You came singing through my soul

“And now, Carlos Santana coming to you live from Galgotia University grounds”  (Seriously?!)… is not a sentence I ever expected to hear. But I did. And it was music to my ears.

After the Metallica disaster I’d given up hope of any big act making it to Delhi/NCR. But Korn and Enrique (neither of whom I was interested in) played to packed audiences, and went off super-smoothly. I did want to go for Megadeth and headbang (so what if my knees wouldn’t last beyond the first 3 minutes of shaking like a maniac?) to A tout le monde but that was the weekend Tambi was in town with Baby Button (yes!!). By town I mean at my parents’ place so we all trooped back there. I kept telling him it was a testimony of my love for him that I picked him over the chance to see Megadeth live. The OA on the other hand was all – “Eh? Megadeth? Who?” I think I should have had these on a checklist before I married him. He also caught Iron Maiden in the US and even Alice in Chains. And he doesn’t even like their music. :( I missed that night because I had made plans to meet a friend who I never thought I’d get to meet in this lifetime. But seriously, where is the justice I ask you. And how did I marry a man who isn’t a fan of any of these bands? Oh well.

And when I heard that Santana would be playing after the F1 in Noida I jumped at the chance. I don’t know how other cities do it but the idiots here (DNA again, of course!) had not arranged for parking. The F1 parking and signage was brilliant and we followed the arrows naturally assuming that we’d park in the same place, only to be told that the parking lot would shut at 7pm once the F1 audience had departed. We asked the traffic cops milling around on duty, where we should park –  We don’t know, they shrugged, just don’t park here, because we’ll tow you away. Gee, thanks, that is helpful. Finally we just parked down the road in broad view of two tow trucks. Entry was to have opened at 3pm but it only opened at 5pm. After two hours of mucking around in the dust I was this close to collapsing. Why is it harder to stand than it is to walk?

We finally got in and my bladder was about to burst (does this fall into the realm of TMI?) and the port-a-loos that had barely opened up to junta were filthy and already wet and out of water too! WTF?!

After all that misery (can you tell how old I am?) I collapsed in the grass and then Soulmate began to play. The OA and I always try to catch them when they’re in town. Something about them makes my toes curl. I love Tips’ vocals and attitude and Rudy has a voice that sounds like smoke over whiskey. Yes, okay, it is clear we love them.

They were the perfect band to open for Santana because they set the mood and it was almost a spiritual experience to just lie in the grass, dusk falling, staring at the sunset- tamed and hazy through the settling smog and then watch a sliver of silvery moon peek out. To be invited to open for an act like Santana is huge and I think they picked the right band for it.

That said, I feel bad for opening acts. The audience has paid a solid price for the main act and many of them may not have even heard of you. And so it was for Soulmate, with most people getting impatient, the anticipation for Santana getting unbearable. Frankly I’d have driven from Gurgaon to Greater Noida just to hear Soulmate anyway.

And then a ripple ran through the crowd. We weren’t quite sure what it was about, but we sat up anyway. And there, standing behind Tips, his trademark hat on, was Santana, playing for her!!! I can’t tell you how excited I was. My first big gig, the great man Santana himself, and such humility, yet such confidence. He came in with a blast of smoke and when it cleared, not too many people lying back in the grass and semi-dark noticed the extra person. Until someone saw the brightly-patterned jacket and hat and froze.

It was overwhelming, and I felt like a college kid, tears of excitement springing to my eyes. He didn’t try to steal her thunder, playing a tiny bit and floating off the stage after his little joke. Soulmate finished the act as the audience courteously stayed mum but impatiently shuffled around, waiting for them to wrap up.

And when Santana finally came on, the crowd went wild. You will understand this was not easy because half the crowd was over 50! It was cute to see all these older people, some bald, some fully white, wrinkled, all eyes ablaze. Nothing like my shabby jeans and nondescript shawl. These were all in expensive jeans with nary a frayed hem, discreet logos on their neatly ironed pockets and suede driving shoes. Oh yeah, this was another generation coming back to see their idol and this was definitely a far cry from their Peace Brother times.

