DIARY OF A JANIAC

Trespassers Are Welcome! :D

Swarathma is a band that has been around for a while now and I've always heard great reviews of their show, yet have never seen them live. I had heard their albums and liked their songs but only in a grab-a-beer-and-chill manner, not in a go-crazy-and-jump way. But little did I know that that was all about to change.

Pyaasi was the first song of Swarathma that I had heard and having heard that Swarathma was playing at a MALL I just assumed that they would play slower tracks just like that. But once again, I was in for a real treat.

Alright two paragraphs of explaining how I was in a real treat probably might not seal it for you guys. Here's a better explanation of the gig :-

Raja, his sister and me reached the venue at about 7 PM. There were only about twenty people or so. The crowd was kept about 15-20 feet away from the stage and ahead of us were a bunch of cameras from what I'm guessing is every TV station in Bangalore.

Soon, five extremely colorful men took to the stage. It took me about ten minutes to get over everything that the vocalist had on. He had really colorful clothes on just like everyone else BUT he also had these light blue socks with all these weird cartoon creatures or something on them that reminded me of well Christmas and a pair of red converse with a different colored shoe lace on each shoe. Extremely wacky I must say!

THE CRAZIEST MAN I MAY HAVE EVER SEEN.. BUT A PHENOMENAL VOCALIST - VASU DIXIT

The first song, I didn't quite catch the name, just remember the words "Chaddi Buddy", was a really fun one and got the crowd jumping and well in the right mood. The crowd soon started building and I think there were around 50 people around now and many standing on the pavement trying to watch the band.

Swarathma, then introduced Mr. Seth Malloy from Boston on the saxophone and they played a track called Kyun Bala, which was the track that introduced the band on the episode of The Dewarists that featured them. Seth brought out an entire jazzy feel to the track and the vocals on this track was simply killer. Vasu may seem weird and crazy but he's got a mind blowing voice. The end was specially brilliant. The way they kept increasing the tempo made an already groovy track even more fun. By the end of this track the crowd had absolutely lost themselves.

The end of this track saw the band then give way to the staff at Garuda to go on with some promotional crap. There was this one MC that was extremely amusing. But anyway, some female won a gold coin and we booed the guys out of there and finally Swarathma were back on, minus the saxophone.


They then played a track called Aaj Ki Taaza Fikar, which is the first song to be released from their latest album Topiwalleh. They have promised that the entire album shall be up for free download, one track after the other. Aaj Ki Taaza Fikar is about the sensationalism by the media and how we are all just too scared to open the papers these days in fear of what awaits us in there. And it takes some guts to explain all that in front of about half a dozen news channel reporters and cameramen. The track itself had a heavier riff at the beginning but then went back to the usual Swarathma-ish sound. I simply loved the verse riff on this one. Hats Off Varun.


Vasu then pulled out an instrument, which I think is known as a Bapan, according to the Dewarist episode 'Changing World'. It's got that really funky yet folk sound to it. You gotta hear it to really know what I'm talking about. And out came the song that really changed my view of Swarathma that night, Khul Jaare Sim Sim. The track was such a groovy one and one that you could just sing along too. It showed the immense depth in their music and the versatility of these musicians. Half way through the song, there was an interesting duel. It was a Bapan and Khanjira vs Drum and Bass battle and my goodness me was it exciting. The energy that the band, especially Vasu, has is just infectious. No matter how uptight you are, I assure catch this band live and you will for sure let your hair and you will just groove with them.

Next up was a track called Khurani, a track about how we are the prey of various corporations that just need us to buy their products. Once again, takes a lot of guts to say anything along those lines in a place like Garuda Mall and in front of a bunch of sponsors that need us to do just that, buy their products!

The start was extremely well heavy and I expected the song to be somewhat along those lines. The track was kind of an anti-climax though, because the song turned to be a rather soft but nonetheless a neatly structured one. There was some nice guitar work and once again Hats Off Mr. Varun. They had this tribal Lo-Lo-Lo thingy that you see in those ancient Tamil movies depicting those scary goddesses and yes it was fun to do that along with the band. :p

A song or two later, they donned their Topis and played my favorite track of the night, Topiwalleh. It had this swing jazzy feel to it that just made you want to well dance and shake your hips et al. The vocalist showed some killer stage presence during the song and the song had a fricking BRILLIANT END!

Following this was Ee Bhoomi Ee Swarga. Followed by a drum solo by Mr. Montry Manuel, a personal favorite. In all the songs, he didn't play anything that was technically mind-blowing or anything but somehow all the beats that he has played just fit each song ever so perfectly. During the solo, each band member chipped in with a few percussion items themselves, including a unique new instrument, which is just a bunch of old used ball bearings in a bottle, an idea conceived in the brilliant mind of none other than Mr. Montry.

This was followed by a track called Ghunghunaiye(I think that's the name :s), dedicated to their Goddess KATRINA KAIF.

Following this was their last track of the night, Pyaasi. They played the song due to popular demand. Everyone brought their cell phones out and brought a lovely mood to proceedings. Though not prominent, there was once again some excellent guitar work. Usually all gigs have a thumping end with a lot of drum and bass and the guitarist going crazy. But this gig was very different, it ended on a really soft and sober note. And in a way, it was personally a very fitting way to end the gig, with the song that actually got them into public view and with what is my personal favorite track by the band, well until Topiwalleh came along of course.

