentally had little or no effect on me. Now before u get me wrong, what i mean is that it was perfectly okay if i din get any attention for a job well done (as that hardly happened anyway !!!) its jus that i was too lazy to stick my neck out and go the extra mile to get that attention. As long as it was just about up to the task, i was happy. Not that anything has changed. But believe me that is what actually makes us rock stars at work.

The extra hour that we put when all have left just to ensure that the report stands out. The fifteen minutes early that we get up to ensure that we don eat agenda time in a meeting to set up the projector. The little faster that the Australians run to steal 3 where there wud have been only two otherwise (Ricky Ponting once said that they play to win while others play not to lose and that is why they rule Cricket). It’s always that extra hour, that little more, that last stretch, the last dive that often makes the difference.

But alas, I believed that attention for a job well done was the domain of the rich and the famous. After all I grew up hearing my peers say "dad arrives late but he gets promoted late too. doesn’t his boss notice !!!". I myself thought why somebody can’t write a book bout mom who juggled work and home seamlessly - doesn't anybody notice for God's sake!!! Until someone changed that belief.
If u come to the area where i live in Bhubaneswar (its the coolest place on earth lemme tell u) in the evening, u'll notice that the din of the day has left its mark. Dried leaves scattered around. Cow dung and the occasional excreta of local stray dogs (don ever mess with them - they are as good as lions with strangers and i love them for that). Cauliflower leaves (the local marketplace is nearby so it’s quite a busy area). Chips packets (empty though!!) scattered by children who play in the evening. It’s all there. But surprisingly, it’s all gone the next morning. The lanes are spotless clean. The cow dung is no more there and so is the other bric-brac. I was always intrigued by this. Who after all did the magic!! Out of sheer curiosity I decided to check out.

So one Saturday, after getting up, the first thing I did was go out to the lane. And there i got my answer. A frail old man around in his mid fifties was sweeping the lane with a broom with a long handle (the ones that enable you to stand and sweep). He was wearing a khaki trouser and shirt and a sleeveless jacket with 'BMC' written in bold meaning ‘Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation’. The interesting thing was that a short fat lady that was his wife (that’s what i supposed initially and later it turned true) was sweeping the nearby lane. Instinctively i gave him a call saying 'o mousa' which is generally how we address old people in this part of the world. He smiled as i approached him. As i struck a conversation with him, his wife approached us out of curiosity or maybe presuming something was wrong. It was fine i assured her. They told me that both worked for the BMC and had 3 daughters all of whom were married. The couple had fulfilled most of their responsibilities and were leading a quiet peaceful life and i did see a feeble glint of contentment in their eyes. The only complain was from the lady who was totally frustrated with the old mans drinking. She told me he had a bottle of 'jinjara' (a country liquor costing bout 12 rupees a bottle usually consumed by poor people). Probably that explained the man’s frail constitution compared to his fat wife i thought. The wife went back to her lane and I retreated too but not before noticing how methodical and meticulous the old man was bout his work. It was as if there was art in sweeping streets. Slowly the dirt vanished and so did he. I never met him later except for once or twice maybe where we just smiled at each other. But his work never escaped my eyes.

Then suddenly things started changing. The lanes were no longer as clean as they used to be. I ignored thinking age was finally catching up with the old man so he can be excused. But one day when i stamped on cow dung at night, I reckoned it was time the old man needed a spanking. So again on a Saturday I stepped out, but the old man wasn’t there. I did see his wife though in the adjoining lane. From her i came to know that the old man was no more. The drinking had finally got him. There was this young chap who had been assigned to my lane but evidently he wasn’t as good. The lady went back to her work and I strolled back pensively.

Martin Luther King had once said - "If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, like Shakespeare wrote poetry, like Beethoven composed music; sweep streets so well that all the host of Heaven and Earth will have to pause and say, ‘Here lived a great sweeper, who did his job well'". Well for once, I decided to agree.

The best unknown movies.

Aug 2007.

