Sunday, June 21, 2020

Getting back - Fathers Day and World Music Day 2020

I never realised that it has been such a long time since my last blogpost here. Thinking of getting back to it, today seemed to be a good day to start with the celebration of World Music Day and also Fathers Day in some parts of the world. 

This blog has been about sharing my experiences of growing up with music. And the credit for introducing me to the world of music right from my early years goes to my Dearest Dad. From the very earliest posts on this blog, I have paid rich tributes to Dad and his efforts in making us a musical family to reckon with. As we celebrate Father's Day today, it made sense to me to list down some of the Dad songs that have appealed to me over my lifetime.

During our growing up years, we participated in and attended many singing competitions in the locality. And this soulful dedication to a Dad was put up by many a guy about seven to eight years my senior. 




My dad was really proud of my musical pursuits in my teens and twenties - on radio, band and with instruments. Used to play this track by Boyzone regularly on FM in the late '90s. The original recording though is from Cat Stevens (now known as Yusuf Islam) in 1970. This song is also recorded by Rod Stewart. 

Being a dad myself right now, I'm pleased to be able to pass on the wonderful gift of music that Dad nurtured in me and all my siblings. I'll sign off with a recent rendition of a song that won me a trophy at the age of seven and had my Dad absolutely thrilled. I performed this just last month on a video broadcast on the office network. This song has passed down with both my sons having sung it as well. 


Will be back with more musical updates right here. But for now, here's wishing all the dad's reading this post "Happy Fathers Day".







Monday, January 14, 2019

Fun with Maths

It's Exam time at home... My elder son currently doing his Prelims before his tenth standard board exams.... and the younger one in Grade Four. 

And as I opened up the Economic Times this morning, this article - Fun With Maths just jumped out at me....


 Fun With Maths

Manjul Bhargava is the first person of Indian origin to have won the coveted Fields medal in Mathematics for this path-breaking work in Number Theory. This professor of Mathematics at Princeton University discusses various issues with the Infosys founder NR Narayana Murthy.

When I asked the students of the MBA class I take about Mathematics the other day, only around 10% of them said they like it. Most of the others detested it. Years ago, I recall another MBA graduate in my office struggling with basic Arithmetic. Maths is an integral part of our everyday life. From waking up to the alarm clock... to train timings... to the price we pay for breakfast... it's all about Mathematics. We work with sheets and charts.... and get a salary at the end of the week or the month.... for which we need to know our numbers right... Yes indeed, That's Mathematics.

 

You liked that song by Tom Lehrer... we'll get him to give us a lesson a little later on. But first we'll do it very easy... ABC is as easy as One Two Three...



Well, the number 'three' reminds me of this song, a song my uncle Denzil used to sing... back in the day, Jake the Peg (Rolf Harris). 



That version did not have my favorite verse of the song.... the one about counting.... on fingers and toes...

Are you ready for the Maths lesson with Tom Lehrer.... on the New Math...



Didn't that song make Maths fun.... 

I put some thought into it... and recalled that I knew to read the time at age 5.... I learnt my tables in regular school.... and in class VI when I opened up a chapter on Bills and Receipts, I instead said Rec-i-pes, and had the entire class burst into laughter.... I was fairly good at Maths through school... though I slipped up when it came to Maths in college.... My Stats teacher in First Year B.Com was quite a terror and predicted based on past experience that more than half the class would end up struggling to Pass. I put my head down to it, and did extremely well. In B=School, I was actually coaching some of my weaker batchmates on Statistics... which made me one of my closest friends in the batch, that I'm still in active contact with. Working in data has been an absolute treat and the current trend of analytics absolutely amazes me.... 

I could go on and on.... which my stories on numbers.... but I'd rather just leave you with this song on advice for life... a sure formula to get the maximum out of life.... 
Acc-en-tu-ate the Positive. 




P.S. I've got another post on this blog on Maths... in fact the very first one.... Check out Music and Math





Sunday, January 6, 2019

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2019...


HAPPY NEW YEAR 2019

Another year has gone by... 2018 and what a year it was.... Lots of work, opportunities, music, events.... but a lot less blogging. 