FROM L-R : Jishnu(Bass), Montry(Drums), Vasu(Vocals), Varun(Guitars), Pavan(Percussions), Seth(Saxophone), Sanjeev(Violin)


I'm glad I was finally able to catch Swarathma live on stage and I would definitely love to see them live once more.

Anyway, after this it was time to grab dinner and rush home so that I could get some sleep before my flight to Delhi, to catch Suraj Mani live in action with motherjane for one last time. I'm sorry but I will not be blogging about that gig cuz beyond it was more a personal moment than a musical one.

Also, I hope you caught the episode of The Dewarists that featured Swarathma, in colloboration with Shubha Mudgal. They came up with a pretty decent track known as Duur Kinara, which is also up for free download.


Cheers
Hari

p.s. Photo Credits : George Bernard

THE MULLAPERIYAR DAM



Over the past few days, I've read numerous reports about the Mullaperiyar Dam and I can't help but think of just one question "What exactly is the Central Government waiting for?"

For those that haven't been following the news here's a basic gist of what the issue is all about -> The Mullaperiyar Dam is located in the Idukki District in Kerala and was constructed in 1895 under the British Rule and due to an old agreement signed by the British Presidency and the Travancore Maharaja the water and all operations of the dam are controlled by Tamil Nadu for 999 years (Yes, Bata Prices!). And hence according to the agreement, Tamil Nadu don't just get all of the water they also get to take all the decisions!

A recent study by a team from IIT Rourkee shows that any earthquake above 6 on the Richter scale could lead to a major catastrophe in the area. Starting with about 30 lakh people losing their lives and most of the beauty of Kerala disappearing.

Jayalalitha, being the drama queen that she is, and numerous ill educated ministers like Vaiko believe that Kerala is just blowing the issue out of proportion and that Oommen Chandy is just looking for better press. Now though I get why they are skeptic and everything, I have just one small request -> Ladies and Gentlemen of the Tamil Nadu State Government, open your eyes and do read about what's happening before you go on record about all of this being an unnecessary waste of time.

Now, readers, please read the following pointers and decide for yourself as to whether the issue is blown out of proportion and trust me I'll try being as unbiased as i can be :-

1) There have been around 20 earth tremors since July 26th of this year, with their epicentres in the region surrounding the old dam.

2) One of these tremors measured 3.4 on Richter Scale.

3) Experts from IIT, Rourkee where called in to assess the situation by the Kerala State Government and they issued a very strong warning about the proneness of the region for earthquakes of cataclysmic magnitudes. Their report also indicated that there is a high possibility of an earthquake measuring up to 6.5 on the Richter scale around the Mullaperiyar dam. This will shake the very foundation of the ancient dam.

4) The dam already has numerous cracks and has shown signs of leakages in many parts.

5) The dam is 116 years old and is made of lime and surkhi(a mixture of sugar and calcium oxide). It's a miracle that it has stood for so long.

As if all of this was not enough, there were four more mild tremors reported in the Idukki area yesterday(26-11-11) with magnitudes of 2.7, 2.9, 1.4 and 1.7. Madam Jayalalitha and her associates in Tamil Nadu are yet to issue a statement regarding this.

The Kerala government, which has always been a popular one for the wrong reasons, has clearly stated that Tamil Nadu can still take all the water and that all Kerala wants is for Tamil Nadu to agree on the rebuilding project and reduce the water level so that the reconstruction can take place. To me, as a personal opinion, that seems pretty damn fair.

I agree the tremors have been of really small magnitude, but is it right to ignore ALL of these tremors and go on to call this a publicity stunt?

Isn't it always better to be safe than sorry?

How does one overlook scientific evidence and call it all a sham?

But the biggest question is - What on earth is more important than the lives of 30 Lakh Indians?

Cheers
Hari

pics courtesy : The Mullaperiyar Dam by The Hindu and The Square Cut comic by Raja Hariharan

A year ago if anyone had told me that a day would come when I would stand a few feet away from METALLICA and watch them kick ass live I would have laughed at them whilst secretly hoping that the day would eventually come.

The day did come and OH MY GOODNESS was it worth it.

Sometime in May, Metallica announced a two city tour of India and ever since then there has only been one question that every metal head asked the other, "So when are you booking your tickets?". I couldnt believe my eyes when I read reports of them coming to India and was found pinching myself checking for whether this was actually true or just another one of the oh so lovely dreams.

Months passed. Permissions sought. Money arranged and tickets were booked. Then came the scare of the century. The mess at Gurgaon left me speechless and I spent the entire night listening to every possible version of the incident on any news channel that i could find. There were some reports that said that the cops wouldnt give permission anymore and there were others that said that the gig at Bangalore was cancelled. Without a clue as to what to believe I went to bed real restless.

Woke up and went to the venue at 10 AM, to redeem my ticket. But when I reached the venue, all doubts were put to rest. There were around a 100 people standing there, all proudly wearing their metallica t-shirts. Enter Sandman and Turn the Page were heard on mobiles all around. While the atmosphere gave me goosebumps. There was one lil pain in the ass. The ticket clearly said come at 10 to redeem our tickets and the organizers just made us run from one gate to another. Not a single counter was set up for the people with e-tickets. We waited till 1 for the gates to open and were sent in along with others who already had their tickets and were waiting to go all the way in. Even after we went inside there wasn't a single queue for e-ticket redemption, with people just arbitrarily told to form queues in various places, with each organizer telling us to stand in a different place. And to make matters worse, it poured like crazy.

