Saturday, May 29, 2010

Still high

You'll be surprised at these frequent posts. But the thing is I'm having an keep-off-facebook week, maybe two weeks if I can keep at it.
I can't knock the service, of course - I'm too social a being not to enjoy it rather too thoroughly, too much of a geek not to relish how easy technology makes so many things. But it drains your time and what would once have been a mail or a post, however short, becomes a status update or a poke. And then there's this privacy thing! bah.


Still captivated by Pakistan's Coke Studio. I'm obsessing over one song a day and here is song du jour, Ali Zafar's Dastaan-e-ishq.

की दसां, की बात सुनावां इश्क दियां
ki dasaan, ki baat sunawan ishq diyaan…

What shall I tell you? How to narrate this story of love?

राँझा राँझा करदी नि मैं, आपे राँझा होई
राँझा कहो सहेलियों… मैनू हीर ना आखो कोई

ranjha ranjha kardi ni mein, aapay ranjha hoyee
ranjha kaho saheliyon…mainu heer na aakho koyee

Ranjha, Ranjha I cry... and have myself become Ranjha
Call me Ranjha, my friends, let no one call me Heer

The love story of Heer and Ranjha so permeates the Punjab that even sufis then must borrow their names, use them and own them till Heer becomes the lover, Ranjha the beloved.

This video is only a rehearsal and the final take, for some reason, was never done. But see the quality of their discards! I want a waistcoat/robe like the one Zafar is wearing here - how nice to stride about with that streaming behind you.

And oh, Coke Studio's Season Three starts June 4. Five episodes only and they air at 10.30pm IST every other Sunday. I have not managed to persuade my cable service provider to supply even one channel (CS airs on all of them) but there is apparently a ban on Pakistani channels in India and they're jibbing. There is the internet of course but nothing like catching it on TV.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Through the grill

We've had a couple of bird baths in the garden this summer and happy to say they've been a huge success. It has been murderously hot and wildlife of all sorts seem to appreciate the troughs. Needless to say, we appreciate the view and the constant stream of Discovery Channel outside our windows.
At first the troughs were greeted with some suspicion. But they stayed there doing nothing more drastic than acquiring patinas of moss and being magically refilled. When they had blended into the surroundings, looking as scruffy as everything else, they began to be accepted.

The smallest birds are the most wary and make a huge production of descending bough after bough before they sip very quickly and dart away. This sunbird was actually quite zen in her non-fluttering and allowed me one neat frame.

This is our resident Robin, and quite the only one who actually dives in without any compuction at all. Once he got into the trough briefly and flew to sit on a branch shaking and drying himself. Then clearly thinking that there was no need to be done quite so soon, he breezed down and stepped in again for this rather frolicky bath.

The babblers, when they come, are enormous fun. They don't actually bathe but they like to dip their tails in, chatter incessantly and make a huge communal thing of it. But then everything is a huge communal thing with these fellows.

We have a new litter of cats. This is a new family that's moved in - mother and four kittens, all striped and pointy-eared. They like the bigger trough and very much disconcerted the birds when they first came. We were afraid the birds would reject that one because cats had been sipping from it but realised that they weren't about to be so brahmanical about it - everyone will drink from the same pond... just not at the same time. Anyway, here are two of the kittens enjoying a snooze.

This kitten gave me the most attitude-y looks if only, alas, I had been able to quickly focus on him. But these twigs got in the way and my camera insisted it knew better. However, it has prodded me to finally learn these manual controls, so next time hopefully we'll focus on the cat.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Dog Days

The last lingering days of summer are like the final leg of a long journey. Early on, you will have settled into the movement, making yourself as comfortable as possible, knowing there are a ways to go. But with only a little time left, you begin to gather your things, sit up straight and then - be it only an hour longer than you thought it might be - the wait is unbearable.

The Lady Laila was nice to us (Hyderabadis) while she visited but now that she has gone, she leaves us neither here nor there. The breeze blows as though the rains were here but they swirl about stirring and prodding the loos, deposit odd smells in our corner and it's all very unsettling. The light is strong, my migraine-pricked eyes flinch from the glare that bounces off every surface. The leaves outside my window are doing their best to soften the harshness but they don't succeed very well. Each leaf leaves a sharp shadow on the ground. Even curtained panes let in sharp slivers at the edges where the cloth flutters.

A week longer, they say, a week.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Yeh khazanein

Still stuck on Mae ni mai kinnu aakhan. I blogged about it last week, and spent a goodish time listening to various versions on the glorious youtube, the ever-expanding internet. And look what I found! Atif Aslam again with an 8½-min version - a soulful, innovative, just-right fusion version - of the song:

But the find was a small tell-tale string that drew up a treasure. As you'll see, it's a studio recording, and fabulously produced. The recording is superb, the lighting is wonderful, the shots are delicious and if the camera is obsessed with Atif Aslam's slender hands, who can blame it? It didn't seem random. Who had produced this? Was this a music label with a repertoire of sufi fusion? Was this clip made for a music video?

The productions are from Pakistan, from a series of live music recordings from a house called Coke Studio. Produced by Coca Cola and musician Rohail Hyatt, these are not music videos but in fact made for television. I have, of late, been so traumatised by what passes for music on mainstream Indian television, it took me a while to understand that that such music was produced and aired for consumption by mass audiences. Also, immensely gratifying to know it's all up there on youtube in high quality and there is PLENTY of it.
Here's the wiki page for Coke Studio, here is their website and here is the wiki entry for Rohail Hyatt.

Now, I'm not asking for an Indian version - I can't think of an Indian producer who could combine these production values with such a sense of music; I can't think of an Indian channel that would consider such a project worth their effort, or not cheapen pure music with cheerleaders, hooting audiences, large stadium-stages and festoons of pompoms.
But can't the Coke Studio performances be aired here? I was embarassed to discover this late a project that aired first in 2008. Anyway, yay for this world without borders and thanks to Coke Studio for allowing the recordings to stay in the public domain, letting them be accessed.

Before I go, another sampler. Ali Zafar and Tufail Ahmed sing Allah Hu: