Friday, October 20, 2017

Learning to Live . . . !

I have faced many losses in my daily life. A teacher, A friend, A paternal Uncle, A maternal uncle, Granny and Grandad. Yes, I have lost people. Rather, I would like to say, I gave back these people to their creator. I knew they have lived their life happily and any more day beyond their last day would be just as painful as anything that words fail to describe. But, losing someone who fits in every possible relation ; A teacher – to teach me what is right and what is wrong, A friend to be in need, A guide to give me suggestions, A companion to travel with me, A parent to understand what I would need, A co – gamer to play with me, A grandparent to cook for me and tell me stories and above all A BROTHER – to love me with all his heart; yes, losing him is a pain to me every day, every minute.  
Three months later, I was experiencing a paroxysm of weeping for the first time after my brother’s demise, that I started telling stories of his life to a few friends. When I began mentioning his life in ‘past tense’ my friends stopped me and asked me to talk in present tense. Few friends in-boxed me saying that they did not want my 'Kailash diaries' on 16th of every month. Instead, the 23rd of every month. The reason they tell me is that I should start celebrating his life more than brooding over his death. 
Friends have always been my family so far. I do not know, how to thank them for all that they have done to me at various points of my life. Friends filled in so much of my life’s pages. And, here by friends I mean, people elder to me. When ‘Friends’ by themselves are an advantage to any human being, I had the perks of having experienced (I really don wanna call them Old, u know!!) friends who had always taught me to look the other side of any story being told. When I hang up any calls with them, suddenly, from nowhere, this feeling of loneliness creeps in and occupies my whole self and gives me the relentless reminders being orphaned (Oh yea, I do have my parents! But, Kailash was above all the kith and kin). I was not someone who used to weep and wail so easily. I was soft yet stubborn. I wasn’t pampered much but I made sure or at least he made sure that I got what I deserved.

I once went to him with a problem. I felt I was exploited and abused by one of my mentors during a project phase. I never knew with whom I can share. I was afraid of telling my parents. For, they would tell me to withdraw the project and come home to them. I can’t do that! I called him over phone. I told him my trouble. His immediate response: “Every coin has another side. I would not say you are the only person right. Neither would I say you are the only person wrong. Learn the experience from this. Learn the mistake and know to do it right. Forgetting or forgiving the people involved is your discretion. But, learn. Learn to learn and learn to accept and learn to prioritize your needs and learn to empathize. Remember, you are on your own now. Kerala is our neighboring state. Yes, I agree. We can come to you by an overnight journey. But, it was your choice to go there for your project. You are responsible for your decisions. Live and Learn to Live!”

I keep remembering this more often because of the experiences - the bitter and best, the people around me keep giving me. My present situations make me feel the pangs of remorse that I am missing a trust worthy kin. How true was his word ‘live and learn to live!’ I still wonder, maybe he is the gospel to many of our lives. Even as being as translucent as I can be, I can’t stitch words together to express the lacuna in my life because of his physical absence. But, I am learning. I am learning to accept.  

Saturday, September 30, 2017

THE BLANKETED SOUL - Mohan Gaanz (published in Visual Verse, VOL. 04 CHAPTER 11)

He found himself hurtling over a red blanket. He was escaping from them: the bawling child, the brooding youth, the dying man and the lost soul. He looked around. It was chaos. Everyone was wailing. Everyone was screaming. Everyone was shivering. All of a sudden, he was thrown under the starry sky. He was thrown to feel the winter. He was left alone.

He looked around to see the light of love. He felt the wintry night. He felt the stones around. He felt the earth beneath. He felt the winds blowing. He was controlled. He was conquered. He had bounded feelings. Gradually, he realized his heart was opening. He was no more the flame that failed to glow. He began spluttering. He wanted to be the light. He felt everything around him merged with him. He felt his heart glowing. He felt the heat flowing. He searched for brightness. His red blankets unravelled a beautiful soul. It was strong. It was pure. It was blissful. He transformed heat to love. He let all the love flow. He let all the love, flow out of him. He let all the love flow to the world. The love flowed. He became brighter. He became lovelier. He was no more the flame that failed to glow.

He let the words gush in ecstasy. He watched the sun creating pattern of joy. He saw the stars twinkling the bliss. He saw the sea engulfing the shore to show love. He saw the flowers bloom in bliss. He saw the bees sing in euphoria. He saw breeze dance to the song of joy. He saw everything. He felt everything. His red blankets unraveled a beautiful soul.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

In pursuit of happiness . . !

I cry through my smiles. Being an honest human being is much more complicated than I ever knew. No Biochemistry or Cell Biology or Probability statistics books taught me to be honest human being with true emotions. I had an unshakable faith that Kailash would be there for me when I face the darkness in life. I had an unaltered confidence that Kailash would be there for my parents too when I get married. When the unshakable and unaltered was shaken and altered, my emotions build like layers.  

Both my parents are educationalists by profession - teachers and principled principals! So, September has always been a month for professional celebrations. Year after year, every year, we celebrate September 5th – Teachers’ Day. The gifts for them would range from Red / Green coloured Pens to Chalk Piece carvings to New Dresses to Glass Gift Pieces. Parents used to treasure those gifts and loved the surprises. Unlike every family, Kailash and I was brought up by our grand ma – Pappu Paatti. For, my “Teacher parents” were always busy with their ‘children’ from schools and other classes. We would always be discussing everything with our Pappu Paati only. These celebrations made us feel very little is certain yet we chose to celebrate every moment.

Year before last, Dadda celebrated his 25 years completion as teacher and Mom celebrated her 25th year as teacher. We planned for some outing. But, every dog has its day, right. It was then the time for kids to be busy and the parents to miss the kids. Both of us had our work commitments and hence could not make it for the outing. Kailash made sure that our parents received their gifts.

When I called him in a state of anguish, he taught me that we must learn to accept the responsibilities that we have and also continue having the responsibilities that we already have. He taught me to tackle responsibilities. That day he taught me to take care of myself. He told me to handle myself responsibly. I never understood his words then. After a while, when he left the world, I was too busy handling everyone else. I got so used to the fact that I will be the Bull’s eye for every one’s target. I forgot how to cry. Months passed. The grief was buried deep inside me. I forgot how to cry and vent out. Instead, I wore a mask of boldness and traveled the time.


I have a biggest responsibility ahead of me. More than being a daughter to my parents, a good wife to my husband, a better daughter in law to my in-laws, I must learn to take care of myself. I must learn to be responsible for my life. I must learn to keep myself happy. I had quit my job. I got married. I faced challenges. Now, I am using all my energy to do things that make me feel happy. I write. I browse. I cook. I hit the gym. I go for the walk. I do everything that makes me happy. I want to rebuild my happiness. But, somewhere, at some point, I miss the lacuna left by him. That lacuna can never be filled. 

Every beat counts . . !

Listening to the sound around us and cultivating that into a musical beat, is phenomenal. So are the percussionists. Karthik Vamsi began his musical journey when he was 2 – 3 years old. His first stage performance was at the tender age of 2. His great grandfather, Shri Jaganathan was a permanent artist for Gemini studios. His grandfather Shri. Tabla Prasad had worked on more than 60,000 songs in four languages, Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu and Kannada respectively. His father Shri Ramana has worked as percussionist for music directors and composers like Mastero Ilayaraja, Yuvan Shankar Raja and D Imman. His Uncle Shri Drums Kumar has been working with Mastero A.R. Rahman and has played the Oscar Winning Jay Ho song.

Here, is an interview with Karthik Vamsi, a Rhythm player, hailing from the family of stalwart musicians. Karthik was ready to give me an interview for my “Unsung Heros – No Longer” when I said to him all about it.
1.How did music journey begin for you?
My journey started at the age 2 on a stage performance. I remember admiring my grandfather while he played, his rhythmic sense was so beautiful. I am sure, my grandfather is the main reason because of which I am still in music. He plays Tabla in a very enchanting way. His rhythmic senses were so elegant.
2.Did you face pressure because your family is already with so much musicians? How did manage the “expectations” pressure?
I did have a lot of pressure to excel in music from all sides. A greater amount of expectation had been thrust on me. I had to practise at least four hours a day. But, interestingly, I nurtured in my skills. I learnt Tabala , Mirdhangam and drums. I used to practise one hour at least, in the morning before leaving for school and in the evening, close to a couple of hours. It was tough, initially. Somehow, I managed!
3.How about your academics?
I am an Alumina of A.M. Jain College, Chennai. I graduated in Bachelors of Business administration (BBA). I was kind of, an average performer in academics. You know why! I would not have attended at least half of my school and college classes. I used to join the band members for gigs, performances and studio recording sessions.
4.Tell us about your band and its activities and members
Since 2015, I am a part of a band "RAAG" based on Bollywood. We are a team of six members, from different parts of the country like Nepal, Jammu, Gujarat, Kerala and TamilNadu. The association began in an interesting way. On July 2015, I was called for a gig performance at Leela Palace, Chennai. A friend of mine, Sharath, called me to join the show. There was an excellent co-ordination between me and the already present members. So, we agreed mutually and I joined the band. The Band members are, Prathap - lead vocalist, Soorya – Keyboardist, Jax jay – Keyboardist, Lakhan- Lead guitarist, Rudy - rhythm/bass guitarist and me.
Raag - The Band
5. How does it feel like to be performer?
We are just a medium of the music and we deliver the music to the audience. I personally always feel proud and happy to be a performer.
6. What do you define success to be?
To me, success is always the applause that we get from our audience after every performance.
7. What else other than music? Given a chance to rewrite, will u take any other thing than music?
Nothing I can think of. Being a musician is the best ever happening for me.
8.Who would you say is your inspiration for your love of music, and why?
I have many inspirations like A.R. Rahman sir, Illayaraja sir, MSV sir, Tony Royster, Billy Combam ,Zakir Hussain sir, Allah Rakha Shaheb - all these legends made me fall in love with music.
Karthik and team with Mellisai Mannar M.S.Viswanathan
9.What are your Projects?
Recently have worked for the most awaited movie Vishwaroopam - 2 composed by Gibran and have also worked for a couple of movies that are yet to be released. And I have collaborated with a band, "Alibi Reed" from London and played 4 tracks for the album, “Citizens of now" composed by Sam Cornor and Diego. 
Rapid Fire:
1. Favorite Singer: S.P. Balasubramanian Sir.
2.. Favorite music director: A.R. Rahman
3.. Favorite moment: My first day of Recording
4. Unfavourite moment: Nothing so far.
5 List five artists that You listen to, in loop. MSV, ARR, IR, MJ and Yani.  
6. Things you cannot live without: My family, My musical instruments, My headphones.
7. Favorite food: Curd Rice
8. Favorite quote: Music is life.
10. Favorite outfit: Leather Jacket
11 Favorite places: Singara Chennai
Wishing Karthik Vamsi and team, more and the most!

