Thursday, April 26, 2007

ALL NEW Riff Cafe

Featuring a new look, new (and utterly brilliant) contributors including the one and only Sunil Chandy of Thermal and a Quarter (and Lounge Piranha), new features (erm...label menu :-P), new and very exciting content covering areas as diverse as music during Apartheid, Carnatic music, pop-rock and an equally diverse variety of writing styles and perspectives, and lots of interactive content including videos, you must MUST visit Riff Cafe, because even though I say so myself, it is a brilliant, but criminally under-read, collaborative music blog.

A snapshot of what's available on Riff cafe now:

Mayibuye - In the struggle against apartheid, the call "Mayibuye!" took on rallying proportions. Mayibuye means, literally, "let it return" or "may it come back"...

You are in the Kyoo, Please Vait - Mallu rock Video, Band: Avial; Track - Nada Nada Nada

The Reluctant Genius - ...Wafting through the speakers of the little Phillips cassette player was the most quaint and extraordinary Sankarabharanam I had ever experienced. Each phrase was distinctly Sankarabharanam, but was still nothing like I had ever heard anywhere...

And LOTS MORE. So fuck off from here and go to riff cafe.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Goodbye Gurgaon

Hello? No one's reading this you tell me. So what? I'm writing anyways. I'll be that tree that falls in the forest that no one hears, or the virtuoso violinist in the DC subway station, only not quite virtuoso and not really a violinist (not even a tree, come to think of it, but let's not dwell on technicalities...oh!). Pffft.

I've left Gurgaon. Gurgaon, my bete noire, my bugbear, my heat and dust and biting cold, my too littleness, my revolt-me, my nightmare, my disillusionment, my displeasure, my disgust and my despair (With deep, heartfelt apologies to Salman Rushdie). Gurgaon crept up on me and took me by surprise; nasty, nasty surprise. My first taste of Gurgaon was for a month in 2003, after which I declared it "the asshole of the world"and vowed never to come back. Circumstances conspired and I landed in Gurgaon again in August 2005, this time without the mercy of a known exit-date.

Now, with immense relief, a little more than a year-and-a-half on, I've left the 'asshole of the world' behind. Temporarily I continue within the boorish confines of the NCR (National Cattle Region), whiling away time in Delhi, while the logistics of my move to Chennai (and civilisation) are worked out.

Gurgaon of course has left an indelible impression on my mind and has served, if nothing else, as as a low-water mark for urban experiences. Those who know me would have heard me complain repeatedly about the lack of transport, the state of the roads, the rubbish power-supply, the insane drivers, the godawful weather, the lack of culture, the lack of courtesy and civic sense among the people, and such other irritants. Each of these individually, or in a cluster of 2 or 3 might have been bearable and probably exists in almost all cities in the country, but the sheer comprehensiveness with which Gurgaon sucks is astounding. What Roger Federer is to tennis, Gurgaon is to horrific urban experiences.

Since I'm saying goodbye I won't forget the bits I've liked about Gurgaon. The variety of good (albeit expensive) eating places was a blessing for the foodie in me (Oz, China Club, Coriander Leaf, The Great Kebab Factory, Chor Bizarre, Sweet Obsession &c., take a bow!). Good accommodation is relatively cheap, and security deposits are an affordable 2 months' rent, unlike the usurious 10 months that they charge in Bangalore or Chennai, or the completely arbitrary, yet staggeringly large amounts that they would charge you in Mumbai. Hmmm. I think I've run out of positive things to say. If I remember any more, I'll update this post.

On the whole Gurgaon is an eminently avoidable experience. There were, of course, factors that made my stint there invaluable for me professionally, but in every other regard Gurgaon was utter rubbish. If anyone's considering moving there, for non-personal reasons, do remember that the cow that you ram your car into can cause enough damage to wipe out the increment in pay that you might be getting by moving there. Drive safely!