High Five

Posted by Ramya Shankar on Monday, June 28, 2010 in ,
As my dear Somethings & Nothings inches close to its 5th Blogiversary, I have mixed feelings about where I have come since 2005. Yes, do watch out for a sappy post below. Don't tell me I didn't warn you!

Apprehensive as I was about the whole concept of blogging, I only took it as a mere way to vent stuff out of my head that kept spacing out. (Every blogiversary post of mine has this line I think!) I have this ability to think faster than I can speak, so its pretty hard for my mouth(fingers in this case) to keep up with my mind, you see! There's so much that I have experimented here and when I read my first post now, I can almost puke my guts out at what I've written. I'm sure 5 years from now, I'd guffaw and snort at this very post as well. Most of my posts have been majorly spaced out for not knowing what to write but having the urge to keep typing.

I do have to mention that it did prove as a great way to sit longer at the computer while my mom thought I was actually studying. It is another story that when she found out through the sister-in-law about my blogging activities, she resorted to being a passive reader to monitor my activities on the internet. I'm still thinking of a good excuse to keep her away from Facebook.
(Hi maa!)

It was a totally different story with my dad. He continues to boast of how the writing skills have been soaked in the family's blood and have passed on from grandfather to granddaughter (if thatha had been buried, he'd have turned over in his grave and shuddered!). So I was not going to take up a career in writing yet (Mass Communication & Journalism are not considered professional degrees in my household!). You may save your lecture, but that ain't going down our throats, mate. So blogging became an addiction and added a whole new dimension to my personality as I went on to pursue a so-called "professional" degree. But that was only till the social networking fever caught on and I spent lesser time here and more time networking and being cool! But I have to admit, the friends that I have made here are some of the closest I have currently and mean the world to me.

My stint with FindNearYou would have never happened if it weren't for my blog. I have met some of the most helpful and encouraging people here. I'm glad I went for those initial apprehension filled "bajji-blogger-meets". I would have lost my faith in love, if P & H hadn't met through a blog. (Ok, I wouldn't have really lost faith in love, but heck their little love story is so darn romantic!) So even after 40 comment major fanbase days to 4 comment ones - its quite hard not to fall for my queer sense of humor. You think otherwise?

For all those people who claimed to know me all this while and joined blogger recently and have shitloads of followers and exclaim - Since when do you blog?! - take that, I'm your big daddy here! I might not have thought provoking posts on the atrocities of the downtrodden, women's rights and global warming. I certainly didn't try to do any good through my blog or flatter a celebrity by writing their praises, I definitely don't think I have the stuff that would make you want to come back or make "fraanship" with me or even spam me for that sense. And I'm positively not blogging to showcase my writing abilities - I don't consider I have that talent entirely; though my dad would be the person you'd have to disprove. Though, prospective employers may note this point.

Guess that wasn't too sappy afterall, I'll spare you anyways! In the words of one of my feminist friends - "okbye!"


AR Rahman The Journey Home World Tour

Posted by Ramya Shankar on Monday, June 14, 2010 in , ,

Major spoilers ahead, please don't read further if you plan to watch the concert in any of the other cities. The author refuses to take blame for spoiling the fun, she merely tried to share the excitement with fellow Rahmaniacs who couldn't be there. Thank you!

Vocals: AR Rahman, Hariharan, Benny Dayal, Vijay Prakash, Blaaze, Alphons Joseph, Neeti Muhan, Shweta Pandit, Harshdeep Kaur, Zeenia Roy, Krystal Garib.
Supported by: Takuyo Hirano (Percussions), Keith Peters (Bass), Sanjeev Thomas (Guitar), Naveen (Flute), Aditya Kalyanpur (Tabla).

Enter Malachi from the audience, searching for someone. He runs around for a while and jumps onto the stage and boom - the door as shown on the projector opens.

1) O Saya (Slumdog Millionaire): A man looking like ARR is running as the projector shows pictures of ARR and his milestones. Train like feel, you see! Everyone thinks Rahman is running. He's air lifted and the boss enters singing. Howl !!!

2) Adhiradi (Sivaji): ARR is wearing a black coat with LED lights on them. Looked really funky. Only one charanam was performed and surprisingly he didn't forget the lyrics.

3) Say naa naa (Couples Retreat): Enter Benny & Blaaze with Krystal Garib. Benny was wearing a really funky long kurta with feathers and doing some really enthusiastic hopping/skipping. While most Indians blinked, the few Americans enjoyed it.

4) Some bloody brilliant jamming by Sanjeev Thomas (dressed in a red panjakacham with a black shirt complete with Nike sports shoes!) and an American on the banjo. Very very spunky!

