Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Water with "noise"

The pronunciation of words seriously has a telling effect on the listener. It is easy to mistake a word for something else, thanks to the sensitivity of the ear. Atleast, I have got caught on many occasions trying to figure out what the other end is trying to convey. Many times I have been at a loss giving a slight nod of the head, so that the other person has no idea that I have no idea of what he is talking about. It also depends on the person whether you can ask him for an explanation or not. Depending on the outcome of the explanation, and placing it in context, you realise how out of place it is with respect to the actual word. That doesn't mean that the listener is always wrong. Maybe the teller is not uttering the word in a right way.

My latest tryst with "being in the dark" as far as words are concerned happened as recently as a couple of days back. I was in a restaurant with a friend, and as the bearer came to pick the order asking us what we would like to drink, my friend blurted out ", Water with noise". Now, I was perplexed. I frantically searched the menu card for what that is. I stared at the bearer, and he gave me one of those "What's wrong with that?" looks. Now, I was totally blank. I had no idea what that was. I looked at my friend, who with the same cool expression replied back, "Yeah! Water with noise". I again was looking for that elusive drink which I had never tasted before. So, I looked at the bearer and putting on a confident expression said "Water with noise". The best or the worst part was that he nodded his head and went back to get us water with noise. I was at a loss. I had come to this restaurant many times in the past and I had no idea of this drink, while my friend who was coming here for the first time knew so much about this noisy water. I had to get this clarified. So, I asked her, "Now, what in the world is Water with noise? I have never heard of this before. Is it some new brand?" She replied back, "Come on! It is water with noise." I was like "Oh! But I have never heard of it before. Ok! So why do they call water with noise here?" Now, she was confused, and after some thought replied "It is Water with NO ICE". You should have seen the expression on my face as the actual explanation came forth. I was relieved to no end!!! No wonder they were mesmerised when I said I had no idea of water with "noise".

When he came to me later and asked me whether we wanted more water, I coolly retored, "Yes, Water with noise please!!".

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Mystery Month

August 2006 was certainly a mystery month for three protagonists in Rolla. Before I get into the details, let me clarify a few points.
  • If somebody comes and asks us how much we spend on an average in Rolla, we will definitely not say that it is about 250$.
  • If somebody comes and asks us whether there is any possibility of saving with a quarter time, we will trample him.
  • If somebody says that Rolla is a small town where you will never spend a penny, send him to us. He desperately needs to talk to us.
All these conclusions stem from the fact that Rama made the monthly calculations for the last three months and ended up giving us devastating figures. Now, let me round up on the mystery month. Rama comes up with these huge grins and expressions when he gets excited, and today morning at 3:30 AM was no different.

Yadu matte Praveena, do you know how much we spent in the month of August? What the hell do we know? We were obviously clueless, and gave out a loose figure of about 250$, the standard figure of Rolla or atleast that's what we unassuming fools thought. Illa Kano! Munnoora Nalavath aidhu dollar (345$) screamed the excited creature. WHAT!!! Yadu and I leapt to our feet. If this was something unexpected, Rama comes up with something all the more unexpected - Oh my God, I forgot to divide by 3. The total amount is divided by 4. By now, I had no guts to listen to what was going to come out of Rama. This was something that was going to get truly unbearable. Ok guys, this is the final figure, it is 460$ for each person here in Rolla. Since we were prepared for the worse, all the three of us now seriously leapt to our feet amidst peals of laughter. Bloody hell!!! All of us are vegetarians and we had no idea for what in the world we were visiting Walmart as if that was the only source of happiness in life for us here at Rolla. Of course, the final figure slightly bettered when we realised that I had fed some wrong data. Better but not great. The figured toned down to 400$. This is bad but luckily atleast we saved 65 hard earned bucks. But somehow, the other months had the figure consistently maintained at 300$. There is another "best" thing about the mystery month. This was the month we were in Utah blowing up few more bucks, and ideally the amount spent at Rolla should have been much lesser than that of the other monthly figures.

We are either gluttons blowing up so much money or we surely must be spending on something which we don't realise. If in India, atleast these figures are understandable or in the worst case, if you have a girlfriend, again these figures are understandable. But, here in No Man's Land, we are bearing the brunt of big bucks!!!!