2018 for me took me to a lot of new places. While ten years ago (2008) was the year I did the most international trips (from Dubai to London, US and Canada), 2018 was a year of a different kind of journeys... My travel in 2018 was all within India and related to work and learning. During this year I visited Gurgaon, the foothills of the Himalayas (in Dehradun) and the serenity of the Gandhi ashram along the banks of the Sabarmati river (in Ahmedabad). While the first trip was part of an official assignment, the latter two trips were related to sharing knowledge and education - the first at UPES (University of Petroleum and Energy Services) and the more recent to MICA - The School of Ideas. Before we take off on the year 2019, let's take a little Sentimental Journey.



That song first released in the year 1944 (that's 75 years ago)... That's a year during World War II. And while there was death looming all over, the year also saw births of some really famous people. Among them Erno Rubik (inventor of the Rubik cube), officials like Ban Ki-moon (former Secretary-General of the United Nations), Rudy Giuliani (former Mayor of New York city). But before them all, on the first day of the year, in the little town of Mangalore was born a wonderful teacher of Maths and Science (who spent over 25 years in St. Anthony's Girls High School Chembur), but a great teacher on the values of life to her six children (me and my siblings). 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MUMMY

Living in my childhood home at present, everyday I come across someone or the other who has been touched by my mum. Last week I was traveling by bus to work and happened to meet another student. The previous week one of her superstar students conveyed their regards to my mum to my wife when she visited an event organised by the alumni. 

Over the past 250+ posts on this blog, I've made a few honorable mentions of my mum. Thought it would be a good idea to recount these on this special day. 


Music and Math (2015)


Was a casual afternoon, and I had to put together a short article as part of an exercise at the Digital Marketing class I was taking. Bang! out of nowhere came this post on Music and Math.


My Radio Days (and Nights) - Remembering Saturday Date (2018)


During my days as a Radio Jockey on All India Radio, my best constructive critic was none other than my dear Mummy. Though not an authority in music, she shared some interesting inputs to help me improve my clarity and diction on the show... and across life. Now 30 years later we've had an interesting reversal of roles.... While I've spent a fair amount of time teaching (what she did for over 25 years), while she had her moment in the sun as a guest on Susegad Danpaar on 104.6 FM



Earlier today, my siblings in Auckland got together to celebrate her birthday with some of her new friends in the land where she now resides... Saw some glimpses of the get together, a celebration of her seventy five fantastic years. Saw some glimpses of the party including some of the toasts raised by my siblings, paying tribute to her commitment and dedication over the years to give us the very best. 

We thank the Lord for our Mummy, who truly called the shots to make our family and each of us - her children - what we are today. of my Pistol Packing Mama



THANKS MUMMY FOR BEING YOU

WISHING YOUR MANY MORE YEARS OF HEALTH AND HAPPINESS

Sunday, November 4, 2018

November






Woah! it's already November.... I heard the Calendar Song after ages - it used to be a regular on Saturday Date in the late ' 70s and early '80s. 

In the nineties, when satellite TV invaded all of our households, this November song was on everyone's lips.... November Rain.


While Mumbai recorded it's hottest ever November day yesterday, the Met Department has forecast some November Rain next week.... Let's wait and see... 

Do you know of any 'November Songs'? Share them in the comments....





Sunday, September 30, 2018

Konkani Muji Mai Baas




Konkani Muji Mai Baas... translates to "Konkani is my mother tongue..." and this past month of September reminded me of this on several occasions. 




The Konkani connection with September comes from the way Monti Fest is celebrated in Mangalore. Monti is Konkani for Mount... and so the celebration of Monti Fest is the celebration of the Feast of the Mount... or the celebration of the birthday of Mother Mary. However the Birthday celebrations in Mangalore is combined with the celebration of the harvest. In our growing years, the usual Inland Letter formats in India were replaced by enveloped letters in the month of September containing a few ears of blessed corn. The blessed corn we received was mixed in with milk or a sweet and consumed with a Thanksgiving prayer. Further the celebration includes the Novem meal including an odd number of vegetarian dishes (five, seven, nine...) along with rice with the dessert of waran (payasam). 

While I attended a Konkani church service for the first time in Chembur, it was a perfect connection to my roots. But even more special on Saturday 8th September was to hear my mother tell the world (definitely the whole of Auckland) about Monti Fest on the radio - Susegad Danpaar on Planet FM 104.6



The other Konkani event for me this month was the nomination of my son from school to participate in an inter-school Elocution Competition organised by the Goan Institute in Mumbai. While my son participated and was shortlisted among the last 15 in the senior category in the English Elocution, the highlight of the competition was the Konkani Elocution. In the age where the Konkani language is dwindling, this initiative truly saw some great performances paying rich tribute to Goa and Konkani in poetry. 

