Folk Routes with Mame Khan

On a normal day, a friend and I were discussing a few Indian bands from Indian Ocean to Raghu Dixit and out came Mame khan’s discussion. I was amused because I had no clue about the artist. However a YouTube scan later I was overwhelmed with his soulful music and was hoping to meet the artist or catch any of his performance live.

After a few weeks, as I was scrolling through my posts I came to realize that he was having a live show in my city. I was exhilarated that the universe was leading me where I really needed to be exploring new music and artists.

Let’s just say I commuted so much via public transport, only to have made it to the performance an hour late.

The crowds they were a humming to the soulful notes as the artist kept explaining the origin of a few traditional songs sung over for centuries only to have commercialized and become popular

We caught the artist for an interview afterward on asking about the amount of time he spends rehearsing he said “Mangniyars are known for their singing, we dislike being out of tune’ We’ve literally grown up listen to our fathers sing’ With modern day apps one can instantly sing practice anywhere they like to rehearse.We rehearse at airports sometimes”

On asking how the Chennai Audience has been he said’ Chennai is a music city, the audience has always welcomed me, I’ve been to this city thrice and have only got a positive response.

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Stories from the Mystic land

Into the lands where folk music brings a thousand of travelers along in a quiet night, telling them stories of mystics under a canopy of a thousand stars, breathing into them the spirit and soul of the divine by invoking, chanting and connecting the two beings into one.

On a fine Sunday night, I walked silently towards the Madras Race Club, the cars were aligned perfectly and people that were walking in looked like they had all come in, to forgo the world and enjoy the calling of soulful music and stories that artisans bring with the soil they have toiled from at Ruhaniyat, a music fest that connects the soul

While I quietly took my seat, the aroma of incense that burned throughout quietened the brain chattering and the view of the trees that were lit up beautifully amongst the open sky was a perfect set up for the mood.

It was then that Prahlad Singh Tippanya and group that hailed all the way from Madhya Pradesh brought stories and songs of Kabir that opened my eye.Kabir’s Doha is something that we’re very accustomed to learning in the school curriculum but it is sheer magic to make people sing along and yet the lessons remain forever with the music.

The song that is filled the air with folk music where Kabir says

Oh, passenger awaken your soul, you’ve been asleep all this while, First, you were asleep in your mother’s womb, then you came out and when your family cradled you with love, you forgot to awaken the second time. The third, where you remained old yet your soul didn’t thirst for awakening and while on your deathbed you long to awaken but can’t.

Kachra Khan, the artist from the manganiar community from Rajasthan brought his song alive with the tale of Baba Bulesha. The song goes such that Baba Bulesha is from the Sayeed community, a higher cast that didn’t believe in distinguishing any community or person by class or caste and very often would mingle with the poor. His father on seeing his son’s traits was furious and gave him a good beating only then the words of wisdom fell from his mouth

“If by rotating a mala or bead, I would find god, I would find the largest bead,” to which he added that Just because one sits in a mosque doesn’t mean one finds god, only your true dedication will invoke the spirit and connect you even higher. When Baba Bulesha’s father heard him utter these profound lines he understood the very meaning and they both danced in ecstasy.

These very stories were told by the folk artists who are known for their great skill in the art of keeping stories from one generation to the next to bring a sense of awakening in a very material world, these enigmatic thoughts are mainly to sit back and ponder about especially in a world where we try to find peace outside rather than finding peace within.

Next came the spellbinding Qawwali session with Chand Nizami from Delhi who made the entire audience clap and their power packed performance with a  high throttle of voice and the high notes, just the right kind, to involve the audience along was a charm that the group left us with. They sang many qawwalis including Chaap Tilak. I met the artists backstage personally to thank them and on asking the amount of time one spends on practice, the young one in the group said at least 6 hours on a regular basis, but what’s more interesting is I found them so very humble and down to earth despite their astounding performance on stage.

