Monday, May 17, 2010


Here's to a song that has not changed my life. A song that has not opened my eyes. A song that has not been an inspiration.

But a song that speaks to me because it is so much part of me.

I was probably in school when I heard it for the first time. This was much after its original recording. The singer's vocal adeptness and the passion in his voice captivated me (as it still does). I had no idea what he was singing about. I did not know French at the time. The song to me then was a getting-over-a-crush song, a moving-on-in-life song, an empowering yet understated musical experience in its compactness.
By coincidence, I saw a video by a Danish cross-cultural band named Outlandish (I love this band, more on that later). The same song, similar feeling. Isam Bachiri (I love this gentleman) sang in my language but that was not what hit me. Outlandish seemed to absorb the very same thing I did from the song.
First year of college. Naive and eccentric, I auditioned for my department's rock band. I didn't listen to the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. I listened to Algerian-French rai and other things no one had heard of or cared about. I was eighteen years old and yet to understand the relationship I share with music (a scale of upliftment, therapy and catharsis) but I knew honesty to myself even then. So I sang this song. I got in.

'Ragging' in the 'Fresher's Party'. My punishment was not all that humiliating. I was called to sing in front of 200-odd unfamiliar faces, unfriendly acquaintances, semi-friendly freshers, teachers and rowdy seniors. Same song. The noisy crowd grew silent and began to clap in time to the beat. People and later close friends would call me by the name of the song.

The song didn't change my life. It didn't bring my great tidings. I didn't enjoy the experience with the band, despite the fact that at the concert we sang a song with words I wrote. I didn't win a multi-million dollar singing deal with Barclay Records. I didn't go on some cross-cultural, multi-linguistic talent show and win fame and glory. But it brought me friends. It brought me a warm, fuzzy feeling. Of feeling that I could do something I loved and do it right. If only for once. If only forever.

The song is within me. It represents my...not love, love's too weak a word. My respectful adoration for music and one of the few times music rewarded me back. Music allowed me to sing this song, perfectly or imperfectly, but with all my heart and soul. As my best friend K says about me, "She sings the song as if she created it". But I sing it more as if it were created for me. And this, without knowing what a word of it meant. Now, with a deeper knowledge of French and a fresher, wisened but no less romantic perspective of life, my relationship with the song is renewed and yet remains ever alive, ever sweet. And my heart smiles ever the same way. When I hear those chords. When I hear the first two words. When I hear Khaled's voice soar.

Comme si j'n'existais pas/As if I don't exist
Elle est passee a côte de moi/She was passing by me
Sans un regard, Reine de Sabbat/With no regard, the Queen of Sheeba
J'ai dit, Aïcha, prends, tout est pour toi/I said, Aicha, take this, all of it is for you

Voici, les perles, les bijoux/Here, the pearls, the jewels,
Aussi, l'or autour de ton cou/Also the gold around your neck
Les fruits, bien murs au gout de miel/The fruits, well ripe with the taste of honey
Ma vie, Aïcha si tu m'aimes/And my life, Aïcha if you love me!

J'irai a ton souffle nous mene/I will go where your breath leads me,
Dans les pays d'ivoire et d'ebene/In the countries of ivory and ebony
J'effacerai tes larmes, tes peines/I will erase your tears, your sorrows
Rien n'est trop beau pour une si belle/Nothing is too beautifull for a girl so beautiful

Oooh ! Aïcha, Aïcha, ecoute-moi/Aïcha, Aïcha listen to me
Aïcha, Aïcha, t'en vas pas/Aïsha, Aïsha don't go
Aïcha, Aïcha, regarde-moi/Aïcha, Aïcha, look at me
Aïcha, Aïcha, reponds-moi/Aïcha, Aïcha, answer me

Je dirai les mots des poemes/I would say the words, the poems
Je jouerai les musiques du ciel/I would play the music of the sky
Je prendrai les rayons du soleil/I would take the rays of the sun
Pour eclairer tes yeux de reine/to light up your dreamy eyes

Oooh ! Aïcha, Aïcha, ecoute-moi/Aïcha, Aïcha, listen to me
Aïcha, Aïcha, t'en vas pas/Aïcha, Aïcha, don't go
Elle a dit, garde tes tresors/She said, "Keep your treasures.
Moi, je vaux mieux que tout ca/Me, I'm worth more than that.
Des barreaux forts, des barreaux meme en or/Bars are still bars even if made of gold.
Je veux les memes droits que toi/I want the same rights as you
Et du respect pour chaque jour/and respect for each day,
Moi je ne veux que de l'amour/Me, I want only love."

