Monday, February 18, 2013

Shahaj Songs

Stretch out your arms
See how far the ridges run
Over deep chasms

In this forest
Certain shadows in certain seasons
Yield treasure.

O Sabara,
Lay your bed in the meadow
By the moon rock
Sarvamohini Kurukulle
Taut like a thunderbolt
Swing down on me with a roar.
Sing, Kanha, your secret heart.
In this forest.

Together, entwined
We hold our breath
Our hearts pound
Our minds empty
Slaves to the rhythm
Deep inside us
A molten rush of light
Rising together
Flashing Dakini
Dancing free
Look, the candle
Welds our heaving shadows
Feel, my hands around your heavy buttocks
Your legs around my neck
A moan
Slow to rise
Fills our world
Your voice, and mine
As we dance out of time.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Mountain Hymns

In the careful garden that she planted,
Nanda sits, leaning on a cloud
I wander east to west
Along the white ridge
From the forests of Bir
To the stupas of Dharamshala
The blue sky flashes above me
Like Manjushri’s sword.
I stand on the lip of the world
Above a sea of clouds
A sparrow dives
A butterfly rises
In the forest above
Live those who are never seen.
On the rock of the moon
The wind rises
A thousand shrieking phantoms
Then a sudden silence
Lonely cairns mark the gates
A pillar of white cloud
Approaches, flickering with lightning
The gates are open
Your dark body shimmers like smoke
In your heart, a red lotus
You laugh like thunder
What would I see
If I opened my eyes?
Mountains walk in through your mind
And walk out through your toes
Rivers flow from mountain roots
And into the sea they go
This vast land sleeps tonight
From valley bottom to mountain top
In the still, dark embrace of Tara
An empty bowl
Of trees, women, beasts.
Little Sonam plays on a bed of apricots
They shine like tiny pieces of the sun
And dazzle the still, blue sky.
At the end of the day
A blush steals up on proud Badri’s face
The dying peals of Shiva’s bell
Rise up like fireflies
And are caught in Chandrashila’s embrace
Beside my tent, a riot of blue
Of shy gentians that nod and sway
When Aksobhya moves through them
Like an invisible breeze.


Wednesday, September 05, 2012

What We Did For Our Holidays

What did we do for our holidays?
We argued about hills to cross
We looked precipices in the eye
We chased whistling marmots
   Through petrified moss
We looked for places where we could crouch unseen
   And look up to the sky
   Or down at the gravel
We flashed our lights at a Tara and a Bodhisattva
   And marvelled at their smiles
We climbed high past rocks and mules
   Past the gates of stone
   Past the gates of horn
We floated above an obsidian lake
   That changed its colours with the sun
We walked through palaces
   Where continents collide
   And imagined old caravans
   Of relics and the treasures of Tantrics
We ate tiny fruits of the sun
We went down to a river
   A boy in a world of girls
We wrestled with despair
   And gnashed our teeth
We cried in the rare air
   That it’s all too much for me to take
What did we do for our holidays?
   Nothing much, but enough.

-Bibek Bhattacharya

Friday, January 13, 2012

When FC Bayern met India (not sparks, but chips flew)

Date: 10.1.2012
Venue: Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi.
Dramatis Personae:
Rudder, Mandakini, Dipyaman, Mehul and I.

And so here we are, at the floodlit, massive, yet curiously lifeless Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. My first live football match in Delhi, and (OMG!) it’s Bayern Munich! Against India! Bhaichung’s testimonial! Mein Gott, this place is just oozing with occasion…and bored, hair-straightened South Delhi 'party' babes of course. It’s yet another reason to pretend you’re a WAG, show off your thigh-high black leather boots, and scream “Indiyaaaah, Indiyaaaah!” followed by, “Oh No yah, I thought, like, Dhoni would, like, be playing yah!”
It’s all fabulously freaky as white expats jump queues, and cops grope anyone in sight.
And the seats are lovely plastic 1000 rupee affairs, covered with dust and debris left over from the Commonwealth Games. Me, Rudder and Mandakini settle down. No sign of Dipyaman yet as he’s gone far away to park his car.
Anyhoo, there’s loads of paramilitary personnel nearby, so I at least needn’t be scared of Maoists.
But hang on, what are those red hordes on the field? Oh, it’s only Bayern Munich.
The blue ones are India.
And…..we’re off. A huge cheer goes up from the assembled hordes.