Friday, November 17, 2006

India over the ages

The theme for the biggest event in Rolla this year - India over the ages. Diwali is celebrated in UMR with pomp and gaiety, with a mammoth effort put forth by the biggest organization on campus - India Association. Every year, it is a revelation to see people take part in large numbers, and it just keeps getting better every year. People hailed this as the best Diwali celebrations ever at UMR. The audience lapped up every programme in glee, and what with a wide variety of cultural extravaganza, it was truly a cultural treat.

The programme started with the origin of Diwali, depicting the gest of Ramayana, transcending to the present day celebrations of Diwali. This was followed by various dance programmes, interspersed with short presentations portraying India over the ages, from the Ancient India to India Today. The dances broke the myth of conventional hip movements and shakes with innovative steps choreographed by passionate individuals.

The 1950s was a period of classical elan and ease, where cinematic glory was all about simple music with profound meaning. Raj Kapoor is a popular figure in Indian cinema, and his movies evoked a passion and aura that was soothing and simple. The comedy drama found much delight with the audience when emulated on the UMR stage. The early 1980s witnessed the cinematic legend Amitabh Bachchan light up Indian cinema with his angry young man image that found immense popularity with the Indian people. This dance was replicated by enthusiastic participants of UMR lighting up the stage with wonderful dance steps.

Fashion show is a delight in any part of the world, and to display the wonderful costumes of India is certainly a consuming aspect of stage performance. This is because India is culturally diverse, and to display every costume can be totally consummating. But, it was a wonderful experience to see the team come up with an astonishingly wide range of costumes fill up the grandeur on stage.

The Musical performance group did a wonderful job in recomposing the National song Vande Mataram in accord to the original spirit of the musical. The hype of Modern India encompassing the loose western steps was checked out in Miner Boyzz' Tollywood performance of some fast musical, followed by some fast foot tapping steps from the Footloose dance. There was so much life and flexibility on screen that mesmerized the audience.

The All India dance had the main elements of Indian dance integrated in a composite structure - South Indian Diya dance, Dandia, Garbha, Bihu, Bhangra and Qawwali. All of them found their way in a single dance which was stitched in a nice sequence. There was so much colour and vibrance all around that it seemed as if all the colours of life had joined in at a single place at the same time. It was an enthralling experience.

The final call was the Grand Finale, and the patriotic fervour associated with the song charged up the audience. Three songs formed the composition and Vande Mataram reverberated the stands from Rahman's high quality vocal chords putting any fear of monotony(if any) into the backburner. This song has the capability to wake anyone out of their blues, and the only fear when somebody tries to bring this song to life is how anyone can choreograph the steps for this song. But, all this was laid to rest as the choreography for this song was top class with some fantastic formations. It was imagination at its best. A perfect end to a perfect event.

Cooking for 1200 people can be no joke and the cooking team laid out a rich plate of delicacies truly unimaginable. Let's get to the menu

  • Chole
  • Capsicum Masala
  • Vegetable Biriyani
  • Coriander Rice
  • Sambhar Soup

  • Butter Chicken
  • Chicken Biriyani

  • Malai Sandwich/ Double Ka Meetha

All this supported by butter naan.

Finally, it was the hard work of 138 dance participants, about 100 general volunteers and another 100 volunteers for cooking that saw the event roaring to a success. It was truly an unforgettable experience at the end of the day.

View the complete event on Google Video. Here is the link.

Also, give the search string as UMR Diwali on Google video to view all the presentations.

  • Origin of Diwali
  • Awakening of the past
  • India's freedom struggle
  • Ascent of India
  • India Today
  • Rolla Coaster
Enjoy the magnum opus - Diwali @ UMR!!!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Into the shadows...

I was walking down the road,
That elusive figure invaded me,
I thought and thought about her,
Carrying me into the realms of restlessness

Questions surfaced and resurfaced,
Thoughts flashed across my mind,
Afloat in the corner of my heart,
Struggling to contain an unexplainable bliss

An entity I did not possess
Mightily I was surprised,
How much I thought of her,
Life wasn't too straight

She just evaded me,
Late into the night I lay,
It was clouded at the top,
Yet, I looked for the stars!

