Monday, October 30, 2006


Yesterday in the gym. A girl running on the treadmill. Wearing a black see through vest with a bikini top acting as a bra. Thoughts in my head:
1. Wow, that has got to be uncomfortable.
2. Hasn’t she heard of good support?
3. Only someone with a 32A (probably 32AA) cup size could do that.
4. WTF??!!!

Other news. Is it possible to be in love with someone you have never met and don’t know because of the way they write? Pamuk in the Guardian:
“For what is a novel but a story that fills its sails with these winds, that answers and builds upon inspirations that blow in from unknown quarters and seizes upon all the daydreams we’ve invented for our diversion, bringing them together into a meaningful whole? Above all, a novel is a basket that carries inside it a dreamworld we wish to keep forever alive, and forever ready. Novels are held together by the little pieces of daydreams that help us, from the moment we enter them, forget the tedious world we long to escape.”

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


In my comments here I told TR that my next post would be on ‘turkopop’. Which I currently have a very unhealthy obsession for. Well I started by wanting to write a post on Turkish pop and raï, another genre of music I absolutely adore. I started with raï which I am more familiar with and have been listening to for quite a while now. And well, midway through writing the post I realised I had written enough to dedicate one long post to raï itself. So that’s what I will do. This post is about Raï. Turkish pop next.


I think I have a thing for world music. I love new sounds and I love songs sung in languages that I don’t really understand. Fusion is cool. No surprise then that I love Norwegian Wood (the book also) and the Buddha Bar compilations (though they have been getting progressively worse, the first couple of albums still sound unbelievably fresh). As of now my world of music is revolving around Middle Eastern sounds. I now have an entire play list of just Turkish and Arabic songs. Good reason for it too, it’s great music.

So, raï. It would be quite impossible for someone not to have been exposed to raï. Remember the song Didi(by Khaled)? That’s when the genre made its big break. I remember visiting my cousin in Bombay over summer vacations and all the silly teenage boys singing “Didi, didi, didi…”after the girls. What with the double entendre Hindi – Arabic meaning and all. (If you don’t know already, didi in Arabic means darling. In Hindi it means sister.) Or even more recently Desert Rose by Sting?

I really became aware of raï music as a genre, sub culture and a complete way of life when I visited Paris. It’s strange the clichés that one has of Paris, because if you look a little beyond the tourist traps and French bistros, the Algerian subculture is all over. A wrong turn somewhere near the Sacré-Cœur at Montmartre and you will find yourself in lanes with Arabic graffiti on the walls, women wearing hijabs shopping at street markets and boys in loose jeans looking like the stereotypical misguided youth. I think I was probably more aware of it because my favourite area of Paris was Le Marais (no, not because it’s the gay/lesbian area of Paris). It has such great atmosphere. Great Museums, the Place des Vosges, the innumerous number of maghrebi food stalls. I spent a ridiculous amount of time there. And then some at the Institut du Monde Arabe and the Paris Mosque (which, by the way, serves amazing mint tea). In all these places you will hear raï. It’s everywhere.

It is very difficult for me to describe how raï sounds but the beats, the instruments, the entire feel of it affirms its origins. You can imagine people singing this kind of music in the dry lands of Algeria; you can smell the salty sea breeze and imagine the sapphire blue of the sea. Well I’ve never been to Oran, but I’ve seen pictures. And read Camus. And when I listen to raï that’s what I see. Maybe, I just have an over active imagination.

In 1998 Khaled, Rachid Taha and Faudel, the three great raï masters got together for a concert in Paris. The live album 1, 2, 3 Soleils is a classic example of what great live performance should be like. Check out the video of one of my favourites Abdel Kader (actually youtube doesn’t do justice to the instruments and the music, so do try and get the track).

Oh and don’t miss Rachid Taha (pictured above) in the red shirt being his usual badass self. He is übercool. No one who has heard his version of Rock el Casbah would ever doubt that. He transcends genre. His track Ida is the perfect example. It’s a terribly bouncy and happy and the background instruments sound just like the bands from those loud Punjabi Delhi weddings - I kid you not. And somehow it sounds fantastic. It makes me want to jump around and dance and that’s saying a lot because I never dance. OK, not never, but I can count on one hand the number of times I have danced in my life. Now if they actually played music like this I wouldn’t be embarrassed to be part of a wedding baarat.
Damn, I wish there was some way I could upload some of these songs.

By the by, Aicha is still the most played song on my iPod. I’m amazed by the fact that I’ve been hearing it for years and am still not sick of it. No wonder they call Khaled the King of Raï. I made C listen to it and she really liked it. Though when actual Arabic raï (Ya Rayah) came on she said, “It sounds vulgar!” Well, it does not. It is fab. Maybe it’s just easier for me to digest because I am Indian and some of the sounds are so familiar.

