Category: Uncategorized

To sir, with love.

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Disclaimer: TL; DR.

Thatha – a major influence in my life is no more and I have a lot to say.
He was mostly my guru, shared all that he knew musically unconditionally – not just with me, but with all his students. He made all of us complete individuals and gave us exposure beyond what we could imagine at that tender age.
He was mostly stern with me, when it came to classes and practice sessions. Instances I recollect that I’d get a share of unpleasantaries for fellow students making mistakes while singing. It used to be a rigourous 6-8 hours session per day. To compensate for his rigor, my paati would pamper all of us with delicacies and gratifying words.

Between 1998 and 2005, I’d participate in singing competitions across various sabhas in Chennai. And, by chance if thatha appeared as a judge, I know I have no chance of winning – even if I gave my best. Fellow musicians in the judging panel would encourage my performance whilst Thatha would find a gazillion mistakes in my performance – starting from the posture, to shruti, to kala pramanam, to diction and raga bhavam.

Almost until my early 20s, I’d blindly follow whatever he’d say. Because I knew nothing other than that. To support his views, my parents would never come in the way. And those years helped me see a person beyond a guru in him – an orator, an organiser, a disciplinarian, a creator, an artist and above all a bhakta of Saint Narayana Tirtha.

Thatha never said words or preached to help us learn things. He’d simply do them in action and meticulously followed them until his last breath – I can assure. Today, in his absence, I connect dots backward and know that there’s so much he has taught me in an implied manner.

He liked being challenged and deeply appreciated acumen in a person and accepted creative (non conventional) ideas readily.

He was one of the early organisers to encourage budding young artistes and would go out of his way to support and help them build a career by putting them in touch with other leading Sabha secretaries.

For those who knew him deep, they’d absolutely adore him for his straight forwardness. Despite his natural traits, he was extremely good as an influencer and loved being around like minded individuals.

From concert recitals, dance performances, stage dramas, harikatha, namasankeertanam, villupaatu, jugalbandis to talk shows, debate sessions, short films, street play, he explored spectrum of ideas to reach out compositions of Sri Narayana Tirtha.

Seen a man of dreams? Yes.
Seen an entire family beholding this man’s dreams? It’s rare. For, its seldom we witness such things.
I consider myself blessed to grow up in such an atmosphere at household. Differing views, conflicting interests, personal opinions will fall short completely when it comes to one subject – “Narayana Tirtha” – where the entire family unites unanimously.

In the recent past, we bonded beyond a guru – shishya relationship and shared ideas across subjects – food, travel, politics, history, culture, psychology, medicine, fitness, architecture. And maybe, this was when, he was more of a thatha to me and expressed his purest of sides with joy to me.

His leaving is irreplaceable but he has given us a purpose beyond our imagination – to each one of us in the family to hold onto and reminisce him in many more years to come.

Tataastu.

P.S: His strength and love, V Rajalakshmi, my patti – is currently in loss of words to express what she’s going through. Hope and pray for her well being.

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25 years of experience..with life!

Disclaimer: TL;DR.

25 years.

Phew!

Has it been amazing so far? Yes.

Do I look forward to another 25? Why not?

As I step onto 26th year of living, here’s taking some time to recall some folks who have made this life, worth living.

Firstly, my amazing parents. I have shared this time and again. But, its completely worth all the mention, because they mean everything to me. And, they are only getting awesomer everyday. Thank you amma, appa or appa, amma, you guys figure out this order. But, hey, thank you for making me the person I am today. For being my best of friends. For being my pillar of support, bricks, walls, everything else. For making me, for breaking me, for everything that I cannot express through just words.

My chithi (aunt), my paati (grandmother) and my thatha (grandfather) for making my childhood beautiful. And, grateful to be part of this family, who are always my source of happiness.

My gurus, Thirupoonthuruthy Sri Venkatesan (my grand father), Late Chingleput Sri Ranganathan, Kovai Sri Dakshinamoorthy, Sri M S Anantharaman, Akkarai Sri Swamynathan and currently Smt Sumitra Vasudev akka, for making music an integral part of my life and imparting life’s valuable lessons through music. I still aspire to become better with all the good that’s been passed on to me, by all these greats.

The lovely teachers and professors I had an opportunity to learn from. To all of you at Delhi Public School (Delhi), Adarsh Vidyalaya (Ajmer), MGR Adarsh Matriculation School (Chennai), Sir Sivaswami Kalalaya Senior Secondary School (Chennai), M O P Vaishnav College for Women (Chennai), Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication (Pune), Loyola Institute of Business & Administration (Chennai), University of Madras (Chennai). Thanks to all the ladies and gentleman I met through these touch points. Glad that, through these various touch points, I found the best of friends, siblings, mentors who will continue to be part of my life.

Take the attitude of a student, never be too big to ask questions, never know too much to learn something new ~ Og Mandino

This quote holds true in my case.

