Friday, December 14, 2012

CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME

Friends & well-wishers, this blog has always been about what is going on in my mind & life. Some of them have been deep & meaningful; others, superficial & shallow. This short post, however, is about a strong belief & I would request you to patiently go through it.

I am running the Mumbai Marathon 2012 in the capacity of a Dream Maker, supporting the cause of the Care for Elders via Concern India Foundation. The elders don't need our pity but they do deserve our selfless support in making the twilight of their lives a joyous one. It is imperative that we be there for them when they need us the most. For our elders have, for far too long, given us their all so that we could thrive, even at the cost of their own lives & desires. It is only fitting that we help them in every way we can. While taking care of them in a personal capacity & treating them well is the best thing you can do as a human being, reaching out to help those you can't aid directly is the next best step.


Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon 2013

To this end, I have pledged to raise necessary funds for Concern India Foundation who will ensure its judicious distribution & make the elders they reach out to, self-sufficient & as fiercely independent as they were in their youth. These funds will make resources & medical facilities more easily accessible to those in need, and God knows there are many of them out there.

Please support me by contributing to this noble venture. You can click on the following link to donate:

http://www.unitedwaymumbai.org/1597-meiyang-chang.htm 

For something you believe in, no contribution is too small. I've already made mine, monetarily & otherwise. I now urge you, my well-wishers & friends to open your hearts & make someone's life better.

Monday, September 10, 2012

DREAM DESTINY

You've heard this one before. I've read it at different places at different times & texts, but when I put the two together, it makes more sense than it does individually.

"To make it big, you must dream big. And to turn your dreams into reality, you must wake up & go for it"

Remember when as children, someone would ask us what we wanted to be when we grew up? We'd give answers like "astronaut, scientist, movie star" & the people wouldn't take it seriously, terming them as ridiculous. Why were these fantasies deemed so? Why were they dismissed as the ramblings of one who did not know what they were talking about? Who is to say that if a child wants to become the biggest media mongul in the world, they can't? I feel that as we grow up, we begin to limit ourselves to focusing so much on a single-minded life that we forget that we are more than just a 9-to-5 job, that we are beings of infinite possibilities. In school & college, most of us handled academics, extra-curricular activities, sports & then some more with equal panache. Then what is stopping us now from going beyond it? The burden of age? Extra responsibilities? Lack of time? Really, is that the best excuse you can come up with?

I stepped outside my comfort zone of art & music and began exploring public speaking, debates & theatre whilst in school. Then after college, I moved from a possibly lucrative & secure profession like Dentistry to an uncertain, volatile but creatively fulfilling one that I breathe in today. Within this, I moved from what I knew I was good at (singing) to something I took a risk with (public speaking & acting) and then something I was petrified of (dancing)! There is so much to do yet, and I'm no star. There are people who've done much better & bigger and they are beacons of inspiration for us. They show us that if you will it, it will happen.

All of this might sound pretty fantastic and it is! It's not easy at all, but its not impossible either. And when has anything easy ever been fun? Remember, the joy lies more in the challenge than in the prize. When I speak to you through my words, I'm also having a conversation with myself to birth inspiration. Tough as it may seem to do so much, it would be grave injustice to waste a single moment or opportunity in our lives, whatever the outcome or degree of success might be. We have one life, and we must live it to the fullest. Our interpretation of that could be limited, and it widens every single day we're truly "alive". Learn, read, write, observe, travel, experiment, take risks, be unreasonable, DARE! Soak all life has to offer. Be a sponge, not a duck's back.

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable man persists in trying to make the world adapt to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man." George Bernard Shaw

I remember dreaming big as a kid. As a child, it wasn't about riches or success; those are dreams we get programmed to have once we start growing up & start believing that survival, wealth & power are all there is to in this world (which, by the way isn't true). My initial dreams were colorful like most Hindi films; no story to speak of but with lush, open, gigantic spaces/structures which you could drink eyefuls of. I interpret that as the freedom of my mind, unfettered, uncluttered and willing to explore. That has been responsible for my exploring new avenues in spite of being settled in what I am.

I want to be a man who never stopped dreaming, for in our subconscious lies our bare desires, unmasked by norms & notions. We all have the capacity to outdo ourselves & exceed our wildest expectations. We just don't know how powerful we are, or how fantastic our mind is which can overcome every damned hurdle. Self-doubt is the dark cloud that obscures our ability to deliver & the best of people suffer from this. These are vulnerable moments which suck at you like parasites, making you believe in everything but your own worth. Mind you, it's not a disability; rather it only proves you're human. Nevertheless, the fear of failure is debilitating & can stop us from taking those chances that could change our lives, mostly for good. This monster must be overcome & slain, for it is not undefeatable.

I could quote more wise men from over the centuries but since I'm a huge Batman & Christopher Nolan fan, I'll quote from Batman Begins, the first of the Dark Knight trilogy:

"Why do we fall Bruce? So that we learn to pick ourselves up"

In each of us lies the strength to overcome all odds, against all odds.
Tell me now, what kind of a person do YOU want to be?

Dream, my friend. Dream the big dream. And when you wake up, work hard & smart to make that dream a reality. I will continue dreaming big, and so should you.

A slight modification to one of my favorite quotes: "Reach for the skies. For even if you miss, you'll still be among the stars, far above the barren land of buried ambitions."

खुदी को कर बुलन्द इतना
कि हर तक़दीर से पहले
खुदा बन्दे से खुद पूछे
बता, तेरी रज़ा क्या है

Friday, September 07, 2012

THE GIRL IN WHITE

Artwork by Samatha Zaza : www.cldfx.com
Let me narrate a recurring memory in my life. There was a senior of mine in Wynberg Allen (a boarding school in Mussoorie where I finished my Plus 2), who I deemed the most beautiful girl in the whole wide world. Now there could be many reasons for that. I'd been in a boys' school for 8 years and hadn't seen too many pretty girls. Heck, I'd hardly seen any girls till then. Nevertheless, there was something special about her. Perhaps, it was her confidence in the knowledge that she was  desired by pretty much all the boys at school. Perhaps it was her natural athleticism, or that she could look so beautiful in spite of no make up & with the compulsory, nerdy double-plait. Every time I'd lay my eyes on her, I'd blush. The warm, comforting sunshine of Mussoorie had nothing to do with it. Rather, it seemed to dim every time she'd walk by, as if paying homage to a form more radiant than itself!

I was a painfully shy boy in school, and she seemed to enjoy that. She'd deliberately engage me in conversations to see  how I'd respond and burst into peals of giggles at my timid reactions. And then one day, fate brought us together in an English play, "The Mousetrap" by Agatha Christie. It had a fantastic premise, a brilliant cast (of which she was one) and a good director in our English professor. I, by virtue of being a meek newbie, was thrust the responsibility of being the prompter (a position no one desired) and I accepted with some degree of glee. It not only allowed me to bunk sports hour to watch a play come to life, with the fleshing out of it's characters but also to see her in the flesh every single day. 


I never, for once, had the stomach to tell her how besotted I was, but I guess some things are so obvious that they need not a word. Oh, to silently sit in the wings like a mute, secret admirer and catch a glimpse of her occasionally smiling at me. Yes, it was a massive, MASSIVE crush, and something close had never happened before, never after.  When she passed out of school, my first thought was (I kid you not): "How am I going to get through one whole year without seeing her every single morning?" At that tender, innocent age, a term like "this too shall pass" did not exist for me. Heck, for that one crush, it hasn't till today! Since that overwhelmingly cheesy encounter 13 years ago, I have overcome my awkwardness around women & met extremely smart, talented & gorgeous ladies. But something about that time, the circumstances & her face refuses to let up.

What is my one indelible memory of her? Accidentally bumping into her in a dark alley on the eve of the annual Hindi play. I was running late (as usual) and was hurtling full speed down the path to the auditorium when I almost knocked her over; she in resplendent white, like an angel sent from the purest heavens, just for me. She held her breath; she wasn't allowed to be outside & obviously feared being caught. I, on the other hand, was awestruck; arrested by her downcast eyes and the strands of hair blowing over her face. Even though it was dark, I could see her pale skin glow ever so bright.  And I wondered, where is the goddamned background music when you really need it? We stood there for what seemed like an eternity, locked our breathless gazes for the briefest of moments and walked our ways. And to think that this could happen only in a film! Those surreal moments stay locked in my memory to this day...

I wonder where she is today. All attempts to trace her have lead to nought in this seemingly small world. Then again, perhaps I'm not meant to find her. Because some memories are best left unperturbed, fresh as they were in the morning dew in the hills of Mussoorie...

