Sunday, May 30, 2010

Jayanta Hazarika - I Like

In one of my earlier posts, I had blogged about our trip to Nameri. As I had mentioned there, it was a five hour drive. To kill time, my father in law (Deuta) had taken a fine collection of CDs including the likes of Dire Straits which we could play (yeah, he is a cool guy). You know, it feels really good to start a journey listening to Mark Knofler play that sexy lead.

One of the things that came out of the drive was my exposure to the Assamese music legend, Jayanta Hazrika. I had never heard of him although everyone has heard of his elder brother, Bhupen Hazarika. I'm sure you are humming the song Dil Hoom Hoom Kare right now! Aah, as soon as the CD started playing, Ma piped up from the backseat and started signing away. A subtle change came over Deutas face also and he started tapping his fingers to the tune while smiling slightly. I smiled politely and took my eyes off the road to quickly scan the CD cover. My heart sank when I saw that there were over 15 songs but what to do!

As the first song was getting over, I realised that he had a very soothing voice and the songs reminded of old Hindi songs, maybe of the SD Burman / Salil Chowdhury varieties. I was actually expecting his voice to be something like Bhupendas voice - deep and rough. Anyway, I settled back to listen to the rest of the songs. After about 8 or 9 songs, suddenly there was this cheerful song which came up - Rambha Menoka Kimba Juthika. It was really catchy and had a nice beat to it. Anyway, I was concentrating on the road and trying to avoid abuses from the women in the backseat.

On our way back, I actually asked Deuta to play the CD again. It was better than before!! I enjoyed a lot more songs than before. It was totally within the settings - a trip into the countryside, Bihu festival, the long road undulating before us and this melodious collection playing. Anyway, the trip got over and we came back to Delhi. Within a day or two, I started scouring the net for the Rambha song but to my chagrin, it was nowhere. I went on to YouTube and tried listening to a few others but in my impatience I couldn't find any that I liked. After two three days, I finally calmed down and started listening to other songs. I then stumbled upon a user called Bohagboliya who had a nice collection of 12 songs uploaded. It is in karaoke style with excellent fonts and cool graphics.

Anyways, the point of all this is that good music leads to more good music and Jayanta Hazarikas songs continue to give me pleasure. I still wish I could get my hands on that song but in the meantime y'all sample these songs and let me know if you too felt the magic

Monday, May 17, 2010

Do You Have To Be A Narcissist To Be A Gymmer

nar·cis·sism - inordinate fascination with oneself; excessive self-love; vanity

Of course, the word gymmer doesn't exist. I am just using it here loosely as a person who goes to the gym regularly. Since I have been going to the gym for what, close to 5 years I realise that my theory has been developing subconsciously all this time. I remember when I started going to the gym. I was in Bombay at that time and I really missed playing some kind of sport. Talwalkars was quite close-by and I decided to join and go regularly. It was not too big but the way they had arranged the layout and the huge mirrors that they had put up made me feel good. As usual, people were milling around in front of the mirror making grotesque faces while pumping iron or hitching up their clothes to study their arms, stomachs and other body parts. I quietly sniggered to myself and thought to myself "I would be different. No ogling myself in the mirrors, I would quietly work-out and leave asap." I remained my modest self for sometime because my routine became quite erratic after I moved to Chennai.

I had transferred my membership to the Chennai Talwalkars and I didn't like the place. After this, I moved to Fitness One which was quite close to my place. Lots of space with plenty of cardio machines and a separate weights training area - Wow. Even then, it took me sometime to get into a routine and then I was transferred again. History repeated itself, I was not happy with FOne and I moved to Talwalkars. I was lucky to get a good trainer here and I started working out pretty regularly. It was at this time my behaviour started changing. I caught myself looking more frequently in the mirror and saying - "Hmmm, my biceps are looking nice" or "Hey I do look muscular in this T-shirt". The amazing thing was nobody else was saying anything about these changes (damn, I was not getting my moneys' worth). On the good side, people had stopped saying that I was too thin and once in a blue moon someone would say - Hey have you put on weight?

