Here we go again

If there is one line I have written on my blog a number of times knowing full well that I am lying its this one “Long time since I wrote something. Hoping to be more regular this time”

And here it comes again – more than a year since my last post. So writing something here after a while – or rather – I wrote this a while back and am just publishing this now.

Last year, I went on a trip to Europe which covered Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Montenegro and France. (I also stepped into Netherlands and Belgium once and on the way from Zagreb to Dubrovnik the bus stopped for a bit in Bosnia and Herzegovina – so 12 countries yay!)

A bunch of friends asked me about the trip and after a while I figured its best to just put it down on paper and send it to them. That piece written last year is what I am publishing now.  A good part of the motivation to write this piece was to record memories for myself and also to see if I could put down 10000 words on anything.

So here it is  – will be posting chapter by chapter to not overload people at the first go.

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Why I changed my mind on Moyes

When Sir Alex Ferguson retired as manager of Manchester United, fans of the club worldwide were filled first with disbelief for it happened so suddenly and once that had settled in – with morbid fear. Fear because deep down we knew that Man United weren’t the greatest team in England on basis of the team composition – nowhere as good as Chelsea or Manchester City. We knew that a large part of Man United’s success was directly attributable to Sir Alex’s genius. Naturally parallels were drawn with Busby and visions of the aftermath of Sir Matt Busby’s retirement came thick and fast – a period of turbulence and almost no success – even relegation! 

When Sir Alex hand picked David Moyes the United fans were divided. Some said the club was making the same mistakes as they did after Busby – others said Sir Alex has chosen him and he has credentials of performing within constraints with Everton (and there are constraints at United)

I was in the second group – saying that he has done well with Everton – a club that once considered itself lucky to finish in the top 15 and is now a club that is knocking on the door of Champions league football consistently. Plus we need longevity, not someone who will come here and leave for greener pastures in a few years.

Man United predictably did not too well. I and most fans had expected this – there is a transition period. I didn’t really expect United to win the league but certainly expected a fight and gradual change for the better. I expected that Moyes would use his footballing talent and his decade+ experience and move to the next level. At this stage of the season, United will probably not even finish 7th. We all expected a drop – but not this big. At some level, it is not even the drop that is worrying – it is the complete lack of idea around what to do about it. United have a good keeper in De Gea, good defenders in Vidic, Rio, Smalling, Rafael (not world class, but certainly significantly above average), some great players in the middle of the park including the peerless Ryan Giggs and of course the fantastic pairing of Rooney and Van Persie up front – certainly not a side that should finish outside the top 4 with any manager leading them.

He has the team, he has the support of the management, he has the money to throw – but still there are no results. This is the big difference between Moyes and Ferguson – when some argue that even Ferguson was given time, I come back with but Ferguson produced results as soon as he was appointed. Last place to 11th place in half a season meant that Ferguson deserved that chance. Moyes does not deserve the chance because he has made United into another Everton – dreadfully predictable 7th place side.

Which is what has pushed me to change my mind about Moyes. I am all for giving him a chance – but he seems to not be learning at all from his mistakes. And my biggest worry is that Moyes is pulling United down because he is not running the club as one would a title contender – he is running it like one would a club which is happy to just make the Europa league. 

So I was wrong – Moyes needs to go. I agree with the overall strategy of longevity, but the man chosen for the job was not the right one. 

Hopefully United get in someone like Simeone or Klopp or Blanc who are young and have many years ahead of them in their managerial careers. Most of all, I hope United’s leadership understand that managers like Ferguson don’t come by every day – you may need to go through 3-4 managers before you really find the right person.

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Dear Tendlya

Dear Tendlya,

Can I call you Tendlya? Or do you prefer Sachin? Either way – I have always referred to you in this fashion – like a friend, never as some Mr Tendulkar who plays cricket and has no direct connection with my life whatsoever.