The Chief Guest to the wonderful afternoon of poetry was Dr. Elaine Charles, a renowned Mumbai educationist who shared her A to Z of public speaking. Among the special guests at the Elocution Competition was Odil Madeira - a prominent writer and speech and dramatics trainer from Mumbai. She was honoured even more by the fact that quite a few students recited pieces written by her. 

The Goan Institute is committed to encouraging talent and development among the Goan community and besides handing over trophies to the Goan kids who performed at the competition also felicitated Goans who excelled in the recent Xth and XIIth Standard exams. Was really privileged to see one of my parishioners get a scholarship at the event. 

The Goan community has a long history with Mumbai. The area where the Goan Institute is located in Dabul around the Kalbadevi area of Mumbai (close to Metro Cinema and St. Xaviers College) has been home to Goan Clubs or koods which became home to Goans migrating to Mumbai looking for job opportunities. Check out this interesting documentary about Goan clubs in Mumbai.


And the last of my Konkani interactions of the month was with the Indian Express Film Club at the screening of the Konkani movie 'Juze'.

Image may contain: one or more people and text

The film depicted the realities of life in the villages of Goa and the fight for survival of a young teenager against oppression and other challenges of life. An excellent film put together by a young director was an eye opener that however much progress has been made, life continues to throw up challenges for one and all that we have to win over in our quest for survival. The movie set in the remote villages reminded me of the stories I myself have heard about the challenges that various family members have faced in their journey of life and how they made their choices. Among others I recalled visits to relatives homes in Mangalore where there was no electricity in their houses in the 1970s and the 1980s. I seriously wonder what the progress has been in the villages that they lived over the years and how much progress they have seen. 

Konkani to me has been my 'Mai'-baas or the language of my Mai (meaning mother, we affectionately addressed my maternal grandmother as such). Since she only spoke in Konkani and other Mangalorean languages (Kannada and Tulu), we had a compulsion to speak to her in Konkani. However after her passing away, I lost touch of the language. My wife's family though are strong proponents for the Konkani language and she stays in close connect with Konkani by her participation in the Konkani choir (which is led by a young 20 year old girl). 

I am thankful for the reminder to my mother-tongue and look forward to many more interesting interactions in Konkani going forward. Over the years, I've enjoyed some of the very best of Konkani music and have had my own opportunities to sing in Konkani during my days in the Mumbai band circuit in the 1980s and 90s. Signing off this post with this medley of traditional mandos. 


VIVA KONKANI






Monday, August 13, 2018

Daddy Dearest


I just penned my 250th post yesterday... I realised that only today... And a very special day at that... Cause today's a day to celebrate the person who has by far the most mentions on this blog... That's my Daddy.


Sammy Kaye released that song in 1941 within a year of when my Daddy was born. Going back to this blog, it began as a simple submission at a Digital Marketing class I was taking to enhance my skills. Music and Math celebrated the things my parents loved - a love I inherited from them from my very early days.


Moving forward, this blog provided me an outlet to share my love of music with the world. As I moved on to the second post, I recalled wonderful times learning singing with Dad... recalling our first few songs that also happened to be Green Songs From the Past...

Exactly three years ago to this date, as we celebrated my Dad's first birthday in absentia, happy memories made their way to this blog in Laugh Aloud... 75 times over. My dad could add joy to absolutely any situation... He'd bring sweetness even to the most boring day.... He was an absolute Sugar Daddy.


Attended a party for my Aunt's 80th birthday a few weeks ago... and had a lot of people tell me I look closest to my Dad in the family. But the best thing I inherited from my Dad was the gift the music and the same choir voice.... Daddy Sang Bass.



And as I follow his practice of leading the singing in church at the morning Mass, this is one hymn I'll probably be singing tomorrow... one that reminds most people around of my Dear Daddy... God Will Make A Way.



Sunday, August 12, 2018

Playing The Piano... Throwback

The school year had just begun. And my mom shared with us a conversation that occurred in the staff room that day. My mum's fellow teachers were discussing our musical talents and then raised a pertinent question to my mum, "Your kids are so talented, they all sing so well... but how come you haven't encouraged them to play any instruments?" The music teacher of the primary section was within earshot... and made an offer that couldn't be refused... She said "Send one and I'll teach a second one for free!" 

