Friday, June 13, 2014

Biking and some more

The wind on the face. The pain in the legs as one pounds the pedal. And then the feeling of freedom. The want to ride harder.

You. The machine. One. Until the little one in your life wants to play picnic.

So thanks to little S, we are back to biking. Its what she calls "daddy baby" time. 

I guess there comes a time in every man's life when precisely the things one would otherwise consider corny tends to bring the most joy. 

And "daddy baby" time is something such for me. 

Our biking outings are less about biking than picnics, little adventures and eating mint to feel "refreshed" after having ridden precisely 30 seconds. And herding little S.

But corniness aside, the best thing I have spent on the bike. 

And its here.

Oh man. 

Its here again. After 4 long years. And the drama commences. 

In the two days that the tournament has been on:

  • The tournament's first goal is a selfie by Brazil's Marcelo
  • The referee in the same game falls for a blatant dive by Brazilian forward Fred and awards a penalty - which Neymar converts in characteristically dramatic fashion
  • The Netherlands wallop defending champion Spain 5-1, the biggest defeat by a defending champion. Ever.
  • The sideline referee disallows a goal by Mexico against Cameroon
  • Australia of all countries, is giving Chile a fair fight (as we speak) after being down 2-0 in the 18th minute. 
Have to love this. Can't think of anything better. Where's my beer?

Friday, May 23, 2014

And here's to Coldplay

A rainy evening in Seattle. A long time ago. When the author was a rookie consultant, trying to make his presence felt in this behemoth of a firm he had joined. 

There was still this excitement of traveling. Of seeing new places. First it was Atlanta and then Seattle. That wonderful hotel on the banks of Lake Union in Seattle. 

And one day, in Kirkland, over some cheap steak and eggs, the strains of Coldplay's A Rush of Blood to the head came on. And instantly hooked me. The rhythmic melodious extensions, the throb of the piano interspaced with electronica was new and fresh. Much like how my life was back then. Work. Place. 

And yesterday, now a much more seasoned consultant, on a plane ride back, I played the same album on Spotify. Rather by accident actually. On the plane, wondering which music to save for offline play - this album was first on the list. And I saved it. 

They say music brings you back to times past. This one did, in many evocative ways. The light mist of Seattle rain. The stunning beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

To commemorate that warm feeling yet again....

Monday, May 12, 2014

Road warrior again...

The last 6 months were rather nice. Going to work in the morning. Back in the evening. 

Dinner at home. Sleeping on your own bed. 

Dammit! Now back to airports. Part of it is so familiar. Airport lines, crappy food and airplane delays. Hotels. 

Oh well, good things always come to an end. But fishing for the positives, traveling always provides more fodder for blogging. 

Especially when traveling below the Mason Dixon line. 

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Coming back again

Everytime I stop writing, I find it incredibly difficult to get back to the blog. 

So the trigger this time was different. Something that I had to share. For those of you who know me, know I am a huge Indian Ocean fan. Have been a fan since all of 5 kids in Delhi University were the only ones who had heard of them. 

And integral to Indian Ocean were 2 of my favorite band members - Susmit Sen and Asheem Chakraborty. 

Susmit left Indian Ocean in 2009 to follow a solo career. And recently iTunes started selling his first solo album - Depths of the Ocean

I recently got it and till date have listened to it 7 times in a row - everytime I am on the train to and from work. And everytime, I am amazed, moved, touched, get nostalgic and everything else that has till now, has only been associated with listening to Indian Ocean's albums.

And what an album. Its very different from the recent Indian Ocean albums that have brought so much popular accolades and fan following to the group. Instead, the album is eclectic - each song has a character of its own. It is a collaboration between Susmit and various artists like Papon (that amazing Assamese folk singer), Shobha Mudgal, Parikrama's Nitin Malik and an amazing artist I had never heard before Sari Roy, Susmit's cousin. 

And it has a song called Rejuvenation - perhaps the last time, we will ever get a new recording between Susmit and the late Asheem Chakraborty. I would buy the album maybe just for that one song. For a chance to hear his soulful voice one last time. 

The album is much more classically focused - almost reminds me of that self-titled instrumental self titled Indian Ocean album - that I got back in 1996 (Going to ITO, anyone?).

Track discography:

a)  Rejuvenation: A beautiful early Indian Ocean-esque track. Sublime guitar by Susmit and Asheem’s voice in almost a jugalbandi. A classic. And a poignant-sad track for Asheem’s fan. The last time we will ever hear him in a new song.

b)  City Lights: A much darker track. This track features Shobha Mudgal – but not in her usual vibrant voice – but rather a smoky whisper. It's a long 11 minute track – with the usual riffs by Susmit. It's got some beautiful flute and background vocals to complement Susmit’s guitar and Shobha’s subdued – how do I put it – “classical restrained aalap”. And to me – and some beautiful tabla. You will also find some very familiar Indian Ocean riffs in Susmit’s guitar. Shobha is a legend – this track will show you why – some fantastic Hindustani classical singing with Susmit catching every inflection with his guitar.