All my dear friends from Radio Mirchi (Chennai), Star Vijay (Chennai), Skycap Productions (Chennai), CNN IBN (Chennai), Hanmer MSL (Chennai), The Banyan (Chennai), Cognizant Technology Solutions (Chennai), Human Factors International (Mumbai, Pondicherry), Standard Bank (South Africa), Tenmiles Technologies (Chennai) and currently everyone at Indix Corporation (Chennai), thank you for making it possible for me to learn, fail, relearn and grow. To all of you, I met through these esteem organizations, thank you for being patient with me, letting me be myself, allowing me to be vocal with my views (if any), see my dreams as your own and encouraging me always.

I collect human relationships very much the way others collect fine art ~ Jerzy Kosinski

In no specific order, I would like to thank few folks who have helped me learn some very important lessons, on how beautiful it is to trust and be trusted, to love and be loved, to respect and be respected, to have misunderstandings, forgive and value relationships more than the events itself, to let go and move on at times and, this list is going to be very long. But, hey, this features folks who have influenced me for good, at different points, through the last 25 years.

Naithrav, Divya, Sunil, Madhu, Priyanka, Satish, Renita, Karthik, Dawood, Chandan sir, Ruchi ma’am, Shakti ma’am, Nivedita ma’am, Aruna ma’am, Sujata ma’am, Sumithra akka, Sidharth Iyer, Alokita, Pooja, Preetha, Deiva, Gautam, Ramya, Ramesh, Aditi, Vasanth, Sesha, Manoj, Bharath, Ashwanth, Karthik, Sriram, Praveen, Prasanna, Sridevi, Padmavathi, Avik, Halliq, Ranjani, Parvathy, Divya, Sruthi, Ashwini, Subadra, Balajee, Arvind, Krithika, Krithika, Sabin, Meena, Meera, Rajesh, Kaavya Krishna, Ramani uncle, Ramji uncle, Raj, Santy, Karthik, Harish, Chander, Pranav, Joseph, Srivathsan, PK, Sumeet Wilankar, Saranya, Radhika, Jefferson, Ram Kumar, Lakshmi, Vinoth, Sai, Meena, Ksheera, Nylah and a lot more people, I possibly missed out here. But, you all know who you are.

Thank you everyone.

The last 365 days..

On December 22, 2013, I turned 24 and before I could hit 25 (which is tomorrow), I wanted to do some great things.

Well, it was merely creating a reason to push myself to do things I always dreamt of pursuing.

The question – So, did I do great things? I am not sure of an answer to that. No, I am not modest here. But, I have attempted several things and have definitely become a better person than what I was.

So, the last 365 days has been a brilliant roller-coaster ride for me. In all honesty, I am quite clueless as to where those many days went off in a jiffy.

So, a quick run through of what happened.

On my birthday, I moved back to Chennai from Mumbai, gave a concert, spent good time with family and close friends. The remaining days of the year 2013 was well spent in Pondicherry (where I used to work) and had an amazing time with Divya (since she had come over and stayed with me).

2014 was born. First 10 days of the year, shuttling between Pondicherry and Chennai and attending as many concerts as I could happened.

Between January 11, 2014 and August 15, 2014, I had moved my base to Johannesburg, South Africa. Easily one of the best learning phase of my life. I met amazing people, spent great time with them, built almost a home away from home with these people – for they became my family there. You know who you all are.  With them, traveled, cooked, sang, danced, cracked up jokes, celebrated festivals, worked a bit too, and those memories will come a long way in my life.  Thank you is purely insufficient to express my gratitude.

As usual, my close friends stuck with me despite the long distance, varying time zones. This was one phase were I desperately depended on all sorts of technology to keep in touch with family that includes my friends.

Too many reasons, I moved back to India for good. Literally for good. Between August 15, 2014 and Dec 21, 2014, life tested me at all levels. Too many opportunities – good, bad, ugly came my way. I did take some quick decisions – with a hope to make them right. And, as on today, I am a blessed and a very happy human being.

Quick lessons from last year –

  1. There is nothing worthy beyond your family.
  2. Those who are friends, will always remain friends.
  3. Work is important. But, work is not everything in life.
  4. To gain something, you need to let go off something too. Mostly a barter system.
  5. Life is too short. Too unpredictable. Passionate about something, just do it.
  6. Love something, someone, express it. There is no harm.
  7. Eating good food, home cooked food is heavenly. I have happy tears as I write this.
  8. Travel, meet new people, listen. They all will narrate beautiful stories.
  9. Stay blessed and inspired.

In no context, a special thanks to few people for giving me strength from time to time. Naithrav, Divya, Jayashree, Satish, Krithika, Arvind, Aruna, Sumeet, Anjali, Bhavinee, Halliq, Avik, Ashni, Kris, Pooja, Alokita, Ananya, Madhu, Ambuj, Ashwini, Sunil, Priyanka, Kaavya, Eric, Apala, Sowmya, Sumithra, Laloo, Neela, Ravichandran

Hope. Love. Happiness to be with all of you reading this.

