21 January 2022

Noorie

It was 1983 or 1984. My best friend Avijit Bose and I had gone to our friend Kaushik Samanta’s house. Kaushik’s elder sister – Papiya-di – introduced us to a new cassette she had bought – Noorie. At that time I did not know but it was already a 4-5 year old movie. I had never heard of the movie but loved the songs. One of my earliest introductions to Qawwali (albeit the Bollywood version) – “Aashiq ho to aaisa ho“. Loved “Chori Chori Koi Aaaye” too!

A few weeks later, Papiya-di lent that cassette to me. I remember Avijit and I listening to the songs over and over again at our place!

Almost 38 years later, those were the same songs I listened to again. (one more of the vinyl records I got from the Kolkata trip this time).

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16 January 2022

Pighalta Aasman

I had just entered my Engineering college in 1985. One of the first things I had bought for myself was a small radio. Mostly to listen to songs. It was probably early 1986 when a song caught my ear – “Teri Meri Prem Kahani“. Not only did I find the tune catchy, I also liked the rhyming of the words “kitab-on“, “sharab-on“, “gulab-on“, “nawab-on” and how they were used in the lyrics. It probably mattered that those were some of the few Hindi words I actually understood at that time!

Later I discovered another song from the same movie – Pighalta Aasman – “Mujhe Aisa Milaa Moti” – that stuck on to me for a long time. Very different kind of tune but memorable, all the same!

Tonight, that was the vinyl record I brought out from the collection I bought in Kolkata this time, cleaned it up and put it on… and in a small way, relived those days from four decades back!

9 January 2022

Superuna

After the 1981 Disco Deewane, brought out another vinyl record this evening that was actually released just the next year (1982). I was preparing for my Board exams when this album by Runa Laila (from Bangladesh) hit the streets. I remember finding the tunes very catchy those days.

My favorites were – “Suno suno meri yeh kahani suno” and “De De Pyar De”. The tune of the last one is actually completely taken from a popular folk song in Bengal where the farmer sings to the Rain God for rains to come so he can till the land.

The composer – Bappi Lahiri – had a bit of a reputation for plagiarizing tunes from other places.

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7 January 2022

My unique experience from Covid isolation

Just came out of Omicron isolation yesterday. Fortunately, it happened after I reached the US and not while in India. Also, isolation was relatively painless since I had the whole new house to isolate from! The only hassle was there was no bed – so it was more of camp night experiences with a couple of camp blankets used as mattress on hardwood floor. But, otherwise, I had the place all to myself.

Because of coughing and the bed situation, I could never sleep more than 15-20 minutes at a stretch the first five or six days. And I could not talk to anybody over the phone because of the coughing.

That actually opened up to me an experience I had never had before. For about 10 days, I was in near 24 hour silence. With no talking whatsoever. Any of you who know me can be excused for not believing it.

I sat endless hours in that picnic chair you see looking outside the door. I could not go out into the patio – it was too cold for me. And that step stool was my handy tea-cup stand and place to keep my phone and ipad.

This has gotten me intellectually curious in the topic of Silence itself. What does silence do to us? Is it desired or have we evolved out of it? Does being a social being still jive with silence?

Reached out to my friend Neal Rajdev for some pointers on books that I can read. Have you ever read a good book on Silence or the Practice of Silence? If so, could you share with me?

One of the things I veered into during those long nights of Covid isolation was poetry on silence. Most of them had some kind of an inner self / spiritual kind of bend. The best ones for me were from the Persian poet Rumi. This particular one became my favorite:

“Silence is the language of God
All others are just bad translations”

Loved it!

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26 December 2021

Disco Deewane … aha… aha…

The year was 1981. I was in 9th grade. Our house was on 9th street of Ranapratap Road. On the other side of the road was 16th street. The very first house on that street had a Malayali family. There were two kids – Jacob and Thomas – who went to my school (juniors). They always kept to themselves. Their dad used to do a lot of gardening and I used to say “Hi” to him on my numerous trips down that street to meet my best friend Avijit. Well, I did not say “Hi” so much as “Kaku, kemon aachhen?“.

There was one more thing I remember of that house – they had a record player (turntable). There were two particular records – whenever they played them – we used to stop playing whatever it was that we were playing (really the choices were between soccer or cricket depending on whether it was sweater worthy weather or not) and gather around their house to listen to the songs.

One of them was Disco Deewane. It used to sound very strange and very catchy to us. The strange part was because before that, our ears were brought up on a staple diet of Rabindrasangeet/Nazrulgeeti or Hindi Bollywood (soundtrack) songs.

And catchy because… well it was Disco. It took me five more years to even know what Disco meant.

Much later I found out this was the first non-movie-soundtrack (Bollywood) in India to take off and paved the way for later non-movie albums and singers. What I did not know – and found out from Wikipedia today – is that this topped the charts in a country like Brazil too!!

As a funny aside…
I believe the words go “Disco Deewane… aha aha”. That “aha aha” bit is interesting. In Bengali, we say “aha” when we appreciate something. Almost like saying “Bravo” or colloquially “Awesome”.

Those days, as much as I liked the album, I had never quite figured out why was Nazia singing the song and then commending herself by saying “aha aha”.

Yes, the memories of this album goes back to those tender years.

One more vinyl record I picked up from Free School Street in Kolkata last week.

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24 December 2021

“Yaara teri yaari ko… maine to khuda maana”

While in Kolkata, went to Free School Street and got a few more vinyl records. This time, I focused on some of the Hindi movie songs that we used to hum during our school days.

Yaarana – a favorite of Sharmila’s and mine – was the first one I brought out tonight and listened to with her.

I remember how much I used to love the tune of those words…

“Yaara teri yaari ko
Maine toh khuda maana
Yaad karegi duniya
Tera mera afsaana
Tere jaisa yaar kahan
Kahan aisa yaarana”

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3 December 2021

Picked up an Asterix to read after some time

This is Asterix and the Black Gold

Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia about the book:

Asterix and the Black Gold (French: L’Odyssée d’Astérix literally “Asterix’s Odyssey”) is the twenty-sixth volume of Asterix comic book series, originally published in 1981. It is the second book to be both written and drawn by Albert Uderzo.

The book describes Asterix’s and Obelix’s voyage to the Middle East. It is mainly inspired by James Bond films and biblical tales.

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