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

OF FEARS AND DREAMS


Tim Burton's Infinite Dream by Delirium77.deviantart.com

I've believed for the longest time possible that my greatest fear is that of drowning, for that's how close I've come to death not once, but twice (aged 6 and 21)! But then, a recurring dream has made me reconsider. And since there's no one around who'd analyze it (definitely not looking for Freudian analyses), I have come to the conclusion that it stems from a fear of being unprepared

This fear is not so uncommon. It invades the private realms of everyone's dreams; at least once in our lifetime. Me? I've lost count. And every time, it plays out a hauntingly familiar pattern. 

I'm back in school/college, walking around nonchalantly in a buzzing crowd of excited students. There is a palpable tension in the air & I can't fathom what the fuss is all about. I enquire about it & the answer makes my blood freeze. There's an examination I knew nothing about, or one whose preparation I have repeatedly postponed, in five minutes. I panic! I want to scream but alas, it's a soundless dream. 
          A dream.   

         Just a dream. 

          Wake up! 


WAKE UP!!!

One would think that being suckered many a times would alert you that it is indeed a dream the next time you have it. But fear is stronger than reason, which is why it trumps common sense again and again and again. And teaches you something about yourself. There are no prizes for guessing what must be done to conquer that fear. A dream is a technicolored manifestation of our innermost thoughts. Whether that lesson is imbibed or not, remains to be seen in thoughts & actions thereforth. 

Heed your dreams; they sure aren't mere unconscious entertainment!

I'd sure hate to have this one again though...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

ALIVE AGAIN!

I know at the end of my last post, I'd promised my next one would be in a lighter vein. I guess that was not to be. What one writes also reflects their inner state of mind & mine has been pretty muddled. Lately, I haven't been myself. I'm not the quintessential happy-go-lucky guy but I do believe I know how to take most things with a pinch of salt (Those that I don't, pinch the people around me in a nasty manner beyond description). However, I'd been in a dark space of mind for the last month and could not find joy in anything & in anyone's company. Perhaps what best described my predicament were these lines from Shakespeare's Hamlet,  where the protagonist confesses that "I have, of late, but wherefore I know not- lost all my mirth" or lyricist Amitabh Bhattacharya's questioning words in a song for  Dev D: "Kahaan Chali Gayi Hai Saali Khushi" (where has the bloody happiness gone?). I even went as far as to wonder if I was suffering from a mild form of Anhedonia!!! Silly me!

A dear friend, Maryna Langenhoven from South Africa, had this advice for me when she sensed that mere consolatory words would not suffice:

"It always helps to get distance, so objectivity can step in. Keep the objectivity, and clarity will step in."

Well said Maryna. In your words, even though I could not put my finger on the reason for my listlessness, I did realise that I needed to go away from my current surroundings, to travel again; to have time to myself, to ask myself some questions & to count my blessings.
*****
Giraffe spotting at the Nairobi National Park
Nairobi is where I always find my laughter; where I unearth my happiness, where I rediscover my inner peace. I also lovingly call it my sasuraal (in-laws home), as there was a time when I would be here twice in a year. So it was but natural that after a gig in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania (where the highlight was a melliflous, poetic evening by bhajan specialist Anup Jalota), I could think of nothing but visiting my friends in Nairobi. A phone call & flight schedule change later, I was with good friend Shelina, whose hospitality is well-known in Kenya and around the world, her gorgeous national-level swimmer daughter Talisa, passionate musician Alisha & the rest of the lovely extended family. I've been to Nairobi before & have done the safari routine (though a visit to Masaimara is yet on the cards), so this trip was purely for sit-down, meaningful conversations & to reflect on life. The weather was alternately pleasantly warm & cloudy and the first day/night went by in a joyful blur, with a relaxed few hours at home and then a 21st Birthday party which went on into the early hours & had everyone from teenagers to the elders having a good time. I danced till my feet ached & my mind was full only of happy thoughts.
From Left to Right: Alisha, Shelina, Talisa and their adorable dogs Whisper & Diesel 
On a glum rainy afternoon the next day, news of two boys dying in a car accident was broken to the family. It turned out that they were the same energetic, full of life blokes from last night's party who were heavily intoxicated when they departed this world. A heaviness descended on the conversation as the ever-obvious but seldom realized fact dawned upon us: life is unpredictable & can be mercilessly cut short, if that's what's written in our destiny. A sombre afternoon was to be in store for us. It definitely wasn't the most ideal thing to happen in view of what mood I was in.

