Friday, January 06, 2017

Day 317: 50 years of golden music

Picture Courtesy: Google Images
When I first got a chance to listen to A.R.Rahman, I was probably a 9 or 10 year old back home in Trivandrum. The lack of options at home to stumble upon cinema music was compensated by the set of friends in the neighborhood who owned walkman and stereos that played new music. The very first song that both my brother and I got to listen was the one from 'Kadhalan'- mukkala mukkabla laila, oh oh laila ! At that age, all I understood was 'Jurassic Park' as that was a movie that was popular among everybody during that period. It was one of my first and only exposure to Hollywood movie for a very long time. The song stayed with us even as we did not get to listen to it often. Then on a random day we stumbled on to songs from Roja on television. We usually never watched much of television and on a rare holiday occasion, Roja music was played because of it's National Awards. I surely felt very celestial listening to the songs and I am sure he stayed on my mind from then on. Being a little nomadic in our earlier days, we moved from Kerala to it's closest neighbor- Tamil Nadu. While in Coimbatore we got to stay next door to music loving neighbors. They cared less about what others felt or liked and played their our music day and night. Err.. probably that's a stretch, evening would be better. They owned stereos of good quality and good sound speaker sets that their music was audible at least two to three houses away on either side of their stretch. It was both a pain and a pleasure. A pain when we had to do our homework or study for exams and a pleasure as we got to listen to every song possible without having to spend money on cassettes. That was the time when Kamal Hassan's "Indian" got released. So, the songs from that movie was on a roll for a very long time, especially, 'Akandan thadangu'.. I never understood the meaning of the lyrics and do not even now. However, that magical music and mesmerizing voice of Swarnalatha still rings in my ears.

From then on, I have remained a loyal Rahman fan and I think that both Raja sir and Rahman created magic in different styles, they were able to weave and hold their fort with ease. Today happens to be his 50th birthday and when I look back at the songs, I think it would be super hard for me to pick and choose the ones that are my favorite. However, I am going to attempt doing that and will just write down a list of the quick 50's here. It doesn't mean that I only love these 50 but these sure are on my mind today. I haven't looked up online or searched for my playlist, instead I am just writing the ones that I am humming as I think of the top 50. And this is in no particular order.

1. Pudhu vellai mazhai (Roja)
2. Vellai pookal (Kannathil muthamittal)
3. Hai rama ye kya hua (Rangeela)
4. Oh re chori oh re chori (Lagaan)
5. Hosanna Hosanna (VTV)
6. Shauk hai (Guru)
7. Padagali chandi (Yodha-the only malayalam ARR has ever composed)
8. Netru illadha matram (Pudhiya mugham)
9. Marghazi poove (May madham)
10. Uyirum neeye (Pavitra)
11. Kandukondein Kandukondein (same movie)
12. Malargal kettaen (OK Kanmani)
13. Paranthu sellava (OK Kanmani)
14. Vennilave Vennilave (Minsara kanavu)
15. Kabhi kabhi aditi (Jane tu.. ya ... Jane na)
17. Sinamika (OK Kanmani)
18. Poovukkul olindhirukkum (Jeans)
19. Minsara kanna (Padaiyappa)
20. Ennavale adi ennavale (Kadhalan)
21. Ishq bina kya (Taal)
22. Kune kune (Yodha)
23. Nila kaigarithu (Indira)
24. Theekuruvikku (Kangalal kaidhu)
25.Mehrabaan (Ada)
26. Arziyaan (Delhi-6)
27. Haji Ali piya Haji ali (Fiza)
28. Behne de (Raavan)
29. Kannukku mai azhagu (Pudhiya mugham)
30. Agar tum saath ho (Tamasha)
31. Guzaarish (Gajini)
32. Khwaja mere khwaja (Jodha Akbar)
33. Jashne Bahare (Jodha Akbar)
34. Barso re (Guru)
35. Newyork nagaram urangum (Sillunu oru kadhal)
36. Snehithane (Alaipayuthe)
37. Pachai nirame (Alaipayuthe)
38. Sandai kozhi/Dol Dol (yuva)
39. Tu bin bataye (Rang de basanti)
40. Khoon chala (Rang de basanti)
41. Chandralekha (Thiruda-Thiruda)
42. dheemi dheemi bataein (Zubeida)
43. Aye hairathe (Guru)
44. Munbe va en anbe va (Sillunnu oru kadhal)
45. Piya milengae (Ranjhnaa)
46. Khamoshiyan ghunghunane (One 2 ka 4)
47. Dekho na zara dheko na (Swades)
48. Aye sakhi uljan (Ranjhnaa)
49. Ae ajnabi (Dil se)
50. Ye jo des hai tera (Swades)

I know I haven't been able to cover the very recent ones as much but this was a hard list to pen down. Happy birthday once again to the Mozart and very humble music director and let there be more good music in this world. 

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Day 316: Demonetization- who is bearing the pain?

