Patterns in the Ivy

Over the past few years ever since I started listening to all forms of rock music I have come across innumerable bands in this universe of drugs, booze and rock n’ roll. But there are a few bands that continue to enthrall and surprise you with the kind of music they play. Majority of the bands have a set style of playing and the variation in the songs disappears over a certain period. But one band that has continued to keep you wanting more is Opeth.

I came to know about this band from Rohan who used to put the lyrics in his status messages on messenger. Out of curiosity I checked out the music by the band and was surprised with the variety they played. I mean most of the bands who play Death and Dark Metal are usually typecasted with the same form of music. But Opeth, can give you those growling vocals and at the sametime give you sheer poetry. How many bands have you heard who do that? I have heard Testament do one song Return to Serenity, but thats about it.

If my memory serves me right then the first Opeth album came out in 1995 and its been more than 10 years now since they’ve been around. But the music still doesent satiate your curiosity. Take the lyrics of Face of Melinda (Album: Still Life):

By the turnstile beckons a damsel fair
The face of Melinda neath blackened hair
No joy would flicker in her eyes
Brooding sadness came to a rise

Words would falter to atone
Failure had passed the stepping stone
She had sworn her vows to another
This is when no-one will bother

And conceded pain in crumbling mirth
A harlot of God upon the earth
Found where she sacrificed her ways
That hollow love in her face

Still I plotted to have her back
The contentment that would fill the crack
My soul released a fluttering sigh
This day fell, the darkness nigh

I took her by the hand to say
All faith forever has been washed away
I returned for you in great dismay
Come with me, far away to stay

Endlessly gazing in nocturnal prime
She spoke of her vices and broke the rhyme
But baffled herself with the final line
My promise is made but my heart is thine

Who writes such lyrics? For all I know most of the new Death Metal (or Black Metal as they call it) bands do not anything apart from hatred and blood and demons in them. Now people will argue that if you want poetry then do not listen to Death Metal. But music as genre was never about the lyrics. Genres are decided on the basis of the music that goes with it. Death Metal is just a fad that rockers have. All of them. There was a time when I wouldn’t take anything but Deicide and Cannibal Corpse. But those really seem like such a waste now.

To all those who havent heard Opeth yet, all I would say is go get a CD! Here are some strong recommendations:

  • Still Day Beneath The Sun
  • Patterns in the Ivy – 2
  • Face of Melinda
  • Benighted
  • Harvest
  • Death Whispered A Lullaby
  • To Bid You Farewell

Technorati Tags: Opeth Metal Rock Death Metal

Whats The Craze All About?

“I think every Indian at some point of time must have desired to go abroad and specifically to the US. Not many think about the fact that mountains look radiant from far away. The dust gets into your eyes only when you venture close to it. People might have conflicting opinions on this issue and once again I might be kicking up a major storm here. But something that happened recently caught my eye and hence the attention. Here goes:

The scientist community is up in arms against the denial of US entry visa to senior scientist Goverdhan Mehta. Mehta was formerly associated with the Indian Institute of Science.
Top scientists have expressed their grouse at the “”impolite”” questions they are asked while applying for a US visa. None other than C N R Rao, principal scientific advisor to the Prime Minister, has said he may stop visiting that country.
Rao said on Friday, “”It’s regrettable that the US cannot distinguish between a scientist and a student. We are not beggars. We are a developing economy. When they expect royal treatment in India, why don’t they reciprocate?””
Rao, who faced a similar experience three years back, said, “”They ask impolite questions. I’m not saying they shouldn’t. But they ought to be polite.””
The sentiments are no different with other top scientists who feel the insult to Indian scientists is happening all too often.
Former IISc director G Padmanabhan said, “”I have stopped going abroad. It’s insulting the way they treat Indians.”” Space scientist U R Rao feels the government must take up the issue with the US. Padmanabhan says this is due to US obsession with security. (Source: TOI)

And at this time I wonder, why do we still continue to grovel? People tell me that “”going abroad broadens your perspective and gives you a new outlook””. Sure it does. But should it be at the expense your own self-respect? There is a thin line between self-respect and ego. But this is an open and shut case of losing your self respect and going. I respect the views of the scientist above. And the same are mine. Although I have never been through any such experience, I have a heard a lot of cases. People might rebuke me by saying that I havent had any first hand experience. Are all these cases made up then? I wonder.

