October has been lots of fun and lots of work. These are the kind of months which makes life interesting. So here we go!
- Tamarind City by Bishwajit Ghosh – I just fell in love with Chennai/Madras ( all over again) after reading this book. It’s a contemporary look at Chennai and the author has given a 360degree view of the city. It’s lovely to see the graceful merging of history with modernity. The author has taken lots of effort to savour the city and then write about it . Must read for all Chennaiwasis
- Degree Coffee by the Yard by Nirmala Lakshman – I have this habit of seeking out books on similar subjects and reading them back to back. When my friend, Ashwini, referred to this book and immediately bought it. I turned to it as soon as I finished Tamarind City. It’s a delightful small book on Chennai written by a lady from the first family of Chennai. The Hindu (newspaper) is intrinsically woven to the Chennai psyche and Nirmala is from this family. Breezy read and very authentic.
- Get Size Wise by Shiela Nambiar- I have read very many diet and weight loss books. This one is the best of the lot ! This has the right mix of scientific knowledge and practical Wisdom. Shiela is a Doctor with lots of experience and qualifications in fitness . She has run several programmes for women . All the experience and knowledge is distilled into this book. I would love to participate in one of her programmes.
- Accidental Athlete by John Bingham – This book is written by a legend in running! He calls himself a “Penguin” runner. This book is about his early days into running as an overweight, slow , chain smoking 42 year old man. It’s very inspiring to read the way he took control of his life and made himself fit enough to run marathons across the world. Just the right book at the right time for me!
- Yoga for Runners by Christine Feltstead – My husband, Ganesh, is preparing for his first full marathon and experiencing certain hard days during his training. I was suggesting to him that he should try Yoga to sustain his training and improve his performance. I bought this book for him but he changes his mind and did not want to read it now. I read it back to back and found it wonderful. I even started using some of the yoga postures after my short runs. The writing is very simple and the photographs are simple to follow.
- Running with Nature by Mariel Hemingway and Bobby Williams – These two live on ranch and are proponents of wholesome living. Both of them are in their 50s , lead a fit and active life ,blending their life to the ways of nature. The book is breezy but did not find it arresting. It was interesting to note that Mariel is Ernest Hemingway’s grand daughter
- Kingdom at the centre of the earth- Journeys into Bhutan by Omair Ahmed- Iam planning to visit Bhutan in November for a bird watching trip. I wanted to know more about this intriguing country and hence picked up this highly recommended book. It turned out to be a wonderful read, weaving history with mythology, dynasties with contemporary politics , mountains with mystics and people with progress. It was like a concise course on Bhutan and Iam feeling well prepared to look out for interesting stuff in Bhutan.
- Ranibagh – 150 years of a beautiful garden. Ranibhag is the beautiful tree garden which surrounds the Mumbai Zoo . The same complex houses a lovely museum too. This book has been brought out by the Ranibagh trust with other enthusiastic corporates. This garden has some rare trees and the book has a great collection of pictures. Large Format book and hence cannot be used as reference guide during the walk itself.
- Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton – What a concept ! One of the best books I have seen in a long time. The whole book has pictures of people in New York. The author has knack of capturing the right moment with these faces. Its fascinating to see the multicultural milieu of NY pan out in this book. This book is keepsake. Run to it and flip a few pages to get a boost!
- Lady, you’re not a Man by Apurva Purohit – Breezy , on the face , truthful look of a professional woman in India. Apurva is a successful professional who has grown from the ranks , armed with a management degree. This book is full of “little learnings” which can be a guide to many professional women. The best parts of this book are the “laugh-out” moments.
I am happiest when I am allowed to watch movies, undisturbed. I hate to watch movies on television as the advertisements just disturb my trail of thoughts and I lose focus on the movie. I wish these TV channels cut down on ads at least for morning or late night films.
- Lunch Box –Hindi – I can’t resist a food movie and Lunch Box had good reviews too. Its very different from the recent Hindi Films. Irfan Khan and Nimrit Kaur were as real as it can get. It’s a wonderful film and should be seen in an “unhurried” mental state.
- Ethirneechal – Tamil . Directed by Durai Senthilkumar of the super successful Vetrimaran stable, this film weaves a simple story around a simpleton with a horrendous village name and his effort to cast it aside. This takes him to establish a new name by winning a marathon. In the process of training for the marathon, he meets dedicated sports professional and crooks. The success of the film lies in the strong story line and spirited acting of Siva Karthikeyan. This is the first time I saw “running” come into Tamil Films.