Oh, and coming back to what I mentioned earlier, Paris is also the hub of raï because almost all the great raï artists live there. Reason? The Islamic fundamentalists back in Algeria oppose raï because you know, it’s irreverent and the songs are about romantic love, drugs, alcohol etc. And it’s not all threats either. In 1994 they murdered Cheb Hasni, a great raï artist.
Now, why do fucks like that exist? Does music bring people anything other than happiness?

Update: I tried to upload some raï but for some reason the hyperlink didn’t work. Anyway, I was googling for sites where you could listen to raï music and stumbled across this one. You can listen and download! Definite must.
Highly recommended Ana Oualache by Cheb Mami. Just listen to it. Simply fantastic. Full of soul. And to think it took forever to download and it’s just so easily available on the net!
Khaled is almost always good. My favourites: Aicha (but of course) and N'ssi N'ssi. Also Taha’s Oh Cherie Cherie. There are also some tracks from the 1, 2, 3 Soleils concert including Abdel Kader.
Hear them out. Tell me if you liked.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

A Belated Diwali Post

Ah, my Beloved, fill the cup that clears
To-day of past Regrets and future Fears –
To-morrow? – Why, Tomorrow I may be
Myself with Yesterday’s Sev’n Thousand

Perhaps it was apt that I was reading the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam on Diwali. I generally end up in school working every Diwali, but this time I decided (on the urging of my mother) to at least have a bit of fun. So in a bout of getting rid of homesickness et al my room mate and I ended up watching Don, which to my surprise was decently entertaining (just please forget about the original Don though). And we walked back home at one in the morning signing "Arre diwano, Mujhe pehchano, Kahaan se aaya… Main hoon Don!" It’s important to have fun like that once in a while.

I also realised why sometimes going along with the rituals of festivals is important. Can you imagine every day being the same drab, boring routine? It’s important to have a day that stands for new beginnings. Well, for me at least. So that I can say, Ok, from today I will do this or that, and at least try to achieve that. I will try and make every day count and at least try to live a slightly more carefree life. Because even though I might fail I can start from scratch again. Its tiresome to just keep on going sometimes.
Oh well, the post was basically to say:
Happy Diwali Everyone! Have a great fun year ahead. Make the most of it.

Ah, make the most of what we yet may spend,
Before we too into the Dust descend;
Dust into Dust, and under Dust to lie,
Sans Wine, sans Song, sans Singer, and - sans End! *

* The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.
Rendered into English Verse by Edward Fitzgerald.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Feminism & I

When Roswitha tagged me for this meme, I thought it would be easy to articulate just how important feminism is for me. It wasn’t of course. Feminism had already done a lot to change the world much before I was born and a large part of the way I live my life and a lot of things I take for granted I owe to feminism, even if I haven’t had to fight for these.
I think this is an incredibly difficult tag, but I am trying anyway.
So, here goes. The five things I owe feminism.

Freedom: To do what I want. Live the way I want to. Not to succumb to stereotypes and do what people expect me to do, but to know that I can do anything I want to, and do it darned well too. To challenge myself, increase my knowledge. To be open to ideas and experiences. To Travel. To learn.

Mom & I: I have a great relationship with my mother. I once told her that it had to do with the fact that I wasn’t living with her during the worst of my teenage years. Well, that is true to a point. A lot of it also has to do with a fact that she is simply fantastic. She is pragmatic, liberal, widely read and I can bring up any topic under the sun only to find out that she already has an opinion on the issue. One that I usually agree with.

Liberalism: I am unashamedly, unabashedly liberal. I don’t think it’s possible to be anything else if you are feminist.

Reproductive Rights and Sexual Freedom: Well, for one I greatly dislike small children and I can say that openly without people thinking its some affront to my femininity. I think it’s important that women can say "Maybe I really don’t want to have a child", without being judged. And that I can say that I would happily turn homosexual if I met someone who looks like Penelope Cruz in Volver. Or Angelina Jolie, Rachel Weiz or Paz Vega. Not to mention, can you imagine life without my absolute number one guilty pleasure Sex and the City? How drab.

Political Rights: I can vote. And had I lived even a few decades ago, I might not have had that right. It is important of course because my vote, any woman’s vote, is just as important as any mans. I still believe that women should be more involved in politics (I am not yet. But I am often accused of having an opinion on everything. That’s a compliment.), but the fact that they are at all is great.

I don’t really want to tag anyone else. But all you feminist women and men should give it a shot. Let me know if you do.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

OMG...Pamuk Won!!

Orhan Pamuk Won!! He won!!!
Wow…I am actually thrilled. Pamuk has been on the top of my list of favourite authors since I read Snow some two years back. He is a fabulous writer and the Prize is completely deserved.
When the Economics Prize was announced a couple of days back I remember thinking that the Literature Prize would be announced in a couple of days and “I hope Pamuk wins it.” (Apparently, the committee was in a deadlock over him and Pinter last year.)

I have raved constantly about Pamuk to all and sundry and on this blog numerous times. (His official site is linked on my sidebar, do have a look). Since I always gift my friend’s books, for the last one year they have all received a Pamuk from me, without fail. There is a beauty, sadness and sense of poetry to his writing that is simply mesmerising.