Bummed out and pissed and drenched, I eventually did get my tickets a little past 3 and we slowly tried to make our way into the main grounds. Never before had I been part of such a huge crowd and the atmosphere was electric. We pushed forward gradually taking just a couple of steps every ten minutes. Eventually after over an hour we made it through. We missed most of Inner Sanctums set but caught just the last song and it was evident that they had just played a real tight set. The last song, unfortunately don't know the name, saw some real amazing vocals coupled with some real tight drumming. Note to self : Must get some Inner Sanctum merchandise the next time I'm in Bangalore. [:D]




Next up on stage was Guillotine, the runners up at the Hornbill festival. And I honestly expected a lot more from them. Their set was a slightly disappointing one and made me even more restless and want Metallica to come on quicker.

They got off stage and there was a huge break. Soon, the Rain Gods got excited again. And any bespectacled man will know how big a pain it is to watch a metal concert while its raining with glasses on. Thankfully, Biffy Clyro came on soon. Three half naked men and another dude walked on stage and a couple of them looked like real hillbillies and yes maybe I was being stereotypical but I didn't expect them to be awesome. BUT as if just to prove me wrong, they were brilliant. Most men in the crowd were just there screaming for Metallica and you will hence find a lot of people out there saying Biffy Clyro sucked but trust me, they were brilliant. They played some real fun tracks and I found myself jumping like a clown in a place where I could barely stand. [:p]


They played an hour-long set and I enjoyed every bit of it. Immediately after Biffy Clyro left the stage, the stage was filled with technicians. There were men setting up microphones, and I was left in sheer awe when the men placed EIGHT microphones on stage. Three on the top platform, three on the main platform and two at the far ends of the platform. The drum kit was up and after an hour of the sound crew tweaking and turning knobs and screws, the TIME HAD COME.


The Ecstasy of Gold video played. Everyone went crazy. Me and a over 20,000 other members of what Hetfield calls, "The Metallica Family" raised our devils horns in unison and screamed out loud for Metallica. Lars popped up! And started playing the opening beat to Creeping Death and soon, Trujillo, Hetfield and Hammet burst out from the sides and all hell broke loose. METALLICA was here. METALLICA was playing LIVE in front of my eyes. There were moshpits all around and there were people screaming the words trying to drown out Hetfield.


Next up was 'For Whom The Bell Tolls' and at the epicness of the moment was yet to sink in but we were getting there. 'Fuel' was up next! And the pyrotechnics left we with my mouth wide open. I've been to the gigs with the international bands since Megadeth, but correct me if I'm wrong, Metallica were the first ones to get permission to bring pyrotechnics. The pyrotechnics went brilliant with the song and Hammet blew the place to smithereenes with his solo. Just the day before, we had covered the song. It just struck me, "How imperfect are we all"!!


Hetfield then asked us PERMISSION to play tracks from their recent album Death Magnetic, which hasn't been the most popular among their fans. They went on to play Cyanide. Followed by "The Memory Remains". The end of this song was easily the most memorable part of the concert. For around three-four minutes, the ENTIRE CROWD chanted long after Hetfield and the others stopped. All the four members were left amazed by the crowd, with each of them bearing an expression of sheer veneration. At the end of it, Hetfield was caught mumbling something along the lines of "Bangalore you are simply beautiful". That one line filled our hearts and we could go home and tell our sons and grandsons in the future that we caught Metallica live one day and hell we blew their mind!


Hammet kept us hooked with some real orgasmic solos between songs. Tracks like Sad But True, Welcome Home (Sanitarium), All Nightmare Long and One followed.

After One, Hetfield changes guitars and heads to the top platform and sang the track that first made me love Metallica. The track that I had been waiting for all night. MASTER OF PUPPETS.


During the chorus, Hetfield raised the microphones to the crowd and we did the rest. MASTER! MASTER! The crowd went crazy and so did I. The atmosphere was electric. We just never wanted them to stop. EVER! And an evil laugh and my goodness I was in a trance. Was this really happening? Did I just hear Hetfield do the evil laugh on Master of Puppets!? "Kill me now and I would die with a huge grin on my face" was one of the thoughts going through my head at that moment. No exaggeration whatsoever!


Crowd favourites like Nothing Else Matters and Enter Sandman followed and the fireworks at the end of Enter Sandman got the crowd to an euphoric high. The band waved goodbye but we wanted more. The band were back soon and paid tribute to the 80s band Diamond Head, playing the track "Am I Evil". Followed by Battery and the best end to any concert ever possible "Seek and Destroy". The ultimate end to the best live gig that I have witnessed till date.



There are numerous people out there that say that Metallica have lost it. They've sold themselves out and that they should've disbanded long ago. But to all these people I can safely say - They've still got it! And they can still kick some serious ass! And there are over 50,000 people that can vouch for that fact.


Metallica was one of those bands that made me listen to the genres I listen to and the songs that I play and make. And to see this band live left me with emotions I'm yet to explain. Yes I'm late to post this, but even today the images from the concert remain fresh in my head and trust me they always will. How could I forget watching all of Trujillos antics! Master of Puppets. The Laugh! Lars standing on his drum throne and playing Sad But True! The Start! Fuel! Seek and Destory! Every last bit of it! I shall recount these moments for many, and each time I remember them I will have a tear of joy in my eye! Believe you me!