5) Yeh jo des hai tera (Swades): There was a patriotic undertone to the entire concert, and it all began with this. It ended with Naveen's first solo of the day. Soulful !

6) Takuyo Hirano is definitely talented. This was his turn for a solo drum act with some foot-tapping bhangra beats, but he failed to engage the audience like Sivamani does. The act transitions into the Rang De Basanti title track performed by Benny, Harshdeep Kaur and Neeti Muhan.

7) Dreams on Fire (Slumdog Millionaire): Again just one charanam performed by Kristal Garib. She seems like an ABCD, but held the act together very well.

8) Nazrein milana (Jaane tu ya jaane na): Performed by Benny Dayal, Sanjeev Thomas (yes, the cool guitarist sang too!) and Shweta. Benny & Shweta had an amazing chemistry and some really good moves too!

9) Barso re (Guru): Neeti muhan & Kristal Garib with Naveen, an Asian Violinist and the tabla guy jamming to end it with the na rey na rey bit.

10) Dil se rey (Dil se): ARR messed up the lyrics for this one. Infact, he sang the same charanam twice. I'm not complaining, I had gooseflesh when he hit the high pitch in the end. I did miss Raihanah & Tanvi in the backup vocals. I thought the crowd was relatively less noisy for this one.

11) Bombay Theme: Naveen on flute and the Asian string player on Cello with Malachi doing some break moves, while another Asian woman contorted her body into weird positions!

12) Mausam and Escape (Slumdog Millionaire): Sanjeev Thomas let his hair and his strings run loose for this one. Oh-My-God-can-a-guitar-sound-like-that-too material! And when people around me exclaimed : "Who is that?" I was only too proud to announce: "Sanjeev Thomas - ARR's lead guitarist !" He just redefines cool!

13) Bharat Humko / Tamizha Tamizha (Bombay): Hariharan finally enters with his wisdom and wearing an atrociously hideous garb that looked like it had been made by tearing the Indian flag apart. Nevertheless as always, he held the entire song together while the other singers struggled to keep pace with Hariji's alaaps. We all know who's the boss !

14) Theeyil Vizhunda theana (Varalaaru) opening humming transition to Lukka Chuppi (Rang De Basanti): Lata Mangeshkar singing the entire song was used a projection alongside Rahman. It looked absolutely ethereal and I am sure every soul wanted to run back home to their mothers when this came on!"Yahan sab kuch hai maa, phir bhi, lagey bin tere mujhko akela!"

15) Aazadi (Bose): Orange, White and Green lights flood the auditorium. ARR on his highest note. Patriotism strikes. Freedom. Goosebumps. Shudder. Spine chills as he hits Aazadi.

16) Liquid Dance (Slumdog Millionaire): The track is played instead and dancers do crazy acrobatics that knots your stomach!

17) Pappu can't dance (Jaane tu ya jaane na): ARR wears some funky headphones and Benny, Blaaze, Neeti & Shweta set the stage on fire ! Short-lived.

18) Tribute to Michael Jackson: ARR sings Black or White that sounds strangely like MJ himself(gooseflesh!) and Malachi does some more break dance and moonwalking dressed up like MJ.

19) ARR on Piano and says : "Let's have some smooth blues" : He plays a mix of Hosanna & Mannippaya which you don't want to end but does so in a couple of seconds and transitions to Hello Mr. Ethirkatchi (Iruvar) performed by Neeti Muhan. She kadichu thuppifies (massacres) the words, but has a creative style of her own version of the song. The last briha bits are very jazzy and sound nothing like Harini's original. It was a very genre-oriented take on the song.

20) ARR walks on to the ramp and begins crooning Marhabaaaaa(Oorvasi) which is forcibly mixed with Taxi taxi being taken over by Blaaze & Benny. I have to admit, Benny is quite the performer ! He flirted with every female dancer who danced past him ! :P

21) Hai Rama (Rangeela): Hariharan & Shweta Pandit - OMG!! Hariharan flatters everybody with his vocal abilities and Shweta Pandit stays on par with him! She picks up notes with such ease and has so much versatility ! She makes an excellent replacement for Chinmayi.

22) Only you: ARR. Unplugged Solo. Should I say more. Period.

