Saturday, June 09, 2012

Tiger Tiger burning Bright

Our friends wonder as to why we end up at Tiger reserves of Madhya Pradesh (Kanha, Pench, Bandhavgarh ) every year while for the same money a ‘normal’ holiday would possibly have been a nice 'resorty'place in Singapore, Dubai, Kerala etc.

The answer is quite simple …. Nothing quite engages and enthralls you quite like the sight of the Royal Bengal Tiger . Having spent a lot of our time on African Safaris and having been up close and personal  with lions , leopards and Cheetahs , the Tiger , however many times we see it makes us sit  like start struck teenagers in front of their rock star idol !

The entire fascination of listening to the jungle alarm calls , chasing pug marks and then finally observing a well camouflaged ear or limb making way for the entire picture as the tiger rolls out of his slumber and onto the open …. That moment is worth every sun burnt hour spent in the scorching Indian Summer.

No camera and no expert cinematographer can quite capture   the goose bumps , the elevated heart rate , the wide eyed staring , the whispered oohs and aahs , the 'I will miss the action if I blink' feeling which one encounters with the Royal Bengal Tiger . The absolute disdain with which he looks at you , the one look that humbles you and exposes you to the human frailness stays with you for ever .

Once you have seen the tiger and captured a nice close up on your camera to show off to your friends , you don’t need to go to a wildlife park again right ? One couldn’t be more wrong . Our different visits and even different days with the same tiger have exposed to us amazingly varied  examples of tiger behavior.

The big male speading fear while patrolling his territory to lolling around in the grass and looking like a tubby cat ….his cubs approaching him fearfully while he rests and then discovering he is a loving father after all …The mother allowing her cubs to pull her whiskers, jump all of her and then disciplining them with one stern call …. cubs playing , mock fighting , running up and down rocks and then resting out of breath and jumping in the water pool to cool down and the as the heat of the day becomes intolerable.

Being regaled by stories from guides on their varied experiences, tiger encounters , territorial fights …. To meeting noisy and impatient tourists who expect the tiger to be posing and doing what they want for that perfect shot ! All that is what makes us go back year after year after year and every year and every visit and every new day is a new experience !

As an Indian , one is obviously proud of the fact that the largest populations of wild tigers is India. Sure we could do more and we must to protect our wildlife . But we must also spread awareness that the tiger population is thriving well , albeit in small pockets and foreign tourists should be vary of unscrupulous travel agents getting them to visit stating that the wild tigers will disappear in 5 years from the Indian jungle …nothing is farther from the truth.

We chanced upon a documentary during one of our recent visits and for us the big learning was that we still have sufficient Indian Jungles left to house 10,000 tigers .Like the worldwide steps to protect the Elephant and ban ivory trade , we need concerted efforts worldwide to stop trading in tiger parts for Chinese traditional medicine .

We clearly need to do more than ‘like’ the Save the Tiger page on FB. Do visit this website , read 'The Truth about tigers' and watch the documentary to get a new perspective on tigers.

(This is a guest post by my husband. Pics - Mr. & Mrs. Blogeswari)

Friday, June 08, 2012


With music playing out 24*7 home when running/ cycling/ swimming/ tweeting/ eating, have been listening to pretty much one set of songs for sometime now. Hence, I try and change the playlist frequently to avoid monotony.

Back in college and school, during culturals, there was a particular set of songs on high frequency renditions. Every second school or college band / individual going up on stage would end up singing the same song and the audience would "Boooo" as soon as the singing started. Not many people realize a hit song need not necessarily (even if it is sung well) win them prizes. Don't know what exactly works but the judges always look for the "Yo" moment in the song has when sung live on stage. It could be in the lyrics, a humming or even an instrumental bit.

In  Oruvan Oruvan mudalaaLi from Muthu. The "Yo" moment of the song is SPB singing "Hayhayhay hay" the "Tattadadattada Tadadatt toing" starts.

In yet another favourite song of mine, it is the lyrics. Watch at 0:29-0:37

Here are some of the songs I have grown up singing / listening to during school and college culturals.


(not linking the original video which is TERRIBLE)

This was an anthem of sorts for the professional college bands of Madras in the 80s and 90s competing in Mardigras (now Saarang at IIT Madras). I guess this song was most sought after because it gave an equal opportunity to the singer (especially during "ore veenai" with ore da feel), the percussionists, the keyboardists to showcase their talent.