I leave you with this, my friends -- HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ALIVE?!!!? \m/

Cheers
Hari

p.s. Special Thanks to Prateek Biswas, Befreshed, What's the Scene and the Official Metallica Page for the photographs


NIT Trichy always brought to my mind an image of a bunch of the countries biggest brains stuck together in a classroom solving a bunch of complex mathematic equations, after going to NITT for Festember '11 I've got to say I couldnt have been more wrong. Here's why!


The first time I had heard of Festember was when my band decided to send in our entry for the battle of the bands contest. Unfortunately, we didnt make the cut. Later I heard that motherjane were headlining the show and I thought to myself that we had actually been selected, I would have actually played a gig in front of my idols. Woah! I'm pretty sure I would have been shivering so bad before getting on that stage, but yes it would have been such an amazing moment. *sigh* -- Some dreams do take time to come to life I'm guessing :)

Saturday early morning, and I set off on a bumpy bus ride to the land of NITT. Reached Trichy at about 3 and headed straight for the hotel where motherjane was put up. A nice little nap, a bit of TV, and a little tea and motherjane was all set to rock the night. And so was I.

Soundcheck got super delayed because of a lot of technical difficulties, but the show did go on and motherjane took to the stage at around 9.30 PM or so.

The Panchari Melam music began to play and the stage was filled with smoke. The stage was set for motherjane. The crowd began to go wild. And soon, motherjane lit the stage on fire with Disillusioned. The energy was mesmerizing and the guys were really starting to enjoy (i specifically say guys because the guys were made to stand about 50 feet away from the stage and the girls were made to stand right in front. The only sad thing in an otherwise brilliant setting). The girls, still sitting, were clapping and cheering but very very few had gotten into "the zone".

Next up was Maya and Suraj dedicated this song to all the beautiful women that were sitting right in front. He urged the girls to stand up and get dancing. If I were asked to name two people that came to mind right away that had the ability to get a crowd going, I would say "Suraj Mani from Motherjane and Vishal Dadlani from Pentagram" without giving it any thought. Suraj got the girls going and soon there were numerous girls dancing to motherjanes tracks.

SURAJ MANI - MY SOCRATES
I love this picture :) -- so natural.. so much passion.. and so much fun :D

Blood in the Apple followed, and motherjane played the song sans the bass solo at the start of the song. The solo that Clyde plays gives the song a little more feel, or so I think and I did miss that part. But the rest of the song was note-perfect and by this time, everyone in the crowd was headbanging deliriously.

CLYDE ROZARIO - BUDDHA ON THE BASS


Deepu really seemed to be enjoying himself and he could be seen jumping all around on stage. It made for a really nice sight :)

DEEPU SASIDHARAN - SILK AND STEEL
Soul Corporations, tweaked at the start a little bit, followed. Santhosh played a mind numbing solo during the song that left me speechless. It was an extremely beautiful solo that had that unique motherjane touch, yet had many more elements that were new. If anyone has any doubt what so ever as to where motherjane is headed after Baiju leaving, trust me, they are in real safe hands. Santhosh is a guitarist that will blow your mind over and over again every time you watch him. No exaggeration what so ever, I promise.

SANTHOSH CHANDRAN - THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN TOUCH

The auditorium was then filled with the words Thaka Thakita Thaka Thakita as motherjane belted out Chasing the Sun. John, playing with a finger injury, and yet brought so much life to the song.

JOHN THOMAS - ZE METRONOME

Their newest single, No Contest, was up next and I with my short hair successfully executed ze WINDMILL! WOO HOO!! I believe that the aggresive riffs that Santhosh has composed for this particular really does suit the theme of the song and though it aint very pronounced but Santhosh has played some really beautiful parts in the song that will not fail to amaze you.

Fields of Sound, Broken, Jihad, Mindstreet followed. Santhosh played two brilliant solos, one at the end of Jihad and one after the last verse of Mindstreet. I'm sorry if I'm talking way too much about Santhosh but he was just that brilliant.

motherjane ended the gig with Karmic Steps. It was unfortunate but the gig was a rather short one because of the delays and the curfews. But none the less, it was a brilliant show and I really did think every single person in the crowd enjoyed himself.

MOTHERJANE - A BEAUTIFUL NOTE IN A SYMPHONY OF SPIRITS

I did hope they played a few more tracks, especially Maktub as Santhosh(yes him again) has added a lovely piece at the start which plays on the Flamenco Guitar(Box Guitar). It sounds so beautiful and adds a lot of soul to the song. I cant wait for the new album now. He has promised to bring in a lot of new elements and I cant wait to lay my hands on it.

Anyway, the bumpy bus rides well worth it and I must add a note to thank all the students at NITT for making it a lovely experience, and special mention to Pankaj for the hospitality and the company. Thank you all :)

p.s. Photo Credit : Charles and Vishal Nambiar

Cheers
Hari



Fete de la Musique, also known as World Music Day, is a music festival that initially started off in France (as is obvious from the name). It has now been about for about 25-30 years. A brilliant concept to honour music and art as such.