Feel free to contact Raag - The band @ Lakhan : +91 - 7418836860 for exceptionally interesting gigs for any events at your place!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Walking through the darkness

PC: WBK Photography
It all started with a question. "How to reach It?" Okay, what is IT? "IT" is the light at the end of the dark tunnel - the tunnel which i dunno how long is! 
Ok, I get it. "do you still believe to see the light?" 
"Hell, yeah! I do. I am not sure if I per se, will see IT. But I am sure, IT prevails there and I need to get to IT to see. IT wont come to me! So, I keep moving, with a hope"
That is how a conversation goes between heart and mind on the worst days which are more than the better days in life. We all face it. Some times a a day or two, many a times a few days in a row. We cant help worse days to disappear. All we can do is to face 'em. We face dampened emotions, unmuted melancholy, grey scale scenarios and all those negativity. We put on a masquerade, smile at jokes that tend to hurt us, wear on a smile that lets none believe we are drifting in a black hole. Dull senses, darker period, stifled voices, lost taste and what not! We get accustomed to a pretending life. Passing every day, pretending to be happy and laughing to jokes that never made sense or listened to ears! 
Days like these are when we get so insane and think to end our own lives. Before we realize what we had decided upon, we are gone. Every day struggles like this? What is the point? And, no body would speak of the bravery to put an end card, but would curse the cowardice nature to die! If you plan to put an end card - in other words - suicide / self harming/ whatever, just a cent to think. All these mentioned practices need more courage - dying demands more courage than to live. 
So, plan and live  your life. Let the fear fear to near you. Overcome the depressions, the tough times and prove your strength and derive happiness. Walk - walk through the dark hours, we will definitely see the light at the end of the dark tunnel. For, life is once and we deserve to be happy! Do not stuff your happiness into other's pocket. Yes, seeing others' happiness is the truest form of joy, but at what cost? not at the cost of your happiness. So, LIVE !
Lets walk through the darkness and say it is going to be alright !

Published in VisualVerse: Volume 4 , Chapter 10

Monday, August 07, 2017

It is August . . !

I hate facing some days when sadness and celebration intertwine. August has always been the month of lots of celebrations and pampering for me. August has the Tamil month Aadi, in which the Fridays are considered to be so very auspicious. Auspicious in the sense, the girl of the home is celebrated and pampered. She gets gifts for Fridays. I did too. Ever since I remembered, I was gifted with studs, bindhis, bangles and a lot more of chocolates by him. Four gifts for four weeks of the month. It was beautiful but I was ugly. I would demand more. He would smile and feel proud to my parents that I had not grown beyond twelve – thirteen years.
“Sometimes, Appa, I do not know, if this loosu gaana had stopped growing”, he always teased me to Daddy.
August meant celebrations for the siblings. It is the month of Raksha Bandhan. The sibling love in the form of rakhis and shanmathis is seen all around. I never knew it was the last year of me celebrating Raksha Bandhan with him. I called him in the midnight, at the stroke of twelve.
“Adei, Happy Raksha Bandhan da thambi”, I called out in the phone.
‘Yehn di, Is this like a birthday or what? Why are you bothering my sleep?”, he responded.
“I do not know, whatever. I am calling you. Which means, I have wished you. Maybe I will send a pic of Rakhi in the WhatsApp, down load and give me the Non – Virtual and Real shanmathi.”, I replied.
That year was when I first wished a newly got lovely man as my brother. Velhunna is how he called and the name in my phone is still the same and will be same, “Anna”. Anna wanted me to get me something of my choice as shanmathi. I was boasting to Kailash about this. He was so very possessive but at the same time sensible, added a few more bills to Anna’s gift money and asked me to get a hand bag that I might use for day – to – day purpose. When I asked him in a later point, why should I not have two gifts but one, his reply was, “We both love you the same way. At least, I guess it to be, by the way you say about Velhunna. You see the number of gifts you get. I see how to make one gift, useful. And, the underlying truth is, you have to grow more to understand what I mean.”