There was an Indo-African fusion with Mamadou Diabate, from Africa with Kachra Khan and P. Nandakumar from Kerala, all different levels of percussion with songs that were on rains and a traditional song mouthed by the village community in Rajasthan an ode to Mehendi.  One could observe all different kinds of music and percussion yet united by the beat. Rakesh Bhatt and group from Uttarakhand were just as brilliant as the other artists with their mystical music traditions to transcend and communicate with the unknown

I was left spellbound by the amount of sheer music that made me want to dance, live the moment and even sing along, but what I loved best was to sit back and retrospect the true meaning of life in a different perspective. Wisdom from the saints, music that speaks volumes even without words and brilliant artists who know how to weave music and wisdom into a brilliant piece of art. I was exhilarated coming to this music fest, the journey of the simple yet extraordinary was put together by Banyan Tree events who curate such fests across India.

I left a lot happier, I was grinning ear to ear. As I walked back towards the corridor I saw a mirror placed in the center and as I walked towards it, I thought to myself perhaps the very meaning of life, music and love are to understand oneself and know the depths of who we really are, we are as we see the world to be.

Filling the Void

Is life all about filling that void with things, people and experiences or is it to let the void be without being too emotional about it.

The empty page on my computer and the arrow just blinking at me, pretty much like my life, I felt. The clock reminding me of the how unproductive I’ve been professionally and personally and the continuous battle with my mind and the heart. After much thought, I finally managed to muster up some courage to take a personal break from the nuisances of mundane life.

Tickets booked, bags packed and filled with dreams to my very first personal break in a new city, Coimbatore. After a few hours in the freezing compartment of the chugging train where I was fed to the brim and fell asleep quite so often, I almost fell like a toddler living his life.

Passengers scurrying about on their journey with bags of all sizes, some, peering ahead with full speed nudging others, while some coolly walking out. Platforms and train stations were places abuzz of full action of people, moments and off course home coming during festive seasons.

It’s quite an irony being in the city, which doesn’t feel a tad bit different that the one you’re home to but since it’s a break, I’m exploring, walking and finding nooks and corners reeking the smell of books at discounted price. Hunting for a space where I can lighten up may be even get inspired or bring a purpose back to my life. But maybe we say things and complicate them or we certainly feel things will bring our old passion and pull out that old character from a closet of characters stored up within you but you don’t end up finding anything.

You walk you juggle you misinterpret you struggle you pull you push you fight to bring drama to life. And all this happens when you decide to travel hoping it may bring back the unknown part of yourself back to life. The coffee feels a little cold while you contemplate life and invigorate it piece by piece as if by doing so it’ll somehow go back to being what it used to be.

Clearly the past doesn’t divulge into the present, streets look the same yet the change so much it’s hard to accept when you look at them. Clearly we’re not discussing streets here we’re talking about ghost towns. The only difference between things was and things now are probably the world of our vivid imaginations that are full of warm fuzzy feelings that you want to feel again but all in vain.

Perhaps what we take we must leave behind and the doors that we open must be closed isn’t this life after all an act of filling the void with things and then slowly things making you emptier with a bigger void.

My tryst with waffles

When you have friends, that have a sweet tooth, you end up eating what they crave. Pair a gloomy day with a Friday feeling and call it a dose of high sugar.

We wanted to try out waffles from Waf’O’Bel which is tucked in a narrow lane full of greenery in Chetpet.

The entrance to the building is like you’ve entered a Zen zone filled with green spots here and there.

When you enter the café it’s pretty spacious with frames of comic characters like TinTin hanging on the wall. There are a lot of comic books around to get your nose into while you wait.

The menu is simple and explanatory by itself. While we were waiting we picked up a few tinkle books lying around and we chose a place near the window so  we could peer out for a view.

I ordered the ‘dream team Waffle’ and my friend wanted to try the ‘black and white Waffle, she’s more of a sweet tooth.

So what does heaven really feel like?  Imagine biting into a Nutella oozing warm waffle topped with fresh cream chocolate and a mango ice cream.The yum crunch of the waffle with Nutella and the melt in the mouth feel. I could call this a Friday feeling.

My friend, on the other hand, wanted to try the green tea infused with rosemary after her waffle affair. She felt the subtle taste of the rosemary was lingering even after.

The place is spacious and there’s quite a lot to try on their menu. Waffles, sandwiches in a creape which have interesting stuffings like corn, spinach, paneer stuffed into a nice thick crepe or you could sip on some hot/ cold milkshakes or tea.

The server recommended a cuppa hot chocolate after I finished my tryst with my waffle but I decided against it, as I was happy with my quota of dessert for the day.