At the crack of dawn,
Sad to see the light of the day,
Countless moments lost in the awakening,
Time to put my eyelids to rest,
Atlast, she came to me
And I plunged into the shadows!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

My Multifaceted Amma

As I sat back on yet another day, figuring out what I have to cook for lunch, the monotony of the routine was killing me. I was filled with the same question once again What do I cook today that is something totally different? Internet and suggestions taken, I would attempt something that beat the normal items. But sometimes, when there is no time to experiment, and you just want to finish up with something, the end product has to be something usual. That was when I thought, how mothers at home can come up with different things every day. Remember, they cook everyday. I still remember the time at home, when I used to grimace and swallow, if an item that was made a couple of days back was made again. Why can't you do something different? Is it the same thing again? I would eat it up as if my mother had committed a grave sin. The best part at home was that it was not the question of a single dish, but a minimum of three dishes was compulsory. Rasam, Sambhar and Curry was the norm of everyday. Any slight deviation from the routine resulted in an additional dish like Kootu along with the other three items.

I remember those days when I used to call up home at about 8 or 9 in the evening, and inform my mother that I was going out with friends for dinner. There were days when I used to take a couple of them home without even informing her. The response on both the situations used to be the same, the typical OK, without a frown or grimace. I never realised how the extra food got adjusted on both the occasions. It was a mystery and it still remains a mystery to me as I juggle and struggle with my cooking. Thankfully, it is a good experience in the sense that it makes me realise the importance of getting good food at the right time. I think one of the toughest jobs Indian women have is to maintain a household and put up with all the tensions, and end up pleasing everyone at home. Had I been half as organized as my mother, I am sure I would have been much more productive in my work. My college days are something that I have to write about. I had my college bus at 7 in the morning, and by the time, I left the house, I was filled with lunch in the morning. Yes! Lunch it was. Apart from that, my tiffin box would get packed with something different. Of course, then I used to shout at my mother for being so overprotective and caring, and for spoiling her health. But then, it used to fall on deaf ears as usual, and I used to end up having all the delicious items she made. By the time, I returned from college, my evening snack used to comprise of something totally different.

As I write this entry, I am reminded of this wonderful quote that RK Narayan, through Chandran comes up with in the Bachelor of Arts, Mother is a sacred commodity. It is a commodity whose value we don’t realize as long as it is with us. One must lose it to know what a precious possession it is. I can't think of a better quote than this to summarize her.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

ARR's Vande Mataram

Sometimes, people benchmark a particular song or music, and elevate it to an unscalable point, that anything seemingly less comparable to the earmarked audio sounds astoundingly trivial. High quality music can always be stretched to eternity surpassing all doubts about its survival in a race against time. Any thoughts of it dying down with time is pulverized as events relayed from the past reflect the strong bonding etched to futuristic events. AR Rahman's Maa Tujhe Salaam or Thai Manne Vanakkam, all under the broad classification of Vande Mataram, falls under this supreme category. Rahman came up with this composition, along with BharatBala Productions in the year when India readied itself to commemorate the fiftieth year of Independence from the British. Both of them readily strike a good vibe when it comes to portraying national footage that exemplifies the class and beauty of India. That was the year when India turned defiant in Pokhran signifying one of the greatest moments in Indian history and every Indian citizen was beaming with pride like never before. This moment was further enhanced, when ARR came up with a high quality composition, evident both in its audio and video, sending the nation into an unimaginable patriotic frenzy.

ARR's musical rendering skills had hit the headlines in Bollywood, but to come up with something like Vande Mataram, which was out of the world was sending the nation into a vibrant mode. Vande Mataram was rendered in a way that was totally way out of the conventional appeal that the song had created for itself. MTV had saved its time for only the new album of ARR. On the day of its release, MTV devouted the entire day playing the video footage that was as passionate as the score. ARR cited in the interview that he wanted to come up with something that would charge up the average Indian, and that he wanted to shed the image of a silent, soothing and touchy music so commonly associated with Vande Mataram. The end result was nothing sort of sensational. He had changed the face of the Indian national song in no uncertain terms. People began to associate a passion and a fervour that was unheard of before.

I have listened to this song innumerable times, and each time it just livens up the atmosphere with a passion and a sense of pride towards India. A hair rising experience, it generates a feeling of having to do something for the sake of motherland. It emboldens a sense of awakening to a nationalistic cause. ARR's magic wand had created one of the greatest unmatchable patriotic songs of all time in a way that brought about a transformation to the average Indian.

If you are wondering why this post has come out of the blue, the India Association at the University of Missouri-Rolla is getting ready with the Annual Diwali fest on 12th November, and ARR's Vande Mataram figures in the list, with some wonderful choreography and great dance from the participants.