Maybe, I changed his exact words. May be today I do not remember many of his words very exactly. But I remember the synopsis of his statements. And when, today, I realise, his hidden love for me and how childishly I have been through out and how mature he was to handle me, I smile through tears, being grown up is more complicated than I thought it would. I should consider him a short spring who had taught me to bloom in gloom. When I dwell over these memories, my emotions build up. I cannot handle my own self. Maybe some last clicks with him are those left with me along with these memories. May be we clicked this picture, because we might not celebrate Raksha Bandhan any more. Well, I do not know. 
HE is seeing me from somewhere above. He has been guiding me so far and will do till eternity. Though he is possessive of his kinship with me, I am sure, he is glad for leaving me in the hands of a very very few trust worthy brothers whom I always rely upon for everything in my life, ever since. Me and the other four of us try to understand that Kailash’s place in my life can never be filled by any of them. But, these people, Gowthaman, Sudhir, Venkat Anna and Velh Anna and many more, had always been there for me, striving their best to teach me how to lead a life of respect and love. 
And now, all I have is, these people with me, to celebrate the day. 
And now, all I have is, to live my life with full happiness.
And now, all I have is , to behave responsible and discharge my duties as how he would have wanted me to. 
And now, all I have is, his memories which can never be snatched by anyone. 
And now, all I have is, the huge lacuna that he left in me, with which I have to live my further days. 
And now, all I have is, A Life that I can make it to be meaningful, which I WILL, for Him.

To the one who sees me above and to these loving brothers who fill my pages with love and more, A Happy Raksha Bandhan . . !

Friday, July 28, 2017

India - I.N.D.I.A . . !

When I share Indian Army pictures, pick up conversation with my army men as the starters, show my support to my Men In Olive-green, I am always asked “Is there anyone from your family who was in army?” Yes, few decades ago, between 1941 – 1961, my paternal grandfather, Late Mr. K.S. Eswariyer, served as Havildar with the Indian Army. He had also shared his experience during the Burma War, his interactions with Netaji Subash Chandra Bose, his serving time at Dehradun and West Bengal and many more. Though, I had interacted with him, very -  very fleetingly during childhood, he had left an imprint of a Pride Army Man. His wife, my granny – Pappupaatti, used to share her terrific experiences in the northern parts of the country, with less or no Hindi knowledge, how she started her family, how granddad served for the nation. With them, the era of patriotism through serving in the army, dimmed out in the family. However, when I grew up, I made up my mind to join the Armed Forces of India, which eventually became an unfulfilled dream owing to my physical fitness.
A) Havildar K.S.Eswaraiyer b) His discharge certificate
c) & d) His Medal of honor
But, thanks to the social networking sites, Indian Army is my family, now. My family is big. I have many brothers who chose to do the supreme sacrifice for the nation. I am called as ‘Mausi’, I have got many sisters and I am loved as their daughter by many brave parents who proudly sent their sons to the war front and received him, wrapped in the Tri – Color flag. Yes, my family is a big one. We are not connected by blood. But by Tiranga Janda - the Tricolor flag. We are not connected by genes. But by the men in olive. I have not met my family. My family has not met me. We might not be of the same lingual clan but we are a team of Indian Folks. If love exists, without meeting, then we are the examples. We are, still, bonded by valour, sealed with bravery and love each other Unconditionally.
Recently, India celebrated its Kargil Vijay Divas. And, I was sharing Team Desh’s write ups about Kargil Heroes. I also lit a lamp, joining the movement to pay homage to my brave martyrs. Lo and behold, message boxes of all my SNS is filled with a question – “You are living in USA and just showing off!” Wow, people!! I tell you, all of you deserve a round of applause! Seriously? Living outside India was not my choice, exactly. However, I have no complaints about it, too except the fact of missing my homeland, kissing my soil and taking pride! 

Non-Resident Indian Citizens would understand the pain of missing the country. It is painful not to see the Indian Flag flying high, on August 15. It is painful to see Indian flag parade with Sunny Leone background music. Despite appreciating the “tolerance” of foreign lands, it is painful to see a different treatment given for the Tiranga Jhanda. When your fellow Indians rebel for unjust things, it is painful to just watch these rebels and gatherings only on TV and not to take part. When your men in Olive Green come home, wrapped in the flag, and you can only watch him in the big screens as just a photograph, it is painful. When you can hear Jana Gana Mana and Vanthe Matharan at home, in a low volume, it is painful. All you would want to do is throw away everything and go back to Mother India and rest in her lap and kiss her soil. But, you cannot, owing to other responsibilities you have! No one, will ever understand this pain unless they live through it.
IMHO, remembering the roots and not lured away by other things, born – living and dying as Indian by heart and by citizenship matters a lot. People can find fault in everything and anything. But, empathizing others’ situations is far more important. Many moved out of India because their life wanted them to. Not everyone made it their happy choice, to move out of India. Not everyone, who moved out of India, hates India or belittles India.

