Little Broken Hearts: of pain, revenge and strength

Revenge is, as they say, best served cold. Thus, the icy cool and calculated revenge hinted in “Happy Pills” by Norah Jones from her latest album released this May is a refreshing change from the slow serenade often associated with her. She teases and almost reaches darkness with her words and strong overtones.

The makeover was long overdue. It started with collaboration with Danger Mouse in “Rome” where she is the fallen heart. Little Broken Hearts is a story of the slow decay of a relationship. “She’s 22”, my personal favorite, has a vengeful and yet vulnerable quality about it.

The songs are refreshingly mature and are perhaps Norah’s best work yet. The electronic jazz-like quality proves she isn’t afraid to venture into unexplored territory. I had never been a fan of Jones for I always thought she lacked variation. The lyrical power of the songs makes you a part of the story at the very first listen. The video of “Happy Pills” is perhaps the best representation of the album. It is sexy, classy and vengeful in every way. The song appears much later though in the evolution of the album. I would suggest listening to the songs in the exact order for they tell a story. A dark one, one of mystery, anger and suppressed rage, the story is pretty simple but the emotion has so many layers to it. One starts to picture the relationship breaking down right in front of you.

“Travelin’ on” speaks of moving on with strength. Each song is symbolic of the emotion you feel starting with the realization of infidelity down to the revenge. The beauty of the story lies in the sexy undertone of slow and calculated revenge. For all those who wrote off Norah Jones as the bore she used be (including me), this one is set to make you sit up and take notice. It’s bold, mature and creative contemporary jazz at its very best.

The video oh “Happy Pills” is what drew me in. I hope it does the same to you. “Miriam” only takes the story  one step further. To me, it’s almost shocking someone could write as darkly and get away with it with such class and do a perfect job of it! “All a Dream” is an abrupt ending to the musical but its rhythmic power is enough to hold the song good on its own.

The best thing about the collection is that I could picture a musical right in front of me with each and every song. Poetry, music and fiction all contribute to the freshness of the album. An eternal addition to my collection. Hope it makes it to yours too…

House MD: Music, artistry and more..

House MD has bid goodbye, in the most abrupt of seasons. I had stopped following the 8th Season because it suddenly made very little sense, the development of my favorite character had now become a drag (perhaps happens with most sitcoms). But the one good takeaway I believe every House MD fan would have from the series was the genius of Hugh Laurie. His comic timing, his uncanny persona and his ability to hold on to a show with his single character for 7 seasons was sheer brilliance.

His self deprecating nature helped too, something most people mistake for humility. But for me, it was his music sense that spoke to me. Every season brought with it a soundtrack better than Glee! And Glee is a musical! To a large part, this can be attributed to Laurie himself. His recent album shows us a rare side of his talent. He is beyond just comedy and acting and change of accents. He can sing, play piano and make merry under the New Orleans sun!
Each season soundtrack had songs unheard of from artists and interestingly, for me, they had in some strange coincidence found their way into my playlist before I saw the House MD soundtrack. Dr. House and I share the same music? What an inspiring thought! Most sounds are deeply acoustic and appeal to me mostly because of the poetry hidden in all of them. David Gray’s Babylon, Jeff Buckley’s Hallelujah being a few of the geniuses hidden in the soundtracks. Amos Lee’s Colors is another inspiration. Brett Dennen, Bird York: artists I am sure the readers of this blog would have heard nothing of until the mention in this post, were introduced to me by some fortunate accident and have since made it to the show! House is over but the music it left behind will stay with me and so will Hugh Laurie with his incorrigible need to do what’s right!

Waterbone: Tibet – The lost story of a journey

You can only be called a true LISTENER of music if you have the ability to respect music made from the unlikeliest of sounds. My first tryst with Waterbone was a cassette bought by my father at an attempt to find Indian sounds in America. He had gone almost sentimentally collecting remotely Indian sounding albums from the American Music Stores and came back to India triumphant of having found mystic chants in this band’s debut album.

For me Tibet was more than that, it was a window to this mysterious land that has been fighting its existence for decades. It was a sound that transports you to the Himalayas. It was real because the artists had in fact traveled to these lands and recorded with Tibetan artists. It was not like the typical Enigma album (no disrespect to the artist), it didn’t have the technology of recorded voices. What it did contain was the voice of a people finding peace in spite of the turmoil around them.

