Tuesday, 18 February 2014

I don't enjoy playing live the way  I used to. I used to totally feed on the energy of being up there in front of an audience, blasting out the riffs. Lately, it just seems like a terrible way to waste an evening I could have spent meeting friends and checking out some bands instead of dealing with all the logistics and stress around making those 30 minutes in stage happen. Still, there have been some great moments along the way:

Covering Iron Maiden's 'To Tame A Land' with Abaddon sometime in 1998.

Playing with Cryptic at IIT Madras in 1999, or maybe 2000, especially when we played our new song 'Witches Broom', a trippy tune about getting high.

Playing my song 'Zero' along with the very short-lived band Ashes Move at a Freedom Jam in 2001.

All those gigs with Arcane Ritual in 2001, including the Death Fest, but especially the ones in Bangalore and Mysore where we were getting tighter and tighter and I was playing the bass faster than ever before or since.

Playing Black Sabbath's 'Into The Void' - an absolutely favourite of mine - on stage with Bevar Sea sometime in 2011, I think.

Playing 'I Zombie', 'Weird Tales' and 'Mortal Science' with Djinn And Miskatonic to an audience of 15, at leaaast 5 of whom didn't even like us, at a Freedom Jam in 2012.

Djinn And Miskatonic's first gig in Bombay - the very first time anyone tried to mosh to us!

As far as I am concerned, this journey is coming to an end. There will be one very special gig by Djinn later this year, one more chance to make some memories. But I've reached a point where I really don't have the fire to play live anymore. These things happen and how long can you keep fooling yourself that you'll get any better or that the scene will wake up and embrace you unanimously or that having a niche audience in a niche scene is meaningful enough to waste hours of an already crowded life. 

Thursday, 13 February 2014

BURMA CHRONICLES BY GUY DELISLE

So here's what sums up why this book failed to impress me: 

Halfway through, Delisle is showing a western journalist/illustrator around Burma/Myanmar. He points out how people carry their umbrellas stuffed into the back of their longyis (or lungis as we call them in India) and also sometimes hanging from the backs of their shirt collars - which he calls 'weird'. I don't know man. Walking through crowded chaotic streets - makes sense you'd want your hands free. But because that's not how they do it back in Canafrancadapolis, it's 'weird'. 

A few pages later, Delisle and the other white guy are stuck under a tree in a rural area, stranded in the rains. A villager comes running up to them twice, to bring an umbrella each for them. He then invites them back to his house to warm up and eat something. Someone who speaks English is found to interpret. Delisle explains that a government worker also has to be present to report on their conversations. 

In all this, Delilsle fails to note the selfless compassion shown by a man who at least once walked back to his home without an umbrella to help out two grown men who were incapable of making their way through the same rain. In fact, looking at the drawings (in Delisle's crude but moderately effective style), it is clear that their host never used an umbrella himself. 

You know what's 'weird' Delisle? The fact that you take this incredible act of gallantry totally for granted. that's fucking weird.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

This week, Yasmine is away on an excursion with her students and my workload at home has, as a result, doubled, and more or less exactly when our overall load itself has doubled. We now have 8 permanent dogs, 1 dog who may find another home, 1 new pup and 4 foster pups. 2 new rescue cats, 1 very tiny and demanding foster kitten who came to us on Monday and 2 more kittens due today. I also have tight deadlines at work and on two freelance projects this week.

To try and lighten the load, I asked the other members of the trust Yasmine and I were supposed to be a part of if I could shift the 4 pups to the shelter which is supposedly our joint concern. I was told that I cannot because they have already committed to take in 3 pups from another shelter. When I pressed my case, the discussion veered from agreeing, to telling me to only bring 2 pups, to me fixing a day on which I would do this, to my fellow trustees telling me that they have told the other organisation to cancel bringing their pups. At this point it was also revealed to me that the other 3 pups were only supposed to be taken in next month, which meant some or all of my fosters could have been taken in right away.I pointed this out and was told (a) they had decided not to take the pups from the shelter and (b) there was no room for my foster pups either. I replied that I was sorry I had brought this request up at all and that I would look for other animal lovers to help me.

I feel sad, tired and angry. I am glad I do not have to work with those creeps again. In the meantime, Yasmine and I will continue to do the animal welfare work we have always done. Without poorly-chosen 'allies' who act in bad faith. 

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Stories of mine that actually mean anything:

Aranya's Last Voyage: Don't play god.
World Without End: Religion thrives on fear and ignorance.
Run For Your Life: India's urban-centric model of development is flawed.
Empty Dreams: Ultimately, resistance is futile.
Come Tomorrow: Broken families break you. Poverty breaks you.
'there comes a midnight hour': Society is a terrible lie.


All these were written no more than 3 years back, except the last one, which I wrote last year. I've mostly just been writing inbred generic weird fiction crap though, even if there's some good writing and effective imagery in there. I think my two latest stories have some meaning too, something in them that isn't just posturing. Let's see if they get published.

I don't know if I should keep at this writing stunt if all I am doing is titillating a genre audience with vague portrayals of vague terrors. Shouldn't it mean more than that?

Monday, 10 February 2014

I am at work and thinking about this baby whose only mistake was being born. It is hard not to cry. We should cry when we think about this. We should remember imperatives beyond mere utility. We should cry and curse our species and push for radical changes in how zoos are managed. We should fucking cry ourselves a river and wade into it and never come up for air. 

Sunday, 9 February 2014

I am learning how little convergent goals mean. Because once they converge, they go right ahead and diverge.

I joined Bevar Sea because I thought, I love riffs and doom and tuning slow and playing low and here is a set-up within which I can do that. These were the convergent goals. I forgot the divergent goals: I like composing songs, I like writing lyrics, I dislike most aspects of  rock/metal 'attitude', I want to express myself. Ultimately, simply playing bass for someone else's band was not the right place for me.

I do appreciate that the divergent aspects were made clear quite early on. It was my mistake that I did not think them through.

More recently, though, I entered into an alliance that I feel was mooted in bad faith, or that has since been taken in bad faith. I am a trustee of an animal welfare organisation, but I am never consulted on decisions, my inputs are ignored or dismissed and my wish to redress the imbalance created by most Bangalorean animal welfare organisations working primarily or solely with dogs rather than cats has not been addressed, not does it seem like a priority.

In this case, I genuinely feel like I was not given all the facts in the beginning. I was sought out for this trust precisely because of the work I already do and the network and experience I already have. However, the latter are consistently ignored and beyond financial aid, which I could and have in the past raised on my own, the former is not being supported.

I think the important thing here is to see that needs have diverged, that shared goals are too broad to be of use in getting on with things and that a true picture of some situations only emerges over time. I have specific goals, and while I share the trust's overall ambit, it is not geared sufficiently towards these goals.

It is good to loosely ally with people who have similar overall goals. It is important, however to make close alliances only with those whose specific goals are the same as yours. This is what I think I have learned.