Before I begin, let me just say that I got into cricket late for a typical Indian kid – I was 9 years old and was wondering what the big deal was that the entire family had to sit around the TV to watch a bunch of people playing this game I still hardly understood and was more or less completely aloof towards. I saw a few balls , then stayed on for a few overs and ended up watching the entire match . You see India was playing Australia, chasing (what was in the mid 1990s) a huge 258 runs and tottering at 7-2, but I was told “Sachin is still playing, so there was still hope”. You ended up scoring a superb 90 runs and falling to Mark Waugh (of all people). The living room went silent – my grandmom said “Only a miracle can save us now” and went to her room. And that was my introduction to cricket – a typical Indian match – you play well, everything else crumbles and India lose. The only positive for me was your innings so it could be said that you are the reason I started watching cricket.

For all these years – I have either watched every game India played or followed it. When I was out and could not watch the game – my inquiries to random strangers was always two-fold – “Whats the score?” and “How is Sachin doing?”. The second question was always what I gave more importance to, for the biggest thing I will miss about you is the feeling of reassurance that I felt – the comfort that you are still there. If you were batting – anything was possible. No target was too large, no bowler remotely threatening, no amount of sledging of any consequence whatsoever. Irrespective of the score, irrespective of how many wickets had fallen, or how high that required run rate was – the thought always was “The best batsman in the world is at the crease, batting for us right now. What could possibly go wrong?” Yes, I know this was irrational and somewhat stupid, but this is something that I could not help feeling – perhaps it is the infallibility that comes with the deification of someone (that I, like many millions in this country, have been guilty of) or perhaps it is simple bias that comes from seeing only one person carry the country for so long, a bias that started building for me from the very first cricket match I saw.

I always tell people that cricket is one sport where the softer aspects take precedence over statistics and numbers. You can measure an athlete’s greatness by looking at medals won or world records held, but this does not work in cricket. There are times when a 134 at Sharjah is a bigger deal than 200 at Gwalior; times when a century in vain in Chennai is way more impressive than any test double century. So, if 20 years down the line, some young cricket fan asks me “What is the big deal about Sachin Tendulkar?” – I would scarcely mention the 100 centuries, or the 33000 odd runs. I would certainly speak of how you so often dominated some of the best bowlers in the world –  of those few overs when you took apart Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akhtar in 2003, or of the time you hit Andy Caddick out of the ground, or of Desert Storm and THAT six off Warne, or Brett Lee in Sydney, or so many more such instances.

I would speak not just of you playing well, but also of the rest of the team not showing up at all on so, so many occasions.

I would speak of that sublime straight drive, exquisite cover drive, the effortless flick off the pads, the six over the bowlers head, the paddle sweep and of course, the stunningly beautiful, down-to-the-microsecond timed punch down the ground – no effort, no movement, no follow trough, just perfect, bloody perfect timing.

I would speak of how, beyond a point, it is impossible to put in words what you meant to cricket fans and what joy, what euphoria your batting generated.

You leaving the game is certainly the end of an era in cricket, but it is also the end for some part of my life as well, for this is the one thing that has remained constant ever since I started watching cricket 17 years ago – which won’t be there anymore. That permanence, that rocking of the foundations on which my love of this game was built is perhaps what makes all this so hard.

Thank You Sachin, for everything. Its been a privilege.

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Top sports moments of 2012

2012 has been a pretty big year for sports. I’ll put down my pick of a few of my favourite  sporting moments from this year in this post.