Pain or Pride, it will always be Mother India ! 

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Childhood memories . . .


Dr Raj Kailash Mohan
Memories from childhood are especially remembered when more than one of your family elders keep repeating those incidents for longer time. That is the case for me. My grandmother – Pappu Paatti, who reared us up kept telling about Kailash’s birth. I was 2 years or to be two years precisely, when my mom conceived Kailash. I began talking in at a very early stage. And so, I was sent to school before I was two years completely! Telling the sex of foetus was not a crime in early 1990s. So, after a certain stage of pregnancy, we knew it was a boy. But even before that, I had “ordered” for a “thambipappa Delivery” from my mother and had made up my mind that it was going to be “thambipappa”! I began drafting rules. Thambipappa should call me gaanukka (akka is must!). I would be taking care of him and all those things. Every evening after school, I used to come straight to my mom who would be sitting tired on that red velvet sofa in the hall and would talk to her growing tummy inside which thambipappa was there. The regular conversation was
“umm...
Umm…
Shari...
What next?
Maathhenn Poo (No I won’t!).” and would run away to play. When asked for, I would complain that “thambipappa had been asking me ‘gaanukka gaanukka shall we play’ but I told ‘maathhenn po’”. My granny’s biggest doubt was ‘I ordered a baby boy to play with but why had I not accepted the baby’s call to play with him!’ Well, it is funny, isn’t it?

Maybe I needed a ‘thambipappa’ to teach me what life is. Maybe I needed a ‘thambipappa’ to teach me how to cook. Maybe I needed a ‘thambipappa’ to make me self-dependant. Maybe I needed a ‘thambipappa’ to fight with. Maybe I needed a ‘thambipappa’ to push me to greater heights of achievements. Maybe I needed a ‘thambipappa’ to fulfil my dreams of becoming a doctor. Maybe I needed ‘thambipappa’ to teach me everything but live in his absence. Maybe I needed ‘thambipappa’ to know how love will be. Maybe I needed a ‘thambipappa’ to show jealousy. Maybe I needed a ‘thambipappa’ to share my nasty sides. Or, maybe I needed a ‘thambipappa’ and his untimely death to become strong and discharging his duties too, as a son to the family and as a citizen to the country and as a human to the world. 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

BEAUTIFULLY UGLY MohanGaanz Published in VisualVerse

BEAUTIFULLY UGLY

I am too hard on myself. Maybe I should have listened to my mother. I think her as a hindrance. I skip my training periods. I could not go back now because it is my wish. Yes, I felt ready as if I knew all I ought to know. I felt confident rather over confident as if I learnt all I ought to learn. Thinking of my home, makes me smile. My home – you can never come to my home. My home is my mother. My mother is the ocean. I stay in her lap – a place where no one like you can set your feet on. I know I am to be kept track upon. I know I am monitored. But something pushes me to explore. And I come up. Since then, I have just been thinking about my life. How I loved to know what was above the ocean. I do not know what destiny has in for me. I come up, come out to see what is above, leaving the secured place of my mother’s lap. And then, I am trapped. I am attempting to come out of this trap. I am trying to use a bit more of force than I used to come up. Experiencing loneliness has not been so great to me. There is stillness. There is silence. There is darkness. There is fear. There is failure. There is ugliness. I have turned awful. I lost my beauty. I have not lost my faith. I have not lost my hope. Waiting for one lightning, just a streak of lightning that can illuminate my world and I can swirl to the birth of sunlight and death of darkness.I am not going to repent. I am not going to brood over. I know, I fall out of place. But, I am glad that I have life which most of the others do not. I am glad that I can try. I am glad that I want to try. I want to go back to the ocean bed. I want to share the unflinching love. For, I know, how love is important. For, I know, how painful is loneliness. For, I know, how good it shall be to be kind – kind to strangers. For, I know, I can be home if I try.

Published in VisualVerse - Vol4,Chap8

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Orphaned without a warning!

Dr.(Late) Raj Kailash Mohan
It was a sweet little world with just two of us in it. No one else could comprehend the very essence of it. Of course, most of us have a sibling and we must realize not every sibling sibling bonding is just the same. But, our kinship was different throughout. I can bet, even our parents were never able to predict our actions and reactions. We had feuds over everything micro and macro stuffs, valuable and silly things, words and silence. Underlying, was a strong bond that remained unshaken by calamities of any sort. Everything seemed just so imperfectly perfect. When I turned 24, I was away from home. I was working. It was the first birthday of being away from home. I am not so-home-sick-much-pampered kid, honestly. But, deep in my heart, I was feeling I am missing home. Self respects or to put it right, the fear of being teased by family (in a very funny lighter sense, though) withheld my thoughts from sharing with them. I went to office. There was a birthday celebration. I returned home. My land lord was kind enough to organize a minibirthdaycakecutting at home. I ran into a long-time family friend or technically my fathers student who said, she was the one to receive me home when my mom brought me home from hospital who hosted a birthday dinner. Everything was a surprise. And when it was close to midnight, he knocked my door. When I opened the door, he was there, standing with a naughty smile and a cover that had my new birthday dress. Stepping in, he gave me a hug and in his usual tone, happy birthday lusu!