4 mins. And first off, I must say I love Bayern goalie Manuel Neuer’s dazzling white jersey. I can see it clearly- though where I’m sitting is closer to the Indian goal- because he’s standing at the half-way mark! Bayern’s playing at a sedentary pace, and oozing menace. 
5 mins. India breaks (hoofs the ball in desperation) down the right flank and it comes to nothing.
6 mins. A dazzled yet dogged India are defending so deep that they’re almost inside their own goal. Right now, we have about four goalkeepers. India have, as they say, parked the bus.
8 mins. A clever little back-heel from Mario Gomez lets Arjen Robben in, whose shot is batted off by our goalie Karanjit Singh. Bravo! Then another rare forward punt comes to nothing, as Bhaichung gets the ball and under pressure, has to dribble backwards.
10 mins. Bayern are mostly ambling down their left, giving the ball to Phillip Lahm to cross, and trying not to score an early goal.
Meanwhile, still no sign of Dipyaman, who, as you know, had to park his car.
12 mins. Another nice block from Karanjit. Evidently Bayern’s been paid handsomely to not score goals. I’m going to look for Dipyaman.
14 mins. GOAL! I see Dipyaman and almost run into an AK-47 trying to hail him. The paramilitary guy looks doubtfully at my beard, but figures that having bought a 1,000-rupee ticket, I probably am not Lashkar-e-Taiba. And yeah, well, Mario Gomez walks in a goal.
15 mins. Mandakini wants chips.
17 mins. A nice through-ball from India, but as it came from their own goal mouth, it only reaches Sushil Kumar at the centre-line. Cue a heavy first touch and lot’s of dithering. Cleared.
20 mins. Mandakini’s gone to get chips. Sanjib from CNN-IBN is cracking wise. I can’t hear the words he’s saying, but they’re full of wisdom.
21 mins. Bhaichung is falling to the ground beautifully every time he gets near the ball. He definitely is world class. Meanwhile Bastian Schweinsteiger’s savage shot almost decapitates an Indian defender. An friendly acquaintance, Mehul, is here too, in a leather jacket and three white guys in tow. He says something in Bengali heavily laced with an undifferentiated Brooklyn accent. He got us the tickets, so AR EES ESS PEE EE EEC TEE.
22 mins. Mandakini’s back. She had to abuse two spoilt kids who were abusing the poor chips seller. Karanjit Singh’s not bad, but whenever he tries to launch the ball up-field, he mostly kicks it out to touch. I mean, I’ve seen better football played by our clubs. But at least our football teams love the game better than the filthy lucre. But that’s probably because the cricket team is never going to let them get within sniffing distance of the lucre in the first place. Lot’s of cops guarding four different Audis stationed at the four corners.
23 mins. India gets a free-kick. The squib that comes of it is very damp indeed. Bayern are being made to look like Barcelona. I say tiki, you say taka.
24 mins. A lovely curling shot from Robben on the right narrowly misses the goal. How disappointing. Other than that, Bayern are walking the ball to Karanjit.
25 mins. A rare break! A nice lay-off to Bhaichung ends in him shooting to Row-Z. Dipyaman’s got his hip sneer on. “Evidently Bayern are here to sell Audis,” he smirks. The kill-joy.
27 mins. The boyfriends are waving their Manchester United replica banners, while the girlfriends tweet pictures of their nose-rings. Everybody’s devouring chips. So are we.
29 mins. GOAL! Robben crosses from the left after beating the offside trap and Mueller nods it in apologetically. He then rubs his eyes in disbelief. One less Audi sold.
31 mins. Irritating trio of kids in front of me are more interested in the cars. “Is that a Lam-bo-gini?” “No stoopid, it’s an Audi!” Their father looks at them with pride.
32 mins. A routine save from Karanjit brings a standing ovation. Some sad sacks are half-heartedly trying to start a Mexican wave. Like the tweeters care.
34 mins. A lovely turn and shot from the edge of the Indian penalty box hits the goalpost.
35 mins. Mandakini wishes she could see the players’ tight bums, and longs for a binocular. So do I, for not precisely the same reasons.
37 mins. GOAL! Mueller walks another one in. A stupid, chirpy PA guy shouts, “Don’t lose heart, it’s only 3 love.” Is he getting an Audi too?
40 mins. It’s a good thing that most of the action is happening near where we’re sitting. But I fear for the second half. It’s quite comical how deftly Robben keeps beating the off side trap. A sudden bit of acceleration, and the blue men drop off him like flies. Bayern are playing in first gear.
42 mins. A Bayern free-kick just outside the penalty area. Pushed away by the goalie.
43 mins. GOAL!  A lovely curler from Schweinsteiger sails into the top corner. Karanjit had no chance. What a beauty. Like knife through butter.
45 mins. HALF TIME    

