Friday, January 24, 2014

Musings in the Metro

The week gone by marked the beginning of my first brush with working in a multi-national, as a part of a 5-month internship program offered by my college. This essentially means that not only do I have to give up the joy of waking up late and forgetting the difference between a weekday and a weekend but also that I have to travel 17 kms one way to reach my office, and that too during rush hour. But thanks to the Delhi Metro, the time taken for this one way commute has been almost halved to just 75 minutes. And even though I spend 2.5 hours daily just in travelling, as a friend recently pointed out to me, I do not mind it (yet) since I get ample time to come out of the early morning inertia, and also to contemplate on questions raised by my observations of my fellow commuters. Here are the 5 things that caught my attention so far.

Tune mujhe pehchana nahin...!

Whenever I had to wait at the Metro station, I made sure I was standing in a well-lit and crowded part of the station, for safety reasons. In one such scenario, my over-thinking mind brought up the question, "how well would I be able to describe a person to a sketch artiste if I was a witness to a scene significant for a crime?" The next day, I tried to describe the face (and not clothes, because it's easier to remember clothes :P ) of my fellow commuters in the Women's coach of the Metro. It turned out that the more discernible features are the face shape, the complexion, color of hair, shape of nose and lips and the height and body structure of the person. Prominent features such as moles, dimples, chin dimples are also good pointers for describing a person. While this activity seemed tough at the beginning, it became easier with time, though admittedly I took my own sweet time in performing this exercise. The takeaway from this daily Metro ritual was that even though we pray that we do not face any such circumstance, we should be prepared for it. We can't all be Sherlock, but we could be a little more observant.

Gandi baat...!

The Delhi Metro is considered the symbol of progress and development. Radio ads for the Indian Govt. mince no words in driving home this point. Personally, I like travelling in the Metro. But sadly, there are no dustbins in any of the Metro premises. This has caused me to end up with too many chocolate and biscuit wrappers in my bag. Surprisingly, the stations are quite clean, though I did spot a couple of chips packets and disposable tea glasses on the tracks. The people of Delhi show immense discipline, responsibility and maturity when it comes to the Metro. However, installing conspicuous dustbins will go a long way in helping commuters who eat/drink on the go and in keeping the stations pristine.

Ye chhori badi Drama Queen hai..!

To entertain themselves during the journey, people resort to a variety of activities. Some read books, some play Candy Crush, some catch up on their sleep, some catch up with their friends on the phone. Some listen to Yo Yo Honey Singh, while others either get lost in their own train of thoughts or completely judge everyone else on the train. And then there is the class of people whose favorite pastime is just creating a nuisance value. They would make irritated noises and frustrated faces because they, just like everyone else, don't have enough space to stand in the jam-packed coach. You can hear a lot of "Oh my God!"s and "Excuuuuuse me!"s from these people. All these antics serve no purpose at all, since everyone is in a similar condition and no one is going to budge. For their part, they are just ensuring that their inconvenience is heard, but it would be a lot better for everyone if they make peace with the predicament, just like everyone else has made peace with them.

Dauda dauda bhaaga bhaaga sa..!!

A single minute can make a difference when one is in a hurry to reach a destination during the rush hour. A minute is all it takes to ensure that you'll get a red light at every traffic signal. A long queue builds up at the station exit within a minute of a Metro arrival. And if you are at the wrong end of the queue, you might miss your bus, which is why people go in a frenzy to reach the exit first. The queue for men to enter the platform premises sometimes starts at the foot-over bridge itself. But to my relief, in such a situation, the one for women is considerably shorter. This survival instinct of feeling grateful for a shorter line is quite contrary to my prudence when it comes to gender equality. The shorter line represents not just the skewed gender ratio but also the smaller number of working women. I guess that if we are given a legitimate head-start in any race, we won't think twice about the merits of a merit-based system. And it is this natural tendency that makes it all the more crucial that appropriate checks be implemented in any policy that aims to eliminate differences at the start of a race, so that only the needy can take advantage of it.

Jitna khaya meetha tha, jo haath na aya khatta hai..! :D

On most days, I don't manage to get a seat in the Metro, and travel standing and looking out of the glass windows. One such evening, while I was sulking about the drawbacks of travelling in public transport, a beautiful scene caught my eye. The Metro was on a bridge across a road, which looked like a black sheet with sparkling rubies kept on it. Except that the sparkling rubies were actually the red lights of cars stuck in traffic, hardly moving. It was then that I realized that a thing that had brought joy to me was a state of misery and frustration for the people sitting in those cars. And suddenly, my not getting a seat wasn't really a problem. The saying, "Those who wear the shoe know where it pinches", holds true after all.

