Friday, April 4, 2014

On "The Music Room" by Namita Devidayal

There are stages in how one reacts to Classical Music. I am not just referring to stages of casual listening, then liking, following, collecting and getting totally addicted.
Beyond an initial liking that develops, one starts understanding the nuances and technical parts. There is the joy of discovery when one is able to identify a certain raag, or follow a taal.
But there comes a stage when the technical aspects start looking too formidable to comprehend. Chalan-bhed, shruti-bhed, vakra swar…. it just keeps getting increasingly complicated. It is at such times that this book – The Music Room – By Namita Devidayal, comes as a saviour. No, it tells you nothing about these technicalities. It does something else, and does it very well indeed.
It tells us how Hindustani Classical Music is not just science or just art. It is a touching narrative of how the Guru-Shishya relationship between the author and her Guru, Dhondutai Kulkarni evolved over decades. But the book is not merely a report of events told nicely. It goes on to show us that Classical Music is actually what comes out of a melting pot of relationships. Gurus behaving strangely with disciples (and vice versa), an artist using one moment of public humiliation to trigger a fierce lifelong battle, battle of egos, love, hate, adulation, possessiveness, it is all there.
So the next time you wonder why the same raag sounds so different coming from two artists, remember that it is not only because of the technical equations and mathematics. It is also because it is expression coming from two different human beings.

Monday, March 26, 2012

A trash weekend


Whats the best way to spend a Sunday morning? There can be many answers to this, but I found a new one. Deal with garbage.
After hearing and reading various opinions, and also seeing many people actually take constructive steps) I finally motivated myself to start composting the biodegradable waste I generate. Initially I thought it was going to be a rather complicated affair, requiring much time and attention. Quite the opposite. It is absurdly simple.

We have got so used to doing this - fill up the bin for the whole day, then simply keep it outside the door the next morning and forget about it. Let the municipal machinery take care of it. If its not inside my home, its not my problem.
It IS, unfortunately.Many of us are not aware about what happens to the contents of our bin once it disappears from our sight. It travels to the city (gets spilt on the road in the process) and ends up in the municipal dumping ground. The ground now resembles a gigantic mountain of garbage. It can contain everything, from a staple pin to a car bumper. Of course, a large part of this montain is formed of PET bottles, shoes, electronic waste, and so much more.
People at the dump go through the painstaking process of segregating all this mess. Some pick only glass, others look only for leather goods, yet others have an eye only for PET bottles. Once they have taken these things away, the remaining bit (which hopefully is all biodegradable) should ideally get converted to compost.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Artist

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

A date with the Government

I believe I am an honest taxpayer. And I have enough papers to prove it. So in  due course of time, a day arrived when I had to go further and become an honest service-tax payer. I thus braced myself for a long-drawn battle with the system to get a service tax registration number. And since I have already made the claim to being an honest taxpayer, I did not wish to approach the matter through a tout/agent.
At the outset, I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised that the whole system of getting a registration is now online. Wow. One would be tempted to say. That it took me seven visits to the office in spite of the system being online (or rather, because of it) is another matter. Anyway, to come to the point, the procedure sounds deceptively simple.
1. Go the aces.gov.in homepage and create an account for yourself. You then get a login ID and a password - the customary stuff.
2. Then you login and fill up a form called ST-1 and click on 'Submit'. Then take a printout of the form... wait. Here's the first catch. If you have to really take a printout, you have to achieve quite above-average literacy in the world of computers, because there is NO straightforward method to either get a printout of ST-1 or getting a PDF version of it. But I managed that.
3. Then one has to go to the service tax office, wait in an interminably long queue (and it could takes several such visits - it took me three) and present the ST-1 with supporting documents (PAN, addr proof etc.) and submit it.
4. The officer promises you that the approval of ST-1 will happen in seven working days. Which means you have to wait for a week-and-a-half, and just hope that other meaningless holidays like Mahashivratri don't make the wait longer.
5. It comes as no surprise that nothing happens after seven (or many more) working days. I went after sixteen, and had to create a mild form of satyagrah in the office to get the officer to approve my application in front of me.
6. Once approved, one simply has to login again and take a printout of the much-desired and precious entity called Form ST-2. Child's play, one would imagine. But no.
7. When I eagerly logged in and, fingers quaking in anticipation, clicked on the link called 'View Latest ST-2', it asked for dates. From and To date.