Mehul wants to grab seats on the other side of the stadium block while people are away buying more chips. We’re non-committal. Meanwhile, Praful Patel, that old cheat (he’s also the head of the AIFF, oh woe) is on hand to smile benignly and give away awards. First one, a player of the year award, to Sunil Chhetri. Rs 2 lakh!? Is this a joke? Then a second one to Bhaichung. Why now? Doesn’t he get to rest at half-time? Oh no, they’re not letting him leave. Now some mook is giving him the keys to an Audi. Good for him, seriously. But why can’t he shower and freshen up? The PA is chattering away inanely. “A final look at our great champion!” says he. “Because he will be assassinated soon,” finishes Rudder. Ooh the sarcasm. Meanwhile, a good looking kid is showing off his pectorals and doing ball skills near us. Mandakini’s drooling. Then Rudder takes a snap of the two of us. Dipyaman stares hard at his Blackberry. He is probably wondering about property portfolios. AR Rehman shrieks ‘Vande Mataram’ from the PA. Sanjib has gone to look for the press box because rumour has it that journos are being fed prawns there. Of course. If Old Trafford can offer prawns, why not JNL?
Finally Bhaichung gets the chance to freshen up. That’s that for Bhutia the performing flea. God the way we treat our sportsmen!

AND the teams line up for the second half. Bhaichung’s playing, which means he got no rest. Hmm. Dangerous knifing victim Franck Ribery’s on. For India, Climax Lawrence is on, along with Subhashish Roy Chowdhury who replaces Karanjit under the bar. The Indians huddle, Bhaichung is talking to the rest excitedly.

We’re off.