I called my dad when they played Black Magic Woman. It was the closest he’d ever come to hearing his idol playing live. He’d badly wanted to come but things hadn’t worked out and I was feeling miserable and guilty. Apparently guilt trips come easy to me and I’m thinking of becoming a travel agent for them. It was lovely. Dad singing in my ear on the phone and Santana live in front of me. And then he said, “People below 50 shouldn’t have been allowed in. You don’t know Santana like we did.” True, Dada.

At some point my knees gave out entirely and I sat down in the midst of a thousand stamping, dancing feet. I’d probably be trampled to death, but I didn’t care and couldn’t have done much if I had cared. I was in awe of their energy. Performing, dancing and singing for 2 hours at that age can’t be easy. His wife Cindy drummed for a couple of numbers and was mindblowing. Reminds you that often one half of a famous couple gets overshadowed. My other thought was – damn, but she must have fine biceps!

He spoke a little through the show, talked about peace and the inner light. I don’t know about others, but if my life had Santana playing the background score I’d be at peace and nursing my inner light! I tried hard to live in the moment, closing my eyes, letting the music take over and feeling the energy of the crowd.

Soon the evening was over. Much anticipated and over too soon. But a dream come true and one I would close my eyes and relive for years to come.

And because some of you may have missed Santana, I’m going to share with you, the house pictures of a friend of mine. I love her place. It’s not one of those new modern minimalist characterless places and I love it. I’m always finding something new in a new corner and it always has a fun story. If homes reflect character then hers says warm, inviting, nuanced, interesting, fun, quirky, doesn’t take herself seriously, has taste, eclectic and above all, absolutely original. I’m tired of people seeing someone’s home and lifting an entire idea or wall design. It’s heart breaking for those who spent time coming up with the idea. Enough talk now – go enjoy.

Around the world in 100 bookshelves

So have you all heard of the Around the World in 100 Bookshelves project? No? Go over to and read about it there. It’s been on for a while and as usual I promised myself I’d do it someday but procrastinated. I finally pulled up my socks and hesitantly mailed the pictures in a couple of days ago wondering if it was over, but I was in luck. They are still running the project. So here you go. The Brat and Bean’s bookshelf makes it to the papertiger bookshelf project!

And since we’re on the topic of bookshelves I thought I’d share some of mine too. We should have a bookshelf project for adults too!


This one is in my bedroom, under the TV with the DVD player etc on top of it.


The old CD rack comes back in a new avatar. Anyone remember that I used it in the bathroom in the old house?

This is the lounging corner in the living room. Music and books -what more could one want?


From left to right, Tambi and the OA as babies.

Just a close up so that you can see the books are all mixed up and not arranged by author, genre or alphabet. A fact I intend to remedy really soon.

The bedside table that doubles up as a bookshelf all the time.

The bookshelf that holds my *choke* cooking books. It is rarely touched but much loved.

Ten honest to God truths!

So Priya tells me I didn’t complete the tag – I have to write ten honest things about myself. I think I’ve done this before but I’ll do it again.

  1. I hate being wrong (hah! – as though you didn’t know that)
  2. I get damn upset if I realise someone doesn’t like me. While some people take it as a challenge and try to win the dissenters over, I usually ignore them.
  3. I cool off as fast as I get angry and I am quite willing to apologise and make amends even if I am not at fault.
  4. I rarely regret what I’ve chosen to do. Maybe I justify it in my head once it is done …
  5. If I don’t love a book within the first two chapters I don’t care what it says about my taste, or how much money I waste, I just drop it. Yes, that is what happened to Orhan Pamuk’s My name is Red.
  6. I am generous to a fault. If you matter to me, I can take off what I am wearing and hand it to you if you like it. Take the table linen off, give away brand new stuff, lipsticks in their wraps… anything. You like it, you can have it. But I won’t give my books to even.. umm… even my parents.
  7. I get cranky if I am hungry or tired.
  8. I get crankier if I feel I haven’t added to my house on a particular day. It could be weeding, dusting a different corner, tidying up a shelf, straightening a crooked frame, anything, something…
  9. I sometimes scarily believe that I love my brother more than anything else on earth. And now the OA and my kids can officially hate me.
  10. I am ready to die today if I have to – I just want it to be quick and painless. I’ve lived, loved, lost… and had a blast.