Its high time we have some sort of pride for our country. Sure, it might be full of shit when it comes to politics. Sure it might be the Michael Schumacher of corruption. But no country is pure from its inception. You have to make it that way. If you run away with your tail tucked between your legs, who would work, to make the country the way it should be? All patriotism? Nah, I say all practicality.

Bite Me.

Technorati Tags: India Visa US

Its Another Sunday

As another lazy sunday began, I woke up to the sound of the newspaper sliding below my door. The newspaper delivery guy also comes in quite late on sundays, I guess everyone needs to unwind and the newspaper guy, deservedly so.

I was in a pensive mood as the day began and felt the need to do something different. So for a change I sat and read the newspaper at length. I came across an amazing article by Manu Joseph. It is so very well written. The beauty of the article lies in its simplicity and when you can portray something as simple as a conversation with a man in a such a subtle manner, its really amazing. The article can be read here.

As I was browsing through various blogs I came across a friends blog which talked about a Tagore poem. This instantly reminded me of a small verse, again by Tagore, that someone sent me long time back. It is so beautifully written. Or maybe I found it so because those were beautiful times. But anyways here goes:

He whom I enclose with my name is weeping in this dungeon.
I am ever busy building this wall all around,
and as this wall goes up into the sky day by day
I lose sight of my true being in its dark shadow.
I take pride in this great wall, and I plaster it
with dust and sand lest a least hole should be left
in this name, and for all the care I take
I lose sight of my true being.

I guess I’ll finish reading one of my Roald Dahl books to end the Sunday on a literary note.

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds

“2005 was by far one of the best and one of the worst years of my life. So when 2006 started, there was one resolve. To tie up the loose ends of my life once again and make it a year that I’ll probably never forget. The new year party was a complete booze out. In a way I was trying to wash away all that shouldnt have happened. I dont know what extent I was successful, but it felt good.

As you cut years through your academic career, things like college festivals seem more and more mundane. The kind of feeling you get is that of been there and done that. So it was time for SpringFest 2006 and I had vowed to make it rock. For myself that is. I knew it would be completely different from what I had dreamed a few months back. But what the heck, if wishes were horses, stupid people like me would ride them.

Anyways, so I got a terrific high during SpringFest. The first evening I was high on half a bottle of whiskey and the following two days I was doped out most of the time. The last day was what I was looking forward to. It was the day of the rock band competition and the day Skinney Alley was to play.

A friend of mine rolled 5 joints. A shot of Old Monk to warm ourselves up and we were all packed to go. We were three joints down as the bands came and performed.

By the time Skinny Alley hit the stage we were having the last joint. This time shared by two chinkys who had come from Shillong or some place like that.

As I lay there, high on dope and low on life, the band decided to play “”Shine on you crazy diamond”” by Pink Floyd. The dope did its work and I felt like I was floating down this tunnel and all I could hear was the music. All I could think of was my life’s two faced diamond. One face fading away into oblivion and me wanting to salvage that face at any cost, but all it did was mock me. The other face beckoned me to have a look at it. And I wondered, on which of these faces should the light shine. Then came a rush of water down the tunnel as my throat pulled back my parched tongue. I began to come into my own once again and I saw the band belting out the song’s remains.

I just thought that I should roll another joint.

I aint seen the sun shine in 3 damn days
been fuelin up on cocaine and whiskey
wish I had a good girl to miss me
but I wonder if I’ll ever change my ways
I put your picture away
sat down and cried today


“The year gone by was one of the best and the worst in my life. Going to sign off for this year now and will return only when I pick up the pieces and find the ones missing. So long my friends, have a great year ahead and hope you all had a good year that went by.

I feel unhappy
I feel so sad
I lost the best friend
That I ever had

She was my woman
I loved her so
But it’s too late now
I’ve let her go

I’m going through changes
I’m going through changes

We shared the eve’s
We shared each day
In love together
We found a way

But soon the world
Had its evil way
My heart was blinded
Love went astray

I’m going through changes
I’m going through changes

It took so long
To realize
That I can still hear
Her last goodbyes

Now all my days
Are filled with tears
Wish I could go back
And change these years

I’m going through changes
I’m going through changes

Changes (Black Sabbath)


“The grass of this world has hit me high on the head. Flying in a blue dream.

