About growing old

(Thoughts after one chat session with a friend)

old man I remember reading a quote about old age that, ‘old age is always 15 years ahead of my age‘ or something like that. When I was in school, I thought that the people who went to college were old. When I moved to college, I thought that the final year students were old. After college, I thought 25 was old and then 30. At 31, I don’t know what is old anymore. Are they the people who have kids in highschool? Or whose kids are married and have kids of their own? Or those who have retired or counting their time in the death bed?

I would have said that the old age is when you stop being young in your mind, but that’s not true (for some, its about the physique; keeping your body fit). That kind of statement comes from those who have seen only boring examples of the old age. A generation of lecturing, boring and ordering people. One can grow old gracefully and staying alive doesn’t have to be staying young. We just have to grow old gracefully. And to do that, and to stop being the uninteresting people that the youngsters hate, we just have to stop being the oldie that we hated when we were young. And how do we do that? I have the following suggestions.

1) Interact with young people : Youngsters are full of enthusiasm and ideas. You feel a certain level of energy when you talk to them and that could trigger some fresh thoughts in your mind. They seldom think of the risks involved or spend too much time on planning and focus their energy on execution. Whereas oldies spend too much time estimating the risk, drawing out a fool-proof plan and sometimes end up with discarding the idea of execution altogether (though I’m not downplaying the importance of proper plan and risk estimation here). Their years of experience would primarily lead them to see the negatives first and most, while the youngsters always see the positives first because of their passion and enthusiasm for the execution of their ideas.

2) Give tips and opinion, not lectures : I hated it when old people started lecturing me when I asked them for an opinion or help. They would just go on and on, as if my life totally depended upon their words and they take a kind of pride in it. If you’re a parent, do not use your ‘parent power’ on your children and give them your opinion and tips that could help them without getting into an elaborated lecture. That would really make an effect on them.

3) Do not ask for respect; earn it : Many old people seem to think that being old gives them the right to ask for respect from the younger generation. That may not work anymore. Apart from the basic human considerations (of considering and giving space to the old like we do with little children), I don’t think anybody would give respect to any person just because they are old unless they are part of family (certain odd rules work for families in the name of blood-relation). And there is nothing wrong in it. You have to earn respect in your life. Age is no license to ask for it. The sooner you realize this, the better.

4) Do not act like you’re young : Some old people seem to think that ‘acting young’ would give them space among the young generation, which in my observation is completely wrong. If you want to act young, take your friends or the people of your age to do that. Otherwise, you would be making a fool of yourself. You would think cracking porn jokes or doing ‘fun’ things with youngsters would make you acceptable among them but they would think that you are a joker and they would make fun of you at your back. Similarly with your children. A friend once wrote in his FB page that his father was strict until he was 19 years of old and then became a good friend. I think that makes the point.

How do you see growing up old? As for me, I see the years to come with much excitement. For I know that I have changed for good and learned many lessons in the years I have lived so far. I am curious about what life has in store for me in the years to come. To see what the world would turn out to be in the future years. To see how life and living would change. To see my family and children grow. To see what relationships mean as we pass on each stage in life. The only thing I am concerned about growing old is to depend on someone else. About going senile, being bedridden and immobile. That truly is scary.

But what I don’t want to be is what my friend told me in the chat conversation – “I don’t want to end up like a wise cracking smart ass“.

What are your thoughts? 🙂

Image: Arvind Balaraman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Categories: Notes

Enabling mobile technology for music

[This is my fifth article for My Smart Life, an initiative by Nokia India that features guest authors from various walks of life who have made use of technology and social media in their work and life. Go to the website to check out rest of the articles there.]

Do you know what is the most used application in a musician’s mobile phone? It is a sound recorder. It is amazing how a simple application such as a sound recorder could speed up the creative process for the musicians. It is because you could not tell when a tune strikes your mind. It could be when you are in a bus or train, or when you are in the middle of something, away from home. In such situations, either you could go get your recording gear and record your tune, but it’s not easy to go get it in such situations. The next option is to wait until you come back home but the chances are that the tune that struck you is lost by the time you reached home. So you need an instant solution for such scenarios and the best possible solution is a sound recorder. As they say in the book Super Freakonomics, sometimes the best solution is also a cheap and simple solution.