Then I started spending more time in front of the mirror at home. I won't get into the details but a lot of flexing and tough looks were happening. I would also catch my sister or parents when they were around and subject them to questions like is my body looking better or ask them to hit me on my chest or biceps!! Being the youngest does have some privileges :) Anyway coming to the main point of the story, I caught myself checking out said self in the mirror. I felt a bit guilty and saddened by the fact that I had become one of Them. Then I was like - Why not, you know. Things have definitely improved over the last couple of years. And then BAM I was like if things keep improving, would I spend more and more time in front of the mirror? I looked around and realised that the people who were spending more time in front of the mirror were people who were more fit/toned/bulked. Don't get me wrong, when you do any kind of exercise, you need to have a mirror to ensure that your posture and movements are correct. However there is a certain kind of look which you can only make out only if you are a regular. Enough said - there is nothing like a 'better' body. As long as you are feeling healthy and are comfortable, everything is fine. It definitely justifies staring in the mirror. Just remember what happened in the legend of Narcissus and don't turn into a flower.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

My First Run In Delhi @

After a 5 month hiatus, I finally went for a run in Delhi and it felt GOOD. Part of it was laziness but mostly it was because weekends have always been kinda busy with some domestic stuff happening.

I first heard of when I went for the Bangalore Ultra Marathon. There was a paper insert with the stuff the organisers were handing out. Talk about timing - at work, talks were on about my move to Delhi. Within a few days of reaching here, very proactively I signed up as a member on their site and started getting updates on runs. In the initial days, most of the runs seemed to be in Noida and I was in the guest house at Westend. Since I didn't have my car yet and I didn't know the route (imagine trying to find Sector 61 early in the morning) and it was soooo cold, I had enough excuses to not go.

The run which was held on last Sunday - 9th May was at Gurgaon. As usual, there was a timely reminder sent out by Rahul Varghese who is the Chief Runner. He is an ex-MNC marketing head with 25 years of experience which he quit to explore his then new passion of running. As the days came closer, I started feeling nervous because a) I felt I haven't done enough training b) It had been a long time since my last run. On the eventful day, I got up at 4.30 am (blinking like an owl) and as usual took almost an hour getting ready. How I envy people who can get ready in a jiffy. I then drove like mad and reached the start point by 5.40 am which was the time most people also came in (the 10k run started at 6.00 am while the 5k was at 6.30 am). The start point was near Rose Park which is further down from Crowne Plaza Hotel, Gurgaon. The park has a huge parking lot and so have no worries of parking. After 5 minutes, Rahul came up carrying a small megaphone and took us through the run and the route. It was quite light hearted with him claiming credit for the good weather and comparing us to Olympic runners :) Post this, one of the sponsors - Elemention Gym had their trainers stationed who took us through a good warm up routine.

By this time around 40 runners had gathered and we started at sharp 6.00 am. The start point was the parking lot and the run was on the road. The distance one way was 2.5 kms and so we had to loop back and then do it all over again. Since it was so early in the morning, there was hardly any traffic. I had set my playlist to finish in exactly one hour because I wanted to better my previous time of 62 mins.  I started off and the first two kms went off smoothly. Then I started to feel the strain. As usual, my upper back started to pain. Then my breath started getting ragged and I was like - "Did I get up at 4.30 am to do this? Why am I going through this hell?" After what seemed like ages, we finally came back to the starting point and I started getting my second wind. I checked the time and saw that 28 minutes had passed by. Simple math meant that I would finish the run in 56 minutes :) but I had to factor in that I was slowing down. I wanted to speed up a bit then but tried to keep a steady pace till I reached 7.5 kms. All the while, I was wondering how much of time was left. I took the turn without stopping to drink water as I was scared of breaking my rhythm. I started stepping up the pace by focusing on overtaking the person immediately in front of me. Not as easy as it sounds because that person was in front by virtue of running faster than me in the first place. Still, I gritted my teeth and pushed on. You are not going to believe the next part - first there was a foreigner whom I would overtake and then he would catch up again. This happened 3 or 4 times till I decided enough is enough and sprinted ahead to put a few extra metres between us.My next target was a bald specy guy and the fun started all over again. By this time, the last km came up and the strain really began telling. My lower back and my legs started protesting big time and I slowed down. Just as the end was in sight, a couple of things happened - the songs ran out and that meant the hour was up. Also the foreigner overtook me at this time along with two others. Oh crap!! I finally crested the finish line and hurriedly pulled out my iPod to check the time. Hurrah, I had completed it in 1:01 hrs - one minute better that my earlier time. This combined with the euphoric feeling of completing a run successfully gave me an instant high. Course that was in my mind, my legs were still looking for a place to rest my bum. I sat down and waited for the world to steady. People were milling around chatting about their run, comparing, laughing or just cooling down. The organisers started handing out some packets and I was hoping it was completion certificates (like a Red Indian collects scalps, I collect paraphernalia ;). Unfortunately, it was only information leaflets. I quietly got up, did a few stretches and left the area remembering why it was that I came to these runs - for the happy ending.

