Sing it, sistah

I’ve blogged about bad boys before. A friend’s comment on Facebook reminded me of them again. Girls only fall for the bad boys, she said rather regretfully.

They do. The first bad boy I fell for was my dad. Curly haired, leather jacket wearing, chain smoking, guitar playing, voice of an angel, vicious temper, impulsive, passionate, quick smile, wicked sense of humour, he was the original biker doing 20-day bike trips. What’s not to love?

I fell for bad boys after my dad too, although as I’ve mentioned before, I married the OA, the quintessential dependable guy who waits in the wings until you break your heart over one of them and then sweeps in, picks up the pieces and walks into the sunset with you in his arms. I married him because he probably reminded me of the gentle, steady man who raised me, my maternal grandpa. My rock.

Anyway, the reason girls fall for bad boys, is because they’re the king of the grand gesture. Banging at your hostel gate at midnight on your birthday, with a cake (yes, that’s my dad again), writing you songs (an ex), choosing to spend their last rupee calling you instead of buying toothpaste (an ex again) and so on.

I saw this advertisement today and it reminded me of my parents. You know those cute little naked babies that feature in the Love is… cartoon strip?

My dad used to make them up for my mum, sketch them and create one specially for her, every couple of weeks, depending on what the current ‘affair’ was. She showed them to me years ago and I don’t know if she still has them. She’d collected them all carefully of course. The art work was good and the idea and his sense of humour shone through. They were a grand gesture in those days. And it worked. He swept her off her feet. He still does the most utterly cute things for her and it doesn’t matter that my brother and I will never be in the inner circle. There’s enough warmth from that fire for the two of us to stand by the side and warm our hands.

Here is the advertisement – watch it to know what caught my attention. It is particularly dear because of the soundtrack. “I can’t help falling in love.” I have a nice clear voice (even if it doesn’t bring in awards at the moment!) and Dad has an awesome Neil Diamond voice. We sing this song very well together and the Bean has begun to sing with him. It’s the cutest sight – She sings Summer Wine with him.

By the by, the other day we were listening to Adele singing Lovesong. I was on the first floor singing softly along with it. The OA was on the ground floor getting the kids to do their homework or something. He shut off the music and I just adjusted my volume to make up for it, singing loud and clear. And the Bean came running to the foot of the stairs – “Is that mama or Adele?”, she said.

The acoustics were flattering I guess, because for once I let my voice soar, and sang with all my heart. And felt a pang for the talent I’ve let lie by the wayside. The blog I’ve abandoned. The career I don’t have. The home I’ve left and come away. I put all the pain and hunger into my voice and it showed. I sang while the OA and the kids stood at the foot of the stairs and listened to my voice in the stairwell.

When it was over, the OA looked up and said mildly – Why are we wasting your voice? Why haven’t you gone back to training it?

I don’t know. I think I’m incapable of devoting my energy to more than one thing at a time and for the last ten years it has been my kids. I hummed lullabies softly, intent on lulling them to sleep, not impressing them.

Years ago while singing the Brat (who only spoke hindi in those days) said – Mama, tum kitna ganda gaati ho. Mat gao.

We laughed it off, but I think I slowly stopped thinking of my voice as special. I was a mama who happened to have a voice and it didn’t matter.

Over the last month or two, as I sit here in a strange country, missing everything that was dear, the house to myself, I sing loud and clear and I enjoy my voice. For the first time in my life, I sing for myself, not for my parents, my music teacher, my friends, an audience. No, just for myself, and I love it. I take pleasure in it and I feel my lungs expand and my range grow.

Someday I will go back to training. For now, I’m back, baby.

Err.. just my voice. Not necessarily back to blogging. Just know that I think of you guys and want to blog, but it’s too raw and too harsh and I don’t want them trolls coming back!