- Pandhavar Bhoomi – Tamil. Iam love all Cheran Films. This is a Stand-out family drama. Each scene is like a picture postcard. Every actor in the film is right for the role and give full hearted performance. Most parts of the film is filled with pathos. The journey of a close knit family of brothers is captured beautifully in a village environment. Manorama excels in the role of the matriarch of this family. Raj Kiran as the eldest brother is outstanding. I can watch this film over and over again and always cry my heart out. The simple song , “ thozha thozha” , captures the love between youngsters in a captivating way !
- Naduvula Konjam Pakhathai Kanoom– Tamil – This film is a good attempt at Black Comedy. The actors are fairly unknown but excellent in their roles. The lead, Vijay Sethupathy, is menacingly good in this role of a short –term memory loss patient getting married to his lover of whom he has no memory . The role of the friend who valiantly handles this odd situation ,Saras, is so real and vulnerable. Lovely little film!
- Jobs – I must state upfront that I understand very little of technology and I am not an Apple fanatic. Iam truly intrigued by Steve Jobs and his nimble existence in the zone where madness and genius merge to form a fuzzy glow. Hence watched the movie with great trepidation. Kutchner has captured the essence of this man beautifully. The storyline and direction could have been better. This movie shows the best and worst of this man and hence most of it is true ( I guess so!). Must watch for people who are fascinated by “People”
- Before Midnight – This movie is a part of a trilogy about two character, Jesse and Celine . I remember watching the first two parts , back to back , with Anu on one hot summer afternoon in Chennai. The first movie, Before Sunrise,in when Jesse and Celine meet as teenagers in Prague. The second movie , Before Sunset, is after 10 years. Jesse is a successful writer and comes to Paris on a book Tour. They reconnect for a few hours. The third part is when Jesse and Celine are in a relationship with twin daughter and this is set after another decade. Jesse also has a teenage son from his earlier relationship and this movie is set in Greece. All three are films with very less crowding of characters and the entire film unfold as conversations between Jesse and Celine. I am biased ,in my view, of this film. I liked the movie even before seeing it. Julie Delphy and Ethan Hawke play the characters right through these three films. Lovely!
- Goddess – Cute little film about a bored housewife is Tasmania making it big through a freak incident. Lots of lovely songs, webcam broadcasts, little kids , reality show and lots of drama. The best part of the film is we get to see Ronan Keating !
- Bruce Almighty –I never get tired of watching this film. Whacko Carrey carries this film so beautifully and delivers a hilarious performance. Wish “I got the Power” too!
- Ram Leela – Hindi Soundtrack – I had great expectations of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s music Interpretations. Even though the songs are shot very lavishly, the music does not stir the heart. I found some of the parts repetitive and reminded of Hum Dil De Chukhe Hai Sanam.
- Krish 3 – Rajesh Roshan delivers one more forgettable Movie Album. The manic dancing of Hrithik Roshan also does not help. A movie of this scale deserves a much better songs.
- 80s Hits – Western Popular Music- This CD gives me happiness everytime I listen to it. Phil Collins, Madonna, Queen, Billy Joel, Wham and many more. Brings back happy memories of discovering these songs with school friends.
- Kenny Rogers – 20 greatest Love songs – Groovy Voice and Great lyrics make a great combination. Lady, Lucille, Love Song and many more tracks in this CD makes it my favourite on bad days.
- Margam by Bombay Jaishree – Carnatic Vocal – This 3 CD set is a must have for anyone who loves Manodharma singing. Relaxed and deep exploratory singing . She has sung krithis of various ragas and tempos and gives a complete kutcheri.
- Vaibhavam– Ranjani Gayathri – Carnatic Vocal – I recently raided the Giri trading store in Matunga and picked up a few new Carnatic Cds. I started listening to this pack of 10 Cds almost immediately. These are live recordings ( with little edits here and there) of the 2011 chennai music festival . The concerts were at Kalarasana, Brahma Gana Sabha, Vanimahal and Bharat Sangeet. The collection is wonderful. All their favourites are in them. Hours and hours of spellbinding music
I had the good fortune of listening to three wonderful concerts this month. Mumbai throws at you different genres of music and its really a boon that we live here, now. I use every opportunity I get to hear a new voice in Carnatic, Hindustani, Sufi, Bhajans, Ghazals , Tribal and Fusion Music. Having lots of Fun in this experimental process
Navdurga – As an extension of the Navratri festival, 9 women artists from India performed a small bit of their repertoire. This was put together by Banyan Tree , an organisation dedicated to such wonderful artists. Iam amazed at the talent and dedication of these women and would love to hear more of such concerts. The performers were :
- Anjali Pohankar and Kalpana Zokarkar – Malwani Songs . This music has a strong Hindustani backing married with rustic Indian notes. They sang one song where every phrase was in a different Raga. It needs immense control and knowledge to manoeuvre through these songs.