p.s - do check out the video. It is not in exact sequence but done quite well.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mariah Carey - I Like

Well, there it is - out in the open. No more Mr. Cool Guy who knows some s**t about rock or at worst hip hop. AT the risk of repeating myself, I do like Mariah Carey. Now when I say its for her voice / songs / talent, everyone is going to scoff.

Ok it is true that when the Honey video launched, my jaw dropped. The worst part was at that time, there was no Internet (I think). How to watch the video again? I had to wait for ages for it to come again on TV. Luckily now it is all over the internet. Even now, I have the song on my iPod and I can listen to it anytime.

Today, I wanted to listen to some slow songs and Mariah's song - My All suddenly struck me. Do check out the video. She must have been pretty young at this time and her acting skills are no good but what a voice. I then went on to listen to I Still Believe. Couple of things I heard about her are
- She was a waitress before she hit the big time
- She can do all the eight octaves / notes in one breath
- That means there are eight notes. I must try this once. Parental advisory will be required at this time.

Of late, she had released the album Memoirs Of An Imperfect Angel. She has also been in the news for a) her marriage and b) talking about not losing weight so that she keeps her "natural curves".  I always think that celebs must be having a very tough life. They have to posture in public, spend enormous amounts of money on designer clothes, work hard to avoid the press, face so much scrutiny. The pressure to just look beautiful and be squeaky clean must be killing.

So do what I do - respect them for their work. Go buy a CD of Mariah Carey's songs, pour a glass of wine and chill out. You'll have fun.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Our Visit To Nameri - Prashaanti Tourist Lodge

The best time to go visiting any city is when one of their main festivals is on. I know, I know - air tickets will be more expensive, hotels costlier, more crowds jostling around but the city feels nice. There is an under-current of excitement as well as a festive mood in the air. People are out shopping, visiting relatives, dining and everyone seems to be enjoying the moment. Such was the case when my wife and I went to Guwahati for Bihu. Luckily, the weather was in favour too as it would rain briefly at night and that made the whole place cooler (way better than Delhi at least). It also made our drive to Nameri very pleasant as the countryside had enough greenery to please the eye. Having three women in the backseat giving helpful tips does need some distraction :)

The reason we chose Nameri as our holiday spot was the fact that our uncle Joy Mama had set up a resort under the Assam Tourism Directorate called Prashaanti Tourist Lodge. So off we went - my in-laws, wife, sis-in-law and I. Nameri is about 200 kms from Guwahati, towards Tezpur from where it is a further 40 kms. We went over the Saraighat bridge and took the NH 52 via the towns of Baihata Chariali, Mangaldai, Rowta and Orang. The roads till Rowta were pretty fine. After that, there are a whole slew of bridges which act as speed breakers as they start and end with a bump with lots of potholes in between. Apparently, the town of Orang is famous for its rasagollas but the shop we stopped at did not look hygienic and hence I avoided trying the delicacy. Before the town of Tezpur, we took a left and also better directions than I can give here as there are many twists and turns and lots of small towns through which the road lies. Once the turn-off is taken towards Tezpur, the road becomes quite narrow and there is construction work going on but it is still motorable.