46mins. Bhaichung tries to tackle Neuer, whose jersey is still spotless.
47 mins. The Indian No.7 is playing in the heart of defence. That’s radical thinking from the Indian coach! He gives the ball away to a hulking Bayern man, not sure who, who passes it back to Subhashish. I think Bayern have been told to be gracious in victory.
50 mins. India’s playing a high-pressing game, which means that they’re defending outside their own box. No mean feat that.
52 mins. Corner to India! At least in that department we now lead 1-0. In a mismatch like this, you take what you can get.
53 mins. The corner-taker hits the ball to a Bayern outfield player. Cue laughter.
55 mins. One of the kids in front looks around and says, “ That bird can see this match for free!” with great sincerity. Yes kid, the bird can.
58 mins. Coming from a city that boasts of such behemoth stadiums as Eden Gardens and the Salt Lake stadium, this lifeless 1,20,000-seater stadium looks strange to me. Must be something about the design, because there must be easily at least some 30,000 people here. And despite the noise, it looks emptier than it is.
60 mins. Bhaichung feints nicely a couple of times and sets up a one-two. But the return pass is so weak that it is easily snuffed out.
62 mins. Studs-up challenge on a Bayern player on the centre-line. A yellow card whoopee! India 1- 0 Bayern.
65 mins. India’s lead in the corners department is wiped out, because now Bayern have a corner of their own. The ball ricochets around in the box, before a stinging shot brings a fab save from Subhashish.
66 mins. Bhaichung falls after being hustled off the ball, and hauls down his tackler by grabbing his ankle. Cue applause. The Bayern free-kick results in another great shot from Schweinsteiger which brings another great save from Subhashish. That guy’s good.
68 mins. This is getting boring. I guess Bayern are not going to score any more. They recently put some 13 goals past Qatar, and they’re a much better team than us. But then, Qatar isn’t an emerging economy like India. And Bayern are here to sell Audis.
70 mins. Climax Lawrence dribbles nicely and loses his marker. He draws a foul and a free kick some 40 yards from goal. Everyone chants “Indiaaaaah, Indiaaah!” The ball sails over.
74 mins. India are battling gamely against opponents playing in their sleep. They’re also falling over as soon as they get the ball.
75 mins. Bayern ring in the changes. Robben, Lahm and Mueller are off, and some youth team guys are on. The three small boys in front are mauling each other. Mandakini leans over and whispers loudly, “These kids are totally gay for each other!” The father hears her and sternly tells them to sit down. Dipyaman says, “Boka bachcha.”
77 mins. Another attempt on goal from India, but as I knew, it sailed over the crossbar. Disinterested Bayern or not, India is definitely trying. So no point in being churlish. Dipyaman takes his mind off his imminent cross-continental Blackberry meeting on, you guessed it, property portfolios, to say, “Mama, India are getting close.” They are.
78 mins. They show a tense looking Indian coaching staff on the screen. Mandakini says, “Look, Chunkey Pandey!”
79 mins. Appeals for a handball against Bayern. Not from the players, but from the audience. Dipyaman keeps up his new-found patriotic streak. “Oder box’e amader paaye ball; kono kotha hobe na.” (We’re in their box and we’ve got the ball. No talk will be happening [not really, but it’s an appreciative statement])
80 mins. India’s right-back, who is having a superb second-half makes a fine sliding tackle. The kid on the left tells the kid in the middle, “I will keeeel you.” They both giggle. Meanwhile the crowd have fallen silent. The South Delhi babes are checking their Blackberries for the next party. So is Dipyaman.
81 mins. Everyone’s lost interest. “Will you be unhappy if we leave now?” Mandakini asks. “I will decide,” is Rudder’s Surrealist masterpiece of an answer.
82 mins. India 2-1 Bayern! Another corner thanks to some good work by Bhaichung and cohorts down the left wing….which comes to nothing. Yawn. Then a nice volley from India’s No.10 bounces off Bhaichung. This is pretty revolutionary. India has brought Bayern down to their level. They are all kicking around aimlessly around the centre circle. And then a sight to gladden the hearts of Bayern’s domestic opponents. Someone stamps on Schweinsteiger’s foot.
83 mins. Dipyaman’s been standing at the top of the aisle with his phone glued to his ears. Fine, now we’re leaving. It’s been fun people, and hurray for Audi. Any last words? Hang on, we just got a shot on target. Neuer’s jersey is slightly spotty now. Fabulous, what more can one ask for? Adieu Bhaichung!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Delhi Diaries 2006: Cat Warbling

D-735, Ground Floor, CR Park 7th December
There's a cat right under the car-wash outside the door warbling away in a loud, sad voice. It's an entreating voice, almost like a baby's. It is almost sentient. The voice wants to be let in. It wants people to notice, make a fuss. Why? Because the owner of that voice thinks he deserves it. He's not a dog who will try his best to ingratiate himself, or even act friendly, just to get attention. The cat will stalk about, sit on the sofa, shamelessly forage for food. In short, do pretty much as he pleases. It's his territory right? He doesn't care what humans think they deserve from this relationship! This is his corner of the world and he wants it. But he can't get in by himself. He is, after all, too fat and lazy to be able to climb up the vine to the first floor balcony, as his children do. He has to be let in. The voice has stopped. I think he's wandered off or is chasing a mouse. He'll be back, shortly, like an erring alcoholic!
Naughty Boy  

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Delhi Diaries 2006: My Dylan Dream

Fuck! Bob?

