My “now” song: Umraan langiyaan / Chhan chan chankan

Do you ever have a song, an idea, a story line, or an image stuck in your head? And it just refuses to go away? For some time at least? I have this with music — it could be a song, an instrumental piece, a jingle, a background score, etc. That particular piece of music becomes my “now’” song, and the “nowness”  (pardon my English here) could be for any length of time.

My current “now” song is actually two different songs —  Umraan Langiyaan and Chhan Chan Chankan — by different composers and lyricists seamlessly blended together into one composition for the purpose of a Coke Studio Pakistan performance.

Someone (and I can’t remember who) shared the link of this “song” on Twitter. I listened to it once, then twice, then a few more times to try to identify the raagas (Bhoop for the first song and Shuddh Kalyan for the second) in the composition. Before I knew it, I was playing this composition on a loop, and even though I didn’t understand the lyrics, it didn’t come in the way of my enjoying or appreciating the music.

About a couple of weeks back I came across the behind the scenes video for this composition. The video opens with the singer of Umrah Langiyan, Ali Sethi, explain that the song roughly translates into how an entire lifetime has passed on tiptoes waiting for something/someone. That something could be one’s homeland or and the someone could be a beloved. It could also be something that one has yearned for a long time.

Recently, I travelled to Uzbekistan (blog post coming here soon), a place I had been wanting to visit for a long, long time. In other words it was a trip to my dream destination. When I had my first glimpse of the Registan Square at Samarqand, Umrah Langiyan just came into my mind — a yearning that got fulfilled. And Chan Chan Chankan was the thanksgiving for the dream come true.

Just apt and perfect. 🙂

PS: I still don’t know what the lyrics mean, but I think they reflect the sentiments I’ve described above.

For more of my “now” songs and my other writings on music, do click here.

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A Saturday in town

I love South Mumbai, or town as many of us refer to that part of Mumbai. It is one of my favourite areas of the city and I’m always looking for excuses to head towards that side of the city. Need to buy a book? Want to stock up on dry fruits? Buy a gift? Meet a friend for coffee? No, problem. I just make a trip to town. 🙂

I haven’t been needing an excuse these last couple of months. Every Saturday, I head to town for my PG Diploma in Indian Aesthetics classes. Though they are in the afternoon, I try to combine it with other ‘work’ or explorations in town.

South Mumbai

About a month back, I had a minor fall that left me with a sprained ankle. Nothing serious, but my doctor didn’t want me gallivanting to town in local trains or walking around and straining the ankle, especially since I was due to travel soon. (I leave today. Yay !). That meant that my forays to town had to be restricted to going for class and coming straight back home. It was a depressing thought !

A couple of days later after the fall, I got a mail from Blacklane, a car ride service referring to an earlier email exchange. Sometime in June, Blacklane had reached out offering me a ride anywhere in Mumbai. Since I didn’t need one at that time, I declined and we left it that. The second time around, I didn’t decline, Blacklane offered me their services a couple of Saturdays back.

This is an account, in pictures, of that day in town.

Continue reading “A Saturday in town”

Woven Wonders of Varanasi , Make in India, Shaina NC, Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Mubai, Soecial Exhibition, Benarasi Weaves, Handlooms and Textiles

Woven Wonders of Varanasi: A ‘beautiful’ disappointment

I love museums. Regular readers of this blog will know that museums have played a very important part in developing and furthering my interests and knowledge in art, culture, history and sometimes, even deciding where to travel to next. Though not all museums have been uniformly good, I have never left one without having learnt something new there, something that has added to my knowledge. Till recently, that is.

About 10 days back, I went to see an exhibition titled “Wonder Weaves of Varanasi” at the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum in Mumbai. The aim of the exhibition was to showcase textiles and weaves from Benares / Varanasi as part of the larger ‘Make in India‘ campaign. It had been curated by Shaina NC, and was organised in association with the Ministry of Textiles of Government of India, and supported by Lakmé Fashion Week.

Prior to my visit, I had seen tantalising pictures of the exhibits on social media and then came across this newspaper report, which got me all intrigued about the exhibition. Since I knew next to nothing about weaves from Benares / Varanasi, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to get acquainted with them.

So, it was with great excitement that I arrived at the Museum, and my very first view of the exhibits justified that excitement.

Woven Wonders of Varanasi , Make in India, Shaina NC, Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Mubai, Soecial Exhibition, Benarasi Weaves, Handlooms and Textiles

However, when I left the Museum after viewing the exhibition, my mood was very different — puzzled, disappointed and a little angry as well.

Let me elaborate.

Continue reading “Woven Wonders of Varanasi: A ‘beautiful’ disappointment”

A culinary experience called the Mejwani Thali

imageLast Friday, I had the honour of being invited to a very special meal at Four Points by Sheraton in Vashi, Navi Mumbai. It was a Maharashtrian meal that was curated and presented by the food writer and consultant, Saee Koranne-Khandekar. The Mejwani Thali — as it was called — had a mix of lesser known as well as classic dishes from the various regions of Maharashtra. 

Before I talk about the Mejwani Thali, I have a confession to make. In spite of having lived in Maharashtra for greater part of my life, I don’t really know its cuisine very well.

Here I’m talking beyond the better-known snacks like Misal Pav, Kothimbir Vadi, Sabudana Khichdi, Pohe, etc.; I’m talking about the main course dishes here. Though I have Maharashtrian friends and I have eaten in their homes, the food served, though delicious, has rarely been ‘their’ food. As a result, apart from varan bhat (daal rice), masale bhat (Masala rice) and other classic dishes, I have not eaten speciality dishes. Yes, there are restaurants, serving ‘authentic’ Maharashtrian meals, but when paneer makes an appearance in such meal, everything that has been served is suspect for me.

When I arrived at Four Points on Friday evening, it was with the usual excitement of waiting for the evening to unfold. But there was something else accompanying the  excitement that day — an anticipation that, finally, I would get to sample, authentic Maharashtrian cuisine. And that too in a thali (or plate) format, my favourite way of eating Indian food.

Continue reading “A culinary experience called the Mejwani Thali”

Book Review: Waters Close Over Us

This book review is part of #TSBCReadsIndia, a reading challenge wherein one reads a book from each State and Union Territory of India. Presenting the book from Madhya Pradesh and the third of the 36 books to be read in this literary journey across India.

My earliest travel memories revolve around trains and river crossings, in particular the Narmada at Bharuch. I remember being awed by the expanse of the river flowing under the railway bridge, and wondering where that water was coming from and where it was going to. As the train crossed the river, my mother and I would fling coins from the train window into the Narmada. These were offerings, my mother would whisper into my ears, to the river Narmada as she was life-sustaining and, therefore, sacred. Together, we would fold our hands and bow before the river.

Decades have passed since those train journeys. I no longer throw coins into the Narmada or any other river from the train window, but my fascination and reverence for rivers — especially the Narmada — continues even today. That was the reason I bought a copy of Waters Close Over Us: A Journey Along the Narmada (HB, 242 pages, 2013, Fourth Estate) by Hartosh Singh Bal, soon after its release.

Waters Close Upon usThe book lay unread for almost 2 years and then #TSBCReadsIndia happened. I did not even have to think twice before selecting this book as my read for Madhya Pradesh. There couldn’t be a more apt choice for as just as Madhya Pradesh is the geographical heart of India, so is the river Narmada. Continue reading “Book Review: Waters Close Over Us”