Value for money and delicious lip-smacking waffles to dig your blues away.The best place for those keen on trying chocolate oozing waffles for dessert.

Waf O'Bel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Waf O'Bel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Waf O'Bel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Waf O'Bel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

A Pondylicious Getaway (Visually)

When three girls plan out a trip on a shoestring budget there is a whole lot more than just chaos and uncertainty.

Even though I’ve been many times to Pondicherry with family; this was a slightly different one. A  break from the monotonous work routine to just do random things with close friends you wouldn’t really otherwise sign yourself up to.

A girls trip was a much-needed one; especially because a friend was getting married soon and we wanted to savor a few moments to breathe, relax and have tons of fun. We took a bus to a city painted in yellow, whites and grey’s of quaint cafe’s, wood-fired thin crusted sinful pizzas or a  shoreline that every tourist envied- Puducherry or Pondicherry as they call it.

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We headed to Auroville, after we checked in, with less time on our hands. Situated on the outskirts of the city was the spiritual center, a sprawling campus of Big Banyan trees and a green space that long walk towards the Matri Mandir. You’ll probably be greeted with cute cafe’s right as you enter. We decided to pick dreamers cafe for its vegan chocolate cake, pesto veggie sandwich and a scoop of freshly churned mango gelato for that hot afternoon.

After long hours under the sun and a pleasant evening, we decided to head back to our hotel and freshen up to ease up into the night which meant sitting by a beach facing restaurant with good food but fate had it otherwise. We ended up in a much better place which included a dance off, which I think I will remember for years to come; but the best part was walking to the cool breeze by the beach after late hours and witnessing the moon in its glory and the waves crashing ashore, everything felt very light.

The very next day we headed to Chunnambar boat house (Talk about long Que’s and an hours worth waiting time to get a ticket). Since we took this break on a long holiday, everything was full and stuffy. Once we got hold of our tickets the dilly- dally of the motorboat took us to clear skies trees dotted in a line, and lush greenery and halted by Paradise beach.

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Paradise beach is a must visit,  with the sea on one side and the boat’s lined up at the other, it’s a really nice spot to break away from the bustle, bring a book to read along or just get your camera for the open skies and waves crashing over. You can also savor fresh prawns/ fish even squids at open thatched huts that serve up a delicious meal.

Our next stop from there was to visit a few monuments so we hopped into an auto and halted right near the train station. What we were looking at was a church built-in  1895 with gothic architecture at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus looking at the saintly figures painted on a tinted glass, or the detailing on the roof, even pillars made me wonder about the tantamount of detailing that went into building it.

Our next pit stop was a halt at a pizzeria place called Cafe Xtaci on MG road where one could literally smell the cheese wafting through the air as chefs were pulling out a large pizza from a wood-fired oven and then beginning rolling balls into thin flatbread to prepare another one with sauce fresh veggies and topped with cheese. We had a waiting time of 20 minutes and we decided to wait, and what a great decision that was.

We perched on high chairs with a view of the balcony, the cool breeze was an added plus along with the music tracks, that I was singing to. We ordered two cheesy thin crusted vegetarian pizzas and two starters. I wanted a chicken starter, to exclusively to polish it off by myself and ordered five-spice chicken, that chicken starter that was the bomb, I had tears in my eyes (Oh that lovely feeling). Pizzas were commendable and textured so well you could easily order a few more extras because why not with the cheese and thin crust and all that gluttony.

You know that exhilarated feeling when food brings that warm smile on your face. I was in a food coma, something that I couldn’t explain.I was ready to take a stroll afterward to shop for books, even cheese. We found a bookstore as we were crossing a lane, bought a few at dirt cheap rates and then decided to head back to the hotel to take our luggage and finally hop onto a bus back home.

Cafe Xtasi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

8 Life lessons Theatre taught me

On a cheerful Friday, while scanning my inbox, that had heaps of emails. One particularly distinctive one read out “You have NOT made it to the cast” with an added line popping out right at me stating “This does not make a judgment of your passion/talent or skill set.” I briefly looked at it and grinned.

The theatre was created, to tell the truth about life. Somewhere within me, I felt the urge to try it at least once, to learn to be more open rather.

I’ve been to a few plays where I’ve walked out introspecting myself; at some, my rage, that I didn’t think I had; regarding a particular plot, poured over a warm thin crusted pizza topped with mozzarella cheese. A few made me feel like I was a maniac laughing, being dazzled by the creativity and the performances.