There are two passions in my life. Literature and movies. While i've given up on the former, the latter still holds its sway on me. So in this post i'll list some of my favorite movies. But there is a difference. I won’t be writing bout movies which we all know and love. Deewar, Anand, Godfather... u get the drift. Famous stuff which are bound to be favorites. But rather i'll kinda restrict it to movies which may not have created a rage but are really beautiful. U probably may not have even heard of some, but if u can, do see them. Believe me u wont regret. And if u've seen and liked any of these, drop in a line. Here it goes:

Bagh Bahadur - 1989: Directed by Buddhadev Dasgupta, this movie won the National award for the best movie in 1990. The lead character was played by Pawan Malhotra (a power actor in the same league as Raghubir Yadav, Ashish Vidyarthi types). It tells the story of Ghunuram who makes a living by playing a tiger in the annual village fair and nurses the dream of getting the local village beauty after earning enough money. But his life is torn apart by an outsider who gets a real tiger in the village to display and in the process manages to impress the villagers and the damsel of Ghunuram. In frustration and as a last ditch effort to salvage his pride, Ghunuram decides to take on the tiger in front of the whole village. One of the best i've seen.

Target - 1985: Originally written by Satyajit Ray and directed by his son Sandip, this tells the story of Rambharosa (Om Puri) who plays a servant to a zamindar (Mohan Agashe - bikta hai sona mitti ke mol - Trimurti alongwith SRK). Rambharosa never misses a target on hunting trips with the zamindar. One day the zamindar chances upon the voluptuous wife of Rambharosa and molests her. When Rambharosa protests, the zamindar slices of his shooting hand. Rambharosa starts practising shooting with one hand and when the time comes makes the zamindar his target. It’s a pity that a person of Om Puri's caliber has to play a regular cop in movies like Don which don do any justice to his abilities just coz he has a family to feed.

Aur ek prem kahani - 1996: A Hindi movie which starred the top south indian actors of that time - Heera Rajgopal, Ramesh Arvind and Revathy(Amitabh's wife in Nishabd). Although this movie had a slightly adult theme, I remember watching it as teenager and even managing to comprehend and appreciate it in spite of a very complex emotional theme. Heera is a doctor and also a budding singer with a promising career who lives in erstwhile Madras (now Chennai) along with her parents, a tenant (Ramesh) and her servant (Revathy). In due course of time Heera and Ramesh fall in love and decide to marry once Heera returns from a singing assignment. While Heera is out of station, Ramesh, in a moment of weakness has a one night stand with Revathy. Revathy presumes that it was an act of love but feels really used (thinking just becoz she is a servant) and begins to cry when Ramesh insists her to take contraceptive pills (it's after watching this scene that you'll realize why this movie won her the National award for best actress that year). When Heera returns, she finds both Revathy and Ramesh missing. Years later all three meet but with a beautiful twist in the tale which is best left to you guys to watch. I can say that this is one of the best movies I have ever seen. This is a brilliant depiction of human emotions, weaknesses, loyalty, pain compromise etc. I would say that true to its name, I have never seen a better love story or read one like this. I guess I need not say more.

Aadmi aur aurat - 1984: The second movie produced by Doordarshan after the critically acclaimed Sadgati (another great movie as per mom which was made in 1981 and Directed by the great Satyajit Ray which won him a National award. Try out this too and if possible, save a copy for me as I have yet to see this). This entire movie has just 2 characters who call each other aadmi (Amol Palekar) and Aurat (don’t know who). It so happens that aurat is a pregnant lady who suddenly starts getting labor pains while she is crossing over to the next village or something and in a totally desolate area with not a soul in sight except for aadmi who eventually comes to her rescue and takes her all the way to the distant clinic in a long journey without taking any advantage of her desperation. While the story in itself is quite simple, the notable thing is how aadmi keeps the aurat awake throughout the journey by encouraging her to take all the pain keeping in view the prize ahead. Almost 90% of the movie is bout this journey through this desolate land. After seeing this I really appreciated both Amol and the lady for brilliant acting. A must watch. I just wonder what has happened to Doordarshan !!!