Been a long time since we rocked and rolled


I was listening to Jackson Browne the other night and like most people growing old faster than they appreciate, it took me back to my first year of work. For those who don’t know, it’s the song playing as the credits roll in the first episode of FRIENDS. I love the lyrics and it’s one of those songs I go back to every five years or so.

A friend did a Facebook poll asking which show we still missed. Some said Frasier, some HIMYM and others, Seinfeld. I never did enjoy Seinfeld’s sense of humour, and Frasier was always ‘older people’ with older people issues.

FRIENDS on the other hand, came just when we were at the very same stage, starting out, building careers, seeking soulmates… and it followed us. Marriages, divorces, problems with conceiving and so on.

At some point I’d merrily assumed they’d hand hold us through life. And we’d grow old together. But that didn’t happen. As yet another couple I love, splits up amicably, I am both sad for them as they lose what they had. And happy for them as they find a solution in a civil way. Okay, sorry, rambling.


Jackson Browne’s Sky Blue and Black

Lyrics, for your reading pleasure.

In the calling out to one another
Of the lovers up and down the strand
In the sound of the waves and the cries
Of the seagulls circling the sand
In the fragments of the songs
Carried down the wind from some radio
In the murmuring of the city in the distance
Ominous and low

I hear the sound of the world where we played
And the far too simple beauty
Of the promises we made

If you ever need holding
Call my name, I’ll be there
If you ever need holding
And no holding back, I’ll see you through
Sky blue and black

Where the touch of the lover ends
And the soul of the friend begins
There’s a need to be separate and a need to be one
And a struggle neither wins
Where you gave me the world I was in
And a place I could make a stand
I could never see how you doubted me
When I’d let go of your hand

Yeah, and I was much younger then
And I must have thought that I would know
If things were going to end

And the heavens were rolling
Like a wheel on a track
And our sky was unfolding
And it’ll never fold back
Sky blue and black

And I’d have fought the world for you
If I thought that you wanted me to
Or put aside what was true or untrue
If I’d known that’s what you needed
What you needed me to do

But the moment has passed by me now
To have put away my pride
And just come through for you somehow

If you ever need holding
Call my name, I’ll be there
If you ever need holding
And no holding back, I’ll see you through

You’re the color of the sky
Reflected in each store-front window pane
You’re the whispering and the sighing
Of my tires in the rain
You’re the hidden cost and the thing that’s lost
In everything I do
Yeah and I’ll never stop looking for you
In the sunlight and the shadows
And the faces on the avenue
That’s the way love is
That’s the way love is
That’s the way love is
Sky blue and black

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.

My hero

Compulsory Hero by 1927 was a favourite song when I was a child (Click here for lyrics). I have no idea why such a melancholy song made it to my playlist at that age, but it did.

Last night as I sat in the park watching the kids play as dusk fell, the song came back to me. I usually feel rather cranky when I take the kids to the park. The sun shines down relentlessly on landscaped gardens struggling to overcome the dry Haryana heat and red mud. A bunch of eye-poppingly colourful swings scattered between straggling cactii and palm trees and in some Gurgaon complexes, that funny turf thing to protect kids from getting hurt. There are no trees to climb and no knees getting scraped. I sit there like the antique that I am, muttering to myself and wishing I could set the kids free to run wild like I did instead of being restricted to this tiny patch. I suddenly see why we hear of so many playground fights these days. They are turf wars. In our time there was enough place for everyone to do their own thing and you didn’t have to push someone out of a corner to skip rope. Running along the train tracks throwing coins, playing treasure hunt across the entire old Bengali locality. Never knowing a moment of fear, or a mother who is scared they’ll get hit by traffic on the state highway we live close to or get kidnapped or molested. There is something about the dusk that brings your worst fears out of hiding and even as I wished for a freer childhood for the Brat and the Bean I shuddered at the thought of letting them out of my sight.