And what better a place to honour a French tradition than Alliance Francaise in Namma Bengaluru. Over two days, numerous artists of various genres were called in to play 30 minute sets. The event boasted of big names such as Thermal and a Quarter, Swarathma, Slain and so many more, including various classical musicians too.

I went to the event on 18th solely to catch TAAQ in action.

The gig was a very special one for the band itself as it was the first anniversary of their "newest" member, bassist Prakash K.N. Prakash filled huge shoes when he replaced Rhuzde and he has done so incredibly well (at least as far as I can tell).

Owing to a very limited time slot, they played very few songs. However, they did have a blast. Their stage presence is incredible, especially their vocalist/guitarist, Bruce Lee Mani. They took a while to do their soundcheck as "they like to take their time with these things" and rightly so. However, not once was anyone in the crowd heard complaining as we were all enthralled by Bruces acting skills. Not only is he a brilliant guitarist and a vocalist but apparently a pretty decent actor too. [:)]



Rajeev, the drummer, did have a bit of trouble with the snare stand as it was wobbling around but that never stopped him and they performed their set to perfection. One of the most incredible moments for me, as a drummer, was witnessing Rajeevs independence and his dynamics. Incredibly controlled drumming, that is subtle yet powerful. He has definitely captured a spot on my list of drummers that inspire me.

They opened the show with a song called De Arranged. A nice lovely start to the gig. The crowd wasnt a typical rock crowd with everyone sitting down and there were people ranging from little kids to old grandmothers. The sight of many of the older people liking TAAQs was a very pleasant one. The kid sitting right next to me was covering her ears through half of the first song and then started to enjoy herself shortly afterwards when she started to actually listen to it. The scene reminded me of MOTHERJANEs gig at Snehadaan.



The next song on their set list was dedicated to the beautiful women of Bangalore and was aptly called Bangalore Flowers. Needless to say, Bruce Lee Mani was killing it on his axe with his solos. [:)]

A quick change of guitars for the axeman and they were set for the next one, Holy Jose. Bruce introduced the song by saying, "Now here is a song about a man that we all know" and hoping for the song Kickbackistaan, which is one of my favourite TAAQ tracks, I shouted "Kalmadi" [:P], which brought a couple of laughs from the crowd and the band themselves. The song was about the man JOSE, to be said with a very heavy Malayali accent. The bass solo played during the song was an incredible one and Prakash made it look very very easy. There was also a very short drum solo during the track. The dynamics that Rajeev showcased during the length of the track was brilliant.



Next up was a Beatles cover, With a Little Help from My Friends, followed by Wishing for Magic. And magic we got, through TAAQ. [:)]

They followed this up with a new song called Sorry for Me, which talks about Income Tax and Divorces and touches every aspect of modern life. An extremely funny song, when you listen to the lyrics. [:)]



And then there was just ONE. It was time for the last track and there was no dearth of requests. They ended up playing another new track called Mighty Strange, a track that talks about the IT field. Love the lyrics again, and yes the words "Mighty Strange, Plenty Deranged" , fit perfectly well.

After the gig me and Riddhiman caught up with the band and I finally got a picture with Bruce Lee Mani, which I hope will soon find its way to facebook. We also chatted with the drummer and I got myself a few exercises to work on my Independence and many more aspects of my drumming. We also got Bruce Lee Mani s pelctrum and a drumstick from Rajeev, and hence I now officially possess treasure. [:)]

Though they didnt play a few of my favourite tracks like Kickbackistaan, One Small Love, I'm Drunk and Paper Puli, it was a lot of fun and I thoroughly enjoyed myself at the gig. I cant wait to lay my hands on a couple of their merchandise now. [:)]

p.s. Sorry for the absence of pictures. My cameraman did not report for duty this time. [:P] Praveen, where art thou [:P]

Cheers
Hari
a\m/ajaniac



I had heard a lot about the spectacular percussion display at the Thrissur Pooram and hence as a drummer, this festival has always excited me. Finally, this year we (Raja, Praveen, Rajas dad and I) were able to make it to famous festival. However, I had no idea that the Pooram would be this majestic and colorful.

The entire Pooram features about 96 elephants(according to a newspaper article but I believe there were a lot more) and is a sort of a friendly competition between two temples - The Thiruvambady Bhagavathi and Paramekkavu Bhagavathi with the Sree Vadakumnathan Temple playing a role almost equivalent to a mediator. The festival is not just important in the Hindu calendar and even churches take place in this gala event. Apart from the events at the temples mentioned, there are numerous smaller events that take place at the other temples in Thrissur and also at various other smaller gatherings throughout the city.


One of the Gopurams of the Vadakumnathan Temple at Night

The Pooram is almost an 8 hour music festival with various instruments, such as the Chenda, Thimila, Edakka, Kombu, Elathalam, Sanghu, Kurumukuzhal being used. Every event at the festival is accompanied by music played by local maestros. Every event is presided by the elephants of the two major temples carrying golden plaques depicting the Gods of the respective temples. For most of the events these elephants are flanked by as many as 14 other elephants. Each one of the elephants has an umbrella, fans made out of peacock feathers and a bunch of yak tail which are held by people seated on the elephant. These are swayed rhythmically to the music played around the procession of elephants.



The Elephants "All Dressed Up"

We reached Thrissur on the day of the Pooram at about 7:00 AM and as a result missed out the "Arattu" at both the Thiruvambady and Paramekkavu Temples. However we were just in time to catch the main elephants leaving the Thiruvambady Temple and accompanied the elephants for a small distance during the Poorapara, which is when various households offer their donation to God, such as rice, bananas, flowers, etc.