The sound recorder could be useful in many other scenarios. If you are a musician who wants to create a particular sound clip – say for example, traffic buzz, or the sound of people walking in a park etc – to use in your next production, it’s much more easy now. And if you couldn’t wait to get an opinion from a friend about the new song tune or a sound clip, you could just connect online and share the audio file using your smart phone. You could get instant feedback and could record a fresh new session if you thought it needed a revision.

Most of the tunes I have composed by myself were first recorded in my smart phone. And many of the interviews I have done for my podcast were also recorded in my phone and it has helped me a great deal in bridging the geographical differences. These have enabled me in successfully drafting up a song for my music blog, for Blogswara or for my Malayalam podcast. I learned about the ease of using a mobile phone to record the songs from a musician friend. But like musicians, podcasters could also benefit from their smart phones.

That is not all. You have many music apps available in the Symbian, iPhone and Android apps galore in the market. Some of them lets you create or play music using the keypad. So it’s not just your voice but if you are somebody who orchestrates a song, these apps would help you do a rough draft of what you were thinking of for a score.

But how about the quality of recorded vocals? Well, you have many audio recording devices available today that records clear voice, and some devices are designed to capture the voice that comes within a pre-defined area. If this is implemented a mobile phone, and that is not an impossible thing if we look at the way that technology is advancing, it could be so helpful to musicians and podcasters.

With the arrival of touch screens and mobile apps, things could go even further. It wouldn’t be a distant dream to think about the leading music software companies releasing a mobile app version of their software. Imagine if Adobe Audition, Nuendo or Garage Band released a lighter version of their software to suit the on-the-go need of a musician. It wouldn’t be too much of a dream because we did not have specialized versions of mobile phones to hear music or to use for business needs a few years ago and see how many options we have in our time.

With mobile technology and smart phones, your road to success in the field of music has been made easier.

Categories: Music, Technology

Thrissur Pooram 2011

As usual, I set out to Thrissur Pooram this year too and clicked a few pics. I’m kind of losing the interest to go see Pooram during the day because of the heat and I only spent 3 hours n the town. This time it was mostly walking in the Swaraj Round and Thekkinkadu Maithaanam seeing the Pooram special sights. 🙂 Here are some pics I clicked during the stroll.


ezhunneLLippu after Madathil Varavu.

Naadawaram and Thakil vaadyam – The guy in the center (with yellow robe and moosh) has been playing in Pooram for a long time.

Umbrellas floating in the sky after the fireworks during the day

A gypsy family making a living during Pooram. Gypsy circus is a common sight of Pooram.

For just 20 bucks, you get a name engraved in a single rice grain which is then put up in a liquid and then made a keychain out of it!

This young man is very skilled. He could write even long names on a single rice grain!

My friend Ajith sat with the card reader when I insisted. For 20 bucks, the old woman said he woud marry from the same religion and his marriage would happen soon (he is already married and it was an inter-religious marriage and he already has a kid). There is a big row of palmists and card readers outside the Nehru Park and many people go to them though they pretend it is just for fun.

Looks like one of the palmists had his fair share of the day before noon. He is half-naked and fast asleep, must be the Gin bottle you see on the left of the banner.

These are not phone booths, they are temporary toilets. From Thekkinkadu ground.

Categories: Kerala, Photography, Regional

Mess in the name of Thrissur Pooram

A panthal built in the center of the Swaraj Round road (image courtesy: Mathrubhumi.com)

I had written earlier about how festivals make life of the ordinary citizens living in the place a mess. There is something similar, or perhaps even more disturbing thing going on in Thrissur for years now. A part of the festival celebrations make the lives of Thrissurians a mess for almost 3 weeks an year.

Swaraj Round in Thrissur is a circular road in the center of the city and it is the busiest road in Thrissur. During Thrissur Pooram, the two participating temples would erect three huge, multi-storied panthals in this road. All three panthals are built at the center of the road, thus making the traffic blocks as long as 3-4 kilometers. It would take so much time and fuel to get you where you want to be inside the city. Not only that, even though the Thrissur corporation had left pre-defined holes for panthals in the refurbished Swaraj Round road, the panthal makers dug the road to create new holes on their own this year.

The panthal work would begin almost 2 weeks before the Pooram day and it would take 3-4 days after Thrissur pooram to remove it. This means that those who go to the city for these three weeks are really screwed. Not to mention about the plight of those who live inside the city limits. Many suggestions had been made earlier to move panthals in the large space that the Thekkinkaadu ground has or at the least to move it a little to the road side. But nothing has been done about it since this is something that involves religion and it’s customs.