But later that night, once the pall of gloom had lifted, a fantastic lunch had been had & a terrible, terrible Bollywood comedy half-watched, a barrage of emotional thoughts flooded an impassioned conversation I & Alisha were having about music & life in general. Even as we listened to a neat live band Calabash at the Black Diamond (where the lead guitarist played a compelling solo with his teeth!!!!), we animatedly discussed the futility of putting off life till later. The events of earlier that day had permeated into our thoughts. Why wait for tomorrow, or five, even ten years in the future when today, right now is all that we might have? Shouldn't we open our hearts to every moment we're alive in and face both joy & adversity with a zeal, a smile & a realization that life is short but beautiful, that we must learn something from every experience, good or bad? In the haze of music & good alcohol, we promised we'd live our lives to the fullest!
The Calabash Band. That's the lead guitarist playing with his teeth! Alisha as guest vocalist
As we laughed, marveled at the guitarist, grooved along with the enthusiastic Calabash (who've been playing together for over 15 years but still performs witha lot of love & laughter) I even got approached by a woman of questionable intentions!!! With mirth & mischief in my soul, I slept well that night, one of the few times in the recent past.

The following day brought about a quick visit to the National Park. One of the spots brought back long-lost memories of a picnic I'd had there with my erstwhile disbanded music group F4. Was that really four years ago? And had we actually thought our fellowship would last forever? There was foolish optimism & relentness passion in our dreams back then. While the passion is still raging strong four years later, standing at that summit I wondered where the years had gone by.
The angel who walked into my heart while it had wandered away in old memories. Nairobi National Park
Some curio shopping later (which involved a lot of bargaining!!!!), I was already on my way back to the airport. Oh, that sinking feeling when you must go back when you clearly don't want to... I must say, from personal experience, that it is worse than any heartbreak ;) The goodbyes weren't tearful but a person's hug can tell you a lot about how much they are going to miss you. They were heartily received, and lovingly given in return. True enough, I would miss them all...
Maya and I at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport
As I waited to board my flight back to Mumbai, I noticed a most heartwarmingly adorable & gorgeous 6 year old prancing around. Her name was Maya & she is easily one of the most energetic, happy, camera-friendly children I've ever come across. She confidently yet innocently chatted with most waiting passengers, took her mark & raced against herself! She'd be back soon, panting & refusing to acknowledge that she was tired. Rather, she'd remark that all that running made her feel alive! Uncannily enough, I was listening to "You're beautiful" by Nikhil D'souza. Looking at Maya, I couldn't help but think that this song could easily have been about this beautiful child, whose real beauty was her innocence! As usual, the thinker in me couldn't stop ruminating: what happens to the child in us when we grow up? Where does that spotless innocence go? It would of course be foolish to behave like a child when one's past a certain age but we can still retain our childlike goodness, can't we? Or are we duty-bound to become crafty, cunning & deceitful to survive in a world overrun by the the wicked?

Nairobi does that to me. It makes me think, a lot!

Of course, the city is not all rose-tinted. It's not the safest of places, especially for the rich; their houses are spectacularly fortified. So while you marvel at how spacious & tasteful their interiors are, you can't not see the barbwires, the high tension cables, the numerous security guards, barricades, CCTVs, iron safety doors & motion-detecting sensors. But that's all compensated for by a generally genial air, all year round good weather, a laidback attitude, the greenery and good people. This is where I've always had time to sit back, think positively and take back happy memories. With so much love, joy & beauty around me, I realised that whatever had troubling me was way too insignificant and unworthy of my attention in the grand scheme of things.

As I trudged on towards the aircraft, I saw something that brightens every compulsive traveller's day: this signboard, which depicts a hope of coming back again, a chance to meet old friends & an opportunity to make new ones, never saying goodbye...

Nairobi, you never fail to liven my spirits. Thank you my friends for giving me a place in your house & hearts. With you, I find my serenity again...

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

SING OUT LOUD FOR A HEALTHY DEBATE!

Wouldn't you agree if I told you that the bathroom is the best place to sing a song? What with the intimate comfort of the space, the unmatchable acoustics & the chill/warmth of the shower/bucket bath as you polish your set of pipes: this is where I first thought I could sing!!! (And, I'm sure, so have many of you). Ask me to sing off-hand & I might hesistate. Put me on stage or stand outside my bathroom door & you'll hear a different me. This was the place where I did most of my riyaaz before going for the Indian Idol auditions! This is the spot where in hotels around the world, I find my solace before going on stage or in the recording studio.


However, a bathroom can be highly misleading, having you believe that you're better than you actually are! It's quite akin to two hypothetical scenarios in our daily lives:


One: you're a Frog in the well. You're the master of your domain & no one is mightier than thou, because you have no one to compete with & no one to tell you whether you're right or wrong, good or bad. 