And also, since Itchy tagged me for creativity, I figured I’d share something from around the house with you. Nothing very unusual – just taken the kids’ softboard and used it to hang up some junk jewellery.  Since I can’t wear any metal other than gold, this is all made in thread, plastic, wood, stone or bone. Enjoy.

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat

… and no I don’t need pennies in my hat.

We put up our X’mas tree a few days ago and it’s been such fun. The kids were squabbling early on about who gets to put the angel on the top of the tree. Fortunately X’mas already came to us once earlier this year when my parents came back from the US. They paid excess baggage and errr… about 50 kilos of it was for us. Anyhow, one of the many things I got was another angel for the top of the tree. It simplified life for us this last weekend because each of the kids got to hang one and our tree is burdened with its load of heavenly beings!

The OA, babies and Cousin K set up the tree.

Leave it to the kids and all the baubles as well as the angel make it to a lower corner of the tree.

The TWO angels guarding the top of our tree!

Some of the other Christmassy stuff I have out.

The Brat tickling the Bean … She’s wearing a hairband that has two jiggly reindeer on it and sings Jingle Bells.

Eventually they both fell asleep with all the excitement of the day.

After we were done putting up the tree and were ready to wrap the lights around the decorated tree, Cousin K came up with his brainwave – lets wrap the lights around the tree trunk, on the inside of the tree. The OA glared at him and looked for something heavy to throw at him – “What? Now? After we’ve set the entire thing up? Couldn’t you have thought of this 3 hours ago? And anyway, I don’t think its possible.”

At this, Cousin K quietly got to work and the OA and I drifted off, leaving him to figure a way around the problem. The boy crawled under and into the inner recesses of the tree and I heard some banging, smelled some burning and saw much activity, but stayed out of it.

He did it. And it looked brilliant.

It was also a subtle reminder that we’re already ‘the next generation’. At 19 he has better and brighter ideas, more enthusiasm and a lot more energy than I do at 31. I’m not really old in my head, but then something like this happens and I have to remind myself not to grow into one of those cranky old women who insist on doing X, Y or Z because its tradition and its always been that way.

People tend to be crankier and more rigid in matters of festivals and religion and those perhaps are precisely the things we need to be more willing to experiment with.

A little later Cousin K stood back to admire his work and then said to me, ‘Next year we’ll get only red and gold ornaments for the tree… or another two colours and create a theme.’

And thats the only thing I disagreed with. Our tree is a mish mash of stuff because every year a friend adds on an ornament or two. Everytime we travel we pick up something new. It’s not just a Christmas tree to me, its a tree full of memories and loaded with love.

Here are some of the ornaments I’ve got over the last two years from kind friends and guess what – some of them are desi ornaments! Thank you all of you.

And here’s wishing you compliments of the season. In case you don’t hear from me for a week or two, you’ll know I’m busy doing the Christmas thing – eating, drinking, making merry, singing loudly around a bonfire, cherishing family and cuddling the babies.

These two are from a friend who has wickedly said I can’t blog about her. So err… well, she knows. And she knows I love and appreciate them.

This lovely Kashmiri one from this friend. 

Penguin and Snowman photoframes for the tree from Kuns, with old pics of the Brat and the Bean.

And of course a Jagannath given by Art last year.