Cavendish wins on the Champs Elysée

Mark Cavendish celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win final stage of 2012 Tour de France

The Tour de France is undoubtedly the toughest cycling race in the world and, sadly for people like Mark Cavendish, heavily favours climbers. Cavendish, widely regarded as one of the best road cyclists in the world, had not had the best time at the 2012 Tour de France. He was not even close to winning the coveted green jersey for the points classification and his teammates Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome were stealing the show. His victory on the final stage – a stage which prefers sprinters  – was one of the best moments in sport for me this year largely for two reasons. This day coming less than 2 weeks before the Olympics, there was a lot of talk of Cavendish getting his last chance at an Olympic medal in London and people kept reminding us of the fact that he was the only member of the Britain cycling team who did not win a medal in Beijing. So in light of all this – I really wanted him to win. The past two weeks or the next two weeks meant nothing and the Champs Elysee was his and his alone. The other reason I rate this as one of my favourite moments from sport in 2012 is that Bradley Wiggins – holder of the yellow jersey and on the verge of becoming the first Briton to win the tour said before the stage that his only goal was to ensure than Cavendish won. And did he live up to that promise or what! Normally we see the yellow jersey holders just chill out in the final stage of the tour – wave at the fans, soak it in etc. Bradley Wiggins kept pace for Cavendish himself. How many times do you see a yellow jersey holder bursting to the forward of a crowded peloton on the last stage of the biggest race in the world ? I’ll tell you – Never. But Wiggins did it. He stormed to the front with Cavendish in tow and when the time came, the Manx Missile went through the gears and showed the everyone that he was indeed the best sprinter in the world.

Europe wins the Ryder Cup 


I must confess, I have watched very little golf in my life. I follow the sport, but hardly ever actually watch it on TV. This changed with the Ryder Cup. The Europe team in their blue sweaters – a tribute to Seve Ballesteros – were down and out, written off . The US – historically the much more successful side in this tournament – seemed to be on their way to win the Ryder cup for the 26th time. Europe were no under-dogs of course having won the cup in 2010, but with the score at 10-6 on the final day with the US needing just 4.5 points to win out of a possible 12 on the day, things looked really bleak for the defending champions. I started watching out of curiosity – more to do with the fact that I was awake and had nothing else to watch on TV at the time – and I witnessed the one of the most amazing comebacks in golf history as Europe won hole after hole and took the score to 14-13 with the last hole still to play. Then of course, Tiger Woods, who has had quite a terrible year, missed his putt on the 18th hole and the point was halved giving Europe the extra satisfaction of not just retaining the Cup on a draw, but winning it outright.

Zambia 2012 wins it for Zambia 1993

If one has to list down all major tragedies in the history of sport – that of the Zambian team from the early 1990s would be up there with both the Munich disasters. In 1993, Zambia, one of the better teams in Africa, at a time when African football had not reached the heights it has today, lost 18 players (almost their entire team) in an air crash just outside Libreville on their way to a World Cup qualifier there. Their captain, Kalusha Bwalya survived as he was on a different flight. A team was hastily assembled – from scratch – for Bwalya to lead in the remaining qualifiers as well as the African Cup of Nations. Despite the massive tragedy, Zambia reached the finals of the Cup of Nations in 1994, they even took the lead, but then Nigeria were just too good on the day. This was the backdrop as Zambia went back to Gabon in 2012 to take part in the African Cup of Nations. Zambia played some great football to reach the final against arguably the best team in Africa – Cote d’Ivoire. The Ivorians with their superstar line up including Didier Drogba and the Toures were overwhelming favourites to win in Libreville. But the Zambians had other plans. The match finished 0-0 and went into the most dramatic event in all of sport – a penalty shootout. Both teams scored their first 7 penalties. Then to add to the drama, both missed their 8th penalties. Then Gervinho (who plays for Arsenal) stepped up and missed. And finally, the moment of glory, 23 year old Stoppila Sunzu scored! Zambia won their first African Cup of Nations beating the favourites. It was a perfect moment and poetry of the fact that just a small distance away was the exact the venue of that fateful crash that would set back Zambian football significantly just makes it all the more perfect. The side fittingly dedicated their victory to those who died in 1993.

