Cherrapunjee Indigenous Festival 2010  

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If you been planning a trip to north east and if you also happen to be a die hard rock fan, next week is the time to go! The Cherrapunjee indigenous festival is on from Dec 8th to Dec 11th. You might all be familiar with the name 'Cherrapunjee', which was a constant in our school history books as the place which recieves the highest rainfall in India. The festival's aim is to showcase the traditional art and culture of Meghalaya. The display of traditional archery will be one of the highlights. But, what might be of big interest to all the rock fans out here will be the national level rock competition to be held on the 10th of December, where the winning band will take home a cash price of Rs. 1.5 lakhs.

The icing on the cake is going to be the performances by 9 specially invited bands. The list of bands performing are as follows.

1. Indus Creed- One of India's first 'big' bands 'Indus Creed' is making a comeback. And, one of the first set of concerts is going to be at Cherrapunjee. The rock machine fronted by Uday Benegal is coming together after a real long hiatus of 10 years. So, be there to witness what they've in store for you.

2. Soulmate- The blues duo of Rudy Wallang and Tipriti 'tips' Kharbhangar needs no introduction. I've already talked about them in this blog last month. This is surely an unmissable treat.

3.Abiogenesis- A rock fusion band from Nagaland who invented a genre of their own-'Howey'. Discover for yourselves what exactly that is, cos even I don't have any idea. BTW, They were nominated for grammys in the world music category last time.

4. Susmit Bose- Dubbed as the 'Indian Bob Dylan', he's a veteran who's been performing since the 70s. His songs dealing with human rights, non violence, world peace etc has earned him accolades and also at the same time highlighted important issues.

5. Lama Tashi- The former Principal Chant master of the Dalai Lama will add a dash of spirituality to the proceedings.

6. Gyomyo Nakamura- This Japanese Buddhist is a rock musician who is said to possess some insane guitaring skills.

7. Girish n the Chronicles- This Gangtok based rock band was the first Indian band to compete in Suncane Skale music festuval in Montenegro.

8. Colours-A Shillong based band formed way back in 2004.

9. Snow White

So, Booked your tickets to Cherrapunjee????

your crusader Praveen

The death of Indian media  

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In the one week, most of the people I've come across had never heard about the explosive expose that was the x-tapes, which is now famously known as the 'Barkhagate'. For those who still doesn't known what its all about, this link might help. In short, Open magazine released a set of phone conversations that the well known PR agent Niira Radia had with various well known personalities. These include the face of NDTV Bark(ing)ha Dutt, top journo Vir Sanghvi, Ratan Tata, former telecom minister A.Raja and more. No, its not the usual talk. These people were involved in discussions on deciding the portfolios of the current UPA cabinet. And, most damningly, they played a key role in fetching the corrupt A.Raja a second term. They were also involved in the Ambani brothers fight, gas deals etc with Vir Sanghvi taking about scripted interviews and the like.

To think that our top journos are more than news gatherers is, shocking. They are power brokers of the worst kind who lobbies hard to thrust upon us corrupt leaders. The garb of patriots and concerned social activists that these people don when they talk to us from the studios is all part of the 'fooling the gullible pulic mechanism'. It all looks like a well oiled machinery which been working perfectly over the last few years. A machinery consisting of the big corporate, politicians and the media. The old days of journalists having commitment to the society are over. We all thought 'paid news' was the lowest that Indian media can stoop down to. Even this revelation might be the tip of the iceberg. Another issue is the media's anger at sting operations(a favourite tool of all these channels) when its used against them. Suddenly, they start speaking about issues of intrusion into a person's privacy and such issues. They speak of 'freedom of expression' every other day in the panel discussions. But, we all saw how Barkha Dutt sued a poor blogger and made his life difficult for writing a single blog about her questionable journalistic tactics, which put the life of solidiers into danger at Kargil and Mumbai. Yeah, 'Freedom of expression' is a dish best served at the media studios. Padmashri Barkha(wonder what all and whose all she sucked to get that Padmashri), its time to stop those hoarse discourses in your studios.