When they say that trying random things will help you discover yourself, they truly mean it. This time I wanted to give this an actual shot without any expectations obviously.

An audition that I had signed up for, simply thinking there is no harm is signing up, that I had a restless feeling until I eventually ended up choosing to brace my anxiety and face it heads on. A good friend had told me to ‘be ready to feel embarrassed’. I didn’t know what that meant until the auditions off-course.

It had been time for me to take my spotlight, in front of an unknown crowd

The experience was unlike any other I was on a sugar high filled with anxiety, but a tinge of determination, to try every damn challenge. This experience shattered me from limitations, my perspectives all of them slightly shifted. I found relief within me, like somewhere within me I was waiting to open up to feel the fear release, to let go.

8 things going to auditions taught me

  1. It may seem too scary at first, sometimes simply signing up can help your brain re-wire what you really want.

  2. Don’t let the crowd get to you (When I went solo, I saw outspoken people with incredible talent, loud people and people who came in with their friends, it can feel alone at times, but just co-exist, breathe and live in the moment)

  3. If you’ve always wanted to do something different do it, you’ll have to get out of that boring fuzzy comfort zone of no growth. You’d rather say oh well, than If I would’ve

  4. No one gives a DAMN about you ( Thank god they don’t). If you sit there believing people are judging the way you act, dance or sing, you’re living in your bubble. People are out there only to play/be the best version of themselves and improve (All of us are filled with insecurities and we’re working on them one at a time, this applies to life too with real drama)

  5. It doesn’t matter if you’re a bad singer or an even worse actor, all that matters is you took your spotlight, you played your part despite the fear growling at you with all its might.

  6. Don’t let anxieties outweigh your dreams. You can have sweaty palms or you can have a feeling of panic with high pitched singing, but guess what staying in the same old place without moving or even trying will have you at worse.

  7. Other people can inspire you to open up. I know I pushed someone to go take the lead and just watching someone perform incredibly makes your self-doubt shatter to pieces.

  8. Try Everything, because you are simply there and you might as well try singing, dancing auditions as well. When the feeling of you knowing ‘Well since I’m here I might as well try everything’

 

 

 

 

Musings from a Kitchen Counter

So I read a book last night. I slept through peacefully and when the gentle rays of the sunshine poured into the room through the clean white sheets and onto my face. I wanted to get up, but my mind was playing on.

“More sleep, I just need a few minutes under the covers,” while my head was having a tantrum by itself “Aren’t we old enough now to literally wake up and start adulting?”

Between the covers and in my head, the fight was on between a few extra minutes of sleep and waking up to cook scrumptious lunch

Eventually, I threw the covers, stepped into my mom’s shoes and headed straight towards the kitchen. My eyes were bloodshot because of the extended social media scrolling, that either by habit or choice I got accustomed to.

I turned on the burner, splatted oil onto the pan and then went in garlic, onions, chilies and that smell that wafted the air was heavenly. I was preparing a special sauce for my soya and on the other end I was washing, cutting, microwaving the veggies and preparing a scrumptious lunch that I had pledged to cook in the morning.

My mind was wavering, I was obviously off my WIFI and for good reasons. My music playlist was blaring from my phone and I was actually busy in the humdrum of the kitchen. I literally had no clue how time passed or how I managed and not just managed won multitasking in the morning.  My mom is an expert at it, while I’m barely scratching the surface when it comes to fabulous cooking.

I realized one thing with this, if I wouldn’t have made the choice to cook I wouldn’t have achieved anything. I would have slept a little longer may be with my thoughts a buzz. Also, since the Wifi was off, no attention went there, I peacefully did all my tasks and only while having my favorite cheese omelet I gladly turned it on. The online world wasn’t missing me anyway.

To the Oddball

Among the cheesiest compliments, pout-a-licious selfies, embellished sarees draped perfectly along with matching jewelry, best-dressed community, who prod at themselves, and then there is me in a corner.

I feel like somehow I’ve surpassed the selfies, have no interest in dressing extravagantly for any occasion and mostly aloof, lost in my buzz of thoughts far away,  can easily claim to be the oddball of the family.