Federer’s Wimbledon No. 7


Roger Federer is special. At least for me, he is one of the greatest sportspersons of this or any era. What makes him special for me is that in a time when tennis was starting to move towards a brutish game where more power and more stamina meant more victories – Roger Federer showed us that there was a place for elegance and beauty in the sport. And this started 10 years ago, at Wimbledon, against the Scud. Since that day, I have been a Federer fan and despite his performance or age or the effects of both, I wanted him to match the feats of the greatest from the previous era. Everyone knew Federer was probably not at his best when his supremacy at Wimbledon was looking suspect. And in the last few years as he goes past 30 years of age, I am sure he is thinking of retiring in the short term. Given that, and given how he had lost in the previous two Wimbledon editions really did not matter – for every Wimbledon I expect Fed to win, much like every time Sachin walks in to bat, I expect a century. And this time, he did not disappoint. Not only did he show his former class, he also beat the best player in the world at the moment to get to the final. And what a performance in the final against Murray. Absolutely sublime. The Federer of old – turning the clock back 5-6 years. A very special performance and a very special record that came with it.

Bolt’s double triple


Most sprinters are arrogant. But sprinters tend to be arrogant in the way that pisses me off. Like Justin Gatlin or Maurice Greene. Too much attitude. But Usain Bolt does not show attitude nor is he arrogant. He is simply telling the truth. When he says he is fastest man alive, he means it very earnestly. I also like the fact that his arrogance is less aggressive and more on the playful side. Like most Indians, I too stayed up till ungodly hours of the night to watch Usain Bolt in the finals of his three races. The ‘will he-won’t he’ was getting exciting, especially with Yohan Blake’s amazing performance in the Jamaican trials. Then came the actual races – the 100m, the 200m and the 4x100m relay – and the actual victories. It took a while to sink in – that in a sport where athletes are lauded for even making it to take part in multiple Olympics – this guy just won 3 golds in three of the most competitive races in the world – in back to back Olympics. To me, it just shows his dominance that a few of us were actually feeling a wee bit disappointed that only one world record was set. What an athlete – what a moment.

South Africa beats Australia in Australia

I, like most Indians, have had my share of watching the Indian team getting walloped in Australia. And I mean absolutely hammered. The only time India did not lose a series in Australia – we considered it a great success, a moment to be celebrated – and I found this quite sickening. And I, like most Indians, have known only an era of Australian dominance in the sport of cricket. A few anomalies here and there, but Australia are an amazing side and unbelievably consistent. At this point I should also say that I have a bit of a soft corner for the South African team. I like a lot of South African players and the fact that the team lost out on so many years of possible greatness always stings. so needless to say I get particular satisfaction when South Africa beat Australia. And in 2012, South Africa beat Australia in Australia. First a run fest where the South Africans held their own. Then the amazing century by Faf du Plesis to save the 2nd test. So much for the chokers tag!
Then the clincher. Great job by the South African bowlers to restrict Australia in the 1st innings and the superb 196 by Amla to set Australia a ridiculous target. Then a routine job by the South Africans to take out the Australians and win the match by 309 runs. Not just a victory, but a resounding thumping in just 4 days. A great way to end a great series and all in all a memorable moment for South Africa.

Kimi on the radio

kimi tshirt.png
Unlike the other top moments on this list, this one is not one of great glory or a great underdog story or any deep historical story finding an appropriate end in 2012. It was simple, humourous and simply put, fucking awesome. I was sad when Ferrari kicked out Kimi Raikonen – and I was especially sad they did it to bring in Alonso. So sad, that I stopped watching F1. Then Kimi – the Ice Man – came back. This time with Lotus. Team radio conversations are always fun to listen to – it gives you some idea of the kind of things a team thinks about and the kind of information that drivers need to know. All said and done at the end of the day, it is all about the driver. And Kimi drove home that point at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, when he asked his crew to stop bothering him with the now legendary “Leave me Alone, I know what I am doing”, did his thing and went on to win the race. Nothing particularly dramatic about it – just so different, so cool – that this moment had to be on this list.

