Sunday, June 19, 2005

What's the fuss about, anyway?

I dont understand why the Live 8 concert organised by Sir Bob Geldof is getting so much negative attention from musicians. A bunch of African (and a few Western) musicians are complaining that there are very few bands and musicians from Africa who will be playing at the Live 8 concert. They feel that this is because the organisers are being condescending - that is, they are playing the "white man is the benefactor" role.

Another of their grumbles is that African music and musicians are not getting enough exposure in the West and therefore they're not as popular as non-African bands and artistes. They want the lesser known African musicians to be featured at the Live 8 concerts.

I think they're losing sight of two important things: One, that the concert is being held to raise money to help the poorest people in Africa. (And African music bands do not feature among them, methinks). Two, the concerts are going to feature musicians and bands that are ALREADY well-known and recognised. I doubt the concerts are being used as an opportunity to promote complete unknowns.

The reason? Well, Live 8 is being organised to raise money for the poverty-stricken people of Africa. So what does it matter WHO raises the money? What does it matter if it’s white musicians or black who feature at the event? The point is to make money – and I’m pretty damn sure that the starving children and disease-racked adults who are going to benefit from the aid that this money will bring them, will not waste even one second wondering who enabled the aid!

And another thing: Who is likelier to raise more money – well-known and well-loved bands, or complete unknowns? Whom will people want to watch – unknowns or greats? Given the chance to watch Pink Floyd play live – the original band, including David Gilmore AND Roger Waters – would anybody say “no thanks, I'd prefer to see total strangers from Africa whose music I’ve never heard before and am totally unfamiliar with”? Especially considering that the concerts are being held not in Africa, but in the UK.

I really wish that these self-serving people, who raise objections even when the motive is good, would shut up and allow a beneficial thing to happen. There is a place and a time for self-promotion and publicity tours/shows, but a fund-raising concert is not it!

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Touch of the sun...

...which, at the moment, is only a memory. The last day or two have been cold, cloudy, windy, threatening to rain - and did I mention cold? This country (or maybe it's just Shrewsbury) has such weird weather... two days back it was so sunny that everyboy went around in shorts and strappy t-shirts or no shirts at all (the guys - in case anybody thinks I live in a nudist camp). Today I feel like bundling myself up in warm fleece. Today I defy anybody to wear minimal clothing merely because it's technically supposed to be "summer"!

And the spur-of-the-moment picnic that Pete decided on, a few days ago, seems like a dream brought on by too much sun. I've had this romantic notion of sitting by the riverbank in the sun and reading - but I never really got around to it because it's been rather too windy to sit around without getting very cold. But the perfect evening happened - warm, sunny without being horribly hot, still and calm. So Pete came tearing home from work, looking mysterious about his bulging rucksack and not answering any questions about where we were going. And off we went on our cycles.

A very pleasant surprise it was, too, when I discovered that we were going to a meadow that I had only seen from the car - it always looked green and serene by the riverside. One of those places that is just that bit too far to walk to, but perfect on a cycle. The Severn river meanders about Shrewsbury and there are some smaller streams as well, so there is no lack of nice picnic spots. It was a lot like my dream picnic. Except that in my dream there was food to be had - and in Pete's version there was only wine. Three bottles of strawberry wine. And no food.

It was still really lovely there in the sun, lying back on the grass or watching the ducks go by. Going back home was a bit of a giggle, as the wine was even headier in the sun and got to me quicker than it normally does. (Lack of food was the other factor.) I'm not the steadiest of cyclists at the best of times, but this time the traffic whizzing past didnt bother me a bit because all was very right with my wobbly little world.

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Picnic site

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Reflection on water

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Oops, my foot got in the way

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Bikes lying in the sun too. The purple on on the right is mine.

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My tumbler of wine

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And me.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Book tag

Decided to tag myself (but thanks to Ferrari, all the same) :)

Total number of books I own:
Havent counted but would be well into the 300s, I think

Last Book I Bought:
The Exiles, by Hilary McKay. Yes, a book for kids but it still had me in helpless giggles.

Last Book I read:
Triggerfish Twist by Tim Dorsey. If you like Carl Hlaasen, you'll love this guy. Over-the-top black humour.

Five Books That Mean a Lot to Me:
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee - what a book, what a BOOK! The best one ever on racism in the Deep South, and it's straightforward and readable. So very readable. Atticus Finch forever!