23) Medley of Hindustani styles: A tribute to Bade Ghulam Ali Khan Saab: Hariharan, Vijay Prakash, Shweta Pandit and Zeenia Roy sit around ARR while he's on the harmonium. Hariji begins with Bhor Bhaye, snaps into a thumri. Now, Vijay Prakash begins singing Ennavale in Telugu gets the loudest cheer of the day - gets flattered - blushes and sings with full feelings! *heart skips a beat, I fall in love with him at first note. Hariji gets a little jealous and starts Kandukonden kandukonden which he takes to Anbe anbe kolladhe. Zeenia Roy failed miserably to catch up with the tempo despite ARR giving her the cue for Dheeme Dheeme gaoon(Zubeidaa). Shweta Pandit got the crowd out of their seats with her Genda Phool. The crowd went wild when Rahman sang Rehna Tu and even louder when Vijay Prakash ended it with Hosanna. By the end of this performance, I was already head over heels in love with Vijay Prakash.

24) Mehndi hai (Zubeidaa) : The men leave and Shweta Pandit & Zeenia Roy perform decently.

25) Mangalyam (Alaipayuthey): Alphons & Vijay Prakash ! Why can't we hear more of these two! Malachi in a velvet suit, plays matchmaker to 2 dancers! Funny ! The male dancer resembled Madhavan according to the fat maami who sat behind me. *turn left, quickly turn right and repeat procedure as fast as you can*

26) Ringa Ringa (Slumdog Millionaire): Neeti Muhan & Shweta Pandit : The men were drooling all over the two pretty singers who did some booty shaking as well. These girls can sing, I tell you! Chitra & Sadhna Sargam will not be missed at all if these 2 are around. A big treat to the ears as well as the eyes!

27) Ik Onkaar (Rang De Basanti): Harshdeep Kaur in her Sufi ke Sultana garb hits all the right notes and marks the start to the religious turn the concert takes henceforth.

28) O paalanhare (Lagaan): Shweta Pandit & Zeenia Roy: Zeenia begins with an alaap and Shweta takes over. You just don't want her to stop. Divine.

29) Khwaja (Jodhaa Akbar): ARR, Alphons, Vijay Prakash: He starts by saying that this is one of his most special songs. It sounds just about right, yet a little hurried. And it was not followed by Arziyaan, maybe because Javed Ali wasn't there?

30) Ganesh (Bombay Dreams): Huge umbrellas covered in colorful LED lights held by dancers meander through the audience as this track from Bombay Dreams is played. Taken over for the "hoi hoi, la la" part by Benny & Vijay Prakash; it ends with Vijay Prakash screaming "Ganpathy bappa moriya!"

31) Dekho aayi holi (Mangal Pandey): The only thing I remember apart from the colorful dancers is Vijay Prakash! Don't ask me more, I beg of you! *drool*

32) Chaiyya chaiyya (Dil se): Harshdeep Kaur starts off and ARR comes on stage playing his guitar like keyboard(what is it called?) with Vijay Prakash & Alphons. And then before you know anything else, the crowd is off their seats and everyone is running towards the stage. The securities fail to control the crowd and everyone is gathered in front trying to be in the same frame as the maestro. And then you realize that ARR is not singing, its Vijay Prakash, and then you hear a voice in its highest pitch and some neck craning later you realize that its actually Alphons doing the high pitched "Chaiyya" notes. Sukhwinder, dude, you've got some major competition from namma pasanga!

33) Humma -Andha Arabic Kadaloram (Bombay): Blaaze and ARR stand atop the steps, arms on each others shoulders and they swish their hands in unison at the projector and the words HUMMA appear in graffiti style. What do you think would happen? The crowd that had just retreated to their seats is back to the front of the stage. The singers don't stop for a good 6.50 minutes, and the crowd begs them to go on further. ARR is all smiles and keeps continuing with his Humma's. But all good things must come to an end. And it did end and we were almost ready for the next one.

34) Jai ho (Slumdog Millionaire): All the singers unite to croon the title song of the world tour. Everything seems right. The world is a happy place !

35) Vande Mataram: The perfect culmination to every ARR Concert. Your faith is restored and you are left to search for something else to look forward to in your life. And with a very content and a heavy heart, I refused to budge until the curtains dropped and the couple behind me cleared their throats rather too loudly to get me to move.

I was surprised to not find Rahman behind the keyboard through the entire show. He was either singing, playing the piano or climbing up and down the stairs on stage. Oh yes, the stage despite being small, was utilized appropriately. Keith Peters had too small a role for the rockstar that he is. Overall, I did feel that the performances seemed a little rushed when they tried to be super efficient and churned out song after song without a gap at all. It was just too much to take in at one point of time. I wouldn't complain if I had two extra pairs of eyes and ears and an extra set of hands to record ! The dancers who were a motley mix did an excellent job and kept the spirits soaring. And there it all ended and I'm now left with amazing memories and hopes for another concert or the release of a new album by ARR! :D

PS: For the first time after coming to the United States, I'm seeing so many Indians in one place. For a moment I felt like I was in Ranganathan Street ! (Ranganathan Street is a road in Chennai where you will witness a population density that is higher than that of Mongolia!)