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Shiv Sainiks vs Bombay

Let me just begin by saying I was never a fan of Bal Thackeray. I do not agree with his ideology or methods. I call the city ‘Bombay’. Always have and always will. I did not mourn Bal Thackeray. Anyway, this blogpost is not about the man or his actions or his role in the Bombay riots of 1992-93. There are several others who have written with more authority and erudition than I ever could on that subject. This blogpost is about  his followers. 

I was at Apollo Bunder with a few friends on Saturday evening when we heard the news that Bal Thackeray was no more. We were extremely lucky to get a cab to get back home (to Andheri) – and well, more than a little unlucky to get a cab-driver who insisted on talking a very long route through Mohd. Ali road and Byculla, through to Mahalakhsmi and onto the Western express highway via Tulsi Pipe road. In short we went through almost the entire length of Bombay and everywhere we saw the same thing. We saw Shiv Sainiks forcefully shutting shop for the bhel sellers and balloon sellers and the Victoria riders. We saw Shiv Sainiks forcefully shutting down Leopolds and slowly the entire Colaba Causeway.  We saw Shiv Sainiks clearing things out all along our route. Hundreds of people with bags (presumably to catch flights or trains) were stranded and there was no transport. We saw cab drivers fearfully refuse all these people. They did not want to go anywhere close to Matoshri. There was panic everywhere – people all around were answering phones and telling their families that they were on their way home. Certainly the most tense I’ve seen  this city in my short time here. 

Once we got home a good two hours later, all the shops were closed. Even the medical stores. We happened to get lucky a second time in the day when our grocer agreed to open his store for 5 minutes to give us a few packs of Top ramen for dinner. He told us that nothing would be open for the next couple of days. Everyone has been threatened to have their shops forcefully closed, vandalised or both by Shiv Sainiks. Even today, the same situation. Everything was closed. One restaurant opened its kitchen but behind closed doors telling us that they would shut shop as soon as they saw anyone from the Shiv Sena approaching. 

The point of sharing these experiences is – that no one should think even for a second that this bandh was out of “respect for Bal Thackeray”. Get this very straight that this bandh was purely out of fear and that this bandh was enforced, not called for.

Shiv Sainiks on social media have been going on about how “they have the right to grieve” , how “Bal Thackeray was a family member to us” etc etc. There were 20 lakh people at Bal Thackeray’s funeral today. Does the Shiv Sena not realise that there are another 150 lakh people in the city whose lives were shut down today?  150 lakh people, a majority of the people in this city,  who could not care less? 150 lakh people whose lives were put on hold because of an immature reaction to the natural death of an 86 year old? That these people may have had something important to take care of ? 150 lakh people a majority of whom are  poor – the roadside bhel sellers, the ballon guy or the grocer- who lost a days worth of business? Is “some guy we don’t know died” a good enough reason to give your kids for not bringing home food for the night? 

Bal Thackeray may have been a lot of things to a lot of people while he was alive – but in death, he has been nothing but a nuisance to almost everyone. But I’ll say this, unlike all the heinous acts and words he is responsible for in his political career – this was not his fault. 



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Fanboys , Haters #sameguys

I support Manchester United and I want them to win every match, but that certainly does not mean that I will defend Chicarito’s offside goal against Chelsea. Having watched a my share (and several other people’s share) of football , I have seen closer offside decisions called correctly and much more blatant offsides not getting caught. Just as it is ridiculous for me to defend United for a goal that should not have been given, it is ridiculous for people to say that United buy referees or that the mistake was intended in any way. If I defend United in this situation – it would make me a fanboy, but if someone says United buys refs that would make them a hater – and I fail to see how they are any different.

Both groups’ lines of argument are entirely based on whether they unconditionally love United, or unconditionally hate United and has nothing whatsoever to do with the sport of football – for if you have actually seen a ton of football matches, you too would have seen what I have seen – examples galore of worse mistakes and amazing moments of refereeing in the similar circumstances.

For me, if you are putting your heroes or the clubs you support above the love of the game, you are not a true sports fan. And of course, the converse is also true – mindless hatred of individuals or clubs is just as bad – somehow people don’t seem to get this.

