Monday, 31 March 2014

Lessons I had forgotten

Once upon a time when we were all children and we used to read children’s books, we used to always look for the morals at the end of the story –morals that crystallized the learnings for us, that taught us right from wrong, good from evil.

Today, far removed from the black and white angelic world of childhood, as we sit surrounded by the quagmire of grey and the wall of cynicism that surrounds us, children’s stories might seem to be an alien concept to us-only fit for reading at bedtime to our children, at best.

But reading them again today, with my daughter, I find new meaning in the old tales, new power in the words that the much-loved characters used to say, new lessons for life today.

We may not want to read the morals again, but some of the simplest dialogues in our best-loved childhood books hold some powerful lessons for the struggles we go through in life. A few are mentioned below:

From Alice in Wonderland

A wonderfully clear message when we are fighting confusion in life and looking for the right road to turn to
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to."
"I don't much care where –"
"Then it doesn't matter which way you go.

On change and what that means
“I can't go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.”

From Winnie the Pooh

When you lose faith and need to believe in yourself all over again
“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you believe and smarter than you think”

On friendship, in a cynical adult world when we start believing more in Facebook likes than real friendships
 “If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.”

From the Little Prince
On the power of the heart when the mind is all you can hear
“The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched, they are felt with the heart.” 

On loneliness and being alone
“Where are the people?” resumed the little prince at last. “It’s a little lonely in the desert…” “It is lonely when you’re among people, too,” said the snake.”

From Matilda

A quote for the dark times when we are tempted to take short-cuts in life
“If you are good life is good.” 

On the power of dreams, when all we can worry about is survival
“Matilda said, "Never do anything by halves if you want to get away with it. Be outrageous. Go the whole hog. Make sure everything you do is so completely crazy it's unbelievable...

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Summertime dreams

“It’s summertime, Mummy”,
She strums the guitar.
Strikes a pose, and declares herself,
The latest rocking Rockstar.
Next day, she ponders thoughtfully 
In the kitchen; oblivious of the mess,
Chocolate chicken in the making,
"Papa, can’t you guess?"
The remote is no longer under any control,
Sounds of Chotta Bheem blare.
"I am just planning a new TV invention,
Science research you see, shh..secret, can’t share".
Then again in her shiny, new, roller skates,
She balances delicately; you run to break her fall.
"Watch me fly" she laughs; you cry -
“Baby, be careful, keep your eye on the ball”.

But when the ball drops,
When the guitar string breaks,
When we forget the lyrics of the song,
That once lulled us to blissful sleep,
When each new recipe tastes of
Broken dreams and lost hopes,
Aren’t we still entitled
To that one crazy, forgotten, dream?
Can't summertime dreams last
an entire lifetime? Don't we all remember
that summer, when the world was our dream?

Monday, 3 March 2014

On the music trail in Jodhpur

Why would you go to Jodhpur? Options could vary:
  • You are enroute to Jaisalmer to visit the Sonar Kella (immortalized  by Satyajit Ray in the movie by the same name) and are stopping by in Jodhpur on the way
  • You love history and want to spend hours at the historic and majestic Mehranghgar Fort
  • You want to have dinner at the Umaid Bhavan Palace, never mind the exorbitant cover charges
  • You are out of "jutis" (leather shoes) and Jodhpur stocks them in all shapes and colors in affordable prices
  • Music..and this is a new reason. Music tourism is still quite new in India and not as widespread as some countries in Europe.But with current Maharaja’s patronage, Jodhpur has transformed itself into a city that lives and breathes music and welcomes people who do the same.
I was lucky enough the attend the World Sufi Spirit Festival hosted at the Fort in February 2014.
Sufi music, at its best, has the power to transport one to a world of oneness with the Almighty where earthly cares cease to exit. Sufi music against the backdrop of the majestically lit Mehrangarh Fort, promised to be just that. Of course, Sufi music of late has been much used and abused in Bollywood with many a movie cashing in on its recent popularity and belting out songs that range from a few divine ones to some plain bizzare ones.And though the organizers did get the usual Bollywood quotient by inviting Kavitha Seth and lesser known, Chintu Singh, they did manage to go much further than that.

The beauty of the festival lay in the other voices it managed to attract - Voices from the Pamir Highlands, voices from Morocco, classical Sufi strains, Sufi music and dance from the Middle Eastern countries.

Music that broke the barriers of language, music accompanied by unknown instruments and powerful voices that reached across the sturdy walls of the ancient fort to reach the hearts of all the listeners.
The listeners too represented a wide spectrum of people – travellers across ages and cultural boundaries from different parts of India, foreign tourists who have seen Sufi music in other parts of the world and came to experience it in India, even some celebrities and some wannabe celebrities. They were all there, united by a common bond of music, the strains of the soulful notes stretching into the starlit night; the shadows of the past merging into a musical journey across the corridors of time.

And when the three official festival days were over, the music still continued. Folk musicians from Rajasthan sat at the corners of the forts, playing the ravanhatta (folk instrument) and singing old folk songs in their raw, powerful voices. The crowds had thinned by then, but the folk singers were oblivious, their voices blending perfectly with the stone walls of the fort, keeping tune with the secrets that the fort would not share with the casual visitors who came to visit just for a few days. The festival was over, the music will continue, forever.