The last few days were exciting but they were just the first few days of a long, long time. The Metro might lose its charm in a few weeks but there is no denying its importance in the life of a Delhiite. And while the journey may become a burden some day, it will have enough adventures and life-lessons to compensate for it. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

My Top 10 Songs of 2013

A new year is upon us, and my resolution this year, like every other new year, is to start and maintain a blog. This desire to blog stems from the fact that I like to write and I think too much, and while the repercussions of this tendency have not been pretty so far, here's hoping I'll make something worthwhile out of it.

The end of an year calls for lists, and I believe that the most important list for any year is the one about the Top 10 Songs of the year. Back in school, when I was a kid not yet exposed to the amazing world of JEE and engineering, I dreamed about hosting my own year-end special on radio. Though that dream may go unfulfilled, this blog provides a beautiful opportunity to share "My Top 10 Songs of 2013". Also, it makes for a good "New Year" post. So, presenting before you, the ten songs that I could put on loop and not get bored, a glimpse of the gems that stood out in the year of "Saree ka fall" , "Tamanche pe disco", et al.

10. Gulabi  (Shuddh Desi Romance)

Music   : Sachin-Jiger
Lyrics  : Amitabh Bhattacharya
Singers: Jigar Saraiya and Priya Saraiya

What I like: All the pink! The song and its picturization have a kind of freshness that I found missing in most songs of 2013. I absolutely love the way it has been shot, capturing Rajasthan in all its glory. The entire team was successful in bringing the rosiness and mushiness that people normally associate with the beginning of a romance, just what the song intends to portray.

Others from the album: The remaining songs in the album had a lot of spunk (or was it just Parineeti Chopra doing her act?). I kind of liked Tere Mere Beech Mein, but a large part of it was because I liked to say "gaflat" with g from the epiglottis.

9. Zinda (Bhaag Milkha Bhaag)

Music   : Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy
Lyrics  : Prasoon Joshi
Singers: Siddharth Mahadevan

What I like: The strings at the beginning of the song, the unusual lyrics, the powerful chorus, and how beautifully Siddharth Mahadevan has sung the stanzas. It is the perfect "Pick-yourself-up-and-do-some-work" song. Siddharth Mahadevan definitely is a singer to watch out for.

Others from the album: The album had a good mix of songs from different genres. My favorites are Mera Yaar for its sweetness, Ghulmil Launda for its jolliness and more importantly, Hawan Kund Maston ka Jhund, for the sheer fun it induces.

8. Rumani (Akaash Vani)

Music   : Hitesh Sonik
Lyrics  : Luv Ranjan

Singers: Thomson Andrews and Shalmali Kholgade

What I like: The spirit and enthusiasm of the song, definitely not apparent from the video, which turned out to be a huge disappointment. I love the lyrics, and the freedom and attitude they promote. If the phrase "Be Yourself" needed an anthem, I would have suggested this one.

Others from the album: I had half a mind to replace it with Pad Gaye Ji, because it has brilliant and naughty lyrics and has been sung superbly by Sunidhi Chauhan and KK (I love almost all his songs, for the record). Bas Main Aur Tu is also a very sweet romantic song. Akaash Vani is surely a surprisingly good album.

7. Khoon Choos Le (Go Goa Gone)

Music   : Sachin-Jiger
Lyrics  : Amitabh Bhattacharya
Singers: Arjun Kanungo, Suraj Jagan, Priya Panchal

What I like: The lyrics, the power-packed chorus, the hatred spewed by the song, Vir Das, and the subtle yet deliberate sexual innuendo made in the song. Frankly, I never thought that someone will ever write a song about how nasty Mondays are, and hit bull's eye about the emotions.

Others from the album: Slowly Slowly is undeniably a popular and fun song, mostly because of "Aisa na kar na kar...mere yaar". But the surprise element of the album is Khushaamdeed, sung superbly by Shreya Ghoshal and shot in the beautiful falls of Netravali in Goa.

6. Raanjhanaa hua main tera (Raanjhanaa)

Music   : A.R. Rehman
Lyrics  : Irshad Kamil
Singers: Jaswinder Singh and Shiraz Uppal

What I like: Its simplicity and how it is a typical A.R. Rehman song. As was required by the story, this song is a pure celebration of a lover's homecoming. Of course, Dhanush's screen presence makes it more endearing. So dothe dholak beats.