Luckily for us, Joy Mama had also left from Guwahati the same morning and caught up with us. We were following him when he suddenly took a mud road into the bushes. Ah, it felt like we were almost there. Big trees on either side, clean air and blue mountains in the distance - I couldn't wait to get out and stretch my legs after the 5 plus hour journey. We had to drive in second gear as the road was muddy with rains and there were a quite a few pot-holes with water (it is be advisable to avoid smaller cars in the rainy season). We crossed the famous Nameri Eco Camp and reached the resort which we later learnt was just behind Eco Camp.

The resort is about 2 acres big. Right in the centre is the lobby cum dining room. It is a big thatched structure, open on all four sides. At the back is the kitchen and around are the six cottages separated by patches of lawn. On the outer periphery, Joy Mama has been doing some gardening and has successfully managed to grow different varieties of chillies, pumpkin, papaya, tomatoes and the likes. The rooms are clean and comfortable, with attached bathrooms. They are two bed affairs with the option of providing a third bed. The whole place is very quite and the view is quite nice, surrounded by greenery. The mountains of Arunachal Padesh are visible in a 180o arc, which my father-in-law and I kept looking at while lounging in the armchairs.

Now, Joy Mama is a fantastic cook and of course, we got special attention. We had some excellent dal, rice, fish fry and cabbage subzi for lunch and then retired for some rest. In the evening, we were having tea when we got a pleasant surprise that the local villagers were visiting the resorts and would be dancing the traditional Bihu dance. We laid out chairs near the front lawn in anticipation and sure enough, they landed up. There were about twenty of them in all, with youngsters around 10 years old going upto 25 years. They came in singing, accompanied by drums and cymbals. The girls were quite graceful and the guys were very enthusiastic. What I liked most about the whole show was that they never asked for money and when we insisted, they had a small ceremony where we had to place the money in a plate covered by a gamusa (ceremonial towel), lay the plate on the ground in front of them and kneel down. They sang out a blessing and only then accepted the money. Once they left, we sat around talking while Joy Mama was busy in the kitchen preparing our special request of smoked pork and chicken curry.

Before going to sleep, Joy Mama told us that the sunrise was quite spectacular as the whole place lights up but that meant meant getting up per 6.00 am. Whoa, I was on a holiday, how can one get up so early ;-) Anyway, we still got up at around 6.15. By then, the whole room was filled with sunlight. After a cup of tea, we went for a 1.5 km walk to see a tributary of the Bramhaputra. It was a pretty spot where the banks were filled with rounded pebbles and the water was cool to touch. Definitely not majestic (thanks to summer) but the current was fast flowing and seemed a bit risky to swim in. In any case, I did not carry a pair of shorts and cursed myself for the lack of fore-sight. We then headed and breakfasted on puris, aloo subzi, chilli subzi and omelette's. After a brief rest, we checked out and came back to Guwahati via the same route. On the way, we stopped at Hotel Shyamlee in Mangaldai for lunch. It was clean and the a/c was working. We had a nice veg thali with chicken curry and fish tenga.

As usual, the holiday seemed quite short and we wished we could have spent some more time there. Ideal for a long weekend or a stay of 4-5 days, this is the place to go to if you want to combine sight-seeing the North-East with good food and lounging around. Some of the things to do here would be
- Make this a base camp and then go on to visit nearby places like Bhalukpong, Bomdila, Dirrang, Chela Pass, Tawang etc.
- River rafting, jungle trekking, bird watching is also possible.
- - For the ladies, shopping is an option where you get to purchase mekkala chaddhar, shawls, blankets made by the viilagers.
- Nameri National Park is close by and could be a day trip.

Joy Mama can be contacted on / 9613853943

Here is the photo link of a few pictures of the place. Happy holidaying!!