Nbrik Aïcha ou nmout allik/I want you, Aïcha and I love you to death
'Hhadi kisat hayaty oua habbi/You are master of my life and my love
Inti omri oua inti hayati/You are my years and my life
Tmanit niich maake ghir inti/I hope to live with you, only you

[Lyrics and Translation Courtesy:]

A pain I'm not so used to

Wisdom striking hard yet again. From the back corner of my mouth, it teaches me nothing. I become irritable, monosyllabic in speech and nihilistic.
Crocin-less, I wander in a state of indecision. Should I call it a day and go home, where a Crocin and a bed are waiting but where later yet another round of errands and engagements await? Or should I plod on at work, a mere intern but committed to ideals of responsibility and expected work hours (My boss is too nice and I feel ashamed to be so unhealthy) ?
Monday is not so blue and that is partly the cause of this limbo-ish behaviour. It's been a good day so far, my restless feet dancing but more or less planted on the ground beneath my desk. It's a good run and I don't want to jinx it.
Wait till 5, my mind tells me. You're such a hypochondriac.
Hey! That is so unfair. I have, in the past two weeks, had a sore throat and a series of back aches, the latter being a product of bad ergonomics (the doctor said so) and not imagination (as my father sometimes thinks so). My mind is fine. The discomfort is in my back and now my tooth. The pain is authentic. And irritating.
So go home, or stay and fight?

Sunday, May 16, 2010


Bursting at the seams! Gimme more, more, more! Life and within it, love, beauty, truth, freedom, colour, laughter, sunshine, rain, song, dance, word, sound, rhythm, stillness, exclamation marks! Let me dance on my imaginary stage, let me jive to the beat in my car, alone, in a sea of unknown vehicles and unknown passersby. Let me be. Let me not choose, let me have it all. Let me sing at the top of my lungs, let me smile at strangers, let me share in their family stories, let me adore them, let them adore me, let us play with children, let us give a ear to those older. Let me cry for you, let me save the world from my deskchair. Let me love my favourite song du jour and let yourself love it with me. Let me be all that I can be, let there be space in this jostling madness for all the me. Let me wander, let me be lost. Let me not worry about what's going to happen to me; let it happen anyway. Let me be young for as long as I like. Let me fall in love with you, then me, then you, then myself all over again. Let me stare at the mirror in wonder. Let me run, please! Let me free, free, free. Let me embrace this maddening and infuriating world in all its candy-coloured, sweltering and freezing, multi-sensory glory, let me grin with dazzling brightness, let me rival the sun. Let me explode before I implode.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


Waiting for Raavan. Getting lost in the genius of A. R. Rahman. He does it again. Seeps under your skin. Maybe there're more catchy tunes, more structured compositions but there is no musician who so consistently infuses his work with his soul and reaches out to your soul. Firstly, I need no more reasons to want to see Raavan: the Ramayan has always been my favourite epic, Raavan an intriguing character, Mani Ratnam possibly the greatest filmmaker of India and Abhishek Bachchan, one of the best actors making this character uniquely his own with passion and madness. As far as I can see. I am waiting with bated breath.

'Behene De', a song that has been on repeat for me for the past one week. It's painful to listen to, being a song of longing and agony but ever so addictive and ever so beautiful, layered and delicate, sung by Karthik (yay he's from the same school I went to). A love (?) song exactly the way I love it-intense and dramatic and somehow subtle in the passionate lyrics by Gulzar. 'Thok de Kili', reminiscent of my type of songs-'Barra Barra' and other angry electric guitar/percussion based numbers and of course, featuring one of my favourite singers-Sukhwinder Singh. Its poetry is pulsating. 'Kata Kata' has been compared to 'Rukmini' but where 'Rukmini' was teasing and cheeky to an extent, 'Kata Kata' is earthy and intriguing. I can almost see the dust rising from the drums being beat. 'Khili Re' is pretty, soft and feminine. Reminds one of 'In Lamhon Ke Daaman Mein'. I still have not listened to it fully and absorbedly. Simple love songs do not interest me. Particularly, when I have five other songs to digest yet! And 'Beera Beera', of course, a jolly ride of a song. Best thing to listen to in the morning on the way to wherever you are struggling to go in this blasting heat.

I am torn between wanting to watch the visuals (Mani Ratnam's poetry as always) and not because I am imagining (or not) the music a wholly different way. But, Abhishek Bachchan is stunningly scary and I am curious, curious, curious to see Vikram, Govinda (was that really Govinda) and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan essay the roles of these characters, these legends I have grown up imagining. The best part about the Ramayan is its fallible characters; they're Gods and they're human, so human with regrets, doubts, mistakes and imperfections. And I'm waiting to see but for now, content to listen.