The only Pamuk book (available in translation) that I have yet to read is The Black Book which is staring at me, lying on my desk as I write this. I have been planning to get down to reading it for ages, but coursework and midterms have made me postpone picking it up. Pamuk is not to be read in a distracted state of mind. He demands and deserves complete attention.

Not surprisingly the prize has received mixed reactions in Turkey. I find it strange that I have yet to meet a Turkish student (and I do know many) who has anything nice to say about Pamuk. Most of them haven’t read his books but are put off by his statements on the Armenian genocide. I find that terribly sad and really hope that I have had a biased sample.

In an interview of his I read a while back, Pamuk said that he had his next ten books all laid out in his mind. Well, Mr. Pamuk, please do write them fast. I for one can’t wait to read them.

An Update & A Tag

I finally stopped being a lazy arse and updated my blogger profile, added my email and made a blogroll! Considering this is midterm break and I have basically turned into a slob I am very pleased that I actually managed to get at least this much done.
Also, Edmund S. Phelps won this years Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel. Which is cool and freaky. He was my macro profs PhD advisor at Columbia and they collaborate on a gazillion papers. My one degree of separation from a Nobel Laureate. I still don’t think very highly of economics though.

Ok, moving on, I have been tagged by Panacea. The task is simple enough – to list the ten most played songs on my iTunes player. So here goes:

Aicha, by Khaled. I love raï music and I absolutely adore this song. It is a million times better than the rehashed version by Outlandish. French and Arabic make for a potent musical combination. Who’d have thunk?

Omkara, from the OST. It’s my favourite track and I loved the way it was used in the movie. Gulzars lyrics are fabulous (as always). He is hands down the best lyricist and poet in the country and he really outdid himself with the songs in Omkara. On the other hand we have Javed Akhtar who has taken to writing stuff like 'Where’s the party tonite?' *Cringe*

Sinnerman, by Nina Simone. I first heard this song (eons ago now) in a Nokia commercial. And that was how I discovered Nina Simone. Oh and I loved that scene in the Thomas Crown Affair where the entire song plays in the background and the police are trying to figure out which of the many, many, many men in bowler hats is Pierce Brosnan. I have always seen repeats of the movie to catch that scene and listen to this song. Fabulous.

The Rising, by Bruce Springsteen. The Boss. Nothing much to say. Except that I think The Rising is his best album and I still can’t believe they gave the grammy to Norah Jones that year!

Rang De Basanti, from the OST. Can A.R. Rahman do anything wrong when he’s in form??

Dicholo, The Constant Gardener OST. Ahh, one of my favourite movies of last year. And I cannot believe Fiennes wasn’t nominated for an Oscar. Though I really shouldn’t have been surprised. (I mean they gave Tommy Lee Jones an Oscar for The Fugitive over Fiennes for Schindlers List. I mean, COME ON!!)
Anyway, back to the song. It’s terribly catchy and was extremely difficult to get track off to download. So for a long time I kept playing it by fast forwarding the copy of the movie I have on my comp to the credits just to listen to it!

Govinda, by Kula Shaker. Hmm this is a bit of surprise. I used to find the song and the video terribly amusing but it slowly grew on me. I think I was listening to it a great deal before my macro exam. Perhaps a subconscious bid for good karma?

Moon River, by Henry Mancini. I know Mancini didn’t sing it. But every time I think Moon River I think Henry Mancini. And Breakfast at Tiffany’s. And Holly Golightly.

Thank You, by Dido. I quote J.D. from Scrubs: "If my heart could write songs they would sound like these".

J'y Suis Jamais Allé, Yann Tiersen from the OST of Amélie. If I ever feel sad or low, I watch Amélie. And I feel better and happier. The soundtrack of the movie reflects that. It’s wonderful and heart warming.

In turn I tag TR, MT, Roswitha and Cyberswami.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Italian Lovin

In keeping with the bimbo theme...
Also, I’m bored and couldn’t be bothered to write a post of any value (so head butt me) and spent the better part of the day watching football videos on youtube and all that footer watching must somehow find a way onto my blog.
And I feel the need to share, via a useless post, my new wallpaper – Signor Andrea Pirlo.
Because I was fed up of staring at the Tower of London on my screen. Because I’m looking forward to visiting Italy in December and I need to get out of my French fixation. And because there’s only so much resistance I can put up when a man has hair like this.

Picture Courtesy: De Ludo Globi

Ok. This has got to be the most random post on my blog, like, ever. But its 3 am and I am in the weirdest mood possible. So, if need be, please ignore.

No more bimbotic posts....For a while atleast......

Friday, October 06, 2006

I am so NOT surprised

Your Inner European is French!

Smart and sophisticated.
You have the best of everything - at least, *you* think so.

More ammunition for Grace who says that I am the most predictable person alive.
She also says that I come across as a bimbo on my blog.
I don’t know how to respond.
No one ever called me a bimbo before!!!