Monday, April 17, 2006

From the Galatta into the Ocean

Well, these two months, have been busy, from a visit from my sister, to a week in Hawaii and taking up a study course, I have 20 posts stored, but hopefully today this one gets published :).

This weekend, started with the Tamil’s new years day, followed by two different concerts, so different in their nature and texture, though held in the same auditorium at Foothill College. The first was the Tamil Galatta 2006 arranged by the Bay area Udavum Karangal chapter. On 15th when I got a call from a friend asking me if I was interested in a Tamil movie song nite , I jumped at the chance… my friends back home, would have raised an eyebrow, I am the quite essentially the gal who listens to English pop and Hindi music and maybe real out a Tamil song in a faintly English accent (to local chennaites, I am what they call a “Mary”).I never thought that I would thirst for a day , where all I wanted to do was to hear Tamil being spoken out loud :).
Galatta true to its name was lotsa fun.The best part was the entire effort put in was through the bay area volunteers. While watching them, it was evident that a lot of effort and time had been put into it and also the dedication of these people towards the cause was clear. When the Udavum Karangal presentation was put up, it really struck a chord. I wanted to go and donate/volunteer for this cause after seeing the smiles on those lil kids faces. The performances of the Pallavi troupe were good, especially the costume changeby the singers for every song. The young girls dancing had my eyes riveted on the stage with their grace and coordination for a song from the movie “Bombay”. More than all this, the sense of home prevailed.

As I glanced across to my friend during a song from “Devar Magan” which used to be her favorite in school, it seemed like it was yesterday and memories flooded me.The antakshri’s (singing competitions) held in school informally during a free period used to ensure that the bathroom singers came to the forefront in the classroom. The show took me back to my own school culturals, the Green room ( change/makeup area) used to be a mayhem of clothes, mothers, coordinators and others yelling, pulling and laughing,with ongoing perfect performances on stage . The tension in the green room so high that you could feel the deep breath being released once the performance was completed. Back in Galatta as we trapezed thru the 50’s MGR songs to the current Ghana hits, the crowd really had fun. The organizers were brilliant, by arranging for Chinese dragons and glow in the dark ornaments for the songs. I didn’t hear a kid cry for most of the night, and that is the true test of any event :).What really brought Chennai to me was the “Thappang kuuthu” (God help my spelling) dance to the Ghana pattu (song). To the unknown, this is a real fun dance, which originally was started for people to dance in front of the funeral procession, in order to give the beloved dead a good sendoff. Well that has progressed to an invigorating gig that has every respectable Chennai college student should knowJ and from the audience on stage every bay area person knew it! The evening was by all means a success, I hope to return to Galatta 2007.

Sunday evening as the clouds loomed across, the stage was set for Indian Ocean to play. This was set up by AID Bay Area, and this organization has its arms helping communities across India to stand on their own and achieve social justice and equality. Indian Ocean concert blew me away. These guys I had heard about , but sitting there listening to their music, wanted me to take up some instrument and play with them. It was a explosion of different instruments, which invigorated me and funnily enough made me think of college… yeah down memory lane again!. I am sure every person has a period where they go through - what I like to call the “true meaning of life “ stage. We sit around, listening to Pink Floyd, reading Ayn Rand, drinking cups of chai and battling out whether Agent Smith in the Matrix was truly a nemesis or actually a facilitator!!.Just substitute Pink Floyd with Indian Ocean and there I was ,back in college.Rahul , playing the bass and talking Hindi- English lingo always had a laugh intertwined with a thought, which made u smile and think “Oh!!” at the same time.Asheem on the Tabla and vocals, made me shake my head in awe at the rendition of the veda’s ,and in the same breath Kabir das.Susmit on the guitar, had me confused as to the instrument he was playing, the sounds ranging from violin to the veena, was beautiful and finally Amit, the king of the drums and so many percussion instruments I lost count. Though sometimes I felt like a fish out of water, when the vocals were in various north Indian languages. Interplayed with this music, were the AID volunteers, request for help with the ongoing projects. Though I do think that the volunteer picked the wrong time, as she was boo’ed off by the crowd, whose ears were all for the band. Their renditions of Kandisa, Melancholic Ecstasy and Ma Rewa, had the crowd stomping, hooting and clapping.

Comparing the two musically will be impossible; however there were some organizational highs and some minute flaws. For Galatta parking was not specifically demarked by the volunteers, and my pal got a ticket, whereas the AID volunteers in their orange coats ensured that the cars followed the right direction. Also, personally I felt that the Galatta music show was a little long, from 6.30-10.15 pm, with a 45 mins break , maybe next time they can shorten duration of the break for dinner. On the other side, the AID concert gave a break at 6.15 pm for dinner, and with one line for all the 900 people, I had to wait 20 mins in one line for tea, with a 30 min break specification. The Udavum Karangal unit had 4 food lines, so we finished quickly and had time to visit the stall for sponsorship. Also the AID concert presentation on projects was a bit clinical, if I was in a boardroom, the presentation would have been fine, but to get people to volunteer, you need to touch their emotional bone, and that’s where the Galatta show won

But in the end, what a show they both were!!! In India, I was happy just to sit back and maybe contribute to some causes, but here watching these people work overtime and weekends for a place 11,000 miles away, which we all still call home,, actually made me sign up as a volunteer. Kudos to the teams who care ,most of all these shows motivated all of us there to do our bit for India, and that is the greatest achievement.

And for the joke, after a long time…here goes
A farmer rears twenty-five young hens and one old cock. As he feels that the old cock could no longer handle his job efficiently, the farmer bought one young cock from the market.
Old cock to Young cock : "Welcome to join me, we will work together towards productivity.
Young cock : What ya mean? As far as I know, you are old and should beretired.
Old cock : Young boy, there are twenty-five hens here, can't I help you withsome?
Young cock : No! Not even one, all of them will be mine.
Old cock : In this case, I shall challenge you to a competition and if I win you shall allow me to have one hen and if I loose you will have all.
Young cock : O.K. What kind of competition?
Old cock : 50 meter run. From here to that tree. But due to my age, I hopeyou allow me to start off the first 10 meters.
Young cock : No problem ! We will compete tomorrow morning.
Confidently, the following morning, the Young cock allows the Old cock to start off and when the Old cock crosses the 10 meters mark the Young cock chases him with all his might.Soon enough, he was behind the Old cock back in a matter of seconds.
Suddenly, Bang! ..... before he could overtake the old cock, he was shot deadby the farmer, who cursed,"Hell ! This is the fifth GAY chicken I've bought this week !"

Well Keep smiling ppl,