Well yeah, he said. As long as you don't call me Otis. How did he know I was thinking that?
Well, I said, you're moustache really got me. There was a brief second when I wondered if you know...and fuck man, you are!
Heh, that's me alright. He looked around. It's a nice house you got man. Really cute. You know that owl reminds me. I was passing through this village you know? Up in the hills. It was around sunset, and the clouds were glowing a brilliant pink, you day-glo candyfloss...when I saw this huge fucking white owl swoop down from the clouds and right at me. I didn't even have time to flinch. It just glided over me, wheeled around, and disappeared in the clouds. Really spooky, that.
I was glowing. To have him say anything about my poor, neglected wooden owl. I still couldn't believe it was happening. Bob meanwhile had leaned back and closed his eyes. He must be really tired, I thought. He looked just like the pictures. That wiry, taut face, that pencil thin 'tache, the remnants of that famous fuzzy head. Here was THE man, here was Zimmerman, sitting in my house! I realised I was gawking and stopped myself.
Instead I said, I love your new album man. It's such a lot of fun. He opened his eyes and gave me a lopsided smile. Yeah, well, my band's the greatest. They can play anything, anything! Sometimes I just give them weird shit to play, just to, you know, test 'em. They do it! It's fucking unbelievable. I mean there was Robbie and the boys all those years ago, and they were pretty hot. But man these guys. They're a fuckin' jukebox! Which ones do you like?
Those blue eyes...
Mississippi. It's beautiful. I'd heard the Sheryl Crow version you know, and even then I'd liked it. Your's has a beautiful weary feel to it. Love your voice on that one.
Yeah? He got up and idly went through my cds. I hate cds, but that's all you have, so...He picked up The Band.
May I?
Of course, sure.
Thanks. It's got some really nice songs.
I know.
'Across the Great Divide' starts playing. "Standing by your window in pain, pistol in your hand..."
I gave Robbie that line. His line was something quite crappy, let's see, uh...
'Standing with my head in my hands,' he croaks. I don't believe this. Really, I say?
Um, look, can I just freshen up? It's been a long ride across that burning plain that I just came through...
That way, I pointed...


Later we are sitting in the kitchen eating baked beans and ham sandwiches. I am telling Bob about the band I had in college and the trouble we had trying to nail 'Subterranean Homesick Blues'. 
Haha, munching on a piece of toast. That's nothing man. I went through hell just trying to write it! Days and Days of me repeating 'Johnny's in the basement, mixing up the medicine', and these Nashville guys, them musos, just sitting around looking at the clock in the studio, scratching their ass, smoking, waiting, waiting. the hotel...'hoh-tail' he popping pills, filling up my notebook and scratching stuff, and putting stuff in, and sweating sweating...this fever....trying to get it out of my head you know...and they just wouldn't come.
I still have that old bit of cardboard with me somewhere. He rummaged through his bag, brought out a hip flask..."For later," he harrumphed. Rummage some more.
Ah, here it is, my very own Torah of endless permutations....
A red, worn out, hardcover notebook. This here is your song, he said, tapping one thin finger on the cover, right there...
That one book?
Yes siree, all of it. I never worked so hard on a song. I mean, I had to EDIT 'Rolling Stone', but this I couldn't even start putting down on paper...


I just had to wake up then, didn't I? 