Jimmy Waldo, one of the members of the group, one of the founding members of an ’83 hard rock group Alcatraz, has been a rocker throughout his life. The album is a testament to respected hard rockers like Robert Plant because they choose to tread paths untread by those before them, he chose to change his genre purely in his quest for something that touches his soul.

Tibet is more than just a trance, electronic, lounge album, it’s the voice of a forgotten land, the chant of peace and hope for a place that has forgotten it under ages of oppression.

But the song that started it all, the one that led my father’s thought to this album is this one song that takes you right at the foothills of Himalayas on a spiritual journey. Presenting to you, the “Song For the Mountain”

Confessions: Thespo @ Prithvi \m/

Ever thought of what Pulp Fiction would look like in a play, on Wednesday, Le Chayim theatre productions; brought us an interesting surprise in a dark comedy taken from the award winning play by Martin McDonagh called “The Pillowman”. The play is a dark reminder to all writers who tend to “enjoy” writing horrific stories with worse endings. Stephen King had once talked about how when he wrote his million short stories the ideas always came at the end of a “What if” moment. But I wonder if he ever thought of “what if” whatever he wrote were true!
There is a lot of Kafka-ism (a new ism word for the day) in the play. The concept of the police state, the lack of control over one’s own writing, the weaknesses of a totalitarian society, all reveal themselves layer by layer in a small interrogation room. Katurian, a writer of twisted, dark short stories, is being interrogated by 2 detectives, Topolsky and Ariel, because of the close resemblance of his stories to the bizarre incidents in his town. The story moves on to why the writer writes what he writes and the unconventional concepts hidden in his stories.  The star of the play was clearly director Kashin Shetty who plays the sarcastic detective Topolsky. He is effortless in his comedy and manages to bring out the various layers of the nihilist detective.
The highlight of course remains how the cast clicks as a unit; the production has clearly excelled since its debut in 2006. The entire presentation, be it characters finding more than one entry point or the unique lighting effects or the parallel story telling of Katurian’s stories, comes together as a unique comedy. At some places, the audience laughed realizing how inappropriate it is to laugh at something so sinister. Managing to make blood work funny, the play is the perfect candidate for pulp fiction in contemporary theatre. Can’t wait to catch another Thespo@Prithvi play soon!

In a stereotypical world…

“For most of history, Anonymous was a woman.” Virginia Woolf

I suppose the typical urban woman would consider the above thought almost biblical. But the truth remains, that our voice as an entire gender is almost always driven by stereotypes. A man has to deal with only common identity issues like which place or what religion he belongs to. We, women on the hand, spend all of our lives fighting stereotypes (and add to that the normal communal and geographical ones too common to all MANkind!) Even now half of the audience reading this would probably think in their heads oh, this WOMAN is getting emotional, is becoming a feminist, and is, well, a recent word I made up – womany!

I was searching for ways of getting published (aren’t we all?) and stumbled across this blog that explains how the New Yorker and the NY times have a majority of female audiences and yet most of their writers are male. It went on to talk about how women tend to write about more personal things and these journals do not consider that as literary prowess and that women writers are “intimidated by the white male culture” as the editor of Atlantic Monthly pointed out. So the article makes two assumptions, one that women are incapable of writing big policy pieces, and second, their “emotional” articles and those with a “sexy twist on work/life drama” is not worthy of literary recognition. This coming from a country that boasts of having a woman in a key policy making position.

It is true though, we like to write about what we feel rather than what we see, but whoever said that policy decisions and strategic moves for a nation or a corporate for that matter have to be devoid of all emotion and empathy?!

Remember the times when women had to write under a pseudonym to be published? Well, by the looks of the times today, we aren’t very far from that world. (I used to think we are) There are still occupations women are “not good at”. (A stereotype we fight every single day at our workplace) Like recently a classmate of mine observed, “Women are not good traders.” Another once mentioned how “women can never understand politics.” I am reminded of how many men rejected marriage proposals because the girl was a journalist (she wouldn’t be able to do justice to her “duties” as a wife)

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not one to stand on soap boxes and hate men for their stereotypes, it takes two to tango. If we are so upset with these stereotypes, we should just stop attempting to adhere to them! We should be content with who we are and not try to prove a point every single day at our work place. (Lesson to self!)

I’m not a feminist or a nihilist (Gosh I hate the “ist” words, they are so patronizing!). But these stereotypes (and the million others I have broken) just make me attempt to fight them just for the heck of it. And it is beginning to get tiring to try and break Plath’s bell jar. Why bother upsetting yourself for somebody who has in his head made the stereotype (unless he/she is your boss: P ). And isn’t the fact that you’re trying to prove yourself mean you yourself believe in the stereotype? I’d rather just be myself and not worry.  However, the real”IST” in me is wondering if I should just swallow my pride and write under a pseudonym, who knows the New Yorker might just find me! 

