Monday, April 13, 2009


We were at the opening weekend of the 32nd Tyagaraja Aradhanai in Cleveland, Ohio. And what a feast it was for the eyes and ears!

The 'Pancharatna' rendition started early on Saturday morning. The stage of the "Waetjen Auditorium" erupted in festive colors as all the gathered vidwans and vidushis -- about 150 of them -- gathered on stage. Dr. Ramani and Haridwaramangalam Pazhanivel took the lead in co-ordinating the performers. Tiruvarur Vaidyanathan on mridangam gave a rousing finale to "Endaro Mahanubhavulu"!

MS Gopalakrishnan performed Saturday evening with his son and daughter. Even though a RTP in Todi was the main piece, "Siva siva" in Panthuvarali was easily the best! I heard later that MSG's school is famous for their Panthuvarali. They render it with a Hindustani touch which adds beauty to the Ragam. My next personal favourite was Nalinakanthi. MSG's delicate handling of the Ragam is sure to have melted hearts in the audience! Dr. Narmada's violin literally speaks. She easily won the most applause even topping her father.

Wesleyan University students performed Sunday morning. I was amazed and moved by the dedication these Americans had toward Carnatic music. To be able to relate to songs composed in an unknown language about things far removed from their daily life/culture is no mean feat! It was a treat to watch them sing.

'Nrityacharya' Dhananjayan suggested to Sudha on the morning of her concert to have a Tambura. "Tambura irundha dhaan kalaiya irukkum!" were his words. They looked for a Tambura player minutes before the concert was due to begin. Dhananjayan himself volunteered to play the Tambura for Sudha! It was one great talent saluting another graciously. I think this pic of mine might be worth millions in another 100 years..:p

Nisha Rajagopal has one of the most commanding voices I've heard in recent times. Slightly remniscient of Sowmya's voice, it is quite arresting to hear her sing. I wouldn't be surprised to see her star rise in the coming years!

Gopalakrishna Bharathi's "Nandanar Charithram"
was the highlight of the entire trip. With all all-star team comprising the vocal and instrumental support, it was a treat to watch Dhananjayan speak with just his abhinaya and bhavam. Even if there was no music in the background, I think I'd have understood what he communicated! Prof V. Balasubramaniam has a very pleasing "Othuvar"-like rendition of Tamizh songs. Subhasree Thanigachalam, the anchor, did a very good job of presenting the opera.

All-in-all, a very satisfying weekend!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Sunday scribbles...

For the longest time, to the Lexington Aunty-Uncle community, I was a "student". Never mind that I'd finished my Masters degree and transitioned to a full-time working life for a while now. I could cry myself hoarse reminding them that I was no more a student now but it never stuck. Besides, they were mostly really well-meaning and kind. Why bother correcting them? I gave up.

Last weekend, our Lexington temple had a "Sita kalyanam" festival for Rama Navami. And I got tapped by an Aunty to make sambhar for the festivities! Really? Me? I guess that means that I've now graduated from being a "student" in the minds of the community. Which is good and bad.


We watched "Vennila Kabadi Kuzhu" last week. I really enjoyed the movie. No ultra-glam heroines in skimpy dresses. No drop-dead gorgeous heroes in hi-fi, colorful houses. Just regular people -- people I could relate to -- filled the movie. The simple pleasures of going to a local "thiruvizha", eating "panju mittai" (cotton candy) and the joy of going on the super-simple "raattinam" were beautifully portrayed. I was that person once! And of course, the Madurai twang brought smiles to my face all through the movie..:-)

Speaking of movies, it is heartening to see good movies (aside from the usual romance story-line) being made. Also, what's up with Surya? He seems to be growing younger by the day. In the latest trailers of "Ayan", I wouldn't put him past 22! No fair! Grr.


I've been itching to read good Tamizh books for a while now. I've exhausted my store at home. So I ordered a few new ones and they arrived yesterday. I've got enough to keep me going for a month. Super-excited about it!


Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Wake up sunshine!

Back in high school, Mr. Esralson -- my chemistry teacher -- often used to say, "Wake up Sunshine!" A friend explained to me later that because the Canadian Sun is usually so slow to come up and the sunshine quite hazy, the phrase basically means that someone is a slow top! Coming from a place where the Sun God is very diligent to come up and even more diligent when it comes to blazing down, this phrase never sat comfortably with me.

Today is one of those blindingly beautiful Spring days. The sky is an azure blue and the sun's shining. I feel more alive and more motivated to work on days like these. Rainy days just make me feel bleaaargh. Maybe I am just imagining all this but feels like I am truly a creature of the sun!