Picture Courtesy: Google image

November 8, 2016 will be set as a phenomenal date in the history of the world. Too many things changed everywhere and sometimes these turning points will lead humanity to a new horizon. Ah, but don't ask me if it is for the best or the worst. In the United States, a businessman trumped the world by becoming the president elect of United States of America. While this was making waves all around the world and most countries especially India's national media had all their eyes and ears on to happenings here in the US, the Prime Minister decided to play a master stroke and took all by surprise. He decided to bring in a new 'change'- demonetization of two of the largest denominations of Indian currency. Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000  was nullified and that is almost 86% of Indian currency.

So, those who saved these notes in their piggy banks or inside their wallets or inside secret stashes at home had to find ways to get that changed. Most of India tries to keep cash in hand for emergencies and cards are more popular with the younger generation or urban folks. Initially this move was proposed as a means to curb black money and all those who had these money had only one place where they could use it- the banks. However, the banks did not have enough cash in hand to give back to those who came to withdraw and from then on there is no dearth to the serpentine queues in front of banks and ATMs.

It is not that this kind of move has never happened before. This did happen earlier for the very same motive- helping curb black money or hawala. In 1978 and 1946 when this happened they only voided the largest currency which was Rs. 10,000., Rs. 5000., and Rs. 1000. This time again the two of the highest removed are 500 and 1000. However, had this remained that way with only an introduction of 500 and lower denominations it would have been a better deal. Instead the government decided to introduce a Rs. 2000 note. The catch was that there was a limit on how much people could withdraw from the ATM, the bank per day, per week and so on.

This topic also took a U turn when the Prime Minister announced that he plans for India to go cashless and use digital money. Well, we don't know what he actually intended this move to do but he sure has no clue about how he has executed the plan. As of today, it is only the upper middle class folks who are moving through this chaos without much issue but the common man like a farmer, daily wage laborer and so on are struggling to keep his/her life together. As for the black money it is safe in some Swiss bank!

Here is my two cents worth on this topic. As much as I think the move was essential and probably might help a few (read A FEW) of the hoarders which is a part of the collateral damage, it is hard to even fathom the amount of printing new currency that will take to help settle this issue for the common man. Again I am all for introduction of digital and cashless transactions. This will surely tighten certain loopholes in businesses but the problem is that there is no infrastructure that will support the rural towns and cities. Even tier-II towns and cities have no infrastructure to support such a large project. Good intentions are always not that great enough ideas. Even if one's intention is good a better planning and execution is required for projects or changes of this scale. Perhaps this change issue will help in a long term plan of digital money in India but how much will change and how effective it will be can be answered only with time. Meanwhile the 'demon' in demonetization is playing games in the lives of a common man who is trying to save for his future and surely not having any ties to the Swiss banks. 

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Day 315 : What's on your bucket list?

Picture Courtesy: Google Images

Bucket List. A term that has become popular much after the famous movie with the same title in 2007. The term would have probably taken after the euphemism 'kick the bucket', which was again popularized in the movie, 'It's a mad, mad, mad, mad world'. The 2007 movie was a massive hit and how would it be not? It had Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman in the lead. The term was meant to have a list of things you wish you can do before you leave this world.

It is like a goal list that can evolve as you grow and change perspectives in life. I used to have a wish list that worked as a to-do list mostly like a work list for short-term goals. However, off late, I have decided to make one and keep it as an ever evolving list.

The first one on my list as of now (that was from the past too) is to get my biggest degree in life. Hopefully I will tick that one off my list soon.

Do share your thoughts on your list and how do you plan on getting it all checked out.


Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Day 314 : Swindlers !

Picture Courtesy: Google Images

A recent article in the NYT was a shocker. It is about the call center scamming of Americans. Big cities like Mumbai host a plenty of call centers and all these off shore outsourcing benefits countries like the US. A phone, a PC, insurance, baggage claims from airlines, etc., are all outsourced to such call centers. And when you pick the call, an Adam, Sandra, John who talks to us are actually, Prem, Sandhya, or Prakash from India. Just like companies with a good intent (that helps finding a lost baggage or insurance claim), there are many companies whose sole purpose is to scam in the name of Federal government. Taking the cue that US citizens have a great regard for its police and government and are petrified at the thought of being questioned by these officials, these scammers get their way to the bank accounts with just a few confusing information. Apparently, such companies have been able to swindle almost $300 million dollars from Americans. With the help of two whistleblowers, the FTC and FBI were able to bring down a couple of companies. Their tactics are simple- talk to the customer in a rough and firm tone, tell them that their offense will be questioned by the federal government, and the only way out is to transfer money or share the details for solving the issue. Once they know that the person at the other end of the line is shaken, they pull the bait to get hold of the account details. The story about how these companies swindled an immigrant's $17,000 is sad and shocking. That is, almost all of that lady's life savings.