Saudagar - 1973: A movie with an Urdu look and feel but written and directed by Bengalis (there was a time when they ruled Bollywood), this was one of Amitabh Bachchan's best movies and incidentally, made before Zanjeer catapulted him to superstardom in the same year. I reckon the budget of this movie wouldn’t have exceeded even 1 lac in those times. This tells the story of a Mohammedan named Moti (Amitabh) who climbs palm trees to extract the juice and sells jaggery made out of it by his new wife (Nutan) who puts her heart and soul into the job to make Moti succeed. But that is all he has married Nutan for. To make a pile of money on her effort and then marry the local village beauty thus deserting Nutan once he has made enough money to pay the new girl’s (Padma Khanna) father. In due course Nutan remarries. Moti 's new wife turns out to be a good for nothing and ruins Moti 's business. When in poverty Moti goes to Nutan and begs her to teach his new wife her skill so that he can live. In spite of the brutal treatment meted out to her, her goodness of heart prevails and out of humanity she teaches her the job.

Pushpak - 1988: Although not a much unknown movie, i'll take the liberty to mention it here. Being a silent movie there isn't much of a plot (well there is but not a serious one). I reckon the movie is about emotions depicted without words. Kamal Hassan and Amla weave a magical tapestry to make the movie speak for itself. In the end there is an underlying theme of both sorrow and happiness that I'll leave to the viewer to discern.

Thoda Sa Roomani Ho Jaayen - 1990: One of the reasons i recommend this movie is because the whole story and dialogue delivery has been done via poetic and rhyming language which assume is very tough as i haven't seen it in any other movie. Directed by Amol Palekar, this movie has a girl called Binni (don't know who but seemingly a trained actor - and a good one at that) who considers herself  a small town average Jane, and hence very low on confidence. To add to this, the drought in her town doesn't help her spirits any further. Enter 'Dhrushtadyumna Padmanabha Prajapati Neelkantha Dhumketu Barish Kar' (Nana Patekar) a man who offers to bring rain in the village for 5000 rupees.While Binni's family and all others initially view him with skepticism, they eventually decide to take a chance even though Binni isn't convinced. The question is , can the man bring back rain.....and along with it Binni's lost confidence. This movie exemplifies the art of simple storytelling and takes it to a new level altogether. A must watch.

Katha - 1983: A movie which is very close to my heart. Actually shot on location by Sai Paranjpe in a Mumbai chawl with the real chawl people playing the residents, Katha tells the story of 'Rajaram Purshottam Joshi' (It was after seeing this movie that I admired Nasiruddin Shah) a honest simple hardworking man who believes in walking straight and turning right. Rajaram also nurses in his heart the hope of marrying Sandhya (Deepti Naval) who is the chawl's damsel. However Rajaram meets his nemesis in Bashu (Farookh Sheikh) a suave man who knows all the tricks of the trade and manages to woo Sandhya with his style thus leaving Rajaram heartbroken. In a world where nice guys finish last, what happens to Rajaram ?

Of Parineeta and the city of joy.

July 2007

NB* The words/phrases in purple/green are hyperlinks. Click on them to know more.

Quite long ago I had seen the movie 'Parineeta', Sarat Chandra's classic slightly tweaked for a happy ending. If u see the movie, the beginning that is, u'll find the voice of Amitabh Bachchan giving a very illustrative and poetic account of this city along with matching shots in the background. According to me that rendition of his, along with the background shots captured the mood and beauty of Kolkata to perfection. The reason I'm so intoxicated by the beauty of this city is because I have just left it for my hometown Bhubaneswar, after spending around a month there. And I have seen it all. And believe me in these thirty odd days, this city captured a piece of my imagination. And although my first love still remains Bhubaneswar to the core, I can't excuse myself from describing the enchanting beauty of this place. Some of the stuff worth mention, I write below:

Traffic Jams: I repeat I've seen it all. I lived in this huge mansion exclusively inhabited by Parsi families (my aunt is married to one and hence the privilege). It was located in the most central part of Kolkata namely Moulali. And needless to say it was bustling the whole day. Buses, trams (more bout that below), taxis, people on the move, u have it all. Even the metros are crowded now and do little to help. The city just never slept.