Despite being siblings, hugging each other was not so very common among us both. At least, not after our teens. It was the first ever hug I remember to have received from him ever since I stared remembering things. And, that was the last time he hugged me for lifetime. It has been more than two years since he left the world. It has been more than two years since I am orphaned without a warning. After that Thursday night, my life, my goals, my world changed completely. I understood I cannot escape the reality. It was so clear that I lost the light of my life.  But I am trying to keep him alive in my memories. I am trying to keep him alive in my actions. I am trying to keep him alive in carrying out my responsibilities. I am trying to keep him alive by showing kindness to strangers. I am trying to keep him alive by living upto his expectations. I am trying to keep him alive by following what he taught me. I am trying to keep him alive by writing about him. I am trying to keep him alive even though I failed to save him from the clutches of death. 

He would be 24 this 23rd  if he was alive. I only wish, I hugged him on his 24rd like how he hugged me and told him, Happy birthday stupid brother!




Thursday, June 15, 2017

When the Nightingale speaks . .

Music is the greatest equalizers of all. As an art, it can enter any place where the other art definitions lack. It is enchanting, blissful and enjoyable. Music touches the soul, heart and body. It is so good to see many young musicians, who excel in different forms of music. One such person, is this pretty lady, Ms. Janani Rajan, known for her vibrant smile and incredible talent. Her dedication to music aspires many budding musicians to the path of glory and bliss. 
Janani Rajan in one of her performances

Granddaughter of the renowned of mridangam Vidhwan (late) Nerur Murthy, Janani has been introduced to music since birth. Her musical journey began during her 3 years of age when she started Sanskrit sloka recitals taught by her mother. She initially learnt Carnatic music under the guidance of Smt. Usha Padmanabhan, Sri.Madhusudan, from Bangalore at Chirantana (Davangere).She is a disciple of Smt. Sugandha Kalamegham. “When I was six years old, on a Vijayadashami Day, Smt. M. S. Subbu Lakshmi gifted me a Shruthi box. It was since then I started singing or learning music seriously.”, Janani recollects. She is a recipient of the ‘Gana Bharathi’ award by Thaambraas during her Arangetram. She has participated in various competitions and won several prizes for her talents. Her performances have been aired on many radio and TV channel shows; she also performs at temple festivals and functions. 

The only daughter of The Sundararajans, takes pride in gloating about her joint family. “I still live in a joint family set up. My cousins and their parents, we all live together. My father is an entrepreneur and mother is a teacher.  My paternal grandfather, PV Sathyam was with Venus Pictures – the yesteryear famous production company and later he had his own production unit, “Chitrakala”, Janani traced her ancestry for us.
Janani and Dr.Sowmiya Srinivasan - Vaanavil Vaazhkai Movie Still
She has sung and acted in a lead role in “Vaanavil Vaazhkai" - India's first musical movie directed by composer James Vasanthan. “After the release of Vaanavil Vaazhkai, my dad took in charge to coordinate with the people whom I work for. My parents had always been a big support to me. When I was approached for Vaanavil Vaazhkai, I was told that apart from singing I need to perform as an artist in the big screen. My parents were Ok for singing but very reluctant to let me act. I had to be on the best of my persuading skills to convince them. I can never settle for anything lesser than success,” the young nightingale, was ready to catch up with me for an interview over the phone.