What's today called the classic #Buy1Get1 offer in a completely different setting. I was nominated to avail of this offer along with my sister, a couple of years younger than me. My two older siblings had gotten their opportunity to learn the guitar, and they were in high school (Xth and VIIIth respectively). Was that the reason? Or did it have something to do with the fact that the music that played on the cassette player at home often had me squatting on the floor playing the sofa-piano. (Not quite an air-guitar, but I'd often pretend like the black rexine sofa was a piano, and move my fingers on it with great expression).








And so the piano classes began... With lessons about the staff and the clefs, I was introduced to a whole new vocabulary including breve, semibreve, minim, crotchet, quavers and more... 

Different types of musical notes

Every Thursday morning and Saturday evening, my sister and I would walk over the 10 minutes to the music lessons. A few months later, when we got a cycle, I would ride and my sister would be running behind.... What a hilarious sight that would have been. That wasn't anything like this Bicycle Piano.

While one of us was at our class, the other just sat there reading comic books mostly from Disney including the Mickey Mouse and Donald Ducks... and a host of other stuff. Piano and Cartoons... do they have anything in common?


Over the next two years I moved through the music books from John Thompson's Modern Course for the Piano... but there was one little challenge... where to practice? We did not own a piano at home... nor could we afford one. The closest we got to hiring one, turned out to be a disaster, when we could hardly get the piano out of the house of the person renting it... let alone the challenge of possibly getting it up two floors in our narrow stairway. And that was it....

But then we spotted this... the piano in a case... owned by one of our young keyboardist around... who carried it along for all the events in the school and the parish.... the Yamaha Portasound PS3.

Image result for yamaha portasound ps 3

We acquired one with the support of a family friend working in the Gulf who purchased it on our behalf when he came down to celebrate Christmas with his family. In the mood of the season, I tried learning this Christmas Carol from the little sheet that accompanied it.... Silent Night.


While I discontinued piano lessons in Std. IX, I continued my fascination with the instrument and continued to work out songs on my little keyboard. And I just loved to hear people play the piano at our local parish zonals and then on the college stage - especially at the Malhar (at St. Xaviers College, Bombay). That's where I was enthralled by some fantastic piano pieces from the Classical Masters and also Jazz and original compositions from students like myself including some of these songs and pieces that I never knew the names of. 


As I progressed through college, the airwaves of Akashwani came calling over, where I joined a group of singers from R.A. Podar College to perform for the youth show, YuvVani that gave way to more opportunities at the station including the role of an RJ and many more Youth Shows - including a Christmas Special with the Wedding Choir I was part of with friends from St. Joseph's Parish Wadala and even one with my family... That's when I could not be satisfied with just the guitar... cause my fingers were itching to play on the Grand Piano there...


While I've never mastered the piano to play anything like the pieces I've included here, I've always looked for the chance to work out my music. The couple of years in the Bombay Band circuit exposed me to a wider repertoire of music, and more songs to work out. Though I was just a crooner in the band, I'd continue to try to work out the music on my personal time. Being the only person playing an instrument among my siblings posed the challenge to work out the difficult songs they often chose... all of which contributed to expanding my musical horizons. But the public stage for my musical skills came at the weddings of each of my siblings when it came to working out music for the choir. 


But my knowledge of music especially theory saw new light after I moved to Dubai. My first real investment was in music.... The Yamaha PSR740, which got me started on music programming on the keyboard itself, and subsequently on the Cakewalk Music Creator getting midi files ready for performances as a one-man band at many events there. Also participation in the choir and subsequent charge of the children's choir at St. Michael's Church, Sharjah gave me the opportunity to move my music to a new level. 

While being grateful to God and family for the gift of music, I have a special prayer for the kind music teacher I mentioned in the first paragraph of this post. Every time - over the past four years that I've been back in Chembur (Mumbai) - when she was in church while I played on the keyboard, was a proud moment indeed for me.   



As I attended the funeral Mass of Mrs. Sheila Britto earlier today, I thanked the Lord for the gift of this kind and gentle lady who nurtured the the talent of music in my life. As we sang 'Thank You For The Music", I was truly thankful for the first teacher who taught me to play music. Here's a little tribute to her in music. 


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