My private performer

He sat in a small alcove at Torre Norde of the Placa Espanya. With his geared cycle behind him, a small mic and amplifier fitted into his soundhole and his guitar cover lying open in front of him, all he did was sit on his tiny stool and play.

He didnt get much of a notice, except people passing by would always slow down to listen to a snatch of what he was playing or to empty their change/coin purse of 5 and 10 euro cents.

Funny though, he really didnt look like he needed the money. He had a long aquiline face, with an appropriately placed french beard, clean cut looks, black sweater with a warm black scarf around his neck, a great pair of glasses and shoes. No, he really didnt look like he needed the money.

I sat on the steps in front of him, tired of carrying around the tiny bit of groceries I bought in a hurry. Walking all the way around town with them in your backpack, has got to be the most surefire way of getting a killing neck/nape/back ache. I was more than happy to set them down and sit for a moment’s rest.

I wasnt expecting an outstanding performance, but I got one. One song, and then another – each one bested the one before. He noticed me, I clapped after each – grinning madly from ear to ear. I tried to take a video – covertly – without thrusting a lens into his face. I sort of  succeeded, capturing the legs of all the other tourists walking by, in the process.

I stopped the recording after a bit of one song, to stop worrying about whether my memory card was filling up, and then, he began.

The one song, I probably was waiting for since I got to spain. It filled the small cupola and alcove with notes that were oh-so-strong and yet had a sense of gentle longing about them. The sounds bounced back and forth between the red brick walls and the curves of the columns  – just like they bounced inside my inner ear and my cranium. I dont know what they hit on their way, but they were resplendent. I kept trying to correlate his fingers on the fretboard with what I was hearing. I gave up after exactly 30 seconds of doing this. I was not there to study and understand, heck, I do that all the time! I closed my eyes, held my bag closer to me and just listened. The closest approximation of what it sounded like is the song on this page called ‘Dont you care’ by Los del Norte. A deeper, stronger, more sad version of this.

I left a small note in english (sadly) and 5 euros in his cover. I knew he didnt need the money at all, but I felt his performance earned it.

Walking back from my flamenco evening, with colours and the staccato of heels on wooden floors in my head, I bumped into the very same guitarist with his set of rambunctious and extremely genial friends. We unsuccessfully tried to talk in broken english and fast spanish. It only ended up in perplexed looks, wide grins, lots of hand movements. Alise from Panama, stepped in after a particularly long spanish sentence and translated the whole thing in perfect english! I was most pleased and relieved. I was a local celebrity among his friends – the girl who stayed to listen to him play and left a note! He was most pleased and invitations to join for a drink came from all directions! There was no way of saying no and heck, I had nothing better to do anyway!

“La Carboneria located in the twisty alleyways in front of the Cathedral offers free Flamenco shows nightly at 11PM” is all what wikitravel has to say about the place we went to; which is quite a pity. It is one of the most quaint, interesting, awesome places to hang around in Sevilla. Carboneria, used to be the place where coal was hoarded and sold. The signs remain, small sooty corners in walls, covered up with plaster, paintings and posters. Beneath a small chimney sat a small piano where a small, non-descript man was clearly enjoying himself. Further inside was a small picnic area, filled with benches and people with tinto de verano, sangria or their poison of choice. A small elevated table stood towards the centre of the room with 3 chairs, which hosted a small, intimate but forceful flamenco performance.

The evening passed discussing poetry, philosophy, neurons, music, rhythms and in the same vein –  tissue slicing, microtomes, paraffin embedding, brain slices, staining and Ramon Y Cajal. My kind of crowd, totally.

I walked back to my hostel a happier, slightly giddy, grinning backpacker.


The end of summer is depressing.

The days get shorter, leaves get less green, water gets colder….


Sometimes, it just feels like someone is pulling the rug from underneath your feet..

Not with a fast whip, but so imperceptibly slowly, that you dont feel it at all.


I cant seem to stand fools gladly these days. Ofcourse, “fools”, judged to be so by my own standards and “stand” = can’t wait to run out on them.

Is this what is called being snooty? high-handed? maybe difficult?

Or solitary, a loner, a recluse.. a misanthrope…


My earworm – the haunting ‘Inertia Creeps’ by Massive Attack.

Should I be worried?

Mixed Bag

I usually refrain from voicing my opinion on sensitive issues on religion and politics and such – not because I have inflammatory comments on them, but mostly because there isnt one particular answer to any question in either of these fields. Some would say that they love either or both of the aforementioned topics, primarily for that point – the fact that one can endlessly argue and never reach a satisfactory end.