Wow, I’m sick of doubt
Live in the light of certain
Cruel bindings.
The servants have the power
Dog-men and their mean women
Pulling poor blankets over
Our sailors

I’m sick of dour faces
Staring at me from the tv
Tower, I want roses in
My garden bower; dig?
Royal babies, rubies
Must now replace aborted
Strangers in the mud
These mutants, blood-meal
For the plant that’s plowed.

They are waiting to take us into
The severed garden
Do you know how pale and wanton thrillful
Comes death on a strange hour
Unannounced, unplanned for
Like a scaring over-friendly guest you’ve
Brought to bed
Death makes angels of us all
And gives us wings
Where we had shoulders
Smooth as raven’s

No more money, no more fancy dress
This other kingdom seems by far the best
Until it’s other jaw reveals incest
And loose obedience to a vegetable law.

I will not go
Prefer a feast of friends
To the giant family.

“”A feast of Friends”” — The Doors

Domain Change

The .net top-level domain was originally designed for the companies which provide Internet and related services. Especially for ISPs like VSNL, BSNL, etc.

So now the question stands as to why I changed the domain to from The answer is simple. There was this angel investor who decided, after having a look at the kind of things I had put online, that the word Drumster had become some sort of a brand name in cyber-space. He decided to leverage on the same and wanted to involve me completely in it.

So he has made plans to start an ISP with the name Drumster. This ISP will have an informal touch with the rest of the world by having my blog as the home page and having no commercialization. I am to be the majority stake-holder of the ISP Drumster.

Hence the first step of the process was to switch the domain to .net from .com and we decided to do it right away without any more delays. So there you go. The reason behind the domain change.

If you believed all of the above then you would never believe that my old domain registrar decided to disappear into thin air with my dot-com domain and I had no choice but to buy a new dot-net domain name.

Thats the story as you see..

“She was too much of my woman to be mine forever.

You just have to know when it is over. Its the hardest thing in the world. Moving on is difficult.

Was trying to figure out the feeling all afternoon. Its amazing how you can manage to feel lonely when you are sitting in the middle of 10 people. I felt like a part of me had been cut off. I could just picture myself alone in every walk of life. Just when things were beginning to take shape a blinding flash of destiny filled it all up with smoke.

“”She laid alone
during her best days
as a work of art
reading naked on the bed

spent some of her best days
cleaning carpet from her hair
spent her worst days
owing you the pleasure
of taking blame…

spent her whole life
disbelieving in her worst fears.
A work of art..
A work of art.””

— Pearl Jam (On the liner of Vitalogy)

I never did blame her for all that happened. Still don’t. All I can do is blame myself and the times. Its just amazing how all the cliches sound true when they come crashing down on you.

Those days I spent,
not so far away,
under those moon-lit lanes,
no care for any day.

The dreams that shone,
in her twinkling eyes,
created far away,
a place called home.

The smile on her face,
the scent of her hair,
the beautiful shade,
on her skin.

A silent sob escapes my heart,
each time I remember her.
Sometimes I think, was it a sigh,
or was it her last exit.

I never liked evenings alone. This evening managed to depress me once again. The mornings depress me because I know that I dreamed of her, yet again. I had to make a decision after two days of being on my knees and crying into nothingness. No one is worth crying so much for. No one. But I guess she still is. Always will be. The perfect girl.

This is the time when all I can remember is the dialogue from Sin City:

These are the old days, the bad days, the all-or-nothing days. They’re back! There’s no choice left.

I wish life was like Marv from Sin City, with Goldie on your side and no second worries in the world. Except… of being killed.

I don’t know where I’m going
But, I sure know where I’ve been
Hanging on the promises
In songs of yesterday
An’ I’ve made up my mind,
I ain’t wasting no more time
But, here I go again
Here I go again

Tho’ I keep searching for an answer,
I never seem to find what I’m looking for
Oh lord, I pray
You give me strength to carry on,
‘cos I know what it means
To walk along the lonely street of dreams

A Manifesto for Media Revolution

Bloggers Park contest, IRIS, IIM Indore has been used as an incentive to write the following article.

Circa 59 BC. The very first newspaper was distributed by Julius Caesar in Rome. Ever since newspapers have come a long way in the manner in which news are disseminated and in ensuring the accuracy of the information delivered. Back in those days the news were centrally published with the consent of the king or any other form of government that existed.

