Thursday, July 26, 2007

Karlus Trapp

The other day, we walked into this pub called The Red Lion in the West Village. I've been there before and already knew that you get to listen to some pretty decent live bands there. Of course, Bleecker Street is THE street if you want good music and good (=cheap!!) drinks all in one place, in my opinion. Some of the pubs in the area have been music venues for artists like Neil Young, Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Wonder, for example. Back in the day, I mean. When the flower child ruled, and it was all sex, drugs and rock-n-roll.

The day we went, there was this musician called Karlus Trapp playing. Originally from Staten Island, his blues-pop-rock mix was easy on the ears, and he did some pretty good covers too.

Give him a listen - you may like what you hear.

Flavors Beyond Borders

There is an Indian-Pakistani food festival called Flavors Beyond Borders happening on Aug.14th-15th in New York. I know one of the organizers and they have requested that as many people as possible try to leave a goodwill and peace message for the two countries on

They are trying to get 10,000 messages so that they can gift a huge poster to the two countries' consulates.

Please fill it in and then forward to anyone you think may be interested and everyone you know in New York! To leave a message, you don't need to be based out of NY, by the way.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The lawbook looms on Facebook

With the advent of all these social networking sites like Orkut, Facebook et al, I often wonder whether I would be in touch with more people than I am now, if the sites existed when I was in university. My younger cousins, for example, have close to 300 people on their lists, and most of them are people who go to the same university (the number tends to increase exponentially if it is a foreign university, as opposed to an Indian college where the student body is often less). As it is, a lot of random people who were no more than acquaintances then, keep popping up quite randomly on these sites. It's sort of a voyeuristic thing which has its negative repercussions (let's be honest), but it has also been nice to catch up with a few people than I genuinely had good times with a long time ago and then lost touch with.

The story of how Facebook started is now common knowledge - Mark Zuckerberg started it with a couple of friends while at Harvard, so university kids could connect with each other online. It soon became a big hit - recently they turned down an offer to be bought out by Yahoo! for $1 billion. That's a lot of money. But of course, there is controversy - 3 other people, founders of another site called ConnectU, say that he illegally used the source code they had asked him to write for them.

And that's why I was interested to know that Time did a piece today on whether Facebook could be shut down because of a lawsuit.

Highly unlikely, in my opinion.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The wain in Spain

The wain in Spain
Fell down the pane
And nostalgia came

Love-hungry burglar

And this little burglar went home......after getting some hugs.

I wish we had more such friendly fellows around, what say?!


'China takes steps to curb passion', reads this BBC headline. Obviously, the Chinese authorities have not seen Indian movies. Don't they know that the more they try to keep young people apart, the more they will succeed in pushing them towards each other?!!!

And the exercise in schools is meant to help control obesity, for heaven's sake! What if the dance lessons succeed in making them look good AND help them to snag a boyfriend/girlfriend in the process? God forbid!!!

Retail faith

I was shopping at Forever 21 the other day, and when I got home, I noticed the words 'John 3:16' written on the underside of the bag as I was putting it away. I was quite intrigued, looked it up, and this is the Bible passage quoted : "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." Why would anyone put that on the bag of a large clothing store, I wondered.

I found more in this 2005 article. Apparently the founder of the chain is deeply religious and according to a corporate spokesman, it is "evidence of faith". He is, in fact, not the first one to subtly insert religious references in consumer goods: other chains that tried to do so (or still do) were Starbucks Coffee, In-N-Out Burger, Alaska Airlines and craft chain Hobby Lobby.

Even a basic knowledge of American politics or society is enough for anyone to know that there is a large population that is very religious in this country - abortion and gay rights are key points in differentiating between Democrats and Republicans, for example. Was this retail chain trying to appeal to its Christian consumers, or say something to its non-Christian ones in this subtle manner? I don't really think so. Perhaps it is nothing more or less than a profession of faith. This particular instance was unexpected advocacy of Christianity so I was momentarily surprised, but then I thought : he's not doing anyone any harm, is he, and its his clothing chain after all. And a pretty successful one at that!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Seats for boxes, boxes for seats

Is India the only country to do this or are other countries as intelligent? (snort)

Next time, remind me to buy a ticket for my toiletry case, will you?

Algerian rock

One of the reasons I like randomly reading blogs is that you never know what you're going to chance upon. I first heard about this singer from Mangs' blog, then went into YouTube for the song - here it is. First time I ever heard Algerian rock. The tambourine (I think) is especially cool.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Starry starry skies

Why do Jennifer Lopez's parents have an attachment to New York?