Whats more alarming than all this is the SILENCE, the silence of the mainstream media regarding this issue. Even the Hindu, one of India's must trusted newspapers didn't give much coverage to the 'x-tapes'(They did make up after 1 week with a real good editorial on the same). Not to mention all the 24 hour news channels who usually jump at the chance of the cheapest of exposes. What this points to is the fact that beyond all the rivalry between the media groups, all of them are infact together in this game, a dirty game played at the upper echelons where crores are exchanged and the common man's lives are sold to powerful corporations. So, if these guys decide, they can easily control what we should hear and what we shouldn't. The fact that only few people heard about this expose points to this. Most Indians depend on the mainstream media for news and if they decide to blackout a news item, we are sure to be in dark about the same. If not for twitter and facebook, the x-tapes wouldn't have got even the small attention that it has got now. A magazine like Open has only a limited readership, mostly in urban pockets. Same is the case with the above mentioned social networks. So, a big percentage of the public would never know about 'Barkhagate'. They will continue to blindly believe whatever the media says. And if they can blackout such a big scandal, they can also produce false news as a propaganda mechanism against someone they hate. NDTV says its statement on the 'x-tapes' that, "These are unsubstantiated, baseless and defamatory allegations and we reserve the right to take appropriate action". If thats the case, why are they all shying away from discussing the same. Why is not a single reader comment appearing under this particular statement? Even when such inconsequential things like Pamela's silicon boob show in Big boss are given 30 minute special attention on national news channels, an issue as big as this is blacked out. Not to forget, the minute details of Obama's visit which were served to us for about 1 month. And, in the end hailing the whole visit as a success for the country, when all Obama did was sell his shit in India and make some 'hollow speeches' on how India is ready to take on the world. Yes, corporate interests at play there too. I've lost whatever little trust I had left in mainstream Indian media. Here, am bidding goodbye to the manufactured news with a middle fingered salute. Only hope is left in magazines like Tehelka and Open and in newspapers like Hindu.

It badly affects the democracy when one of its four pillars is afflicted with a cancer like this. Its even more so when the other 3 pillars namely legislature, judiciary and executive are at their rotten best. All hopes of the press being a balancing force which questions the wrong decisions of the other three and acts as a champion for the cause of the common man, are dashed. Now, the common man is left to fight all the pillars himself.

pics courtesy-Open,outlook

your crusader Praveen

Baiju leaves motherjane  

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Sad day would be an understatement to describe this day-Novermber 24, 2010. On this day, Baiju, the master guitarist, who is one of the pillars of strength of motherjane, left the band. When Nikhil called me up in the evening with this news, I was hoping that it might be a prank. But then as I headed over to the band's official website and saw the announcement in big bold letters, I was sure that my worst fears had come true. Words can't describe the emptiness that I feel right now, a feeling shared by thousands of die hard Janiacs all over the country.

We've all grown up reading about famous rockstars leaving the big bands. Friedman leaving megadeth, Slash leaving GNR and more recently Frusciante leaving RHCP and Portnoy leaving Dream theater are all fresh in our memory. But, in all this the sadness was distant. I never felt that tinge of pain that makes the sadness personal. Today was different though. motherjane is one band which inspired a generation of rock fans in India. Many young bands cite their name as the sole reason for their existence. From that day many years ago, when I heard 'maya', motherjane's been a part and parcel of my life. There was never a day untouched by their music. There are young die hard fans like Hari who goes to any lengths to watch the band live. More than any of their contemporaries, motherjane managed to touch our lives and connect with us in ways the band would never know. We found a special joy in painting our faces and swaying to the strains of carnatic rock. Those were occasions for us to unleash the spirits within and discover our true selves. Vocalist Suraj Chettan asked us once, "Don't you guys even get bored listening to the same songs in concert after concert?" We just laughed then. The truth is we were left craving for more after each of those concerts.

motherjane is one band who has found success like few other in the Indian scene. But what sets them apart is that the success never went to their heads. Highly approachable, down to earth and lacking all the airs of being such talented musicians, these guys endeared themselves to us fans. And that explains why this band has such a big die hard fan base. Also, their music has a universal appeal with even my rock hating amma saying, "I like this", after listening to 'broken'. Many of the inspiring lyrics like 'walk on' brought in positive energy during tough times. And so, when this news came as a bolt from the blue, when the band are on an all time high, I found it hard to believe. It still hasn't sunk in. Though the band puts up a brave front saying its all on friendly mutual terms, we all know how hard it hurts. Yes, everyone has personal ambitions and we need to respect that. Still, we can just hope that the outpourings from fans will just bring back the man to where he truely belongs, amongst us, as the lead guitarist of motherjane. This is a plea from a true blue Janiac...Please come back Baiju chettaaa!

Its an irony that their own song 'Broken' explains it best, how we all feel right now
We’ve all, We've all been broken
Shattered, left mute with regrets unspoken
We’ve all loved and lost
Been forsaken, repented our deepest trust

We’ve all wondered why
Destiny picked us to cry
Why faith has to be tested,
And life doesn’t turn out the way intended

We’re mended to be broken
Yet human clay believes itself golden
Stunning in its courage to be happy
As wild elations tempered with black melancholy

your crusader Praveen

Lacuna Coil:Live in Bangalore  

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This post comes a bit late than intended...
First things first...One set of clicks of mine from the octoberfest was featured in last month. All thanks to dear buddy Nishal Lama for that. Here's the link to that photofeature of the Karsha Kale-Midival Punditz performance. A real happy moment in my photography career.