Others from the album:  As was expected from an A.R. Rehman album, Raanjhanaa had a brilliant song for every mood of the movie. The immensely popular Tum Tak has a delightful classical touch, Nazar Laaye Na's sweetness was only enhanced by the on-screen chemistry of Abhay Deol and Sonam Kapoor, and Piya Milenge was one of the better Sufi offerings this year (Murshid Khele Holi from D-Day being another one). But the song that caught my fancy, apart from the title track, was the rebellious Tu Mun Shuddhi. Clearly. A.R. Rehman can bring out the best in Rabbi Shergill.

5. Shubhaarambh (Kai Po Che)

Music   : Amit Trivedi
Lyrics  : Swanand Kirkire

Singers: Shruti Pathak and Divya Kumar

What I like: I know that "Nagada Sang Dhol" is everybody's favorite Garba this year, but in my opinion, it can't hold a candle to this one. The way the beat gains pace, as Garbas usually do, how smartly Gujarati phrases have been included, and in general the Feel-Good factor makes it my favorite song for Dandiya since Dholi Taro.

Others from the album: The whole album bursts with positive energy. Both Manja and Meethi Boliyaan are your characteristic Amit Trivedi compositions.

4. Yaaram (Ek thi Daayan)

Music   : Vishal Bhardwaj

Lyrics  : Gulzar
Singers: Sunidhi Chauhan and Clinton Cerejo

What I like: Sunidhi Chauhan's soulful rendition, the gradual increase in the pace of the song, and the magic of Gulzar Saab's words. I seriously doubt that anybody else can relate the passion and devotion of a lover to the mundane things of daily life.

Others from the album: The hauntingly sung Kaali Kaali also makes for a very sensuous number. Tote Ud Gaye is a refreshing wedding song, different from the usual ones. It's a shame that it didn't get more popular. If you listen to the lyrics closely, you'll find more than one muhavara (saying) associated with parrots. That is the unparalleled genius of Gulzar Saab.

3. Mann Mera (Table No. 21)

Music   : Gajendra Verma

Lyrics  : Aseem Ahmed Abbasi
Singers: Gajendra Verma

What I like: This song was introduced at the beginning of 2013, and I liked it instantly, probably because it was a long time since I heard a new ballad. This song has been composed and sung by Gajendra Verma, the same guy who had actually composed Emptiness. There is another non-movie version of this song available on the internet, but I think that the music arrangement for the movie version is much better. Gajendra Verma, who has also sung a song in the upcoming movie Yaariyan, gives one reason to believe that there will be talent for ballads even after KK.

Others from the album: The album basically has another song and multiple remixes of Mann Mera. The other song O Sajna is nice to hear but not extraordinary.

2. Meri Aashiqui Ab Tum Hi Ho (Aashiqui 2)

Music   : Mithoon

Lyrics  : Mithoon and Irshad Kamil
Singers: Palak Muchhal and Arijit Singh

What I like: The important question is why I choose this version over the insanely celebrated solo Tum Hi Ho by Arijit Singh. The reason is that once you get past the slow prelude, it is not as morose and self deprecating as Tum Hi Ho. The song leaves you feeling happy and you still get to listen to the passionate chorus by Arijit Singh. Palak Muchhal, who was last heard in Lapata from Ek Tha Tiger, has done an impressive job complementing Arijit Singh's baritone.

Others from the album: Sunn Raha Hai Na Tu has two versions, one sung by Ankit Tiwari and one by Shreya Ghoshal. Both are moving, but as with Tum Hi Ho, the female version has a positive vibe. With Piya Aaye Na, KK again proves the range of his voice. Chahun Main Ya Na is the only other song that I find worth recommending.

1. Balam Pichkari (Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani)

Music   : Pritam

Lyrics  : Amitabh Bhattacharya
Singers: Shalmali Kholgade and Vishal Dadlani

What I like: It is a holi song that doesn't talk about choli but still allows for flirting. The beats and tune are catchy, you are instantly drawn to the dance floor and you can never be bored. Unlike other songs from the album, you have no trouble memorizing the lyrics and singing along. The enthusiasm of Vishal Dadlani, the simple choreography of Remo D'Souza and the impeccable chemistry of Deepika and Ranbir make it an absolute treat to watch.

Others from the album: Almost all songs from the album were loved by everyone. Badtameez Dil, Ghaghra and Dilliwali Girlfriend rocked the charts and the dance floors alike. Kabira and Ilahi  provided a much needed balance in this album full of dance-numbers. But what this album did was much more than elate people with good music. It proved that you can have hit music without unnecessary skin show, pelvic thrusts, seductive choreography and vulgar lyrics. Quality doesn't need tantalization, and hopefully, 2014 will have more albums that demonstrate the same spirit.