1.What do you think are the important skills/attributes to be successful in this field?
It is a good question. Just teaching or imparting knowledge or gaining it from gurus can’t happen just like that. The voice, singing capability and stuffs should be identified and we must definitely practise. The present-day youngsters or at least most of them, lack the elderly guidance – the grandparents especially, to identify their talents at home. For, any kid to identify their talents and interests, initially is a herculean task. And after this initiation, the traditional guru-sishya parampara learning from musical gurus, a regular practise without any excuses are mandatory. If one choses music as his/her career for lifetime, concerts/gigs/ shows are the survival options and without rehearsals and planning, one can’t head to the stage. Additionally, I would say, one needs patience and will power and yes, presence of mind, too, are some of the important ‘must – have’ qualities
2. What is your opinion about remake of classical songs?
Yea, this is a classical question most of the musicians from a traditional Carnatic background, faces. This has two views. Acceptance and rejection! According to me, I like it and if it goes along with the story and the musicality of the Kriti is left undisturbed, yes, the remakes are good. In malayalam film a song called ‘Ksheera Sagara Shayana’ has Devagandaari Kriti. Many of the thayagarajar Kriti, Swathi thirunal Kriti are used in many movies. Suppose, I pick a Kriti and play drums while singing it or if I am going to sing only sangathis or just the jathis, it is not the right one. The Carnatic music has its own mirugas or the nuance that should not be altered. Alaipayuthey song (kannada raagam) was composed by Uthukadu Venkata Kavi. But it became popular after A.R. Rahman used it in his movie Alaipayuthe. And, I would say, Rahman sir has to be definitely appreciated for not changing its originality!
3.  Sometimes, being a full-time musician, you may not earn your bread and butter always. Do you have any back up plans? Why?
 It depends. If your career is just music and only music alone, you should take it up seriously, visit places and earn for your living. But the initial phase, will definitely be a tough one. Reaching a level to demand your pay from the right employers for your brilliance in performance, takes time after which there shall be no looking back. Contemporary successful Carnatic musicians like Ranjan Gayathri or Vijaya Siva did face a lot of struggle to reach their current successful position. There is nothing like ‘Back up plans’ if you want to be to be a full-fledged singer. Earning bread and butter, if you look music in a commercial way, how we position ourselves with our talents matter. 
4.  Do men and women get equal opportunities and pay?
Gender inequalities do not occur, in present day societies. So, I cannot differentiate. I can’t comment about the yesteryears but the present-day scenarios are flooded with opportunities for the talented ones. However, having a good social profile, stablishing contacts in the initial stages are all required to get into lime light. I emphasize, if you have a very good talent and then a good social profile, it is helpful for your career. Self-promotion of songs/performances is very important to get noticed. I must say, pay scale is different for singers and instrumentalists.  Most instrumentalists are men, generally. Hence, one might assume that women don’t get opportunities or good pay. But, it is totally false.
5.   Contemporarily, how do things look, for new people entering the field?
Definitely, there is a lot of crowd in this field now. If the new comers or aspirants want themselves to be noticed, they have to be creative and extremely innovative. As I said earlier, patience and versatility, some extraordinary performances with a marvel in the performances are mandatory for the new people.
6.  If not music, what else?
Yet another classical question, faced always and often by the musicians. My parents, always groomed me in a way that, I should be self-dependant, I always stick on to their advice. I would have chosen tourism – cultures across the world – travel. If not, an entrepreneur. I am the only child of my parents and unlike typical India Tambram parents with a single child, my parents were also overprotective of me. I was not allowed to travel alone to long distances. So, my tourism study would not be possible though it interested me. Ultimately, if not music, owning an outlet and being an entrepreneur would be the possible option.

7.  What change would you like to bring musically, in the society?
We have lots of poets and Vagyakaras in India since age-old times. They have left us a treasure, at least, I would say so. From Andal, Avvaiyar, Meera Bhai, Bakth Ram to Bakth Tukaram till Thyagarajar Muthusamy Dekshithar or any contemporary Vagyakaras for that matter, their literary works like Thiruppavai, Thiruvembavai, Devaram etc are pearls of wisdom for a living and also for music. I like to spread the knowledge of music to the younger gen kids through my performances and music. Devotional musical pieces that were composed by poets during earlier days are near forgotten now days. I look upon Smt.VishakaHari as a successful person in this aspect. Her Hari Katha and Kathakalakshebams – the spiritual discourses have reached many young gen people.

8.  Who would you say is your inspiration?
It is definitely M.S. Subbu Lakshmi amma. I am a late born child for my parents. My parents were actually closely associated with her family. In fact, their home was built by my father and his friend – his work partner actually. My mother used to express her pain about not having a child and MSS amma used to ask my mother to chant ‘Vishnusahasranamam’. And my mom would even now say, I was born because of MSS amma’s good wishes and blessings. MSS amma passed away when I was ten and at that immature age, I was unable to understand her legendary nature but when I grew up to realise, I deem it a blessing. Her divinity and devotion overflowing in every song of hers is definitely an inspiration for me.
I know, I should say, one or two as inspiration or favourites. But sorry, my list is long!
Bombay Jayashree, Vishaka Hari, KJ Yesudas, TM Krishna, Thrissur Brothers in Carnatic field are some great musicians who would take me to a different level, I would say a mesmerized stage – a hotline with divine power, whatever! I don’t find enough words to express the positivity and divinity these people thrust in me with their musicianship. If I say about the legends in cine field, P B Srinivas uncle and P Susheela ma. These two pearls are the modest and humblest stalwarts I have ever seen. They have exceled to such an extent in an era where technological advancements were relatively less compared to the modern times.
If I should say a present-day artist, it is Chinmayi Sripada. I am always in awe, looking at her versatile voice. She performs all genres of music in such an effortless way.

9. Can you say about your projects?
I entered playback singing, dubbing artist and as a performing artist in “Vaanavil Vaazhkai”. My first recording was a ‘Acapella’ of P Susheela ma’s “Tamizhukkum amuthendru peyar”. I was the lead voice and Jithin sang it along with me. That was my biggest break so far. Recently I am performing many devotional concerts, stage shows and unplugged shows. I am not attached to any bands in particular and I am more of a freelancer now. I do gigs at college cultural events, as well. I am also a dubbing artist for an upcoming Tamil movie. I am also looking for avenues in playback singing.