Madathil Varavu

We then headed back to get a bite to eat before slipping out again to catch the Madathil Varavu at the Vadakumnathan Temple Grounds. Three elephants had left from the Thiruvambady Temple and had been joined by two elephants at regular intervals and when the procession reached the Vadakumnathan Temple, the count had become 15. 15 elephants had also arrived at the same grounds from the Paramekkavu Temple. When the elephants reach the grounds, the artists that have accompanied them play the Panchavadhyam. This display was especially entertaining for Praveen, Raja and Me as the artists seemed to be headbanging while playing a few sections of their set.


The Artists travelling with the Procession

We then hung around near the grounds for a while. We caught glimpses of the elephants taking bath which was a pretty cool sight. The elephants were spraying water all over themselves and over a few of the people that surrounded them as well. There were elephants all around us and when sometimes some elephants even crept up behind us. [:P]


Elephants Having a Shower

The Elanjithara Melam was next at about 2:00 PM. This was a musical display by some of the most experienced musicians of Thrissur and the neighboring cities. The entire display is divided into 3 kalams, based on the speed. As goes unsaid, the 3rd being the fastest was the most explosive in nature.


At the "Headbang" Melam


Chenda Melam

We went back for lunch and had a bit of rest before we headed to the Vadakumnathan Temple for the Pandi Melam. This was where we got our first taste of the huge crowd. On the way into the temple, we each got about five blows to our rib cage each and it was a sheer miracle that a stampede didn’t break out. We eventually got inside the temple and Praveen and I tried our best to get to the front row (because of our concert mentality). We did get peppered with blows but we did catch a glimpse of the musicians who were performing. The music was pretty good. My favourite part from this set was the Chenda. The format of the Pandi Melam was very interesting to me. The tempo is increased to a certain level slowly then the tempo drops a few notches and then increases again to a higher tempo than the previous time. Ultimately it reaches a very explosive tempo. The entire set is similar to climbing a stairway in the following order – two steps up and one step down – and repeating this cycle until you reach the top of the stairway.


Kudamattom

Immediately after this was the Kudamattom. This is a competition between the two temples. There are about 15 elephants from each temple that face each other at the Vadakumnathan Temple Grounds and they change the umbrellas that are mounted on the elephants. The umbrellas are all made out of silk and are beautifully decorated. There were over 40 umbrellas that were mounted on the elephants, one after the other. This is the main event of the Thrissur Pooram and about a 100,000 people witnessed this live at the grounds (and we were right in the middle of it all) and many more saw the entire spectacle on their television set. Each time the umbrellas were changed the crowd went into a bout of madness. Some of the umbrellas were very unique and colourful. Many had intricate designs on them which made them look very beautiful.


The Crowd at the Kudamattom and the 15 Elephants

During the night many of the events were repeated again. We picked up my sister, Gauri, and headed to the grounds and caught the Panchavadhyam once again. However there wasn’t much of headbanging this time around. But it was fun nonetheless. We strolled around the grounds for a while and saw numerous people lying around on the streets waiting for the Vedikattu, the pyrotechnic show.


At the Night Pooram..

The Vedikattu was at 3:00 AM and was literally explosive. The fireworks were amazing and the colours that filled the sky were beautiful. According to a website, the Pooram committee had employed a chemist, Dr T.C. Krishnamenon, to bring about the right combination of colours, such as Calcium Chloride for the Orange colour and so on.


The Vedikattu

After just a few hours of sleep, we woke up for the Pagal Pooram which consisted of a repeat of the Kudamattom and another dose of the Vedikattu. The Kudamattom this time was attended by many families and not just the men. Half way through the event, a few men of the committee came and buried huge containers in the ground. They contained about 10 kgs of gunpowder I’m assuming. We were all asked to clear the ground and we stood on the road waiting for the Vedikattu. This time there were no colours involved, just noise. And the noise was deafening, to say the very least. The entire Vedikattu lasted for about 15 minutes and there were people of all ages standing and trying to cover their ears.


Kudamattom at the Pagal Pooram


Reactions to the Pagal Pooram Vedikattu

The two main elephants from the two temples then made their way to the Vadakumnathan Grounds. The two elephants faced each other in front of the Vadakumnathan Temple deity, Lord Shiva, and raised their trunks to one another. This symbolized the end of this year’s Pooram events. It was like the two elephants were bidding adieu until next year. We unfortunately couldn’t catch this magnificent event live and had to satisfy ourselves by watching it on television.

Later on in the day, we visited the Thrissur Pooram exhibition, which wasn’t very interesting but fun due to the company. The best part of the Pooram exhibition is the display of the Anna Chamayam, which are the adornments that are placed on the elephants. However, this display is removed a day before the pooram and hence we couldn’t see it.


The Anna Chamayam


Finally, a few warnings for those that desire to catch this magnificent treat. The entire event will sap all of your energy due to the excruciating heat. Next, be prepared to catch a few blows and also don’t be afraid to GIVE a few blows if you want to get a good view of the things happening. And never miss out the free drinks that the people give out on the roads. Those are probably the only way you'll get through the entire day.