Culture/Architecture/Cuisine: Nostalgia still prevails here. The mansion I mentioned above is almost 70-80 years old but still would put many houses of today to shame. It really has class with its high walls and windows the size of doors. What i intend to say is the architecture of yesteryears is still there in most parts of the city with British influence very much apparent most notably in the Victoria Memorial. And the Parsis are indeed one of the most peace loving communities as I saw. Pity its dwindling with only about 500 odd left in Kolkata. The best part is the food. During festive occasions that's served in traditional banana leaf. To me that beats sophisticated cutlery and fine dining any day.

Intellect: There was a saying once upon a time - 'What Bengal thinks today, India thinks tomorrow'. After all, this was the place where the freedom struggle started and the Congress was born. Greats like Ram Mohan Roy, Vidyasagar, Michael Madusudan Dutta (according to me the greatest Indian writer of all time though very few people know of him), Sarat Chandra himself, the list goes on, are connected to this place. Lastly this city has produced three Nobel laureates. And this was the city Mother Teresa called home. I guess I need not say more.

Presidency college: Satyendranath Bose (of Bosons and Bose-Einstein Statistics fame) hailed from here. This man was awarded 110/100 in his math exam as he had not only solved every question but also in every possible way. Einstein wrote his reco. Jagdish Chandra Bose taught here without taking his salary for three years as a mark of protest as he was paid three times less than the British professors while he considered himself as good as them. The British had to relent after 3 years. That was some courage of conviction. Netaji, its most famous alumnus (the most inspirational national leader according to me) had slapped a British professor for insulting a fellow Indian peon. A board on the staircase mentions this with pride in the exact location where it happened. And it all happened in this institution.

Trams: Probably Tokyo and Hong Kong are the only other Asian cities that have it. And believe me trams are some nostalgia. I traveled in them extensively just for the ride. My favorite route was the one that ran parallel to the Ganges shore with Babughat and Princep Ghat on one side and the Maidan on the other and the Calcutta skyline (Chatterjee and Tata building) beyond it. Take this route during sunset and its like honeymoon in slow motion (I had to put this in a corny way to make u feel the bliss of trams!).

Howrah Bridge (the old one): The busiest bridge in the world. Not a single nut and bolt has been used. It’s all sealed. Probably now u can fathom why I mentioned traffic above.

The Maidan: I guess u wont find such a huge open space in the midst of bustling traffic right in the middle of the city in any other place in the world. They say it’s bigger than Central park in New York City. The Ganges is on the left and downtown on the right. Probably the only place in the country where Football rules instead of Cricket in the evening. There is a Taanga ride (horse-driven-carriage) that people take in front of the Victoria Memorial near Eden. Believe me, for those 10 minutes, you feel like a royal basking in the adulation of lesser mortals on the street.

City centre: There’s something for the youngsters too. On the weekends the entire young crowd, the software people in particular gather here. And you do find love in the air! And yeah, the largest Pantaloons is in Kolkata too, though in a different area. You get spoilt for choice.

Boat ride in Princep ghat: This is how Rajesh Khanna expressed his love for Waheeda in Khamoshi (Woh Shaam Bhi Kuch Ajeeb Thi) and Sharmila in Amar Prem (Chingaari koi Bhadke). A 30 minute ride costs 100 bucks. But take it from me it’s worth the ride. U get to pass under the Howrah bridge if u pester the boatman a bit or lure him with some extra money. The boats actually have a lantern hanging from the arched structure and the boatman uses just the long bamboo to row. Made me realize why some things look so appealing when done the old fashioned way.

Propaganda: Rather communist propaganda. You see the red flag everywhere. The strikes though openly criticized by the 'intellectuals' are secretly reveled by them all the same (with me as a partner in their crime for the free holidays). Gorky Sadan, Lenin Sarani, Tolstoy Bhavan - these people just love Soviets. If Castro dies i reckon they'll get the corpse here. One of the last strongholds of Communism in India. Lastly where else would you find Che Guevara right from college walls to almost every T-shirt worn by students as if it were uniform as a mark of protest against something they don't like. It really confirmed what I had heard often - that Che is the most tattooed and T-shirted face on the planet.