Our Economics teacher in school was also in-charge of training the music choir. She would teach and train our band for the various cultural events. Apparently while she was in school/ college she'd play the Veenai for this song when her band sang the same on stage. She promptly passed on all that she learnt to us. Still remember listening to this song again and again on a,cassette trying to learn it in a day. And this was not an easy number though the tune is fairly simple. Listen to the song. In both the first and second stanzas, you have a humming going in the background when the main singing (Sillena melliyaSindanai Ambugal) happens in the foreground. Quite difficult to concentrate on stage and sing your bit since there are a set of others parallely singing the humming. Wouldn't say we always won the first place, but we were placed second or third whenever we sang this. When I moved to college and participated in Antakshri, once our team given the letter 'Ta'. Started singing this song . Usually in Antakshari the host stops you after 30 seconds or so. But this time he let me sing the entire bit (to check if I was able to complete the song) and I managed to do so ,with thunderous applause. Do listen to the Tamizh version but not before watching the #gvlt version here. I personally think it sounds better in Telugu but I wonder why Illayaraja did away with my favorite background humming bit during the stanzas. The videos are so typically Bharathiraja with the background dancers in white clothes. Really pity them)


Not exaggerating, but every second girl (out of the 100+) that went up on stage in the screening before the finals in the inter-departmental culturals sang this song. The judges were fatigued at the end of 3 hours. And this was not even a song to sing for a solo competition.


This song is extremely close to my heart. This is the song that got me, a two month old fresher  become a celebrity overnight, in college. During the inter-departmental culturals my Senior in college (AM) asked me to learn this song and I thought it was going to be a group rendition. Was in for a shock when she mentioned I was going to sing the male bits of Yesudoss and she the female portion. Was so not confident because I had never sung solo except in the bathroom, till then. Was always a Gumbaloada Govinda wherein most of the times (esp. when one had to go high pitch) I'd just vaaya asachufy. Even while practising I was very sure it was going to be an #epicfail moment on stage.

On the day of the interdepartmental culturals competing with 16 other teams on August 27th, I was tense.. very very tense. It was a sensuous number and we had ore da build up when AM started with her "ssss..aaaa" and all that with the drum beats ably assisting her.  She started with "Maasi maasam aalana ponnu maaman Unakku taane.." and I entered trembling with my mike singing "Poovodu aaaa.. taen-aada.. ". And boy! there was a super duper applause. We ended up singing it in all inter collegiate culturals and winning prizes. Might sound pompous but post this started the trend of female singers with a katta koral like mine singing the male bits in inter-college and school culturals.


A beautiful composition by the one and only #God. Super special to me . This was a hit song within our college premises when we sang during the inter-departmental culturals. The team that won the inter-departmental got to represent college at the inter-collegiate competitions. That year (and every year :-)) we won the inter-departmentals and we were at an inter-collegiate Women's Christian College's culturals singing this. And guess who the judge was? The man himself - ARR! We had the guts (timir!) to sing it for Him, infront of Him. We were super thrilled when He awarded us the second prize. The "Yo" moment of the song is when Hariharan comes back to say "Tamizha Tamizha ...Kangal Kalangade"


I see a lot of teams singing this on television shows. Some of them do a brilliant job of it. Don't remember the show but it was on Sun tv and this team did a fantastic version of this song. One of my favorites and an apt song for competitions especially for the female singer. The "Yo" moment is the grand finale with both the Jadis and female singer singing simultaneously. 


I'm categorizing these two under the 'India tolaikkatchigalil 100 murayaga' category. God knows how many many many times we would've practised these songs in college. When we didn't have time to learn a new song for college culturals, we would end up singing this. Not just us, the college juniors were forced to learn these when our band was asked to 'coach' them.


Had Rahman heard us, he would've cried... buckets. In all our enthuness, we took up this song and messed it up big time.


Every girl eyeing the first prize in culturals, would sing this in school....

 10... competing against the one who'd sing this one


Infact, a friend of ours in the band was so good at Toongada Vizhigal that every time when she'd practise and sing the "Aaaaa" bit at the end of the stanza, we would say "inga applause varum". This, when sung well was a sure-shot winner during Culturals.

These days every time I listen to a new Tamizh song, I analyse its 'Culturalability' meaning if it can be sung by a band/ individual in school/ college culturals and help them win prizes. Not all songs that are hits are 'culturalable'. In the recent hits, I think this one, when sung well can win the singer laurels.


12. One song which I never thought was 'culturalable' was making the rounds on the internet as a 'Culturals song' sometime ago. Ending this post with a wonderful choir rendition of an (almost) solo number. Love their singing. Enjoy !