However having said that, neither the heat nor the blows can stop anyone from having the best time of their lives in THRISSUR – GODS OWN CITY, during the Pooram! For those of you who haven’t had the opportunity to catch this magnificent festival yet, please do so as soon as possible. I can guarantee that you will have the TIME OF YOUR LIVES here!

p.s. Special Thanks to Praveen, Hari Menon, Manorama for the Photographs.

Cheers

Hari

amajaniac n so r u

I've always been at sixes and sevens when the topic of Godmen came to the fore. I've never been their biggest fan and lost any faith I had remaining when the Nithyananda controversy came up.

The recent death of Sathya Sai Baba, born Sathyanarayan Raju, lead to an ocean of articles being written about him and his work. A few articles on the darker side of this very same Godman too saw the light of day.

I must admit that the concept of a man filling in for God(often even replacing Him), in a land devoid of Gods blessings is extremely attractive. It fits my belief of there being a God in each and everyone of us. Unfortunately, at the same time it stretches the very same concept a bit too far. But thats my personal opinion.

However, Sathyanarayan Raju, the mortal behind Sathya Sai Baba, was a pretty extra ordinary human being. It takes an extremely strong will and an enormous heart to do the things that he has done for the materially and emotionally poor of our country.

He(The Sathya Sai Trust) funded and oversaw water-related projects, costing an estimated $63 million, which have benefited hundreds of villages in the predominantly drought ridden regions of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. He also built a vast educational system that offers free education all the way from kindergarten to doctoral studies. In addition, he set up two super specialty hospitals in South India that offers treatment for a wide range of ailments, all free of cost.

Yes, his Trust probably receives twice the money that they invested in these projects in the form of donations, but it still takes a highly principled man to put all of this money to such great use.

Having said that, It was unfortunate that a man who had followers numbering in hundreds of thousands(possibly more) had to resort to cheap magic tricks to capture the belief of a few thousand more.

Make no mistake, everyone loves a golden Rolex being pulled out of thin air, but not everyone loves the idea that pulling a watch out of thin air is an act of an incarnate of God.

Sathyanarayana Rajus discourses too were a huge benefit to numerous people in our country. He did talk about God and the sacrifices fit for God and so on and so forth, which one may or may not choose to believe in. But at the same time he also spoke about moral values that we needed to have to be good sons or daughters to not just our birth parents but also to our country. He spoke personally to young kids and helped guide them through their education and whatever little troubles they had. He was the guiding force behind numerous families reuniting, and behind men reforming and so on.

He was a huge source of inspiration to a large number of people, ranging from the Sachins to the Manmohan Singhs to the people of Brazil to the Ricky Martins. He may or may not have been an incarnation of God but he gave the people what they needed most in the world we live in.He gave the people - HOPE.

HOPE and INSPIRATION is something that can fuel a man to no end. The Music Masters rap group in Misrata, Libya is the first example that pops to my head. Using music to inspire the rebels to fight for the people against Gaddafi is an excellent idea. Its their own little contribution which I'm sure will inspire at least a few of the people to fight harder.

Whether Sai Baba really had the powers that he claimed to have is a debate that will linger for years but he gave those that believed in him confidence and made them believe that could, nay WILL, definitely succeed and that is something that'll help people remember him for a long long time.

Cheers
Hari
amajaniac n so r u


View of Charminar from the Roadside
The Level with the clock is the one with the numerous prayer rooms.


A Closer look at the intricate designs on the entrances to the Charminar



View of Old Hyderabad from the Charminar


The Artwork on the Ceiling
Also showing the prayer rooms at the second level



View of The Charminar from Mecca Masjid

View of The Charminar from Mecca Masjid



The four minarets of The Charminar
Unfortunately wasnt able to get the entire first minaret




Raja at the Mecca Masjid


Prayer Stones Laid Out at The Mecca Masjid




Janiacs all are we - Remya, Raja, Me and My Dad


My Dad with his face painted
The coolest, most spirited dad you'll ever find [:D]



A small attempt at a photolog. Pictures taken with a 2MP E63 mobile camera. I'm a begginer so take it easy on me [:P]

Cheers
a\m/ajaniac

This blog has been LOOOOOOOOOOOONG overdue but unfortunately, a certain set of Board Exams got in the way.


Before I get to the actual content of the blog, there is a small development. I have decided to start blogging about more than just music or atleast try to blog about a few more things. :) Hence the new blog, Diary of a Janiac!


Now to describe the awesomeness of the 19th February!!


We(Raja, Remya and I) left for Hyderabad on 18th night by bus and reached Hyderabad on 19th morning. We headed over to a friends place and got ready for a full day of sight-seeing and well of course the gig that we had traveled all the way till Hyderabad to watch.


First we headed to the Charminar. Nestled in what the locals call "Old Hyderabad", the quadruple-towered mosque made for an amazing sight. Right at the centre of the mosque was a moderate size yet intricately designed fountain. Though partially damaged, the minor details of each carving of the fountain piece could still be seen and admired. We then climbed one of the minarets to reach the second level of the tower(the higher levels are sealed off). The second level was the one with the prayer rooms. There were around 30-40 of them, each with a beautiful window and brilliantly carved frames. An unfortunate sight was the numerous etchings on the walls. "Romantics" used the walls of a great mosque and an even greater monument, to proclaim their love for their girlfriends and boyfriends, thinking that they are immortalizing their love when in fact they are defacing an immortal piece of history.