c)   Depths of the Ocean: Sublimity of Susmit’s guitar reigns here mixed with an electric (presumably played by Nitin). At the beginning, it almost has a Scorpion like feel. Think Holiday. Before the base guitar takes over woven with Susmit’s acoustic. Apparently this song was one of Susmit’s and Asheem’s earliest compositions. I can almost imagine Asheem’s voice soaring in the second half vocal background. Yet, some beautiful vocals with Susmit intermingling his acoustic. Very very easy on the ears.

d)  Tribute: Perhaps my favorite track of the album. I bought the album from iTunes and hence don’t have the liner notes. I wish I know who this is a tribute for – I would like to imagine that this is Susmit’s tribute to his old friend and bandmate Asheem Chakraborty. The track starts off with a classical aalap and then moves on to the main body with a jhala. Signature Susmit / Indian Ocean melodic lines. For a track that is 11 minutes long, there isn’t any repetition. Again, at the risk of repeating myself – just sublime guitar from Susmit in a very Indian classical mold. Almost feels like you are listening to Amjad Ali Khan on the sarod. The kind of song you want to listen to – sitting on a beach with the setting sun and a beer in hand. In complete peace. A classic.

e)  Wild Epiphany: A much more rhythm based track compared to the other more melodic line based tracks. Susmit collaborates with Papon in this song. Papon has strong vocal delivery and complements well with Susmit’s guitar interludes. I have to say this track is a little bit of an acquired taste. It isn’t quite as expansive as the other tracks on the album. But then, by the time you reach this track, your bar has been set very high. Very high.

f)    Intimacy: Along with Tribute, perhaps my favorite track of the album. Sari Roy, Susmit’s cousin collaborates on this track. Sari was my biggest new discovery in the album. He delivers a fantastic vocals to go with Susmit’s guitar. The melody is almost Bengali in style, interwoven with Susmit’s guitar which suddenly sounds very familiar Indian Ocean like. It's a very topical track this one. Again one that evokes a certain mood. This is one which likeminded friends can sit and croon together. I know if I had friends who enjoyed this kind of music, I would.

g)  Six String Salute (The National Anthem): A rendition of our national anthem that only Susmit could pull off. Slow, soulful, it almost sounds like a prayer (which it is, to our nation). Beautiful. Touching. No other words to describe it.

This is a beautiful album. Its a culmination of Susmit's 20 years with Indian Ocean and this unique style he developed. 

I normally dont write about music anymore. Hell, I dont even buy that much new music anymore. But this one is a classic.

Highly recommended.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Weather, that bitch!

As a matter of personal preference - I don't much mind the winter. I welcome it, actually. Having grown up in a city of major extremes - and skewed towards the summer - I have no love lost for those hot summer afternoons of my childhood in Delhi, the infamous loo (the hot, dry desert wind that blows into Delhi from Rajasthan - filling every crevice with fine dust). I don't miss the sweat, having to bathe twice a day at a minimum. That constant feeling of being drained out. 

So under normal circumstances, I actually welcome the winter. I love the snow outside. I love the feeling of being warm and comfortable inside the house when its miserable outside. But now, I am romanticizing. 

Because back in my traveling days - winter really meant getting stuck in the snowstorm at the airport - or worse, on the highway. It meant carrying a huge bulky jacket in addition to all the other stuff on your twice a week plane rides. It meant shivering in the snow outside for a smoke (this, when I still was addicted). And a million other indignities no civilized human should have to endure.

But all through these years - and starting in Michigan, I still loved the winter. The changing landscape.

But this year sort of rattled the cart. I mean seriously. 30 inches of snow? I know these are fairly first world problems - but seriously!!

So to the weather bitch - no, i will still love winters. There's something to it that folks who grew up in temperate climates don't appreciate. 

But I wont romanticize about you. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Big 4 business

It was cool really. Going against a big 4 in a consulting gig. It helps that you know all their tricks and can react against them. Never mind we didn't win. But it was a learning experience. And I just know that things are going to come full circle. But it was fun. 

I just wish I could go one on one on the client orals. I just wish I could take a shot against their partners. The green dot, for all it's faults, prepares you really well for such hyper competitive situations. 

Love, just love building a business. 

Oh well, next time buddy!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

My much maligned state

New Jersey doesn't have a whole lot to show for itself. People drive through it. The Sopnanos, Jersey Shore and TV shows of that nature doesn't do its image any good.

I have lived here for 11 years. Even when I was traveling to what I would consider the best places in the world to live in (e.g. Seattle, Sao Paulo, ), this was, to much mirth, has been my home.

And the longer I have lived here, I cant help but draw this state's parallel's to my own life. To me.

This state isn't visually appealing. But it has one of the best school systems in the country. It has, perhaps, the best university in the world. It houses companies that are on cutting edge of health care and life sciences.

And it has a lot of car dealerships. And a lot of chain restaurants. 

It has one of the highest property taxes in the nation. And one of the best public transit systems in this continent. It has duality. And a really fat, pugnatious governers. Who still might be the next president of the united states.

It has duality. It is the Garden State without a whole lot of gardens. 

But it has diversity. And embraces it. It has little India, little Italy, little everyfuckingcountry on earth.

It has downtrodden cities. It has Bruce Springsteen. 

And it has gotten every person I have associated with here to a better place. Where they can diss this place, subsequently.

To New Jersey. My home. As always, after New Delhi.