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Friday, October 22, 2010


Water in the rhododendrons
Red tulips bunched into a heart
with sweet blood
Gleaming red, snow framed, snow like the sky
When did that giant muscle into the frame?
It believes it was always there
with its cornices, its cutting edge of time
with old rocks for crowns
Sea rocks, ocean rocks, once molten rocks
Light in the leaves
and a carpet below
new ones, thick and leafy, thick as life
The new leaves look in wonder
at the old bark, tree bark, old tree
yet young in the reckoning of ages flowing
Another scene: of a house on the edge
of a ridge that taps the sky
a waving shawl of spring colour
undulating to the edge, the house
cloaked by cedars, old deodhars
god tree, bird tree, tall tree
all the royalty old and young
look down at their hems where martens prance
- Bibek Bhattacharya

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Rainy Day Movies

Nowhere Boy
I had high hopes for Nowhere Boy, the debut feature from the talented British filmmaker Sam Taylor Wood.The reviews were great, and most people thought that she'd done a credible job with the highly movie-worthy childhood of St John. It was a dissapointment, and not because I'm a fan. In fact, the fan in me quite liked the way Taylor Wood didn't play fast and loose with the source material, refrained from painting characters in an unidimensional hue, and largely kept the pace from flagging. But here's the thing- it lacks a certain grit. Grit that's not just the de rigueur of every rock biopic worth its salt nowadays from I'm Not Here to Control, but one that's necessary to tell a credible story. Forget the fact that Adam Johnson- who plays a teenage Lennon credibly enough- is far too beefy for a 16 year old, or that Lennon isn't even the real focus of the movie- its his mother and aunt. What irked me most was the shiny nature of the movie. Certainly the world that this cinematic Lennon occupies is not the dying, decaying Liverpool that the Beatles so memorably mythologised. No, this is an idealised world of neat suburbanness, the same vision that so blighted the immensely forgettable movie on the 60's, Across the Universe. This is even more surprising since she shares a screenplay writer with the superb Control, another story about a tortured rock genius, from two years ago. I wonder if the 50's are too far removed from her for her to imagine it realistically. Kristin Scott Thomas as Aunty Mimi really steals the show though. Although she overdoes Mimi's poshness, she's the beating heart of this movie. The definitive Lennon movie is still to be made.

The Confessions of Robert Crumb
Move over Woody Allen. If there's a tortured, repressed genius with oversized glasses and a penchant for playing music, its the graphic novelist Robert Crumb. This delightful little self portrait from 1987 is as warm as it is funny. We all know about R Crumb the iconoclast and counterculture hero. Here we get a sneak peek into the mind of the man himself, beyond all the parody, and cheap shots, and prurient humour and enraged feminists. A truly subversive artist takes a look at his life, and you get a glimpse of what America has the potential for, rather than what it is.

My friend Kingshuk is an inveterate collector. This brilliant man is currently close to mortgaging his life to build up a pretty unique LP collection, but before all that started, he was a movie collector. Still is actually. So when he gave a few DVDs of cult Japanese horror films to another friend of mine, I couldn't help but eye them furtively. Then I got him drunk and managed to sneak away the first one I could lay my hands on. It turned out to be the 1964 movie Onibaba (Demon-Woman) by the director Kaneto Shindo. It has to be one of the most atmospheric films I've ever seen, right up there with Night and the City and Jalsaghar. This isn't a horror story in the strict sense of the term. I'd rather call it a passion play, much like many other Japanese classics of the era. Its a bonfire of outsized emotions literally running amok. It tells the story of three peasants in war-torn medieval Japan, and the chaos that's caused by the coming together of those two very potent urges- lust and hunger. It takes time to build, gradually setting the scene in a phantasmagoric world of rustling reeds. If there's anything that's haunted in this movie, its the land itself. And the sexuality of the movie has a force that has to be seen to be believed. I had no clue that the profoundly conservative Japanese society had room for such frankness in the 60's. Quite brilliant.