- Because she was Maid in Manhattan.

Hair-raising stories

Why did the founder of the Mughal empire like experimenting with his hairstyles?

- Because he was Babar.

Friday, July 13, 2007


I like sports, but baseball has never been one of my favourite sports to watch. Tennis, basketball, football – no problem. But baseball? I’m not so sure. So yesterday when we got free tickets to watch the New York Mets play against the Cincinnati Reds, I was in two minds. Should I go for the experience of watching a US Major League Baseball game at the well-known Shea Stadium and give the husband some company, or should I give it a pass, seeing as how it was baseball that was involved? Well, I’m not one to forgo new experiences, even if they happen to be baseball-related, so I said okie-dokie, and there I was.

Half an hour or so into the game, I realized one thing about American baseball – it is highly entertainment-oriented, guaranteed to ensure that even a person who is very disinterested in the game will have some amount of fun. Of course this, as the husband quite rightly pointed out aghast, is against the very principle of sport. His exact words were ‘What a travesty! You would never see this kind of thing at Old Trafford!’, and he is quite right too. Every three minutes, and I mean three minutes, the huge LCD screen began to display advertisements, pre-recorded messages from the players, or music trivia as a song played in the stadium – and they were mostly hip-hop, with one jazz number thrown in for good measure. Playing to the mostly young audience? You bet! Primarily though, there were audience games where they’d show random sections of the audience on screen while a voice said they had to do such-and-such a thing. Such as the Kiss Game, where the couple shown on camera had to, yup, kiss. Or they’d show some audience members holding up T-shirts given by one of the sponsors. Or they would play this karaoke song with the words flashing on screen that everyone would sing along to – one was a version of ‘Sweet Caroline’ with the words modified to the benefit of the Mets, and another was the Mets anthem, ‘Let’s Go Mets’ (!!!). They also interspersed the game with bits of songs which were clap-friendly, such as ‘We will rock you’, ‘Everybody clap their hands’ etc etc etc, every three minutes. And of course there was the mandatory chucking of free T-shirts into the audience every now and then – at least thirty, I would imagine. It was almost as if the game itself was a side show!

So, as I said, more entertainment and less sport. It would have been very difficult to get BORED in a game like this, which is one of the reasons I’m not a big fan of test cricket, for example. That’s probably why there were so many kids around as well. So as much as I hate to admit it, I'm going to be honest and say that I did enjoy myself, while simultaneously being amused to see the consumerist nature of American society.

And if anyone is still interested, the Mets did win!!!

P.S : Does anyone know how to create those photo-mosaic things? Please let me know if you do. Thanks!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Magic Flying Lawn Chair

....just like the Magic Carpet of yore. Check out the mode of transport Kent Couch from Oregon used to fly. Quite unlike us boring NORMAL people who use, duh, aeroplanes!!!!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Presenting...Mr.Al Booda Gore

While on the topic of Live Earth, I couldn't help but laugh at this. Paul Atroshenko has done quite a job with Photoshop. As he says,

"This man can make global concerts come alive! I understand he also invented the internet. Obviously, he has God-like powers."


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Love in all its beauty

One of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard is ‘Tumse Milke’ from Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s 1989 film, ‘Parinda’. The film was one of the few Hindi movies of the 80’s that were genuinely well-made, with powerful performances from pretty much the entire cast (notably Jackie Shroff, Nana Patekar, Anil Kapoor and Madhuri Dixit) and a strong, original storyline – in fact, it was probably one of the first few films on the Bombay underworld ever made (correct me if I am wrong, anybody). I thought the ending was absolutely brilliant, but if anyone reading this has not yet watched the film, I’m not going to let the cat out of the bag. Motivation to go watch! I’ve watched it a few times since it first released way back then - I was probably too young to realise its full impact till I saw it again when I was much older anyway.

I didn’t realise till today, however, that the music director of the film was none other than R.D.Burman. That immediately explained a lot of things to me – the soulful music, meaningful lyrics and classy picturisation. I had to search quite a bit to find out who wrote the lyrics – they were by Khursheed Hallauri, who is a woman, by the way (how many female lyricists do I know? Not many) and whose other works I have not been able to track. Very simple lyrics – about ten lines which repeat, but the way they are set to music, oh to be sung to like that!