The boys were playing some sort of army game, running around screaming, shooting, throwing themselves down in the grass and dying, crawling on their bellies around hillocks with scant regard for the clothes they were ruining. Imaginary bombs were tossed, the enemy was attacked and then one of them got hurt and a real skirmish broke out. The Brat who was part of the commando troupe was hidden behind something and I suddenly saw the bush erupt and this little whirlwind rush out. Oh my God, I said, he’s getting into the fight. But I held my ground and watched. And after a few minutes the noise died down and then the kids slowly drifted back to their positions, resuming the game. Peace was brokered. I was too far away to hear what he said but I sat there smiling, glad that no one could see my eyes shining with tears in the gloom.

Women love men in uniform and since I didn’t marry one, I ended up wanting my son to be one. Years ago I wrote a post my old blog about how proud I’d be if my son joined the armed forces. He was barely a year old and I had a heart full of dreams for him. By the way, that post too was inspired by a song – Lukka Chhupi from Rang De Basanti. I so wanted to wave my son goodbye in his uniform, Bollywood mother style. And on a not so filmy note, I also wanted to see my kids do something for the country/ for the environment/ forsomething other than themselves and not just buy a third house as investment.

But as he grew and I saw the quiet, dreamy child he was turning into, it was clear he didn’t have the temperament for it. His line ‘Even if I hit to protect myself, it is violence,’ ringing in my head, I set aside that dream, albeit with a tinge of disappointment. And made my peace with him coming home with a scratched face one day, a bite on the back the next and an arm twisted behind him the third. I could not always be around to protect him and if he didn’t learn to do it, there was nothing more I could do.

A few days ago I went to school for his progress review and sat there flipping through the wiggles and squiggles his teachers called art. Looked at his awful scrawls that didn’t resemble the alphabet in any language. And smiled at the lumps of clay that were supposed to be dinosaurs. Even as a fond mother I could see no special talent in them. And then the teacher mentioned that they call him the class encyclopedia. Why is the bald eagle bald? Do you know which dinosaur was mistakenly identified as another? Have you any idea which country has the most pythons? The class always turns to him for the answer. But that wasn’t what made me proud. It was what came next.

Apparently he doesn’t get into fights. And when there is a fight in class, the teachers ask the two kids in question – What do you think the Brat would do in your place? Apparently he is the shining example for solving conflicts. And if the teachers are busy, they send him in to mediate and he does! I sat there listening, and couldn’t help but remember all the many posts I wrote on how my son was gentle and kept getting hit and beaten and bullied through his babyhood. I worried, I fretted, I stayed up nights and when I did sleep, it was to have nightmares of him being bullied until he broke down.

In all my years of blogging or even life, I doubt anyone can accuse me of being peaceful or resolving conflicts in a gentle manner. So for my son to be the exact opposite of me is a constant source of amazement for me. Not only has he learnt how to settle a dispute and deal with bullies, he’s also learnt to help others do that.

I guess even without hitting back or being in uniform, my son is my hero.

Interviewed on Blogadda this week

I do have something for you to read today, but it’s not here, it’s an interview on Blogadda. Regular readers probably know most of what I’ve said but you might want to drop by anyway.

What you don’t know though, is that I’m obsessing over this song from Agent Vinod. I’m going to smack the person who asks if it is Pyar ki Pungi. It’s Shreya Ghoshal’s Raabta. I asked around and learnt that raabta means connection. Have been striking poses and singing it to the OA who is most amused. The kids however, are not. They think I’m nuts. I guess it was only a matter of time before they came around to the realisation that their Momma is really Mad!

The word Raabta comes at a good time. I was just complaining to anyone who would listen on FB that I am sick of songs that have khumar rhyming with beqarar and zindagi with bandagi. Show some creativity, lyricists! The OA on the other hand, has been complaining that too many of the new songs have words he’s never  encountered, taking away from the experience. What new word have you encountered in a song and have you figured out what it means?

And oh, Agent Vinod? Sucks. Complete waste of money. I really should have trusted the reviews. Now run along and drop by blogadda.