Friday, July 20, 2012

Barsan laagi...

...kari kari baadariya...
umad umad ghir kaare badal, nanhi nanhi boondariyan aayi

After a long time today, I have arranged it so I listen to a monsoon raga as it rains. Nazakat and Salamat Ali Khan with Megh Malhar. I remember doing this once many many years ago. Favourite music lay in tapes in those days and I had a second generation recording of Shiv Kumar Sharma playing Megh. Side B was, if memory serves me well, Jasraj singing Dhulia Malhar.
Inspired by tales of the elements pouring down when Tansen sang his own Malhar and diyas catching flame when he sang Raag Deepak, I tried it myself. Played the recordings a couple of times back to back, sent up the rain yearnings with as much intensity as I could manage. And it rained. For hours. All day. And the next. I had no doubt at all I had caused it. There is something to be said for faith and innocence.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Phool khile hain...

The rains are here again, everything is beautiful and our jasmines are flowering. We have four plants around the house and mercy be, they’re all putting out buds.

One of these is a particularly insane giver. Once spring arrives, it kicks gears all the way up. No holding back, no spacing out… just whooooosh. For a week or ten days, the whole creeper turns white with abundance. My mother – grateful and dismayed at this bounty – would need several pairs of helping hands to haul them in. Then she would sit and laboriously try to string as many as humanly possible into garlands.

I’ve always enjoyed gathering these flowers, which I found a bit surprising. I used to have a very low boredom threshold and surely this is boring, repetitive work? But I think now there is a meditative quality about the activity. Giving, taking, loving, thanking… a sweet transaction.

I was so pleased yesterday to have samples from all four shrubs, I took the trouble to document it. For whiteness and fragrance, I do believe our big ones could rival the mallis of Madurai.

And here, simply because the malli is the recipient of the hero’s confidences, being asked to bear witness to the woes that beset his life, this song. Also because I love Ghantasala’s extra long caress of the phrase “mounamuga unnaaaa…ra?” The song actually begins at 4.28 so jump ahead please – this was only video I found.