Right outside this mosque was a small Muslim Shrine where the priest(don’t know exactly what they are called, ulemas? Not sure) offered prayers and applied a grey powder on our foreheads. Right next to this shrine was a Hindu Devi Temple. The amity between the priests and the people too made for a visual treat.


We then clicked a few pictures and then proceeded to the next monument, Mecca Masjid. There were a huge flock of pigeons sitting at the front yard of the Masjid. Just as we walked in after an extremely brief security check, which consisted of a guard glaring at you, a boy ran right towards the pigeons and made them all fly. A brilliant way to enter a monument huh? [:D]


Unfortunately we were unable to enter the Masjid, but we did look around and it was beautiful. There were a large number of prayer stones lined up outside and a priest prayed for us and for our good health.


We then went to the nearby local Bazaar, famously known as Choodi Bazaar. The Bazaar is especially famous for its pearl jewellery and we did pick up a few pieces of jewellery for our mothers and sisters. There were shops nearby which were also famous for their black metal pieces.


Next, we visited the Hussain Sagar Lake. However, we didn’t get off the car to take a closer look at the lake and the huge monolithic statue of Gautam Buddha. We did admire the statue from a distance for a while though.


The next thing on the itinerary was to go home, freshen up and leave for THE concert.


I was super excited when it was time to leave. It was the first time that I would see the NEW MOTHERJANE live. This was the first time that I was going to see the new guitarist, Santhosh Chandran on guitar. There were a lot of questions in my head. Would he be as good as Baiju? Could he pull off those solos that The God of Small Strings played with such beauty and with such precision? I was excited but I was equally nervous!


We reached the venue, after a two hour drive. We had a surprise visitor with us when we left for the venue. MY DAD! My dad was working in Hyderabad during the time. Though he had spent the entire day sight-seeing with us, none of us thought that he would join us for the gig. It was a pleasant surprise to say the least.


We started the process of donning paints when my dad decided to surprise us once more. He wanted us to paint his face too. He was going to involve himself in every activity and it was super cool of him to do that. [:)]


Before motherjane took stage, there were two opening bands that had apparently won some local competition in order to open for the Gods. The bands, however, were pretty ordinary. Then, it was time for MOTHERJANE to hit the stage. The one reason why we had travelled over 500 kms was to see these 5 men rock the stage.


The Panchari Mellam music started playing and I went high. I was about to see my favourite band live after about four months and it was an amazing feeling. The band soon came on stage and started their set with DISILLUSION. Their energy was infectious and soon the entire VJIET crowd was singing their hearts out. Motherjane performed all of their songs with immaculate energy and the new guitarist was hitting every note perfectly (as far as what the songs sounded like were concerned).




This new guitarist was abnormally down to earth too. During the solos on one of the first few songs, Santhosh was standing near his processor and playing the solo. Suraj came over and pushed in front towards the crowd and into the spotlight. It was a really funny moment that one.


Another part of this gig that I was really looking forward to was Jihad. This was the first time that I was going to hear the Anwar O.S.T live. I loved the track, especially due to the amazing vocals on this track. For the first time in a motherjane song, the vocalist was the one that provided the Indian element to the song.


Unfortunately due to a slight glitch with the speaker on our side of the crowd, we couldn’t hear that song properly. [:(] We soon moved over to the side of the crowd and still got right to the front and soon continued to enjoy the music.


The solos played by Santhosh and John were splendid. Though the usual Metal Mataram that Baiju played was missing, Santhosh played a brilliant solo which sounded just as beautiful. [:)]




My guru, John, played a kickass solo too. Its amazing to see him perform solos live now. The first time he performed a solo live on stage was at Kyra on October 15th at Bangalore thanks to a lot of screaming and shouting from us janiacs right at the front. It was a splendid solo filled with various rolls and a few funky beats too and other stuff that I'm not musically literate enough to even begin to understand.


The crowd at VJIET was a really fun one. They were singing every word along with Suraj for every song. It was a heart warming sight.


All in all, 19th February was an amazing day. We went to meet the band after the gig and got ourselves introduced to the new man, Santhosh Chandran. The band was also extremely delighted to meet my father, with his face painted et al.




On our way back home, my dad told us what he felt about the concert. He thought that the music was pretty nice but what really struck him was the energy with which they performed. He was especially impressed with Suraj, not just because of the high level of energy but also because of the way in which he interacted with the crowd and brought out the crazy men and women in everyone in the crowd.


It was extremely inspiriting to see that my dad understood why I loved this band to death and would travel this far 10 days before the start of my exams even though I’ve seen them more than 10 times live before.


The entire day was a brilliant experience and I don’t think I’ve ever slept with such a huge smile on my face.


The next day was kept aside for one huge place – RAMOJI FILM CITY. But that story is for another blog. I’ve already written way too much on this post. Unfortunately didnt get pics of the concert but I hope the videos will make up for the long read.


Special Thanks to youtube user jovanightfall for the videos.


p.s. Eva, So sorry for the delay [:p]


Cheers


a\m/ajaniac

About this blog

A true Janiac to the core, this is my opinion on the beauty that surround all of us :)

A Janiac, initially was defined as fan of the Indian Rock Band MOTHERJANE. But this word, for me, can be used to describe a man that listens to his heart and is filled with passion. I describe myself as one such Janiac!

Cheers
a\m/ajaniac

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