This panthal mess has been going on in several parts of Kerala when there is a church or temple festival. In my parish, we used to have panthals in the road for the annual festival and there had been two accidents. Once, the panthal slanted in the heavy rains and in another year, a truck hit one side of the panthal. Since then, the panthal was moved to a corner of the church ground.

I hadn’t really bothered about this traffic until I learned driving and last week I faced the music twice when I had to pass through the city to go some place. It is high time the authorities do something about this and the public let them do it (though the authorities and police have many suggestions, they hesitate to implement it because there is much religious and community sentiments).

Photos from the last year’s Thrissur Pooram

Categories: Kerala, Notes, Religion, Society

Life after the limelight

A good story on reality television, pluses and minuses of it, from Tehelka.

Raju Hela, 29, was a sweeper in Kolkata’s posh St James School. John Bergis, a school manager, heard him singing in the hallway and encouraged Raju to audition for Indian Idol. As Raju bantered about how such contests were only for the rich, Bergis SMSed his entry and he was registered. At the elimination round on the show, Sonu Nigam gifted him and other contestants a ring each, and announced that Sony channel would finance Raju’s future musical training. After the show, Raju says he spent months chasing the channel; finally Nigam’s office sent him to train with music director Suresh Wadkar. Raju was asked for fees when he didn’t even have money for the commute. He ended up getting a menial job at Wadkar’s studio — cleaning the very classroom he was supposed to be studying in. Eventually, he quit. Wadkar says Raju came to him seeking work and denies Sonu Nigam ever recommended Raju for training.

Five years of struggle in Mumbai have taken their toll. Raju rarely smiles. “It hurts me that after all the love I got from across the country, these people forgot me in one moment. I was just used. Whenever I’d call, they’d evade me saying they’re in London,” says he. Today he strains to pay Rs 600 rent for his room in a Juhu chawl and has taken many loans to make ends meet. He recently took a singing job at a dance bar nearby where he gets paid Rs 100 for the days he performs. Though stretched almost to starvation, Raju cannot make himself return home as long as he strides the donkey of failure. “Sometimes I think it would’ve been better if I’d never made it to Indian Idol,” says he.

Categories: Entertainment, Music

Music review: Mazhanritham

[This music review was first appeared in Soundbox music magazine in it’s April 2011 issue].

Album: Mazhanritham
Music: Pradip Somasundaran
Label: Tejas Music

Remember Pradip Somasundaran who won the Latha Mangeshkar national award for the best male singer in Meri Awaz Suno, the first reality music show in Indian Television? Pradip has turned out to be a composer with this music album in Malayalam. Director Sohan Lal (Orkkuka Vallappozhum fame) has penned the lyrics and actor Manoj K Jayan has sung a song in this album. The album’s center theme is rain and each of the nine songs depict the nava rasas of rain. Pradip proves himself to be a good composer himself and has produced some melodious numbers for this album.

Mazhayil Nin Mozhikal is the highlight of this album because it is the first complete song sung by cine actor Manoj K Jayan (son of veteran Karnatik musician Jayan who was a disciple of Chembai Bhagavathar). Manoj has done a good job on this beautiful song. Pichiyum Kudamullayum, sung by Gayatri, is a treat and the singer’s mellifluous voice has aptly supported the words.

Swayam Marannu Paadaam is sung by Pradip. The attention that this singer gives to every minute details of the pronunciation and feel of each song is commendable. What jars in this song though is the background vocals that come in between the verses which seems a bit overdone. Premamenna Kuyile is sung by Franco (chembakame fame) has a reggae-ish feel to it and Franco’s voice fits the song like a T. Aadyaanuraagam is a duet by Pradip and Gayatri. The beginning of the second stanza is so beautiful in this song.

Mizhi Poykayil sung by Shahbaz Aman is my personal favorite from this album. Shabaz’s delicate voice and soulful singing make this song the pick of the lot. Paadum Poovum is sung by Pradip and it’s composed in Mappila song style. The energy in Pradip’s voice has made this one a pleasure to listen to. Though it’s a bit odd to hear the word “Maula” in the background vocals because considering the lyrics of the song, it just doesn’t fit right. Iniyennu Kaanum is another soulful duet by Pradip and Bhavyalakshmi. Bhavya’s distinct voice is notable in this song. Mounam is the concluding track of the album sung by Pradip which is yet another soothingly beautiful song.

Categories: Entertainment, Music, Review, Sound Box, Uncategorized