Somehow people feel that folks mindlessly praising an individual or a club is a sign of , well, chutiyagiri, but the same people think mindlessly hating on an individual or a club is sign of intelligence. WTF!


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An Olympic rant

The most irritating thing about the Olympics is the reaction from so-called sports experts after the games. The same shit repeats itself after every edition. Some smartass takes out a list of medals per capita on which India always finishes last and people go on and on about how India this is shameful and how even arbit Central Asian countries beat us at the Olympics.

Seriously, if we really expect all our athletes to come back with medals – we are incredibly stupid. Most sports in the Olympics are not easily acessible in India – they are either esoteric and difficult to train for (dressage, eventing, fencing) or need expensive equipment or facilities (track cycling, rowing, sailing) which we simply do not have. So expecting India to win 30 medals is ridiculous.

We need to realize that we do not compete in most sports and off the stuff we do take part in, we are genuine medal contenders in at least half the places.

Lets not harp on about how the Deepika Kumari or Abhinav Bindra could not bring their A-games to London and accuse them of ‘not having the right mentality to win’- they are competing against some of the best in the world at the biggest stage in world sport – give them a break. Lets focus on what a huge success these games have been for India – an individual badminton medal in these days of Chinese domination is insane to say the least, at least 4 of our boxers were real contenders till they were done in by bad refereeing decisions, our wrestlers got us two medals, so did out shooters.

And lets not forget the excellent performances of Krishna Poonia, Vikas Gowda and Tinta Luka – think about it – they finished in the top 10 in the world at what they do. Being one of the best 10 in the world at anything is an amazing feat and needs to be appreciated. It takes a lot of courage and a bit of insanity to go into a career like boxing or wrestling or discuss throwing – if you win you get a  reward from your state government, if you come fourth you are called a failure by the media and go back to your life exactly as it was before you represented the country and finished fourth in the world – contrast that with the recognition and money cricketers get for being among the 100 best in India (not even the subcontinent!)

India will do decently well in the Olympics and with money and enthusiasm coming in slowly we will probably improve in Rio, but lets not worry about how well Kazakhstan or Grenada is doing and change what we can to do better next time. That is what the Olympics are all about.

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RIP The Old Firm (1888-2012)

Rangers FC, the most successful football club in the world with 54 league titles, does not exist anymore.

Some have described it as the fall of a giant, but to me it is far more than the fall of a massive club. In general I don’t like to see great institutions of football go down, and well, practically cease to exist. I was depressed when West Ham went down,  hurt when Newcastle fell, and absolutely devastated when Juventus were relegated – but somehow I never worried for any of them, I always knew they would come back. One reason for this is that they still had the money and in some of those cases, big names decided to stick on with the club. The fall of Rangers FC worries me, for they do not have players (and are not allowed to sign new ones), do not have money and for all practical purposes have been disolved and will start afresh as a new club.

Needless to say this is very very bad for Rangers – but what should really worry football fans all over is that this is going the hurt Scottish football. The Scottish teams recently voted the Rangers out of the league by an overwhelming 10-1 majority. A very bad decision, if you ask me. The Scottish league is often called ‘boring’ because the same two teams keep winning over and over – the last time a team outside the Old Firm won was close to 30 years ago when Alex Fergusson led Aberdeen to the title in 1984 – but surely, it will be far far more boring to see one team win over and over. They might as well just give Celtic the title for the next 10 years – why bother even running the league? Lets face it, no team has come close to breaking the Old Firm dominance in Scottish football and no club will in the coming years. So with the league even more boring, how do the Scottish teams expect to raise money – a large chunk of which comes from broadcasting rights? And what about the massive amounts of money generated in ticket sales thanks to the large travelling contingent of the Rangers faithful?

The Scottish teams clearly have not thought through this decision and sometimes I wonder if the vote out was really about ‘fair play’ or simply about less competition in the league.