Social gatherings tire me, forget the urge to shop, just getting into a shopping mall is an anxiety filled ride by itself. Is there a feeling? Am I the only one?

After all, I’ve seen, sometimes, things really get to me. It’s an easy to pass off phase but then suddenly that feeling that maybe because I’m not good enough, people don’t hang with me becomes a huge deal, the feeling becomes overwhelming like it is today.

It seems a bit weird because it’s really been a while I’ve been feeling this way. Utterly non-existent entity, I can classify it into. More like if I were dead or alive it wouldn’t matter, anyway it frankly doesn’t because the world moves with or without you.

Sometimes, its really good until the world caves in, the problem looks a wee bit bigger than the solution and the only way out of this labyrinth is to totally avoid it

We’re the lonesomes, the one that ends up going alone to concerts, we don’t hesitate to eat solo, we’re those that feel absolutely lonely in a room full of crowd. We’re those who can be introverted extroverts at times. There are moments where we feel invisible and there are moments we smirk, pout and move along.

 

 

 

Does your best friend become subtle in the plot of your life ?

“The truth is, some relationships are supposed to last forever, and some are only supposed to last a few days. That’s the way life is.”
― Sophie Kinsella

A chick-lit book that I read first, I could easily dot the changes from one series to the other in terms of relationships. The phase of friendship kept changing and slowly had me wondering  Does this really happen? Does your best friend become a subtle character in the plot of your life?

From strangers, acquaintance to friends, best friends, and the character ever so slowly has a disappearing trait.

No one can actually remain the same, so then why do we expect it to? Why do we long a memory from school holding a mango icecream stick with a close friend on a humid afternoon or the time when everything was laughed at and being silly was a huge thing.

Why do we still linger on memories? Are they keeping the ghosts alive or they’re merely the tonic we live on?

When I first experienced it over a book, I wanted to write back to the author about the change in phases of the relationship between two close friends but I could easily relate to it as I grew up.

Either priorities shuffled or they found new friends with similar tastes leaving you feeling that you’ve stepped into an unknown territory. Experiences became so strange that what was once suitable to your palette became hard to even chew on.

At the end of the day, there will be phases you’ll feel utterly lost or find nothing in common after years, but that’s how life progresses doesn’t it?

Why is fidgeting good & my take on the fidget spinner

New toy on the block has everybody obsessing over the fact that it would help people calm their anxiety and ease them up mentally. Is that statement true? We’ll figure that out.

How many times have you worked a normal day without fidgeting, well I for sure can’t. I keep fidgeting with the cap of a gel pen or flipping the bottles

When things got boring and we really needed our brain to concentrate on bringing new juices to the table, we started fidgeting either with pencils, pens or even had the shaky leg syndrome.

What science does has to do with fidgeting?

A study published today in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine suggests that shifting, shaking and moving on your seat may help reduce the connection between sitting and mortality. Long periods of sitting each day, a mainstay of office life, are associated with several adverse health effects, including earlier death.

Why are Fidget toys, making news?

Fidget toys initially started with the invention of the fidget cube with sensory buttons that could help people with anxiety focus better with its switches and movements with its clicks. Next came the wave of fidget spinners, small ball bearing device that one can rotate with the fingers. Now both of these were targeted at people with ADHD or Anxiety issues, but their claims were a bit overblown.

My Take on the Fidget spinner

Years Ago there was a spinner, it was Beyblade as I clearly recall it. Having that prestigious toy with its sharp edges meant to battle it out with another Beyblade partner. I remember my baby brother having it and having those tournaments to see which one gets the winning title until it obviously passed and then came the era of fidget spinners.

A friend had ordered this toy online and on a Saturday afternoon, while I was typing away, I got my hands on this miniature. Initially, it felt right and then I questioned if it was actually intended to help people focus and assist people with anxiety. This is a simple toy that once you obtain your hands on you wouldn’t want it to end. Throw in some fancy colors, lights or add a Bluetooth device to it and it becomes all the rage.

Ever since I  got my hands on it, I’ve become addicted to it which was killing my productive time. I was on it for almost about three hours. Even though it’s satisfying with its uber cool sensory moves, I highly doubt about the focus bit.

When you’re bored and are having one those creativity blocks you could give this a try, especially at that boring desk space this toy can act like a paperweight and help you think out of the box in your free time.