Archive for the ‘Bangalore’ Category

A.R. Rahman The musical storm

March 2, 2011

I like Rahman’s music, the oscar not withstanding. ‘The musical storm’ is a biography (the first?) of  Rahman by Kamini Mathai.  This book is the story of his musical life from working with music directors like illayaraj, composing jingles for advertisements, bands to becoming the big music director he is.  His personal life the little time he got to spend with his father, the influence of his mother, his friends and children and a little about his marriage and wife is also covered. The book is divided into 12 chapters with interesting titles that had me reading the book end to end in criss-cross manner.  Faith was the title of one of the chapters and i jumped to read that one first. It deals with why/how Rahman went from being Dileep to Rahman.  But wait a minute…its not like the author interviewed him specifically on this topic or for that matter on any of the topics/chapters in the book.   Rahman’s conversion to islam had a lot to do with his father’s illness and subsequent death. Sekhar, his father was suffering from an ailment which not treatment could cure. However, he did get relief for a while from a Sufi healer started treating him. The same Sufi healer however predicted that Sekhar wouldn’t last more than year.

I would recommend the chapter titled ‘wait’ to know how much Rahman means to the film industry.  Big film directors, lyricists and anyone who wants Rahman’s music has go wait in until his turn comes. Apparently there are different waiting rooms at Rahman’s studio and one would be allotted them based on their perceived importance! Mani Ratnam, Subhash Ghai, Shekhar Kapur, Javed Akhtar a budding singer all had to wait. The wait could be hours, weeks, months.  Rahman hates to say no to anyone and so the waiting.  But does he do that to everyone. No. Some know how to get around the wait. Director Ravikumar is one of them. He got the music for the Rajni film ‘Padayappa’ done by Rahman on time. Ravikumar could do that by taking Rahman away from Chennai to Cochin.  That is one of the ways that seems to work if one wants music on time. It worked with M.F Hussain who sent him to Prague for his film Meenaxi and with Rajiv Menon for Kandukondein. Javed Akhtar has even built a very interesting story around this phenomenon.

There are several other interesting things covered in this book.  Did you know that Rahman’s father Sekhar was the first one to buy the keyboard in the indian film industry and for that the company sent Sekhar on a free trip to Japan! Did Rahman get the training in western music? Is he comfortable with carnatic? What is his take on Illayaraja with whom he worked? What do big singers like SPB think about him? What if ever ruffles him  What are his idiosyncrasies and much more. I loved getting to know all this. There is a lot of stuff repeated in the book.  The book is based a lot on the  information from people who are close to him or have worked with him and a little on the author’s interviews with  Rahman. But its a must read for all those who are interested in knowing Rahman.

Sri Ramana Maharshi-The Supreme Guru

March 1, 2011

I prefer to read books on spirituality at the end of the day. I like if the books are thinner, the font size is big enough and space between the lines is reasonable. Ofcourse, the content should do justice to the main story. This biographical book on Sri Ramana Maharshi, by Alan Jacobs, is all the above and more. I had already read (a lot) about Maharshi and yet liked going through his life story. The story of Maharshi preparing his mother for self realisation, about his ability to attend to problems of animals, about the cow Laxmi, about the white peacock are covered.

Visits of westerners and their conversations with Maharshi are also there. I had known about Paul Brunton’s visit but had never read about Somerset Maugham’s visit.  This book recounts both their  experience and includes a question answer session between the former and Maharshi.  There is also a Q&A session between SivaPrakasam Pillai and Maharshi.   Apparently Maugham ‘attempted to ask questions but did not speak.  (to which) Maharshi said  “All finished. Heart talk is all talk. All talk must end in silence only.” ‘ Apparently, in the book ‘The Razor’s edge’ Maugham has modeled the fictional guru on Maharshi.

The book has got plenty of full page length pictures of Maharshi, his surroundings and people who flocked to him. On the whole i enjoyed reading this book. However, i must admit i skipped through the poem by the author and the english translation from the Sanskrit of  the 40 verses in praise of Ramana.

McDonalds and traditional food

February 27, 2011

I am a vegetarian. So my options in McDonalds (McD’s) within 50 rs are McVeggie or FrenchFries.  Now McVeggie is basically a burger which has a contains a wada and some vegetables sandwiched in between.  I like it as snack item in the evening. It costs 48 rs or if you want a layer of cheese 58 rs. Those are prices in Bangalore.  But those of us who live in and around Malleshwaram know of Asha Sweets (8th cross) which sells many other eatables in addition to sweets.  Its popular and always was ever since i remember. There is a restaurant cum darshini (self service) by name Food Camp on 10th cross. This restaurant, as i was told by someone, is also owned or run by Asha Sweets.  Food Camp is as popular as Asha Sweets. I always see it full of people. Well coming to the point i want to make; there are two options for meals/lunch in the darshini. Either of them costs 45-50 rs. I usually take the one which is called ‘mini-tiffin’ but is as good as lunch for me. This one costs 45 rs.  And it offers much more than one would imagine.  The mini-tiffin contains a mini-masala dosa,  4-6 mini-idlis, one chat item, one sweet item (typically one scoop kesari bath), one scoop upma, a bowl of vegetable pulav, raita and sambar. Now that’s a lot considering that in McDonalds all you would get is a burger (or as we know in maharashtra, wada pav).  The taste, quality and cleanliness of Food Camp is very good.  I wish they spread as much as McD’s.

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