Tonight's gonna be a good good night

Posted by Ramya Shankar on Saturday, June 12, 2010 in
Going for the AR Rahman: Jai Ho - The Journey Home concert in Atlantic City, NJ. After my experience in 2008 which is here, this is my second ARR concert in an entirely different continent, halfway across the world. Talking about excitement, I can't quite contain it. The result of which is my incoherent blabber all day. I woke up with a big smile plastered on my face which I can't quite take off.
Needless to say, I'm hoping for a mind-blowing event that promises to unite a show that would be a bit of Broadway - Rock show meets ARR's Magic. I promise to put in every detail tomorrow and make this an everlasting memory!

Jai ho!


Sunday morning

Posted by Ramya Shankar on Sunday, June 06, 2010 in
Ok, so I decided not to give an opportunity to my 5 readers which includes me, my roommate (who I force to read anyways), my mother who thinks she can get to know her daughter's love interests through her blog (ha!), and 2 other people who drop by to find nothing interesting and still leave a comment (oww, thank you guys!) to complain about my long gap between posts. Whew, by the end of that line I'd almost forgotten what I was saying. Talk about me and digressing.

So as the swimming pool outside begins to crowd with women in fancy bikinis with too many knots tied in strategic places and men in modest trunks, I start my sunday morning with Facebook, Twitter and Gmail and a few occasional glances towards the pool. Infact I start my every morning with Facebook, Twitter and Gmail, the added pool glances are merely a weekend affair.

OK, so getting back to the point - Facebook contributes to 75% of my time pass. Thanks to my loyal iPhone (less jealousy please!), I update myself every hour on my friends' relationship statuses, gawk at some display images, wonder how A added B through D who happens to have been my bench mate in 6th standard. All of this is apart from the display of culinary skills by friends who once complained about their college mess food in India and are now making delicious looking, complicatedly spelled desserts in the US. And don't even get me started on the status updates; they range from excited friends going away on vacations to how hot Chennai is (Come on guys, its not like you have been in Alaska all your life and also it doesn't count when you update from an air conditioned room). And there's my cue to switch tabs to Twitter only to find my timeline spammed by Shreya Ghoshal's lack of sleep, Shah Rukh Khan's muscle aches, Abhishek Bachchan's music library shuffling, Sachin Tendulkar's charity work, Paulo Coelho's thathuvams (quotes) and FunnyOneLiner's oh-I've-heard-that-before liners amidst some more of Chennai is so hot ya ! And then of course there's my most loyal timepass - Gmail. I should probably write an entire post dedicated to Gmail; but I'll save that for another day.

What would I do without Gmail in my daily life? It all begins with my mom starting a voice chat to probe about lunch, dinner and then next day's lunch menu with some intermittent touting of how she would not like an American son-in-law and also that buttermilk is better for me than beer. As I appropriately place my "Hmm.. ok maa" I multi-task by providing some intense relationship advice to a friend, reply to unanswered emails and plan my week ahead. No wonder my mom has now started complaining about why is "hmm ok maa" the only thing I've been saying so far.

Oh and just for your information, this post was typed as I did all of the above things and now that my stomach has made its presence felt by grumbling loud enough for everyone to hear, I should hunt down that packet of Maggi and instant soup before beginning to watch random videos on Youtube until its time for dinner ! What - a - life ! :D

Posted by Ramya Shankar on Wednesday, June 02, 2010 in , ,
I have reasons to smile, yet I feel unhappy about the imperfections. I wouldn't call myself a perfectionist or a workaholic, but there are a few things that I just cannot tolerate. And it bothers me so much that I impulsively make a few immediate and unwanted alterations only to regret it sooner than later. I constantly try to remind myself that it is never simple to choose between the right thing and the easy thing.
Despite being slightly neurotic about a few things, I fervently start making changes and lose motivation when I don't see results. I should remember not to lose hope and be persistent, yet I hate it when the thought of giving up enters my mind and disturbs everything.
I really did not want this to be my post after so long. I have so many reasons to celebrate and be proud of, but it baffles me as to why I chose this. I can never write something until I truly feel it. I can't write what people want to read, my dwindling readership is the last thing I would want to worry about. I've always tried to get rid of the negativity within by blogging and this baby of mine has borne the brunt for almost 5 years now. Change has to come from within and its about time I push things to the next level.


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