Cafe Samovar: the Artist’s hideout

Too much has been written here about the city (with people telling me I’m obsessed). But the truth of the matter is, it is the small things that make a big difference. On Sunday, I was introduced to this small place. Out on the edge of Kala Ghoda (which to this day remains the most mystic triangle I have been on in the city), there is a gallery that houses a tiny café called the Café Samovar. The heritage dates it back to the golden times of Indian Cinema and artistry. 

The café is rather small which sort of spells itself to you like a modest little secret getaway from the rumblings of the city. On one side it has the trendy French windows of the gallery with lights decorated with handmade lampshades, on the other side there is a window opening to a garden. It was the first time I had seen Marigold being used to decorate the tables.

We walked in through the narrow doorway and the café opened our eyes to the varied cultures in Mumbai, from old parsi veterans of art to young groups of college going teens.  The conversations can just grow on with Hariprasad Chaurasia playing in the background (the patrons have good taste) The service is top class and you don’t have to wait for hours to get your food. The culture in this age old café is so vastly different from your regular CCDs that you almost begin to wonder who it was who said there was no culture of cafes in India before these chains came along. No, the culture was very much there, it just wasn’t pop cultured the way it is now.

The café is housed with the perfect intention, one gets to look at beautiful exhibitions of art and then sip a cup of mint chai and talk of what one just witnessed.

The only drawback is that the café closes at 7 15 PM. But having spent all of around 150 bucks and managed to have 2 chais, a coffee and the beloved find the mint chai and yummy and filling snacks, this café now comes on my regulars list. Definitely, a place I’d frequent much more. So should you! Who knows, you might just bump into the intellectually rich clientele it boasts of J

Micheal Crichton’s Last GoodBye : Pirate Latitudes

On November 5, 2008, while I was sipping my morning cup of coffee, my friend dutifully sent me a message that Micheal Crichton, the man who was the one of the reasons I loved Science had passed away, I stopped my life for a moment and thought of a world without Crichton.

When Pirate Latitudes hit the stands, I decided not to go to the second hand Moor Market, because I wanted to pay my final respects to the man. But I had read the reviews, New York Times had said :”The Crichton reputation and legacy are based on works far heartier than this.”  True Enough. But they don’t get it, I would just read it because it didn’t matter, for it was Crichton once again and that was enough for me!

Pirate Latitudes starts in a typical period novel fashion describing the morning abulations of a certain Jamaican governor Sir James Almont.  The book gives an interesting insight on what Piracy and Privateering meant in 1665 Jamaica when the Governor hangs a pirate and offers a deal to a privateer in the same morning. This particular Privateer is the famous Captain Charles Hunter, our quintessential protagonist, he’s hot, adventurous, brave and is (as is the case with all heroes) a Ladies’ Man. He’s introduced in the book in a truly Jack Sparrow moment when he is peeing out into the streets. 

The Story is simple, England is surrounded by Spain in the Carribean and the only island colony left to them is the tiny Jamaica, to save some grace and make some money for themselves, the crown cuts deals with “Privateers”. So when a Spanish ship loaded with cash is stuck deserted on a fortified island it’s upto Captain Charles Hunter and his crew to get the gold, kill the wicked Spanish General, save a certain damsel in distress. It has everything that we saw in Pirates of the Carribean. Even words like, “And my mistress shall dine on your testicles,”  (I mean come on!)  Crichton even went on to incorporate Sea Monsters!(Did he by any chance give ideas to the Pirates of the Carribean Team?) 

But there is one thing that has always set Crichton apart, the attention he pays to the crew, Charles Hunter is just a part of the story, the description of each member of Hunter’s crew is rather interesting(the Jew and Lazue take the awards for the weirdest pirates ever!) and so is the character of the damsel in distress Lady Sarah Almont and the Mrs-Robinson like character of Mrs. Robert Hacklett. Crichton did loose his touch with the precious slave girl Anne Sharp could’ve been better there. 
But who cares! It’s Crichton! come on! I lived through the pages of sea storms and gun battles and ultra cool navigational manoeuvres. I even believed him when he talked about Sea Monsters. But essentially, I sailed the Spanish Main and back with Micheal Crichton and well…the journey was worth it!