Sunday, November 12, 2006

To strike a chord...

Ever wondered why your dad swears that his favorite song from 20 years ago is the best one ever made? When the new AR Rehman song seems so obviously better? You are going to be saying the same thing about the AR Rehman song to your son 20 years from now.

What we don't notice most of the time are the feelings we associate with a particular song. When you hear the song which you heard on a vacation with your friends, you always feel happy no matter what. Being a grad student far away from home, songs about home and parents suddenly acquire new meaning. I especially felt this with a couple of songs -

Luka Chuppi - Rang De Basanti

A translation - for the fellow hindi clueless

Luka Chuppi bahut huyi saamne aa ja naa
Enough of hide and seek, come before me.
Kahan kahan dhoondha tujhe
I searched for you everywhere.
Thak gayi hai ab teri maa
Your mother is now tired.
Aaja saanjh hui mujhe teri fikar
Its evening and I'm worried about you
Dhundhla gayi dekh meri nazar aa ja na
Hazy is what my sight is, come to me

Yahaan sab kuch hai maa phir bhi
All that I want is here maa... but still...
Lage bin tere mujhko akela
Loneliness is what I feel here without you.

Read the full translation here.

Listen to Luka Chuppi -

Another very poignant song about how quickly life passes you by is 100 Years by Five for Fighting. I first heard it in a credit card ad - probably the only ad I look forward to here.
This song also has wonderful lyrics, especially at the end -

I'm 99 for a moment
Dying for just another moment
And I'm just dreaming
Counting the ways to where you are
15 there's still time for you
22 I feel her too
33 you’re on your way
Every day's a new day...
15 there's still time for you
Time to buy and time to choose
Hey 15, there's never a wish better than this
When you only got 100 years to live



When I listened to this song I was reminded of a conversation a few days back when I was asserting to an incredulous friend of mine about how I have never had crushes/LIKED anyone all my life (yeah, its true). I felt sad about this for the first time when I heard this song. Then again, living half the world away from home with the restriction of Indian girls only (slowly broadening from South Indian. Maybe, this too, shall pass ;)) means that it has to be one among probably 5 girls in this building (Grad school isn't exactly a social experience).

And having dismissed this scary thought as soon as it appeared, the only option left is the dreaded LD (long distance) - the single biggest scourge of the bank balance of grad students. Somehow, even after watching the girls here have whispered phone conversations for hours (yeah they are already taken. I like to think that I dismissed the thought.) this doesn't appeal to me. One more messenger window. One more smile for Reliance. Like I need this when I'm already in the middle of missing my parents.

And two lines enough to make Wordsworth turn in his grave -

Of what use is another tug at your heart
When what you miss most is the hug?

So I'm back to playing the two songs which will always carry these thoughts along for me.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The cake or the icing?

Before I go any further,

I haven't made any cakes.
My experience with cakes is restricted to having watched a few being made and eaten a LOT.

Would you like to make the cake or the icing?
Making a cake for the first time is daunting -

  • Read the recipe
  • Wonder if you can do it
  • Think about a hard, burnt cake atleast 3 times
  • Finally decide to attempt it
  • Do the "Oh, I added a little too much of this, so I'll add some more of that" thing many times and end up with much more batter than you actually wanted to
  • Pour it into the baking dish and keep it in the oven and pray
  • Open the oven every five minutes worrying if you'll burn it
  • Take the first one out while its still gooey and burn the second one
  • Start to produce something like a cake from the third time

What would happen with the first-time "icer"?

  • Admire the beautifully done cake and often, the first layer of icing
  • Attempt to make a flower pattern with the icing in one corner
  • You mess it up but no one notices the small thingie in the corner
  • It tastes good anyway
  • Eventually you start making good flowers but nobody seems to notice that either
  • Many people entirely avoid eating the icing

The cake - you have to learn a lot, its tough to make, it takes a lot of time and effort before you produce something edible.
But everybody notices it, eats it once it tastes good and remembers that you made it.

The icing - you can produce something very fast and with little preparation.
But the cake's already there anyway and nobody asks who made the tiny flower on the left corner. Only very few people like ever-hungry grad students eat it.

So what would you choose in your research career? The cake or the icing?