The concept of journalism was something that evolved as late as AD 713 (source: Wikipedia). The evolution of journalism pushed the whole microcosm of news into a dark abyss of endless debates. Various forms of journalism evolved which were masked with the intention of refinement in the journalistic styles. But the real reason, arguably, was that of limiting the reach of journalism.

Enter the internet era. The year 1997, during which free web-hosting started gaining popularity, marked the beginning of a mad rush to get a personal web site and have a visibility on the only medium that could reach out to millions, the internet. As more and more websites sprang up, a few enterprising individuals started putting up a diary online, which eventually evolved into much more than just a daily log of activities. Opinions and views about others and about the world in general took centre-stage. This was around the year 1999 when Peter Merholz coined the term “”blog””. At this point of time you can define a blog as a short history of nearly everything (with all due respect to Mr. Bill Bryson)

By the time blogs started picking up, eyeballs started screaming out for dynamic content. This marked the evolution of various technologies to buttress the huge wave called blogging. By this time various lingual terms were built around the word blog to mark the evolution of a whole new microcosm called, with much deserved pride, the blogosphere. By this time the bloggers started gaining popularity world-wide and instilled some amount of fear in the hearts of corporates and the cover-ups as they threatened with every new blog entry to bring in the era of free-press.

Circa 2005. As blogging has hit a plateau, it seems like the whole blogosphere has been just passed through a fine sieve and only the fittest have survived. These are the ones to scoff at conventional media and they threaten to bring in a whole new form of journalism by exploiting the Information Age to its fullest. This is the year that has seen the blogosphere being slapped with numerous libel notices and its image being tarnished. But the bloggers have remained united and seen through most of it. The cloud over blogging as an alternative to conventional media has only thickened.

Are blogs an alternative for conventional media? I say damn right they are.

Bloggers have the knack of extracting news from the areas where angels fear to tread. One primary reason for this being that, when the information is being published over the internet, ferreting for information becomes an easier task than when you are publishing a newspaper or airing TV news. The other reason is the fact that blogs bring out opinions and information in the most truthful manner. They have not yet been colored by the conventional media and by the politician’s chutzpah. Censorship in its stark nakedness is absent from the blogosphere. Censorship in here is a matter of mutual understanding and opinions. An article which has not gone well with the other bloggers is sometimes removed and sometimes the author may decide to keep it. This is the flexibility and open-mindedness with which this media works. Can we imagine a similar situation with respect to newspapers or lets say television news? I think not.

Now when we talk about journalism certain questions arise. Journalism has led the modern day conventional media which in fancier terms is called the Main Stream Media (MSM). Now coming back to the questions, let me ask myself a simple question; What makes a journalist? Is it some yuppie university card proclaiming someone as a Journalist? Or is it a simple passion for ferreting information and letting the world know the truth? These are some definitions and questions that have been blurred over the years and replaced by something on which you cannot put your finger on. A blogger in the most abstract form is no different than a journalist, the exception being lack of the yuppie card. Blogging to some extent does replace the MSM, because of its reach and the lack of censorship. But I wouldn’t go ahead and say that blogging should replace the MSM completely. As an alternative, certainly, it is a much more powerful medium if leveraged to the fullest.

Take the case of the Iraq war. Journalists, out on the fringe, traveling with the troops wrote blogs on their experiences and the progress of the war using the satellite connections provided by the military. This is the power of blogs. If it had gone the MSM way, then most of the time would have been spent editing and censoring the piece of news. And it still wouldn’t have reached everyone around the globe. By way of blogging, the article is available at all times on demand and across the world. All you need is an internet connection.

Technologies, that had stagnated over the years after the dotcom bubble had burst, began to raise their hood. With blogging, coders found a new hobby to create applications. Students found a vent for all their creativity and writing skills. Many companies have come up which capitalize on this phenomenon. It offers a gamut of business opportunities for entrepreneurs and the willing. Personal web-space and domain names have become something of a standard accessory for the net-savvy people. Innovations have started pouring in by way of new technologies and ways to blog. Take for example Video Blogging which has just been launched.

Nothing in this world is perfect and that’s why pencils have erasers. Lets have a look at the flip side now which might offer some solace to hundreds of journalists who feel that their jobs are at stake.