Now to the post...
Lacuna coil, the gothic metal band from Italy performed in Bangalore as part of the Great Indian octoberfest 2 weeks back. As expected, front woman Cristina scabbia stole the show with her soaring vocals. And of course her looks. I wonder if this band would've ever existed without this superwoman, who was voted first in that famous list of top 10 metal chicks.

your crusader Praveen

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Soulmate Live @ TGIOF '10  

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Soulmate-Rudy Wallang & Tipriti 'Tips' Kharbangar

The Great Indian October Fest(TGIOF), which happened over the weekend served up some great music, gallons of beer and wholesome entertainment. The only difference from the previous editions was the addition of artists related to bollywood. Though it helped in bringing in more crowds, it stood out as a sore thumb amidst the metal and rock bands on display. So, lets forget about the all pervasive bollywood for now, as I dig deep into one great band I discovered this sunday. Soulmate, the blues band from Shillong, is one which I been dying to listen for long. Having heard one of their tracks on an online radio before, I was left craving for more. And, all of those cravings were satisfied when they came on stage as the penultimate band of the 3 day music fest.

a jolly good mood

Rudy on top

Rudy...bending it up

Tipriti dances to one of Rudy's solos

Soulmate consists of Rudy Wallang and Tipriti 'Tips' Kharbangar doing both the guitar and vocal duties. They are accompanied by various session musicians, who change from tour to tour. For someone like me, who swears by metal and hasn't listened to less of blues, this band served as a great intro into this great genre. With vocals that covered the whole gamut, Tipriti stole the show. Looking like a hippie from the 70s in her flowing outfit and big sunglasses, she was at her best when she was screaming at the mic and roaring the verses. And, then there was the little dance she did in between, in accompaniment to one of Rudy's solos. She was at her adorable best when she went into one of their slow numbers. In one of those moments, I just fell in love with her. Rudy Wallang needs no intro. A veteran of the music scene, Rudy, in a career spanning more than 30 years, has played with many bands, one of the most famous of them being 'Great society'. With solos that ring like heavenly bells in your ears, this is a man still at the top of his game and is easily one of the best blues guitarists in India. Together this duo has carved a niche for themselves in the Indian blues scene. They are now one of my most favourite Indian bands.

The 70s Look



I can't hear you

I recommend Soulmate to everyone who loves those easy going songs with free spirited lyrics, that you can enjoy with a cup of coffee on a lazy sunday afternoon as well as on a hectic weekday midnight. You can listen to them at And if you liked it, do go on and buy their 2 albums at Yeah, am waiting for my copy of 'Shillong'.

your crusader Praveen

Sachin's Masterclass  

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One of my fav clicks!

There's a dream that every Indian cricket fan carries with him- To witness that scene of Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar walking down the middle of the pitch, slowly removing his helmet, raising his bat and then looking up and thanking the heavens as the whole staidum roars in applause. It's an enduring image that defines the past 2 decades of Indian cricket. Many were lucky to watch it in the stadium, quite early on in his career. But, for some like me, it had off late become a dream that was slowly slipping away considering his advancing age and the probability of matches coming in your backyard. And that's when the Bangalore test match against the Aussies happened. The 1st day was a disappointment for us as the Aussies won the toss and batted through the day. We were to be content with watching Sachin on the field and cheering loudly and clicking whenever he touched the ball. We didn't get tickets for the second day.

3rd day morning. Sachin was on crease, nearing his half century. That's when Raja asked me, "why don't we go?" I had my own doubts considering the fact that it was the day after sunday(:P) and we were not college kids anymore. Also I had that big fear of Sachin getting out, the moment we stepped into the stadium. It had happened when he played in Bangalore for the last series against Australia. But then something told me to "take my chances"(and I had that song "take your chance" written by our dear friend Michael playing in my mind that time). And, so we headed to Chinnaswamy stadium on a sunny "day after sunday". We could hear the roars in the stadium, even before we reached its vicinity and we were sure Sachin was still at the crease. As we ran in, he was on 80. For the next few minutes, we sat there biting our nails and joining in the collective "ooooohs" whenever a ball swung in dangerously. Sachin on the nervous 90s raises the blood pressure of the nation for sure. Then on 93, we all had our hearts in our mouths, as he struck one high over long on. We had a huge sigh of relief and a big roar to give as we realised it had sailed on over the ropes. Before long, on 99, he did a repeat of the same shot and this time our hearts nearly stopped. It was wild elation all around when we saw the result was similar to before. The moment we were waiting for, had come. The man removed his helmets, raised his bat and thanked the heavens. BLISS! Cloud 49! Dream fulfilled, we sat there to witness Sachin mentoring Murali Vijay on the way to his maiden test century. As we went back that day, we knew we had taken our chance and fulfilled a dream.
Sachin, at his defensive best.