Reading this article was a painful thing as the title read "India's call center talents put to criminal use". It was sad to see a title that used India in a wrong light. What has come down to. I know that these people do not represent the Indians around the world and in India. But when companies actually recruit and train employees for the sole purpose of scamming international citizens and that it goes unnoticed for a long time, I am lost.

From the comments written in this article it was clear that there are a lot of them who have had some experience - either their older parents or themselves. Ah well, I can only hope such things don't happen to people around me (and myself). Like they tell kids-don't talk to strangers, we probably ought not to trust the person on the other side of the telephone. Measured words, measured and short information, and disconnections are most important things to keep us off from such baits. God save us ! 

Monday, January 02, 2017

Day 313 : Fading Red

Fading Red/Picture Courtesy: Google Images

You were that little red color on my canvas, 
now I see you fading off. 
Is it your way of saying that you are bored 
to be coloring my space
and have found newer artwork to decorate? 

My canvas is now losing its charm
and at times I am trying to recreate
everything,  just like in the past. 
Those moments of mirth and happy reflections, 
simple conversations and many more creations. 

You have moved on to forge newer allies, 
in bigger canvas mounted on larger frames. 
For you I might not matter much, 
but do remember, you were my favorite lucky charm. 

I miss you my dear red splash, 
but I will have to keep moving on, 
finding newer colors to adorn my wall. 
I will find peace in the faded spots
for they are trinkets of life's bitter traps. 

© Meena Arvind 2017 

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Day 312: Happy New Year 2017!

Picture Courtesy: Google Images


Happy New Year. So, we have already walked into the next year. One more year around the sun. And it is 2017. Now, 2020 doesn't seem that far away and 2010 seems like very much in the past. So, whenever I say not so long ago, I was back home working, it is now over 7 years. The social media sites and other means of communication makes these moments seem so seamless that I always miss out on the timeline and still believe that things that happened in 2010 was just in the recent past. Well, that takes me to the last year's challenge I set for myself. For the blog's 10th birthday, I wanted to write a #365day post and I should have completed it last August. However, my journey took a sudden halt with a lot on my plate and it didn't get done. It was so erratic that I did not even write a post on the 10th birthday! Now time has just moved ahead and the blog is turning 11 in 2017. The last post was 311th one and I am only 54 posts short of completing this challenge. I plan on completing this well before the 11th birthday and in a month and a half (mid Feb), I will wrap up with my 365th post.

So, this time it is a new year promise - the one I don't (and will not) break. #365dayblogpostcontinues

Here is my first new year post. Inspired by a concert I attended on New Year's eve, here is a short poem for the new year.

Playing the notes on the strings, 
together in a symphony, 
all orchestrated by the dance of hands. 
No questions asked, none posed, 
just plain beautiful wave of hands, 
and lo! the music flowed. 
Like the smiling marigolds, 
and shining opal stones, 
some with sad undertones
like a lost and flustered soul, 
and yet at times with a glint of hope. 

That is what kept the music flowing 
and kept us going. 

So, on a hopeful note, here is a new year's wish to all of you- Let the new innings be a joy to begin, let the new day begin with a sparkle of the stardust from heaven, let the walk in the woods help you find yourself, and the let the days to unfold be a reason to feel proud and happy with oneself.

Wishing you all a happy, hopeful, joyful, and beautiful new year!

I also hope that I can complete my goals- professional and personal, I can keep this blog alive or begin new ones too, learn a new language, read more, write more, sing and record, encourage everyone, spread more positive thoughts, give thanks and be grateful to the many blessings I receive, cook new and healthy food, try out newer restaurants to eat, doodle happiness, watch more good movies, make new friends, take a lot more pictures of happy moments and make memories with my loved ones.

Good night y'all!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Day 311: Can news ever spread joy?

Image Source: Google Images

For once let us imagine if every single news channel only shares headlines and breaking news that invariably talks about positive and happy news that showcases the altruistic and selfless side of people. Imagine reading a headline that talks about the extraordinary capabilities of individuals, the joyous occasions and  simple things in life. Well, I bet the world would be a different place. It is like this 'ripple effect' that will spread only waves of positive thoughts and continue to share only such news. Every time we set to read a newspaper or watch a news (any channel), all we read today is the hate and more hate. Every channel in every part is sharing either news about the natural calamities or most often the man-made ones. Then if none of these happen, then it is politics of religion, the politics of countries, power, and color. It just keeps spreading the 'hate' news more and more and all people are thinking about is how to keep themselves safe. In an information processing paradigm, there is surely a difference in how different genders process the message based on its valence. For instance, women are found to pay more attention and importance to positive news vs. men who can handle negative news too. The media sets the agenda for the kind of news they want to share and that shapes the perceptions of people/viewers. These have been studied for long and there have been significant results that showcase the importance of how news can influence perceptions. If that is the case, why aren't we just focusing on the good news for a little bit and share all good things from around the world. At least change the balance of good vs. bad news. May be it is the easiest way to sow seeds of goodness and joy in the minds of million viewers.