Vaanavil Vaazhkai - Press meet and Audio Launch
PC: Iluvcinemas.com
Rapid fire:
   1.      Favourite Singer: Carnatic - MS Subbu Lakshmi, Cine - P Susheela
   2.      Favourite music director – A R Rahman
   3.      Favourite moment - When I sang my first duet with PB Srinivas uncle on stage
   4.      Un - favourite moment - The day I got to know the true colours of a so called close friend.
  5.      List five artists that You listen to, in loop: Kaushiki Chakraborthy, Sreevalson J Menon, Bombay Jayashree, KJ Yesudas, Chitra.
  6.      Five things you cannot live without: Music, my contact lens, lipstick, mobile phone, chocolates
  7.      Favourite food: Veg Biryani n Thayer saadham
  8.      Candid moment: The moment I saw my crush sitting in front of me in the audience side when I was on stage performing at an event!
  9.      Favourite quote:
  10.  Favourite outfit: Sarees and Palazzo – tees.
111 Favourite places: India – Kodaikanal and Himalayas
 12.  Favourite Ragas: Bhairavi, Surutti, Kalyani, Kharaharapriya, Saramathi, Durbari Kann, Thodi and Madhyamavati.
 13 Favorite Quote ; It is hard to be a woman. You must think like a man, act like a lady, look like a young girl and work like a horse!
Her favorite quote!

Wishing Janani, a very blissful career in the music field! The artist can be contacted for concerts at janani.raajan@gmail.com.

PS, Thanks Guhan Kumar for his assistance in drafting the script. Pictures are provided by the artist and credits go to the respective photographers 

Friday, May 19, 2017

Radha Madhava Mahotsavam . . !

When we say Radha Madhava Mahotsav, we immediately remember the cutely divine images of Radha and Krishna. For those, who are devoted in devotion and spirituality, this Mahotsav gives some inspiration and sense of “Gyan” (Knowledge). For the rest of us, we keep questioning, why do the humans need to celebrate the wedding – union of our creators. All “Gopikas” considered Sri Krishna Paramathma as their husband. But Sri Krishna Paramathma married only Rukmini and Sathyabama. Intriguing, right? Humans perform a wedding – a marriage – a divine reunion of two people who were never said to marry each other. There are some “puranas” that claim Krishna and Radha had “gandharva vivaham”.

Brahma Vaivartha Puranam – probably the only puranam that describes “Go - Lokham” to its fullest, also says that Go – Lokham is always above the Sathya – Lokham. And, in this Go – Lokham, the existence of Radha and Madhava is described as the “Sthri and Purusha Shakthi”, a form of energy that has no physique attributed to them. This existence, by itself, is considered to be the blissful state of togetherness, is playing into the world in the form of Krishna and Radha. We, by performing this simple act of Radha Madhava Mahotsavam – Sri Radha Krishna Kalyanam are actually glorifying the most potent spiritual wisdom. Goosebumps, right?
In this digital world we all live in, and in the midst of our busy family and career obligations, namasankeerthanam (i.e. chanting the name of the Lord) is the easiest avenue for us to profess our love to Krishna and Satsangams such as the Radhakalyanam provide us the opportunity for this namasankeerthanam.
Sri Radha Kalyana Mahotsavam is performed every year, by various Bhagavathars, for three days. In India, Aalangudi is very famous for this festival that there are historical facts to state that Radha Madhava Mahotsavam has been happening for seventy years. And, various Bhagavathars deem it their blessings to perform and / or take part in this Utsavam.
It is indeed our blessings and pleasure that people of New Jersey can witness one such divine happening, at Morganville Sri Guruvayurappan Temple, on 27 and 28 th of May 2017. Sri Satguru Seva Samajam, USA is conducting for the third successful time, “Sri Radhakalyana Mahotsavam – 2017” by Sri Swaminatha Bhagavathar and team.




NJ Swaminatha Bhagavathar and his team have been providing a platform for all of us to immerse ourselves in the devotion of Radha and Madhave. Let us all dunk ourselves in the divine ocean of namasankeerthanam, discover the “Radha” or the “Krishna” in us and pray for courage and strength to perform our karmas dutifully.
Also, Sri Satuguru Seva Samajam is taking an important step to educate our future generation on the importance of Bhakthi (devotion) towards God and Guru. All the children attending the event will be gifted the following two books published by Vidyuth Publications:
1. Short stories from Indian Mythology (4 stories with illustrations).
2. A short biography on the 68th Acharya (Mahaperiyava) of Sri Kanchi kamkoti Peetam.
Let us make sure to attend this Treasure Trove of Auspiciousness and feel the presence of divinity. Mark your calendars,

 


“Third year celebrations of Śrī Rādhā Kalyāna Mahotsavam in New Jersey during the Memorial Day weekend - May 27th and 28th, 2017 at Sri Guruvaayoorappan Temple, Morganville, NJ” . For more details, find the attached invitation and RSVP +17323258695
Radhey Krishna!