Listening to Sonu Nigam at Minneapolis concert!

PAGE-SANKARA-SONU-NIGAM-SAN-JOSE-CONCERT-03-DSC_0721Abhi Mujh Mein Kahin – when Sonu Nigam crooned this song at a concert in Minnesota, the crowd went still. The singer’s voice had an amazing melody and depth that soothed the over enthusiastic, frenzied crowd and made them listen, intently. Before the singer’s entry, the concert was average, where upcoming singers mostly performed on the latest, peppy Bollywood remixes, but he transformed it into something special. When he sang, it was clear, he did not need additional accompaniments, suggestive dance moves and props to spice up his performance, his voice had it all!

Even when not singing, his voice, carried the same melody. And he did miracles with his song – lifting, lowering, extending, shortening, pausing – unpredictable twists that made the audience respond with thunderous applause. At one point of time, during the concert, the audience went so overboard that they blocked the fire exit, the singer had to make a request to restore order. The security had a tough time containing the crowd who had come to listen to one of the most well loved singers in Bollywood.

Sonu Nigam and Neha Kakkar, the two biggies of Indian Music Industry, are currently performing in a number of cities in the US and Canada. And we had the good fortune of attending one of those concerts in Minneapolis on Saturday, with our lovely family friends. It was a night to remember in amazing company!

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Now talking about remix queen Neha Kakkar –  she definitely had the crowd eating out of her hand, as she wriggled and danced akin to Shakira, but was not melodious. She had a shrill and powerful voice, that entertained, but did not really touch the heart. It was her latkas and jhatkas that entertained more!

Coming back to Sonu Nigam, his dedication to music seemed real, palpable and fame seems to be just one part of it. Small wonder then that he has held his own for decades despite a crowd of eager, fresh singers striving in Bollywood and changes in music style. Plus the guy doesn’t seem to age at all! To my great joy, someone in the audience requested to sing ‘Bijuriya’, and he sang with an amazing alacrity, giving it a perfect end with the famous ‘Moonwalk’ step!

If you ask for my personal favourite from his bunch of songs that included – Suraj Hua Madham and Hans Mat Pagli, I would say the song mentioned in the opening line of this post – Abhi Mujh Mein Kahin. That song was sublime!

As I watched the singer’s performance, one thing seemed sure. He did not belong to that rising group of people, who do passable work for instant fame. Unfortunately, the ‘chalu’ type of work has invaded all arts across the world. Integrity, dedication and hard work increasingly replaced by quick something for social media fame. Thankfully, the singer seems to belong to a select, small group of people, who practice art for sake of art!

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I have been listening to Sonu Nigam’s songs right from my teenage years and have always liked him. But it was a different experience to hear him live. In between the songs, the singer paused and remarked – ‘when I’ll die, this song will be played for sure.’ And he sang – Har Ghadi Badal Rahi Hai Roop Zindagi from ‘Kal Ho Na Ho’. Well, none of us would like that to happen, ever. May he continue to enthrall us all with his soulful singing!

(First Two Images courtesy Google)

‘The Minstrel’s Bazaar’ – Offering Fresh, Untouched Music!

I heard my husband listening to some fresh,  authentic music. Generally, our music tastes do not match. But the composition of this particular CD made me stop and listen. And inadvertently, I began to absorb and enjoy the breezy, entertaining and enchanting music that flowed through my apartment like a dream.

My husband informed me the composition was a part of the very recently released The Minstrel’s Bazaar by Karl Swartz, Chris Chelgren and their band of finest musicians in our Minneapolis- Saint Paul region of Minnesota, US.


Swartz, a guitarist and instructor, is a popular name in music. He has around 40 years of achievements and performances to his credit. Do check out his website here to know more.

All the compositions in The Minstrel’s Bazaar (guitar, bass, viola, drums, keys, mix) have a delightful feel coupled with old world charm – in my layman’s terms. I am sure aficionados would find layers of nuances in it to talk about. 

The artistic cover of the CD, depicts a world of magic realism. Look closely and you will find caricatures of the musicians as well as ingenious symbols that contribute to the idea of The Minstrel’s Bazaar. Interesting names of the 11 compositions add to the fun! My personal favorite is the immensely spirited ‘Scottish Fair’. I bet you would be forced to dance to this tune!


Therefore, do visit the realms of this bazaar  to experience “World-Flavored” Progressive Rock and Acoustic Style music at its best. An evening filled with entertainment and relaxation is guaranteed! 

(This is my honest opinion not promotional.)

When Mary Met Gary…

Mary Smith loved to write songs. During lunch breaks, she would often escape from her clerical job to a nearby park and create heart-breaking songs.

One day, as she was writing a love song on paper, a naughty gust of wind blew it out of sight. With a heavy heart, she returned to her job.

Few days later, on way to job, she heard a soloist singing her song! She stood there nervously, clueless how to claim her song.

“May I help you! I have been watching you…you look extremely agitated!,” a young man, who had been filming the soloist, asked her. 

“Look, that’s my song he is singing. I had lost it, I don’t know how to tell him,” Mary cried.

“Wow…! Well, we can claim it back. I have an idea,” he smiled. “By the way, I am Gary…”

He looked familiar… but of course, he was GARY ANDREWS, the genius composer! And this is how Mary met Gary…

((This is my entry to the flash fiction challenge, Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers hosted by the amazing Priceless Joy. We are given a photo prompt and approximately 75-175 words with which to create our stories. This challenge is open to all who would like to participate. Thank you Sunayana for the image. Please CLICK HERE for more.)