On the flip side

Bloggers, who have been around for quite some time, will definitely agree with me when I say that blogging offers no accountability. Irresponsible articles by some bloggers have at times ruffled a lot of feathers and raked quite a storm. Bloggers should understand this and should be willing take on all responsibility of their own articles. A paragon of responsible behaviour was set recently by Gaurav Sabnis, who stood by his words and now the world has sat up in awe and support was pouring from all corners of the world. It was an incident which united the Indian blogosphere in its entirety.

When new blog articles are published, its always difficult to judge the source and authenticity of information that has been used. Hence there is always that fleeting doubt eating the back of your head which does not let you believe in what has been written. This same problem is at times a boon for others. They take it as a challenge to find out more information on the same subject by way of net searches and reading newspapers and generally collating information. Hence this itself acts as a method of checks and balances for the blogosphere.

At times some bloggers indulge in acts similar to what we call yellow journalism. They try to create a sensation by giving out information without verifying it or even worse, deliberately giving wrong info. And then there are others who add fuel to a raging fire by inserting chunks of misleading articles. Quite often some bloggers indulge in unwarranted slander of a public figure or company. In some occasions this might be true but what happens here is that the party who is being slandered does not even realise this fact because of the deluge of blogs. Sometimes they do not realise that when they lie its like a boomerang that will come back to them sooner or later.

To the present day we have a come a long way from the time when the term blog was coined.

To cut a long story short

All this said and done, all I would say is that blogging is a great alternative to conventional media. Everybody has creativity and an author in them. This form of writing is the best way to let it out. For us bloggers all this is a blinding flash of the obvious, but for those who have never blogged, I hope this article serves as a stepping stone and clears all the doubts you ever had. I would say its just an accident of geography that millions of people around this world can now read this article.”

Local – Jaideep Varma

“Six years of my life were spent travelling in the Mumbai locals and not a day went by when I did not discover a new type of a person or see somethings that would change the way I lived. There were times when I could barely get in and then there were others when I preferred to hang from the running train with the cool breeze running right into my face. The breeze carried with it all that was and still is Bombay. Very often I get into an argument with myself about whether I am attached to my home city beyond reasoning, but there are always incidents and people who corroborate my attachment to the city.

So a month back when I was browsing the Indian writing section at a popular book-store Landmark in Chennai, I saw this book with the cover that looked strangely familiar. Strange because it was something I never expected to see in this part of the country and certainly not in a bookstore. I saw a book which had the photograph of a local train gathering speed. I picked up the book and saw that its by an author I had never heard of and rightly so it turned out to be his first book called “”Local””. Instinctively I picked it up and spent the night reading it. The very first thing that you see when you open the book is a map of the train route from Churchgate to Virar. The familiar 59.82 kilometres thats Bombay. I had a huge smile on my face when I saw that map, after which I looked up to see the perplexed faces of those standing nearby.

Local is about a man who goes by the name of Akash Bhasin who is trying to make it big in the city of dreams while working in an ad-agency. While that is his face to the world, he leads an almost double life by morphing into a commuter at night. He lives on the train. The very same Bombay local that has never ceased to enthrall many while displeasing a few. At the same time the world of advertising and its small traits have been described with great subtlety.

The simplicity in the writing style is what is quite notable. Jaideep Varma has done a marvellous job of delineating the whole experience that one gets while travelling on the local. Many might disagree but then opinions are like a kaleidoscope. You see a new design everytime you look at it from a different angle. The story is interspersed with short stories about the characters that Akash meets along the way. Every story is independent of the flow of the actual story. I read this kind of a novel for the first time and loved the writing style.

The book took me back to those marvellous days I spent in Bombay while travelling on the local trains. Each and every station had a speciality of its own. The masala soda at Andheri station while coming back from the drumming lessons, the Tibb’s frankie at Churchgate station while returning home from my junior college, the body wrenching crowds at Dadar station after long hours of study and the long walk back home at Borivli station are some of the things that had become routine but some that I always liked. I still would give anything to return back to those days not just for the experience called the Bombay local but for all those friends who have gone far away.

In the small niggling disorders lie the exciting elements of life. We crib about them and want the authorities to improve them, but wouldn’t life become that much more monotonous? I, for one, certainly think it would. I love the way Bombay is and always would remain of proponent of the city of Bombay as it was a few years back. Never under-developed but not too developed to disengage that down to earth feeling.

Technorati Tags: Jaideep Varma Mumbai Bombay Mumbai Local