Steve Soderbergh is a strange guy. He'll make cartloads of crappy Hollywood fillers like the Ocean's Eleven movies, and about once a decade spring a stunner. This decade, its got to be Che, his biopic on Ernesto Guevara in two parts. I saw the first one yesterday, and I think Benicio Del Toro is God. He's truly brilliant in a way few good actors are. He never plays himself. In fact he never plays the same person twice. His Che is a profoundly different creature from say, his Dr Gonzo in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, or the bitter Mexican policeman in Traffic.
As a movie, Che is remarkably un-Hollywood. No final payoffs, no unnecessary deification, and on top of that, the black and white format does it immense justice. This movie covers the successful period of the Commandante's revolutionary career. The sheer impossibility of the task that Fidel Castro and his bunch of merry men set themselves is nothing short of an intensely romantic adventure. The movie captures this well, but it gives us a fuller picture of the intense difficulties involved. To top it all, its shot on location in Cuba, which has to be one of the most gorgeous places on earth. It made me think how of its time the Cuban revolution was. Back then, the military-industrial nexus of the Capitalist west was very obvious in its methods- something that called for a certain approach to counter it. 40 years later, their modus operandi's very different. I wonder how the left movement will answer such threats now? I'm looking forward to the next instalment.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Songs about the Rain

This morning I was casting about for something silly to blog about, when Harman suggested that I do one on rain songs. I know, we're all burning right now, but it pays to be ready right? So here goes my highly subjective list. Not all these songs love the rain, but no matter.
The Beatles- Rain
It had to be the first on my list. The song's about acid, of course, but it's got one of the deadliest deadpan putdown of people averse of getting wet in the rain (or baked in the sun, for that matter). 
Bob Dylan- High Water (For Charlie Patton)
I remember listening to this song after watching footage of Katrina- and the annual cyclones that wreck the Gangetic Delta, and being chilled to the bone by Dylan's gravelly voice gravely declaiming "There's nothing standing here, high water everywhere."
Memphis Minnie- When the Levee Breaks
Most people have just heard the Led Zep version, but this is the Real McCoy, genuinely scary, partly because of the inevitability of the plain yet terrifying opening line, "If it keeps on raining, levee's going to break." And we all know what that means of course.
Jimi Hendrix- Wind Cries Mary
Okay, he might have more specific rain songs, but this one for me captures the atmosphere of imminent rainfall just right, from the buoyant guitar to the changing breeze which quickens and slackens.
Doc Watson- Deep River Blues
I love the metaphor of the rain disguising the tears of a broken heart; its an intensely compelling image. The Doc's voice lives the heartbreak.
Muddy Waters- Blow Wind Blow
Its a force of nature, is Muddy's voice. Its all thunderous desire.
The Prisonaires- Just Walking In the Rain
Another lonely heart in the rain, but what a pretty song.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe- Didn't It Rain?
This song always reminds me of the days I spent in my balcony in Calcutta as a kid loving the continuous rain and hating it too, as I couldn't go out.
Moby Grape- Sitting by the Window
Another song that builds an intimate atmosphere and then builds on it some more, and finally tops it with a beautiful, blink and you miss it solo.
CCR- Have you ever seen the Rain?
Predictable, yes, but its also the song that I love shouting out when I'm getting drenched.

p.s. If you're done being happy, please vent your righteous indignation at this great post here.

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Thursday, June 03, 2010


Made my occasional-but-not-quite visit to the National Gallery of Modern Art last Sunday. It felt good to take my father there, as this is one side of Delhi that he almost never gets to see. Being short of time, we could only take in the Medieval miniatures and the Bengal School (and allied artists) exhibits.
The latter never fail to amaze me with their superlative works, with no whiff of kitsch and a lot of originality and verve. NGMA itself seems to be doing a good job, shifting the exhibits to a massive new annexe just behind the main Jaipur House, with multiple floors and lots of space for all the main exhibits. They even have a swanky new shop.
I'd been dying to buy prints for sometime, so I bought a Nicholas Roerich portfolio for myself, an Abanindranath portfolio for my mother and these two large, utterly gorgeous MAR Chughtai prints.



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