Roshogolla and mishti doi: The first one is often used to signify a beautiful girl. It’s so beautiful indeed! Recent fusions include a variety where Mango flavor is infused in yogurt (Aam Doi). As for 'Roshogolla', these guys apparently stole the recipe from Oriyas and claim it to be their own (Wikipedia). Realize why I said propaganda above !!!

Park street: The half century old restaurants are still there. And u still have the Flury's (Sanjay Dutt treats the whole family here - sorry I can’t get off this movie). A slice of bread still costs a fortune. These guys supposedly openly admit to having opened this exclusively to fool rich foreign tourists living in Park Street. Oh and yes, there’s Moulin Rouge too!

And lastly, the Durga puja: I once heard that UNESCO declared this as the biggest Autumn festival in the world (to me it seems more of a rumor spread by the Bengalis to assert their culture - but not too of the mark though). This takes the cake for me. More for the social than the religious aspect or the rituals. On the social side its' the annual get together of relatives, pretty much similar to the annual reverse migration of the Chinese during the Chinese new year. And the most joyous time of the year where people indulge in merrymaking  dining, shopping and of course 'Adda' (Bengali for get together of friends after a long time). On the religious, men actually dance like Sanjay Dutt in Parineeta in traditional Dhoti Kurta. And the women look traditional draped in their red sarees. It's also here that matches are made for the people of marriageable age for the coming year. There is a slight whiff of flirtation  in the air as guys and girls decide on their future mates (or at least fancy them !!). I have faced a traffic jam at 3 in the night. It’s electric. I don’t think any other festival or carnival livens up any other city like what the puja (pujo in local dialect) does to Kolkata (maybe the Rio carnival comes close).

They say that if u live in a city long enough, u eventually begin to like it. Well in my case, it took just one month to make me fall in love with 'Anondonogori Kolkata' - The city of joy.

Here I go !!

June 2007.
“Pople say we use 10% of our heads. The truth is we use 10% of our hearts.” – Owen Wilson in ‘Wedding Crashers’ (2005).

Well it is this above line which finally inspired me to vent my coughed up emotions into this blog. When I say emotions I mean those of the heart and NOT of the head. More so becoz my heart rules my head and not vice versa. And that is probably the reason why the url reads ‘cardiacmusic’ and not ‘cerbralramblings’. Why so? Well maybe coz in this world while the logical and the algorithmic (incidentally I write code for a livng – but not the rocket launching types) somehow finds an outlet, the delicate and finer things in life are often trampled underfoot. Hence my endeavor here shall be to post the feelings of my heart and forget about the head (don’t have much of it anyway!).

As for the name of this blog, it isn’t that I smoke pot or something but it’s rather just a representation of the fact that for some unknown reason to me I seem to be at my creative best in the quiet hours of the night when I feel sleepy. Hence this is when I write. The pic to some extent represents this. Probably this is how I plan to seek solace in my twilight years when I need redemption in life (as u can see, all I need then is a loincloth and some cannabis - remember that is how Coleridge made ‘Kubla Khan’ and ‘Xanadu’ immortal right!). The tranquility of nocturnal hours hence are a bliss to my long suppressed soul which somehow finds utterance when I write my heart out. Hence the name ‘Sedated Bliss’.

I do regret that it took me a bit long to do this. After all Becker won the Wimbledon at 17, Gates wrote the tic-tac-toe at 13, Dell had his own BMW at 17, Steve jobs started Apple at 21, Greame Smith captained South Africa at the same age, Mozart wrote music at 4. Beethoven played the viola at 8 – the list is endless. And it took me a bit longer than them (what airs huh !!) to start this blog! But I plan to make amends. As they say – better late than never. I’ll try to live up to the few minutes of fame that u shower upon me whenever u read this. And meanwhile, if u feel the need to say something, blurt it out. Welcome on board the small deck of my boat in the quiet becalmed waters of my life.

And lastly, if u find anything wrong with the spelling or grammar, just ignore it as long as u get the implied meaning. After all when u write with your heart, u don use a word processor, do you !!!