Some things I like about the song: it is filmed solely on the lead romantic couple, Anil and Madhuri, (which is what a real love song should be about - the two people involved), it is NOT a dream sequence with a hundred other girls in trashy costumes doing one-two-three-left-hand-up-right-leg-out (I always think that is ridiculous, when I watch songs like that), and is shot in the night with minimal lighting which makes it all the more lovely to watch. Madhuri looks divine, young and innocent (she was all of 22 when the film was shot), and Anil looks quite smitten (even though his moustache looks like a bushy caterpillar!!).

I knew when I heard the song the first time that if I ever felt that way about someone, I would have found true love. The kind of love that makes you feel like a goddess when you're looked at just over a cup of coffee even if you're sitting in your night clothes, the kind of love that you know you want to grow old with.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

A concert to remember

Keith Urban and Alicia Keys perform at Live Earth at the Giants Stadium in New Jersey 7/7/07
Image courtesy: BBC

The best way to avoid an overdose of anything is to insert different kinds of whatever it is you are overdosing on, into your programme. For example, to avoid a movie overdose, switch to comedy in between your mafia drama marathon and you’ll enjoy the genre again instead of getting sick of the black ties and trigger-happy honchos swaggering about. That said, Live Earth was an excellent way to start off my concert-viewing, because the sheer range of music ensured no music fan would be disappointed. There was something for everyone. Of course, the rock fans probably gagged when Kelly Clarkson, KT Tunstall and Akon came on stage, but to be fair, they played some excellent songs as well and anyway no one is trying to compare them to The Police or Roger Waters anyway. That would be sacrilege.

So. I attended my first ever music concert yesterday, and that was Live Earth and it was fantastic. Hey - you there - I can hear you saying ‘Did she just say FIRST music concert’, and the answer is yes, you read it right. It certainly made up for the concerts I haven’t been able to go to till now though because I had the chance to listen to close to twenty artists in one day and most of them were jolly good, so I’m certainly not complaining!

We thought we’d be a bit smart and go ‘early’ (read an hour and a half before the show was scheduled to start, because it was all ticketed anyway), but the plan was not so successful because the queues at Secaucus Junction to get into the shuttle buses which would take us to the Giants Stadium snaked along for quite a few miles. After waiting for an hour, we finally got into a bus and reached the venue at about two minutes to one, which was when the show was supposed to start. It was a hot, sunny day and I amused myself by taking in the atmosphere as people trickled in to the massive stadium and reading a book for one hour and seventeen minutes, because that’s how long it took for the show to finally kick off. The Scottish folk/pop singer-songwriter KT Tunstall was one of the first people to take the stage. I love her songs, humming along to them on a regular basis when I listen to them on the radio. She didn’t disappoint. She sang three of her most popular numbers, ‘Black Horse and the Cherry Tree’, ‘Suddenly I see’ and ‘The Other Side of the World’. People unfamiliar with her music may have heard some of it in the background in ‘The Devil Wears Prada’, ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, ‘Ugly Betty’ and of course Katharine McPhee’s version of ‘Black Horse and the Cherry Tree’ on season 5 of American Idol, which contributed to pushing it up the charts.

She was followed by a band that was introduced as having come “all the way” from Long Island :-D Taking Back Sunday apparently got their name from the lyrics of a band they listened to called The Waiting Process. The rock group is a band I wasn’t familiar with, but I found out later that in 2004 they were the opening act for Blink-182 at one of their concerts, and they also contributed a song to the soundtrack of the just-released ‘Transformers’, though it didn’t feature in the movie.

Keith Urban came on stage next. Again, I know him more as Nicole Kidman’s husband of drug-snorting fame, but the country music star obviously has a pretty illustrious career of his own, with seven number one songs in the US. One of the songs he performed at Live Earth was a cover of The Rolling Stones’ ‘Gimme Shelter’ with Alicia Keys. Alicia took to the stage on her own later as well.

Then of course, it was time for some yo-yo’ing by Ludacris. I know I’m writing a lot of trivia in this post, but who would believe Ludacris’ real name is Christopher Brian Bridges?! Anyway, one thing that no one can say about African-American singers (I like being politically correct hahahahaha) is that they are NOT entertaining. They know how to play the crowd, they know how to get the crowd on their feet and let’s face it – hip-hop is rad, y’know?!!! Kanye West performed ‘Gold Digger’ which was obviously supereffingtastic, and I was up on my feet, as was most of the audience, through most of it.

Kelly Clarkson, AFI and Akon are some of the other pop and hip-hop artists that played (technically AFI is supposed to punk-rock, but I don’t quite feel they played punk rock yesterday). My sister-dear is a big fan of Akon – I remember him most for his squeaky ‘Lonely’ which irritates me no end, but thankfully he didn’t play ‘Lonely’ and the songs that he did sing were pretty foot-tapping. Kelly Clarkson has a fabulous voice and showed that she was more than just an American Idol (she was the first winner of the contest in 2002, for those of you who are not big fans of Simon Cowell!!).

