Friday, March 26, 2010

Do you know what it means to be in New Orleans?

The beauty of jazz lies in contrasts.

The beauty of jazz lies in its almost ridiculous simplicity, even though under the bonnet its construction is head-alteringly complicated. Even though it may appear to be the background track to Tom and Jerry, it is not frivolous. It is classic and elegant in an artistic-Chivas Regal-sophisticated-middle aged-relaxed-whiskey bar-restrained energy sort of way. Even though the bop is all peaky and angular, the rhythm to which it fits has the curviness of western classical. Even its sober rhythms have in them the raggedness of the psychedelic rock genre that followed it. In their day, their melodies were unconventional and bold. In a post-depression society, they somehow dared to be jaunty! An optimism born out of depression perhaps, I can only speculate.

The beauty of jazz lies in contrasts.

Re-recordings, no matter how sophisticated, can never match the quality and depth of the sound produced by big-band musical ensembles. It must have sounded a hundred times more soulful in the dark silent whiskey bars of the west coast of USA in the mid 1930s, those beautiful jazz years.

Jazz music, along with the general theory of relatively is one of the greatest human intellectual achievements.

Monday, March 15, 2010

A tattered soul

The sneakers in the first picture are my favourite pair. I’ve had them for many years. The second picture is that of my riding gloves – not my only pair, but the ones I’ve had for the longest time. In fact, I do not remember a time when I did not have these gloves. You will never know how dirty they look unless you’re either a very close friend or very brave.

But in a way, these dirty old things have seen the best and the worst of me. I still use them at times. I can’t be as reckless with them as I once used to be, but I still do use them at times. They fit me so well.

Over the years I’ve tried to take care of them, just like the way they’ve taken care of me. But time has passed, and no one around here is getting any younger. They look so worn and tired. Every day a new wrinkle appears on them, everyday another seam snaps. I’ve tried to mend them a few times, but maintenance-wise there appears to be only one direction they are headed. Maybe we’re all headed the same way.

Maybe I will get a new pair of sneakers or gloves after a while, but I will never forget or throw these away. These were not mere “things” I once owned, but for me they were organic living beings, whose lives ran parallel with mine for a while. Even now, after many years of use, there is not one thing I’d change about them.

I still sometimes decide to go on rides at 1 past midnight. When I do, I sometimes worry about the chain running loose or tyre treads wearing thin, but at least I know I don’t have to worry about my shoes or gloves or my helmet. They plainly know what they have to do, and they’ve served their turn unflinchingly for many years now. They’ve always seemed to understand the boiling irreverence of youth, just like they now seem to have the wisdom of many years on the road.

I don’t think of them as being sexy. I don’t talk to them, or give them “cool” names. I think that kind of thing is reserved for frivolous coffee-table motorcyclists. In fact, I’ve never even had their photographs until now.

These are not my riding gloves or my sneakers or my jeans…these are what I’ve been. These are who I’ve been. These are my most sacrosanct memories. They may not smell expensive or turn heads at some high society motorcycle-club meet, but I will never give them up. If you have a problem with my gloves or sneakers, you have a problem with me. If you think your gear says a lot about you, just know that after more than forty thousand highway miles, my gloves and shoes have absolutely nothing left to prove. Not even to me. Because the only way your helmet can get that fade and those scratches is by earning it on the road. They are cool because they don't have to pretend. Just know that I quite literally trust them with my life. That’s more than what I will ever say for you. If you say I have to get rid of these and get shiny new ones, here’s what I have to say to you –

Screw you.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Life and other such things.

The title of this post has got nothing to do with what this is about. I just wanted to have a title like that. So there. What this post is about is what I've learnt from my experience with Hindi and Tamil movies. Here are a few life-lessons I want to share with you.

If there is a sewing machine in someone’s house, it means they are poor. There is always an unmarried sister or a sick mother in the house.

If a woman is walking alone in a white saree and there is fog around her, she is a ghost.

If a woman has green eyes, she is actually a snake.

If a rich girl and a poor boy meet, they will definitely fall in love and eventually get married. Either that or they die. Together.

Two people can’t just play snooker without anything significant happening. A cunning scheme HAS to be plotted, or an argument HAS to be had, usually about ethics or morals. If a person pots a ball, he is usually the winner of the argument. Or he is the one who comes up with the cunning plan.

If you see the feet of a little boy who is running in the first scene, he is going to grow up soon. And he usually runs to Bombay and Madras, in Hindi and Tamil movies respectively.

If someone has a drink, their speech becomes slurred and they drive dangerously or end up getting beat. No one in movies can have a drink without getting absolutely plastered. Even a sip of diluted breezer is enough to reduce the heroine to an incoherent burbling mess at a party where she would subsequently become an embarrassment to her father or husband, who would then give her mute, constipated looks of anger as she is singing in a slutty voice, usually with the cleaveage showing. There is no other way a woman can have a drink.

No one dies or gets hospitalised during a song.

If a little boy and girl sing a song at age 5 and then get separated, they will remember that tune till they are 25. And they will meet again and fall in love and either get married or die together. In the end, they will sing the tune in either case.

If a boy and a girl knew each other when they were young, they will definitely meet again. No matter how hot the girl is, she will not have a boyfriend till she meets her childhood friend again.

If it rains when two people are walking, there is no way they cannot fall in love with each other.

There are no traffic signals in car chases. No one runs out of fuel.
How many clich├ęs can you think of?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Useless two-bit life-lessons learnt on the road.

There are essentially two kinds of people in the world. Losers and Jerks. Losers are the annoying ones who are slower than you on the road. Jerks are the impatient ones who are faster than you. Most people fall into either of these two categories. People who aren’t Jerks or Losers are Spectators. So, Losers, Jerks and Spectators. Statistically and empirically speaking, apart from these there are no other categories.

You will usually find Jerks behind you and Losers ahead of you. (Refer: Murphy’s Law). If someone is driving alongside you, there is no way of ascertaining whether he or she is a Loser or a Jerk, though heuristics suggest that he/she is more likely to be a Loser.

If you have an accident with a Loser, it is obviously the Loser’s fault. If you have an accident with a Jerk, it is always the Jerk’s fault. If you have an accident, it is never your fault.

It is usually better to let the Jerk overtake you than die of hearing his loud horn noises, in much the same way as it is better to overtake a Loser as soon as possible than die of hearing your own loud horn noises.

If a person with a faster automobile is driving ahead of you and hasn’t pulled away significantly, he is a Jerk. A person with a slower automobile who has been deliberately keeping up with you is an annoying Loser.

If three people are driving one behind the other, the first one is a Loser to the 2nd and 3rd. The 2nd one is a Jerk to the 1st and a Loser to the 3rd. The 3rd is a Jerk to everybody. So, the classification, as you can see isn’t rigid and inflexible. People can be Losers or Jerks, depending on who is making the call.

Thus, it is easily demonstrated that the world is essentially made up of Jerks and Losers.

Which one are you?