Agreed that Rangers, had players on salaries more than they could afford – but surely not allowing them to sign players and putting a cap on salary expense would have been enough – throwing out of the league? Ridiculous.

Football has always been arguably the strongest binding factor for people in that part of the world – and the supporters will rally and stand by their club. Rangers are too big to simply die – they will survive. One way or another. Can the same be said about the Scottish league?

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The BCQC March Open Quiz

The BC Open returns after quite a break (when was our last quiz? November?) this Saturday.

The Quiz master is Kunal S who has been a legend at BC for at least 5 years now. Really, he was even compared to Mike Hussey for his unbelievable consistency.

So come off to expect the unexpected and finally figure out what the hell ‘sub-altern quizzing’ is all about.

All the details for the open quiz are here

PS: Don’t forget your fanatical devotion to the Pope. You can give the nice red uniforms a miss.


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Vasantotsav 2012

Last weekend, I attended my first classical concert in Pune in close to 3 years. Having attended a couple of concerts in Bombay, this was a welcome change. The venue was packed, and the atmosphere was awesome.

One major issue I have had with Vasantotsav in the past is Nana Patekar compering – which is always crass and totally lacking in class. The compere this time was not exactly brilliant, but was better than Nana Patekar on any day.

I missed the first day on account of not being in town. A little sad about that as I was really looking forward to seeing the Shahid Pervez and Rashid Khan jugalbandi.

The second day, had Swapan Chaudhary on tabla and a fusion concert with a number of musicians.

Swapan Chaudhary played for about one and a half hours with  one sarangi player (can’t recall his name right now). He demonstrated a few typical phrases from the Lucknow school and a few phrases as played by past greats like Ustad Moinuddin Khan and Ustad Abid Hussain Khan. He seemed a little out of touch and missed the starting beat a couple of times, but overall the performance was quite good.

The highlight of the day for me was the fusion concert. It had Rahul Deshpande on vocals, Shashank Subramanian on flute, George Brooks on saxophone, Vijay Ghate on tabla, a percussionist whose name I can’t remember (he has apparently arranged music for a number of people) and Rahul Solapurkar narrating. The theme was creating a relation between the concept of the 7 chakras, the 7 colours of the rainbow  and the 7 notes in music. Rahul Solapurkar narrated in chaste marathi, something that always impresses people in Pune. There were separate compositions on each chakra. I found most of the speech a little boring but that is only because I don’t buy into this chakra stuff. The music was awesome. The jugalbandi between Brooks and Subramanyam was out of this world. Brook’s own composition was amazing as well. I really like how he blends his jazz with Hindustani classical and just goes to show how close the two genres really are.

The third and final day, I had time only to attend the first act – another fusion concert.

This one had Niladri Kumar on sitar/electric sitar, Gino Banks on the drums, Sheldon D’souza on the bass guitar, Vijay Ghate on tabla, Agnelo Fernandes on keyboard with Deepak Pandit on the violin and Sheetal Kolwalkar and troupe also performing. The show started with an amazing sound check. Gino Banks involved the crowd and honestly this was mostly a rock concert. Hardly felt like a classical or a fusion concert. Niladri Kumar was ripping it on the electric sitar, Shedlon D’Souza was playing his 6 string bass slap-pops and all, Vijay Ghate, well, he was always a rock star. The only part of the performance that I did  not like was the part with the kathak dancers. I am not the biggest fan of involving dancers in a music show as invariably one or the other has to take the short end of the stick. Moreover the use of the synth and the recorded bols really put me off. The concert returned to its awesome self after this bit and several jugalbandis and solos later, they ended with a lovely rendition of Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram.

Due to travel commitments I had to leave the venue and could not see Pandit Rajan and Sajan Mishra, but I have already seen them once at Sawai, so no real problem there.

This is the beggining of a slew of great concerts – if all goes well, I will have seen Opeth, Remember Shakti and Buddy Guy in the next 3 weeks. So hopefully I will be able to blog a lot more about music as well.

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