I am something of an agnostic, almost atheistic, the times I am away from home. Though, conversely, I wasnt so.. atleast not when I was growing up. But then again, I cant say that I was deeply religious, either. The rituals, initially intrigued me and I sought out answers to a lot of my questions. Later, they just got on my nerves. The reasons and answers I had previously thought were correct, were fading away in the fire of adolescence. Everything was to be questioned, doubted, criticised, looked down upon. I suppose, that is also a phase.

Coming back from a relative’s place, from a pooja, ironically, we got stuck in the Parel area, where Lalabag-cha Raja resides currently. For the uninitiated, he is the biggest and grandest Ganesha of Bombay and everybody – and I mean – EVERYBODY in Bombay goes to see him, atleast once before he hits the sea-floor. Traffic jams, I have discovered, are wonderful places for free reigns of thought; and so I let mine run wild.

Getting back home and inserting myself once again, into the circuit of rituals and religion, this time around, hasnt been as repulsive as it usually is. I dont know whether its because of the fact that I have seen too much or whether I really dont care anymore. Finally, it struck me – it could just probably be the fact that I find solace in these rituals, that I have seen and grown up with, all my paltry life. The smell of camphor and Jasmine, incense smoke filling the room,  the rhythmic intonation of chants, the tiny, yellow flames of the diyas, the tang of tulsi, vibhuti and teertha on my tongue, the forced and awkward times when me and my brother have been made to sing, the aromas from the kitchen, eating on banana leaves, the knack of ‘eating’ liquids like rasam and kheer from a slippery leaf, the satiated snores of my relatives as they lie deep in their siestas.

All these people and all their faith, prayers, hopes, wishes – they unload it all on one unknown, unseen, unfelt entity. How much of what they ask for comes true… how much of that is co-incidence… and how many’s faith is strengthened and how many’s beliefs assured?

A matter of the tummy

There is a friend of mine, who lives to eat. Truly, I have never seen anyone *live* to *eat* with such gusto. Just like Saif in Dil Chahta hai.. the tagline for his blog (if he ever starts one) should be – Main acche khaane ke liye kahin bhi jaa sakta hoon!

He travels to delhi and back on a sunday.. that too from Manesar, which is 50 kms away from delhi – just to eat ‘good’ food which = Street food at Chandini Chowk and old delhi area (a definite yum!) to obscure cross cultural restraunts – e.g. a Russian place that serves only pancakes and where you get to see only burly oversized white russians, glowering when any brown skin enters.

I will vociferously cast my vote against the apology for food that they serve here in our mess (or in any mess, for that matter). I even attend all the mess meetings regularly! But I could never get myself to understand the dynamics of travelling so far for good food. Ofcourse, there is a speicial satisfaction just to lounge on the restraunt chair with pride and joy after you’ve finished a full plate of your favourite dish. But 100 kms too and fro.. within a single day, just for one sole purpose of happy-ing your tummy, was a little too much for me to take… until today.

We went out to Priya, and all my non-vegetarian friends’ heart were overflowing with joy everytime a certain ‘Sheng Villa’ was mentioned in conversation. One gets the best pork, chicken and shrimp there, along with a good pitcher of beer to add to the ambience – all this without burning too big a hole in your pocket. And that, to be noted, is very important when you are a student – a grad student.

Sheng Villa, sadly had shifted. Shifted to another godforsaken part of Vasant Kunj. Yet, we made our way to that place.. me almost being able to see the visions of fried ribs in sauce in my friends’ eyes. We arrived and everyone got down to the business of ordering in the partially air conditioned humidity. And ye gods of the electricity cast their curses on us! We were left in the sweltering heat – me with a glass of sickly sweet lime water and everyone else fuming and panting after eating the blazingly spicy starters. Our meal ended as it starter-ed and off we went back to our beloved gurgaon malls.

Now, I might not be a great foodie, but I know enough to vouch for the fact that a good (but expensive) meal at Ruby Tuesday’s is way better than any Sheng-villa type joint. A pitcher of beer, a pizza and one assorted salad – all of this topped with a Chocolate tall cake in a humungously sized wine glass thingie. This cake floated in a mini pool of caramel, whipped cream, chocolate sauce and Vanilla ice cream. My eyes widened to saucer-size as I saw the waiter come towards us. For a second, I thought he was at the wrong table!

The feeling of such good bonhomie and happiness that spread through my being from my tummy, was remarkable. I had transformed for normal-me to a super-happy-extremely satisfied with life-me… which is quite difficult to feel at this point of time for me.

And now, ending the post where I started it; my dear friend-who-travels-long-to-fill-tummy-good, I completely agree with you… and the next time you undertake one of your gastronomic adventures – count me in!