- Suguni Devi – Rajasthan Folk accompanied with a piped instrument . Her strong voice did not need a mike to carry through the auditorium
- Parvathy Baul – Baul music from Bengal. I can travel across seas to listen to her. She has a soft voice which embellishes every word and gives it a new meaning. She is a powerhouse performer.
- Kalamandalam Sangeetha – Nagaiyar Koothu- This ancient art form from Kerala is performed by women ( unlike Kathakali). Sangeetha presented a short piece on Narasimhar and Prahlad. No Music, No Words, very little Movement, most of it is conveyed by hand gestures , facial expressions. The accompaniment of a percussion instrument, Mizhavu or Pot Drums. The performance was spellbinding to say the least.
- Nandini Srikar – I was hearing of Nandini for the first time. She is a famous playback singer and does a lot of experimental Fusion music. She held her own and gave a good performance in the midst of these traditional exponents. Would love to hear more of her music !
- Teejan Bai – She is a legend among performers and her Pandwani presentations are throbbing with excitement. She can stir any drab story and make it thrilling and entertaining with her sheer presence and voice.
- Lavanya and Subhalaxmi – The surprise of the day was these two saxophone sisters. They are trained in Carnatic classical and Jazz music. The best part of the two was their total comfort of being on stage in sarees, holding a Sax proudly and presenting without any inhibitions. They produced foot tapping music . Huge talent ! Hope they hold it all up together and focus on the Music and not let it all astray with the frills of performance. Young and super energetic performance! God! Give me more!
Bhimsen Joshi Memorial Concert – This concert is held once a year in Mumbai and this year the performers were Sashwati Mandal Paul and Jayatheerth Mevundi. Sashwati Mandal Paul is from the Gwalior Gharana. She gave a wonderful performance and her singing was pure and tradional. She has a flowy voice and moved through various octaves with ease. She closed the concert with a brilliant Tappa. I hope she sings more often in Mumbai. She needs to be heard and loved more. Jayatheerth Mevundi is one of our favourite singers in Hindustani Music. His performances are always brilliant. He sang two ragas ( Sree, Abhogi Kanada) and both these Ragas are favourite of Bhimsen Ji. He finished with a lokpriya Abhang . Two wonderful artists , dedicated to this ancient art forms! Jiyoo!
Sanjay Subramaniam – Carnatic Vocal Concert. Sanjay’s music is heartfelt and presented to delight the audience. He takes great interest in including lesser known ragas and Krithis. His Ragam Thanam Pallavi ( RTP) was exemplary. I waiting for the Thukaddas and was gifted with a lovely virutham and a lovely krithi , Karpooram Naarumo. Absolutely top class kutcheri!
- danceofshiva.wordpress.com– This blog is written by an IT entrepreneur and has a byline of a search of meaning and purpose. I was initially sceptical about this blog and though it could be heavy on Philosophy or Physics. Turned out to be a lovely blog of “ searching” within the realms of today’s living.
- www.johnbingham.com – As a followup to the book , I visited his website and subscribedfor regular updates. This website is full of running information and also has archives of his long running column called “Penguin Chronicles”. Lovely read for all Running mates!
- lisajking.blogspot.com.au – The kings are led by a wonderful mother and three growing boys. Lisa lost her son and her husband in quick succession and the blog is all about the joy she finds in her family and friends . Their updates are regular and delightful. Love such blogs from strong women!
- Wildlifetrails.co.uk – this company offers some amazing wildlife holidays around the world. The best part is that these do not cost an arm and a leg. Try them!
- Blog.tamilheritage.in– Wonderful resource for all those interested in Tamil culture and heritage. They cover language, architecture, health , art forms and food. Some articles are in English and some in Tamil. They have some lectures loaded in the blog too.
- thesiteseminars.wordpress.com – Further to the abovementioned blog, these site seminars focus on any one place and give us tons of information on these locations. The srirangam series is spectacular
- Booksforbetterliving.com – wonderful resource on books on interests on health, philosophy, environment, parenting , goodliving and the works.
- Brainpickings.org – It’s a great website with multiple contributors and extracts on art, science, politics, health and living. Their newsletter is highly recommended. Loved their last set!
- Medium.com – this website allows you collate and keep track of all your newsletters and interests from various websites. This focusses on slightly more serious parts of life and declutters us from inane entertainment news
- Muscicapa.blogspot.in – wonderful blog on natural history . Written by Shyamlal , this blog has lovely photographs and scanned plates from rare books.
- Fromfattofitchick.blogspot.in – amazing journey of a woman who took control of her life and health. She gets healthy and fit for her children and does it the long hard way!
- Eatthispoem.com – this wonderful site gives a literary guide to each city combining books and food in a delectable groovy way. Check this site before you travel to a new town. This site mostly USA now.
Okay !This has turned out into a long post ! Had to turn in all that I experienced in October. Excuse !