Sachin-Symphony of destruction

The six over long on, that he hit when he was on 93...

and then the next, while on 99..

The moment arrives...The raised bat and then the thanks to the heavens...all we dreamt of seeing for real for the past 2 decades..

Eat this...

Sachin the mentor- A pat on the back for Murali Vijay for his brilliant century..

And the next morning, we decided to take our chance, yet again. Sachin was on 191. Maybe, a triple century? This time, we had two more to our gang, Muthu and Jijo. And we reached the stadium quite early to see the stands slowly filling up and Sachin practising in the nets. I wonder, why this man needs to practice! :D The stands were full by the time he came out to bat. Sachin's biggest fan Sudhir Kumar Chaudhary, who follows the Indian team wherever Sachin plays, was there too, with his trademark tricolor painted body and 'Tendulkar' written on it. We didn't have to wait for long for the double century. He reached the landmark with a cheeky single. Blessed twice in as many days, thats what we felt. He celebrated it with a straight four. We were slowly warming up for the triple century. But then, he got bowled soon on 214. The man quietly acknowedged it all, as the whole stadium stood up and applauded the masterclass. I wanted to leave the stadium at that very moment but stayed on as they still had hopes on a Dhoni magic. But sadly, the tail was wrapped up even before Sachin removed his pads in the dressing room. But, we were still content, as we were lucky to watch the Sachin double and also India taking the lead over the Aussies.

Single minded determination. Sachin practising in the nets on the 4th day morning...Unbeaten at 191, he came back to complete the double hundred.

A nation stands up to applaud. Sachin completing the 200th run.

Never getting tired of raising the bat..The double hundred

The leg glance

Sachin gets cheeky

And a majestic innings of pure class, comes to an end. Bowled!

Sachin looks back to see the stumps rearranged and the bails flying off..

5th day. Match could swing both ways. We were still undecided with Aussies on an overall lead of 200. We all know the nasty behaviour of Indian pitches on the 5th day of any test match. And to confirm our doubts, Sehwag was back in the pavilion just as the innings started. Smelling a thrilling finish, we made yet another trip to the stadium. the third time in as many days. This time we had two others joining in, Nikhil and Rahul. Debutant Pujara, who got a real nasty ball in the first innings, was playing the innings of his life. He, along with Murali Vijay, took India into a comfortable position. We reached on time to see Sachin at the start of the innings. Pujara departed after an innings that showed high temparament in high pressure. A class move by Dhoni there by sending him in place of Dravid. Soon, we had India's trusted combination of Sachin and Dravid at the crease, toying with Aussies. We smelled another 50 from Sachin. And we were again treated to that shots over long on, which he played during his century. The Aussies had given it up by then. And, it was yet another 50 from the master. It was a matter of time before the master and the wall clinically dismantled the brains of the AUssies. With 2 runs needed, they played out 2 maiden overs. Yeah, Just for fun, cos they can :P. We weren't complaining, as the solid defence from these stalwarts were a treat to watch. Before long, Sachin took a two and finished off the formalities. The full to the brim stadium erupted in joy. We stood there, finding it hard to believe our luck-A sachin double century in 1st innings, an unbeaten 50 in the 2nd innings, him hitting the winning run to complete a whitewash of the Aussies and then him winning the Man of the match and Man of the series. It was our wildest dreams coming true over 5 days.

The repeat! Sachin's six over long on in the second innings.

Yet another 50!

Sachin acknowledges the crowd after completing the winning run as the stadium erupts in wild celebrations.

Sachin and Dravid celebrating the win, as the dejected Aussies move in to congratule them..

Presentation ceremony- Sachin being called in to recieve the man of the match and man of the series.

Sachin with his man of the series trophy with an applauding Sunil Gavaskar behind him

The left handed sign!

Sachin displaying the trophy to the crowd during the lap of honour.

Here's a song for the man...motherjane's "before one million comes one". Infact, the band dedicated this song to Sachin when they played an unlugged concert here in Bangalore last week. This song was originally written about Mother Teresa.

There was one
who gave dignity to the dying
who brought hope to the living

There was one
who gave to a different degree
who proved with certainty,
that before one million comes one.

There was one
who gave a handful and a smile
who brought rest for just a while

There was one
who did what was possible
who took small sacrifices
and built a miracle

There was one, now there are a million
There was one, now there are a million

Coz when the horizon of a desert speaks of an ocean
A rain cloud is god sent, a raindrop is ecstasy
before one million comes one,
each similar to a different degree.

your crusader Praveen