All the Psmith books by P G Wodehouse - ok, so it's cheating to put in three books when it's supposed to be only one. But I so desperately wanted to speak like Psmith and be annoyingly polite to everybody!

Roots, by Alex Haley - Need I say anything more?

Daddy Long Legs, by Jean Webster- Loved it for the humour and it was the first (and possibly last) romance novel that I really enjoyed. It was my favourite book as a young 'un.

Swami & Friends, by R K Narayan - one of my favourite Indian authors who wrote in English and yet never sounded like he wrote with a foreign audience in mind.

That's all, folks

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Memories from childhood

This weekend we visited some friends of ours down in Colchester (which is about 150 miles from Shrewsbury). They have two sons, aged 4 and 7, and a three-month-old baby daughter. All the kids were adorable but four-year-old Douglas took a real fancy to me and Pete. Seven-year-old Joshua and I played a lot of football - he liked being the goalkeeper.

Although Douglas talked non-stop, a lot of his prattle went over my head, so to speak, but the bits I did understand and respond to made me suddenly see things from a little person's point of view - that is to say, it brought home the fact that kids take things literally! Metaphors were no use when talking to this little guy... when I told his mother that I just didnt have green fingers (I'm not a natural-born gardener), he immediately checked my hands to see which fingers were green - and wasnt too impressed when he found that they were all brown. Neither I nor his mother could make him understand the expression.

Once you're an adult, it can be fairly difficult to put yourself in the shoes of kids (for starters, they would be a very tight squeeze - heheh)... difficult to think like them and to see things they way they do, simply because you know more, you can think logically and rationally (or so one hopes), and you have the benefit of hindsight and experience. So you would know, if you saw a movie, that the events in it are not real. To a child, though, every scene no matter how illogical or fantastic, is abolute, unquestioned reality. That's how I like to explain away certain incidents from my childhood that I remember - moments when I recognise myself for the silly kid I was then!

Incident one - I think it was probably the very first movie I saw in a theatre. I'm not sure how old I was. Dont remember the movie either, but I know the hero was Rajesh Khanna. The movie could have been "Haathi Mere Saathi", assuming it was Rajesh Khanna starring in it. Anyway, I was SO caught up in the plot that during a fight scene, when it looked like my hero was getting the worst of it from the villain, I distinctly remember jumping up from my seat in a state of serious excitement (and anxiety for Rajesh Khanna's fate) and yelling "Hit him Rajesh Khanna, HIT HIM" at the top of my voice. Much to the embarrassment of my slightly older friend who pulled me back down and hissed "Shut up, it is not real!" But it was to me.

Another movie that I sat and watched with bated breath (this time with my parents) was a Tamil one - "Nizhalgal", unless there was one called "Nizhal nijamagiradhu"... if not, that phrase was just the teaser for the movie. Anyhow, I didnt know that another meaning for the word "nizhalgal" is "dreams" - I thought "nizhal" just meant "shadow"... so I sat wide-eyed with anticipation throughout the movie, expecting at any moment to see a shadow becoming real - something like a ghost, perhaps. There never was a more puzzled child at the end of the movie, because the whole thing didnt even begin to make sense from my viewpoint. Where was the shadow that was supposed to become real?

Did that movie ever go over my head or what!

As a slightly older person - again, dont remember how old I was, but it was that age when you take the printed word at face value. Interviews with movie stars, etc, where what you read is what you implicitly believe is what the star really, truly means from the bottom of his/her heart. I guess I had never heard of publicity gimmicks or the tendency of film stars to always lie like rugs (exactly like politicians). Ah, innocence...

So, in all the innocence of untested childhood, I read a movie rag which had an interview with Nazia Hassan, the throaty singer from Pakistan, now long deceased, and her brother Zoheb. I'd just seen Qurbani, I suppose, and "Aap jaisa koi" was my favourite song then. I thought Nazia Hassan was the most beautiful woman in the world and Zoheb the most handsome. And when I read that she didnt consider herself pretty and her brother Zoheb teased her for being "ugly" - well, I was more than ready to rise up in her defence! In fact, I even wrote her a letter saying that I thought her the most beautiful woman ever, more beautiful than Zeenat Aman (!) and Zoheb was a mean guy to call her ugly. Too bad I didnt have an address or I would probably have posted the letter...