I’m losing track here – I don’t remember the exact order in which the bands came on, but I’m going to keep at it because I had such a good time and kept saying ‘I’m SO excited’ to the husband as the show progressed, in the manner of those giggly teenagers I sniggered at while we were waiting to get into the arena :-D The Dave Matthews Band, Fall Out Boy and the Smashing Pumpkins satisfied the rock fans and then there was John Mayer who again is an upcoming artist whose music I quite enjoy. I loved ‘Waiting On The World To Change’ particularly. I believe he is playing in London in September – if any of my loyal blog readers is there then, I’d say go listen.

I wasn’t sure whether Al Gore would be in the New York event or the Washington one, but he was very much there yesterday, and what’s more, he stayed for quite a few hours because he came on stage twice. Melissa Etheridge was of course one of the people he introduced and yes, obviously she played the Oscar-winning song ‘I Need To Wake Up’ from Gore’s own ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, as well as another compelling song called ‘Imagine That’ – I’m not sure if she wrote it just for the event. She spoke a lot about global warming and the climate crisis during her songs, actually.

The best acts were indubitably the last. There was Bon Jovi, who sang ‘Livin’ On a Prayer’,‘It’s my Life’ and ‘Dead or Alive’, each song brilliant (of course). By then the sun had gone, the lights illuminated the stage brightly, and with the faint smell of weed in the air (smoking inside the stadium was prohibited but someone definitely broke that rule!!), I felt like there was nowhere else I would rather be at that particular point in time. But then it only got better. Roger Waters (YES!) – I don’t know what to say about this legend without sounding like an idiot, but I was certainly comfortably numb when another brick in the wall was performed, if that makes any sense at all. And then – and THEN – the Police. Sting. Yes. Message in a bottle. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.

Kevin Bacon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz, Abigail Breslin of Little Miss Sunshine fame, Petra Nemkova (the guy sitting behind me shouted out ‘Who are you?’ when she came on stage – I didn’t know myself but apparently she’s some Russian supermodel), David de Rothschild, the British adventurer and environmentalist who is one of 42 people to ever reach both geographical poles and of course Al Gore, were some of the people who introduced the acts in between performances and exhorted everyone watching to pledge to protect our earth.

Live Earth has been heavily criticized by a load of people – to those people I’d just like to say, please read this article that appears in Time today. I’m no proponent of the Save Our World campaign, but at the end of the day I wasn’t going to sit at home when legends were playing at a concert that I wanted to go to anyway, and if they were playing to make more people aware of an issue that could do with some discussion, I don’t see anything wrong with that! I’m going to quote from the article :

But would the Earth have been better off if we all stayed home and did nothing, literally? "That's a fair thought," Linkin Park guitarist Brad Delson told TIME before his band's Tokyo show. "It's also a cynical one."

That’s a different topic for a different blog post, though!

P.S I didn't take my camera because we were told that we were not allowed to but after I got there, I realised I was stupid not to have - so no pics UGHHH!

Friday, July 06, 2007

What if God was one of us?

The worst thing that anyone can do to themselves is play the ‘what if’ game, not realizing that ‘what if’ is neither past, present nor future. It didn’t happen, it’s not happening now and it won’t happen either, because the point in time that you keep referring to has already lapsed. The scenario you keep thinking of in your ‘what if’ game is a backdated dream. If it was to have happened, it would have. It didn’t. Forget it. Period.

What’s also important to realize is that ‘what if’ couldn’t have happened anyway because you were not then who you are now, which is when you’re asking the ‘what if’ questions. Change is intrinsic to life. It may or may not mean progress, but it happens nevertheless. Therefore, you’re not even talking about the same person, in a manner of speaking. Thoughts, hopes, dreams, beliefs – some or all of them would have changed for you. It’s like comparing apples with tomatoes. They’re both red, but that’s about it.

I see my cousin following a similar path, education-wise, that I followed years ago and I'm desperate that she doesn't make the same mistakes. She's grateful I'm there to dispense some so-called wisdom, having been there before, and I'm glad I can be there for her. But the truth is, she will probably listen to me but go ahead and do what her heart says is right. Which is the way it should be. I'm just petrified she will ask the 'what if' question a few years down the line, just like me.

I'm hopeful she won't, though. She's a smart kid. If she turns out to be a success, I will be one happy person.