Two: you're surrounded by people who 
  • love you (and will praise you no matter what. After all, you're the apple of their eye)
  • loathe you (their praise is spiteful & meant to hinder your progress)
  • have something to gain from you (will praise even your goofball errors)
  • are in a compulsive habit of lying or showering excessive praise. 


Like a bathroom, all the above scenarios give you absolute comfort & a sense of invincibility. But step out of the bathroom, put yourself out there in front of strangers, in difficult situations and you'll know your true worth. Figuratively speaking, throw yourself into the ocean and then learn how to swim. Yes, it is imperative that you be prepared for what you undertake; it'd be foolhardy not to be. But more often than not, you have to take that risk, that initiative which will set you apart from the crowd. It is also important to periodically conduct a self-check, know where you stand and not get swayed by the strong current of applause. Remember, a 1000000000000 folks will tell you you're good. Only a select few will genuinely point out your flaws so that you can work on them. And one of them should be you!

Listen to all, absorb the worthy and apply the absolutes.


And while you're at it, please do continue singing in the bathroom. Who knows what miracles it might seed 

Picture courtesy: www.pinkkiddo.tumblr.com


*****


There is a reason why it's called a "healthy" debate. When two or more people indulge in dialogue, better ideas emerge amidst a lot of necessary & unnecessary chaos. What we learn by rote in school & college, what we read in the papers and hear on television is all nice & dandy but futile unless we stop accepting everything that's offered to us on a platter and start asking questions out of sheer curiosity. This thought was also sparked by an article dated January 30th 2012 in DNA by Patralekha Chatterjee, and I quote,


"How many schools in (India) encourage their students to look at a subject from multiple perspectives or train them in writing an argumentative essay? It is clear that most schools have little time for this approach. Rarely do young people get an opportunity to examine a subject from multiple, often conflicting points of view before making up their minds."


How true! Build your own questions & also lend an ear to what others have to say. If one has the gift of filtering through the clutter, they inadvertently find humor & viable solutions to the most desperate of situations. Which is why I like reading the responses of readers to articles on various websites. The common citizen has a lot of questions & not surprisingly, many solutions as well. It's always easier to sound someone off & proffer unsolicited advice but one can't deny that some of these solutions are actually very prudent. An article about the deferment of the Ayodhya verdict last year carried reports of how a faction of the nation was weary of the unending conflict and proposed a hospital be built on the disputed site which would be called Ram Janmabhoomi Babri Masjid hospital! Controversial, debatable, but nevertheless an amicable thought. (Of course, India is a democracy & such a decision needs be a democratic one as well, weighing  the pros and cons and not, as someone pointed out on the forum, a "rich-o-cratic" one). The point being, would such a suggestion have come without the willingness to have a dialogue? NO, is the answer. Ideas like these might or might not be the panacea we seek, but they are the realisation that there are viable opinions beyond our own. And believe me that when I write these lines to you, I also write them to me, because this is a life lesson we'd do well to imbibe


Phew! Chang Baba seems to have gone into a philosophical overdrive today. I promise the next blog post will be in a lighter vein. Till then, adios & God bless.















Tuesday, January 24, 2012

RUMINATION, INTROSPECTION, INSPIRATION


Self-captured, Nalanda
Old age is a crippling situation. I do not mean to imply that it need be pitied. Far from it! I know of many fiercely independent & strong-willed oldies (my grandmother included) who'd put youngsters to shame with their grit & zest for life and would hate to live life as a liability or an extended limb. However, the deterioration of bodily functions that afflicts one in old age is something they cannot fight and that's where they need our love & concern rather than our pity. But what brought about this rumination, you might ask? It was perhaps a series of events involving strangers & loved ones that occurred in the recent past.


Just the other day, an old gentleman collapsed on the street as I was buying breakfast. The generous people of Mumbai came to his aid (as they always do when someone's in need of it, God bless them). High blood pressure, someone said. Low blood sugar, said another. Someone used onion-therapy to bring him to his senses & another rushed to fetch his relatives from the neighbouring street. Yet another person arranged for him to be taken to a Doctor & offered his vehicle for the same. While I couldn't help but marvel at their magnanimity & presence of mind, a vortex of sadness engulfed me to see the helplessness of this old gentleman, shuddering at the thought of what would've happened if this had occurred elsewhere, where help was not so forthcoming.


