Sunday, July 26, 2009

Midnight shakes the memory

I was goofing off, replying to comments on Facebook, when I realized that most of the answers that come to mind are lines from songs. So then I got to thinking (and then I got to weeping / I really had a flash this time / Gonna set my watch back to it / ‘cause you know I’ve been through it …) about lines that resonate in the memory (as a madman shakes a dead geranium, and yes, I KNOW that’s not from a song).

What fun. Let’s play at lists. Lines – lines from songs - that you think are great. Or maybe almost great. Or maybe just lines that stick in the mind. (Nothing from Robindro Shongeet, that needs a whole separate volume.) And while we’re at it, cokernuts all round if you get the sources for all of mine.

· How terribly strange to be seventy

· And the flowers bloom like madness in the spring

· Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose

· In sooney andherey aankhon mein / aansoo ke jagah aata hai dhuan

· Jee mein aata hai tere daman mein sar chhupa kar hum rote rahein

· I sit by the window and I watch the cars roll by / I fear I’ll do some damage one fine day

· Jo aankh se naa tapka woh lahoo kya hai

· Forsaken, almost human, he sank beneath his wisdom like a stone

· Ko jon aar hridoy diye gaaitey jaane

· And the Indian said, Nothing at all

· Wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave. No-one was saved.

· Just the way it changes, like the shoreline and the sea

· Ei aaNdhaarey, megher-o chhaya-e, akasho paarey

· The arc of a love affair / His hands rolling down her hair / Love like lightning shaking till it moans

· Hum thahar jaayen jahan, usko shahar kahte hain

· To dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free / silhouetted by the sea

· Bhuley jaao phike chNapa rong ti tomaye manaye bhari

· It’s the dirty story of a dirty man, and his clinging wife doesn’t understand

· I was lying in a burned out basement with the full moon in my eyes

· And how many times can a man turn his head and pretend that he just doesn’t see

· Borney gondhey chhondey geeti-te, hridoye diyechho dola

· But she breaks like a little girl

· And so it goes, and so will you too I suppose

More to come, I’m sure.

Idea from KM - This Can Be A Meme.

Meh, Mame, May We?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Living in the past

Saturday night at the Calcutta Club. I associate the members there with soulful swaying to Robindroshongeet with their eyes shut (or even worse, half-shut to indicate a kaalchaaraal intoxication), but this was an evening with Amit Kumar. He would have preferred to be known as Amit Ganguly, son of the far more famous Abhas Kumar Ganguly aka Kishore Kumar, but he had to accede to the demands of the Hindi film circuit.

He started with the same musical salutation his father used to start HIS stage performances. Then went on to belt out song after song from his father’s oeuvre. His voice was full, chest-deep, melodious. His pleasure in music-making was obvious. He looked at least 10 years younger than his 57. And he dished out nuggets between the songs, anecdotes about how “amader Ponchu” (Pancham) lifted a mukhda here, an antara there, from sources as diverse as Frank Sinatra and Rajasthani folk tunes. Yes, even within the same song (Raju chal Raju, now which film was that? Dharmendra in a travois behind a white horse - Azaad, I think). He brought down the house with his account of how Sapan Chakraborty had composed a soulful tune for Amitabh Bachchan in “Zameer” – mimicking him, eyes half-closed, teeth protruding slightly – and Kishore Kumar had trashed it right away. “THIS song? For Amitabh Bachchan? Won’t do! What? YOU are the composer, and you have to ask ME what to do? STEAL a tune! Lift it!” And then proceeded to modify a Nat King Cole song (something about falling leaves) to produce Tum bhi chalo, hum bhi chalein.

Right through the evening it was evident how Amit Kumar idolized his father, but what was touching was the way he referred to him as a friend, someone whom he could fight and disagree with but a person who never lost his respect. He sang his own songs too – Bade acchey lagtey hain, Yaad aa rahi hai and on my request, Mayabini from the 1996 album – but his heart seemed to be in his father’s memories. Sumit Kumar, his brother, younger by 30 years, came on afterwards, but sadly his voice just doesn’t make the grade. I left at that point, wondering why for a man who can sing like Amit Kumar does, the biggest hit in recent years is ­Dil mein baji guitar.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

What's in a name?

They came all the way from T*****, preceded by missives from the Indian Mission in A****a. Very Big Shots they be, they have shown much interest in your area of work, can you meet them?

So e-mails went to and fro, the most progressive mill with its ISO:14001 accreditation was dusted off and warned to present arms and go woof, presentations were prepared. On the appointed day our man went off to escort them from the hotel. And vanished. Repeated phone calls got a delayed response. The delegation would also be delayed. Having turned up one hour late (1 HOUR? If any of OUR delegations were 10 minutes late for a meeting we’d get a Note Verbale from the local Mission!), they turned out to be interesting. The shaven-headed leader looked like a retired bouncer, though he displayed no bulge in the jacket under the left armpit. He was accompanied by

(a) a Sleek Chap in a grey sharkskin suit, black shirt, no tie, who turned out to be a manufacturer of women’s undergarments (we warned him that our particular fibre would be MOST unsuitable. It itches. Like crazy!). One of my friends from the industry nodded sagely and said “Very interesting!” I desperately avoided his eye for the next ten minutes.

(b) an unshaven lantern-jawed man in a collared T and baggy trousers belted near his ribs, whose function was never quite clear

(c) a representative of their Prime Minister’s office, a sad-eyed little man in a suit, very Keyser Shoze (hey, HE was Turkish, after all)

(d) a Very Large Man who “reprrezaints our fffarming”, obviously uncomfortable in a new suit, who understood no English, slowed down our presentation because he required translation, and ignored the translation as soon as refreshments were served, working his way left-handed through three chocolate pastries from Flury’s

(e) a man with a video camera. He looked like he would go “Pssttt! Dirty pictures?” any moment but didn’t. Instead, he wandered all over the conference room focussing on EVERYthing, including, so help me Cthulhu, the WALLS for a full 30 seconds.

We rolled out our schpiel. They were most appreciative. The Leader peremptorily ordered the manufacturers to send samples over to his hotel room, “ve haff only today, owr flaht iz at nahn thairrty tomorrow”. We perked up, “exports” and “product modification” lighting up in neon thought balloons over our heads. Then they pulled out a little card about 10 inches long with threads wound round it. And asked “So, this mehl ve go to, they mek hemp?” Hemp? Hemp. After the vaudeville act, it became clear that Slick Man wanted hemp because “itt provides sehport”. Support what, I was about to ask. Then I recalled his area of interest and thought better of it.

Sorry, we have no hemp. We don’t make hemp. We don’t know hemp from ice-cream (well, OFFICIALLY!) As far as we know, NObody in this country grows hemp. It’s been banned since 1985, people tend to smoke it instead of making yarn out of it, you know? Ask Arnie over in California, he has the same problem.

Leader Man was most dismissive. “Tzair is hemp in Eendia, Ay haff documents.” May I SEE those documents, please? Another dismissive wave - they’re not here, but I’ve READ them. There IS Indian hemp.

I made a quick exit to my office, consulted The Great God Google. Yes, there IS “Indian hemp”. It’s a generic term. The largest processors are in Canada and (believe this!) California (Arnie, you’re missing something here!). There are NO hemp processors in India. THIS was why you took 3 hours of my working day?!

Silence. Great shrugs. Exit delegation, somewhat sheepishly.

All in a day’s work.