I believe I can eat

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My love for food, eating, cooking begins and ends at home. Mostly with paati’s (grandmom) and amma’s (mother) samayal.

But, if I am allowed to explain further about my gourmet skills, I would like to give some context. We as a family moved our base to Chennai in 1994 and I moved in and out of Madras aka Chennai for various reasons in the past.

Currently, I am a happy resident here – pursuing music and working at a tech-based company. Chennai is home and became an integral part of me for two key reasons – music and food – necessarily in that order.

Rewind 20 years back, I was sent to classes to learn Carnatic vocal and violin. As a kid, every time I identified a raga, I got rewarded with some mouth-watering food. It didn’t stop with just raga identification. In a four-walled room, my gurus became compelling narrators and this gave birth to fascinating stories. As a pampered student in many ways, my gurus, while weaving stories, made me relish a few home-made delicacies. Some include thenkuzhal, javarasi payasam, vazhaipoo vadai, kandathippili rasam, rava kesari, panankalkandu pal, rava idlis, puliyodarai, adai-aviyal, so on and so forth. These experiences enriched my taste – music as well as food.

However, the epicure in me grew because of appa. He is a connoisseur of food and loves to experiment. Together, we embraced places like – the Woodlands drive-inRathna CafeRayar’s MessJannal kadai near Kapali koil, Mami KadaiKarpagambal Mess, all the bhavans (especially in and around Mint/ Broadway area), Gnanambika Mess during December season to name a few.

Today, times have changed, I have changed too. Thanks to my friends and exposure to many a place outside Madras, I enjoy eating / cooking, anything and everything vegetarian. And, this translated into exploration for vast variety of food options in Chennai – Namma CafeOrchardsDewberrysOx & TomatoFood pointKolkata Chat CornerID at Sathyam CinemasFruitshop on Greams RoadWontonKobe SizzlersKryptosLittle ItalyPindRajdhaniLloyd’s Tea House.

I do believe I can eat.

55 years of togetherness

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Thatha, usually comes across as a stern person to many who don’t know him very well. I, for instance, had experienced only that side of his, for he was more of a guru than a grandfather. But, his alter side will explain that he is very child-like at heart and wishes only good for others. 

Patti, to me is undoubtedly the best cook in this entire world. I have always believed that she would have become a scientist – if she got the kind of exposure the present generation gets.

Both of them are outwardly frank, sometimes blunt but genuine with their intentions.

To me, my values, belief system, and other useful skills stems from their influences and upbringing.

I can’t stop myself from admiring both of them for being there for each other – although their expression of love is only understood by each other.

Happy 55th anniversary – Thatha and Patti 🙂

The beautiful Madras I belong to.

Madras is a place. Tamilians are its people. And, we really don’t address ourselves as Madrasis. For god’s forbidden sake, Madrasi is not our language. Tamil is what we call it and converse in.

Idli, dosa, pongal, vadai, getti chutney, sambar, and a brewing cup of filter kaapi is our familiar gastronomy. We also have koththu parottas, vadaicurry, biriyani, elai saapadu and the like to expand our taste buds. We make ways to accommodate and relish pani-pooris as much as we salivate on greek food.

29C, 41D, 21, 27D, 1A, 21H, 21G, 24C has seen travel diaries across all walks of life and can run into endless scripts if one begins to document all of these.

Sivaji/MGR, Rajni/Kamal, Vijay/Ajith are superheroes of Tamil Cinema. End of discussion.

Most of us grew up laughing at Senthil & Goundamani more than Tom & Jerry.

We love our Marina, Elliot’s, Kovalam beach as much as we love the kadalai there.

Amma vs. Karuna is an endless political debate topic for most of us here.

The Stella queens and the Loyola kings are the essence of youth. They are the reason that, we haven’t seen a economic breakdown yet. Such ambassadors of consumerism.

We listen to Michael Jackson as much as we are absorbed to M S Subbulakshmi. Although, when we sing english songs, we are proud to have a strong sense of tamil accent. Because, we are too cool like that.

Last time we checked, the record says that there are as many kabadi lovers as soccer fans. Any sports along beach side or road side is our favorite sport.

Top Gear should seriously consider conducting a special edition in singaara chennai and star all of us for surviving after driving along the bus and auto annas.

If Mint and Mylapore are crowd pullers, what do we describe T Nagar and Tambaram? If Kodambakam and Vadapalani are film maker’s paradise, what will they shoot without Besant Nagar and Boat Club? If Royapettah and Mount Road didn’t exist, where will the city ‘hang-out’?

The city Madras, is all of this and has more to offer too.

Being far away from Madras has only made me grow fonder of the place and realize its worthiness.

Lastly, sweating it out is our way of life. Of course we are epitome of hardwork, intelligence, perseverance, upholding our cultural values. And, we have this great sense of humour that just makes it a huge bumper package – like a perfect pongal/diwali sale offer.

This article is inspired from a video published by Madras Photo Factory