On the same train of thought, a hospital visit genuinely humbles you. I've studied & worked in a Dental hospital for 6 years and even though it is quite an experience, it does not prepare you for a medical ward, neither as a Doctor nor as a patient. It shows you how massive a responsibility the Doctors carry on their shoulders, how strong a medicine hope is but also how some things are beyond our control. There is absolutely nothing a human being can do against the onset of old age & disease. Which is why I was in a distracted state of mind when I recently took my mother & grandmother to a town-side hospital for a medical check-up. Mercifully, there was nothing to worry about. But just to have to go there is daunting indeed. To see your loved ones who've lived life king-size and on their terms suddenly frail & unsure of how long their bodies can withstand the rigors of daily life is heart-wrenching.


I'm sure you feel the same sometimes. You worry for the aged around you. Which is why I appeal to you to lend a hand. Take care of your elders. The smallest of gestures make them happy beyond anything you can imagine. No matter how melodramatic it sounds, do this good deed! You'll only realise it's value when someone returns the favor in your old age...


*****

My Grandmother with the youngest member of the clan: my cousin Shih-mei
I guess the ruminations above were also initiated by something that happened just the other day. As I shot this series of pictures of my adorable naani & her grand-daughter (and my youngest cousin), I realised what a gift of happiness this moment was for her. With all her children in different cities and me not being to able to spend much time with her either until lately, it is but obvious that she must feel extremely bored & lonely at times. So when we had some relatives visit on us on the occasion of the Chinese New Year, she, like a magician, produced some letters dating back to 1991 written by me to her. Full of crooked letters & innocent banter, they were yellowed but preserved otherwise by her in mint condition, as if posted only yesterday. And then she took out what seemed like folded chits of paper no bigger than conventional post-it notes. There were childlike illustrations of comic book super-heroes, only one on each carefully folded piece of paper. And when she told me the story behind these seemingly innocuous caricatures, I had a tough time holding my tears back. 

Apparently, as a child I could sense that my grandmother must get very lonely when the other family-members weren't around. So on one of those vacations in Mumbai, I decided to do something that would help her pass time & brighten her day. I sketched anywhere between 50-80 caricatures on pieces of paper, folded them with an instruction of "open from here" on each and told her that these were to be opened whenever she'd get bored, one for each time when she'd feel the need for company....

Did I really do that for her? I was pleasantly surprised at my childhood capacity for compassion, and deeply embarrassed by the Me who stood there, reading those letters and knowing that I would perhaps never again go out of my way or out of the box to show my love to those near to me. Oh, where have those innocent days gone, when we would give our unconditional love to our elders without expecting anything in return? Where are those days when "I'm very busy right now" would not be used as an excuse? When did work, ambition, money, peers, time-tables, schedules & deadlines become roadblocks in the path of love? And why?

We may be God-fearing people and good people too, but none of us really survive the corruption that engulfs our lives. In this slowly spreading malaise, the biggest casualty is our only defense against moral ambiguity: our innocence. The world is still a beautiful place because of the innocence of children & a handful of good people, and I only hope that it can remain so for the longest time before we forget what it truly means...


*****


Image sourced from the Internet
How inspirational can a basic conversation with certain individuals be? Very, I'd say. The someone in question here is an extremely versatile Indian vocalist who's super-successful & has endless flattering adjectives trailing her illustrious name. And yet, she remains at heart, a child: sharp, smart, ambitious but innocent. You could call us friends, I guess. We have worked & hung out together. But in an industry where everyone is everybody's friend, the lines usually blur and it is tough to separate friends from acquaintances, cling-ons & the yes-men. From a fan's point of view, I have nothing but immense respect & admiration for her. I often wonder how she maintains her humility & composure in the face of gargantuan success & adulation. Which is why, a very basic conversation about life & work in general with her turns out to be anything but banal. It becomes a gift of experiences, anecdotes & lessons, one to be absorbed & applied in life.
Picture by Ritika Mittal, Bodh Gaya




They say you can gauge a person by the way they speak. From the few times I've conversed with her, I'd like to think she's blessed; not only with a voice so strong yet soulful that it sets the tone for any emotion (you already knew that!), but also with good values, earthiness & a love for family and all things simple. Many a talented people lose their way owing to a failure to understand that success is transient and that good karma is the only appropriate beacon in life, hence highlighting the importance of people like her even more. So without sounding too syrupy-sweet in an industry that sustains itself on mutual admiration, I'll end here, wishing there were more like her around. It'd be good to maintain the balance in this make-believe city of Mumbai and a pleasure for the people who have the good fortune of knowing her.