The Sound of One Hand

If you have sensitive ears, this post is for you! While reading Rajneesh Osho’s ‘The Book of Secrets’ in which he discusses around 112 techniques to meditate, I came across a wonderful story – The Sound of One Hand. I can not help sharing it!

The master of Kennin temple was Mokurai, Silent Thunder. He had a little protege, Toyo, who was around twelve years old. Toyo used to run errands for the master and everyday he would observe seekers visit the master’s room to receive instruction in sanzen or personal guidance in which they were given koans to stop mind-wandering.

Toyo wished to do the same so one day, he put his head at the master’s feet and asked him for a Koan. 

Mokurai refused initially but the child insisted, so the teacher finally consented.

Mokurai said – “Try to hear the sound of one hand. And when you have heard it, then come and tell me.”

Toyo bowed and went to his room. He tried and tried to listen to the sound of one hand but all he could hear was the music of the geishas, coming theough the window. “Ah, I have it!” he thought.

The next evening, when his teacher asked him about the sound of one hand, Toyo began to play the music of the geishas.
“No, no,” said Mokurai. “That will never do. That is not the sound of one hand. You’ve not got it at all.”

Toyo did not give up, every now and then he would find some sound but the master would object -“This is also not it. Go on trying, go on trying.”

Then one day, the boy didn’t come. The master waited and waited, and finally told his disciples to find Toyo. They found him sitting under a tree, absorbed – just like a newborn Buddha. They returned and told the master – “But we are afraid to disturb the boy. He is looking just like a newborn Buddha. It seems he has heard the sound.”

So, the master came, put his head at the boy’s feet and asked him, “Have you heard? It seems you have heard.” Toyo had entered true meditation and transcended all sounds. “I could collect no more,” the boy said, “so I reached the soundless sound.”


Osho goes on to explain as to what had happened to the boy, “The boy had tried since he was a simple boy and had complete faith in his master. Actually, there is no sound of one hand, but just an indirect method to create sensitivity, awareness. And one day, suddenly, everything disappeared for him. He was so attentive that only attention was there, so sensitive that only sensitivity was there, so aware – not of something, but simply aware! 

This is a method to make you very delicately aware of the subtle nuances of sound. Center on the word ‘aum’ – a-u-m without any a or m. Just the u remains. You have to intone aum and feel it in three different sounds. Gradually, you will forget ‘aum’. Not only a and m will drop but there will be a state of soundlessness! The state of bliss!”

Images courtesy google

A letter to my classmate!

   
Hello,

Hope this letter finds you good. I felt an immediate need to write to you after visiting your facebook profile via our common friend’s profile. I was looking for a tall, gawky person but saw a different man there – aged with lined face and a pot belly. I was aghast! There was no sign of the boy who would enter the classroom bustling with energy, taking on the world in his languishing stride. 

It seems as if time has flown since I last saw him after our board exams (Kabuliwallah syndrome… remember the story?). We were sixteen then… fresh and so full of excitement to take on the world. I had half expected to find the same boy and initiate a chat with him. But for the first time, I experienced how much the world has changed… how much I have changed! In a flash, I felt being transported from teenage years right into my thirties.

He and I studied together from kindergarten till tenth. Although, we were never best of friends! Infact, I remember the boy was mean to me a number of times and I myself was not a model of good behaviour but we were comfortable around each other. I also visited other classmates via your profile but everyone has changed. Most of us have put on weight, have moved to different places, undergone varied experiences. Life truly has taken a toll on us.

I tried hard to find some semblance, something of the past in your picture but …I gave up.  You looked comfortable around your family…a typical man of the world who goes to work in the morning, returns home tired and waits for dinner to be served at night. Your wife is beautiful and kids are cute. One of them resembles you. I am glad life has been good to you. But again, you are so unlike him. He was fidgety and non-conformist. You are a stereotype family man!

He was ambitious, boisterous and haughty but you seem to avoid confrontations. He questioned everything and you seem to accept everything. I like that you are happy and settled but I liked him better – my happy go lucky classmate who would make the class laugh with his pranks. He was non predictable and creative, you are adjusting with what life has offered you. Good for you!

 I smile thinking that once upon a time,  my classmates were an intrinsic part of my world. I had enjoyed their encouragement and would take any discouragement to heart. Many a times, they were harsh and judgemental.

My classmates held the power to make or break me. I didn’t know then that all this would change so drastically. And that I would no longer have to compete with or conform to anyone’s notions. It felt good when I moved on from teenage angst towards maturity but in the process, I took you all for granted. I had never thought I would never find you all ever again…not in the same way. 

I get nostalgic remembering the last parting image of my classmates – excited bunch of boys and girls who loved to chat,  bitch, scream and dream. Where did they all go?

Lately, some of you crept into my memory and reminded me of those sweet-sour school years. Perhaps, wanting to re-live the past encouraged me to visit your FB page.  I wanted to meet you all and have a chat online. But I guess…I have lost the connect.

If my letter encourages you to find him – the gawky teenager, somewhere deep within you, then kindly let him know that I am thankful to him for being a part of my childhood. 

May be, my letter would make you  curious and you would want to check back my profile. But I warn you – you will hardly recognise me – a married woman with kids. You would not know what to say to me.

But perhaps if you let that tall boy visit my profile, he might find the quiet girl who loved doodling and reading. They will connect, have great conversation and laugh together like youngsters do. Please find and send him once for I am sure we all miss the innocent, musical laughter of our wonder years! Then, may be we will reconnect again with our past.

Best wishes for everything,

Your former friend

  
Images courtesy Google