Thursday, June 8, 2006

How it all started!!

Anyone who knows me even a little knows that I'm obsessed with Carnatic Music. This obsession leads me to sing along to the music which can have a strange effect on your brain depending on the kind of person you are. :-). The primary reason for that effect should be attributed to the fact I have no formal training in Carnatic Music. So, this post is about how it all started.

When I was a kid, I had no inclination towards music at all. I never hummed a tune, never listened attentively to any piece of music . Well, not entirely true because when I was 2 years old I was supposed to have played around with a small Casio keyboard. But I don't have any memory of that though I have a picture of that. My parents are very much interested in CM though they didn't have any formal training either. My Mom likes emotion-packed krithis sung by the great M.S.Subbulakshmi though she lends an ear to other artists too. My Dad is more indulgent and sings quite well. He has a gifted voice and he often comments that if he hadn't become a businessman, he'd have become a musician. I'm sure he'd have done quite well in that field too.

My brother who is 4 years younger to me was thought to be more musically inclined than me. Can't fault anyone for thinking so. My first tryst with CM was when my cousins who had started learning music, came to our house and my grandmother asked them to sing. They started singing the Sarali Varisai (beginner exercises). One particular line goes "Sa Ni Dha Pa, Sa Ni Sa Ni Sa Ni Dha Pa" if I remember correctly. My mother tongue is Kannada whereas I was born and brought up in Chennai. So I'm fluent with both spoken Kannada and spoken Tamil. Now, Sani means cowdung in Tamil and Dhapa means fat in Kannada. So you can see how it's an obvious source for leg-pulling. Endless torture of my cousins this way led my folks to confirm their suspicions of my musical inclinations.

My Dad always used to hum this particular line "Madisekaran Magane" from the song Tatwamariya Tharama by Papanasam Sivan. I remember asking sarcastically as to who this Madisekaran was and why he was calling his son. Madisekaran is Lord Shiva and Magane means Son in Tamil. So this krithi in praise of Lord Ganesha refers to him obviously. To think of how that song would affect me later.

This has already been a long post. I'll continue with the rest of this rather interesting story that you are so eager to read, in my next post.


Saturday, June 3, 2006

Coffee &^%*!!

I don't know if coffee addiction is a good thing or a bad thing. I love the taste of coffee. It's not just about being able to kickstart your day or staying awake. It's the sweet smell and exotic taste of coffee that lures me towards it. Knowing perfectly that coffee wakes me up I had a cup of Madras filter coffee at Saravana Bhavan and now I can't go to sleep. As usual it's a 6 hour sleep session for me tonight since I wake up at around 6.00 daily.

If you don't know me, I'm a Software Engineer, Carnatic Enthusiast, Computer Geek/Nerd, Voracious reader living in Indiatown also popularly known as the Silicon Valley.

I have tried giving up coffee but I have failed miserably every time. I was certainly addicted to it when I was in grad school. There was a time when I used to drink around 10-12 cups a day. Well, I was going to Starbucks 2 times a day which was proving to be expensive. I got my own coffee maker from Walmart and the consumption went up gradually. I was taking this course (punishment) called Theory of Computation as a prerequisite to apply for the Ph.D program and I got only around 4 hours of sleep a day. Currently, I limit myself to 2 or 3 cups a day or less.

I try out different flavors of coffee from Starbucks. My current favorite is the Gold Coast blend which has a strong taste. I also tried out Guatamelan Antigua last week but it was not as strong as I like it to be. I have now given up on trying to give up coffee but somehow I have this feeling of guilt that I'm addicted to something. With all the research studies which say that coffee is actually good for every part in your body, I don't think I have a good reason to be feeling so!!

- Sri