Rock On!! 2

Would Be Archived

The rockers themselves could’nt have made such an entertaining movie about themselves.

Anyway, don’t mean to write a review. As a person who had undertaken a study of this niche form of music a couple of years back at JU-Kol, I wish to record my memory of a day when something good happened for Indian alternative music.

Although I agree with rock fans like Alok Meshram* et al that the imagery is clichéd, music is synthetic make-believe rock, yet the story about how these people live is convincing. Somebody in Yahoo had written that when she watched it she had felt that these people existed. O yes, but they do! Go to Kolkata, or to Bangalore, the northeast – you would see that they do!

People like Sidhu aka Dr Siddhartha Ray, Pinky aka Kanishka, Sanjay (Abraham reminds me of this erstwhile lead guitarist of CACTUS , one of the most popular Rock Bands of Kolkata), Sumit, lyricist of erstwhile Abhilasha , Lokkhichhara, Fossils are working night and day to make a place for their niche music. Some of them are not just good; they are brilliant and have actually changed the idioms in the regional languages they sing in!

Synthetic Rock

While like most I appreciated the acting, enactment, direction, casting, costume, script, cinematography, would have liked the music better if real rockers had done the composing. There are guitar wizards like Amit Dutta in Kolkata, drummers like Nandan Bagchi in Delhi, real urbane rock lyricists…practising rockers could have made the experience intense, soulful. Remember Bangladeshi James’s rendition of Life in a Metro songs?

Maybe in future, some courageous music director would. Like Anurag Basu had (Gangster, Life In A Metro). But they had initially forgotten to mention that the tune was borrowed from Mohiner Ghoraguli who had composed the original in Bangla (‘Prithibita Naki Chhoto Hotey Hotey’) thirty years back for that famous Hindi translation ‘Bhigi Bhigi’ (A Song from Anurag’s movie Gangster.)
One Mohiner Ghora holding up a picture of Another Mohiner Ghora: Gautam Chatterjee.

There is MORE where that one came from. In fact, people aspiring to make movies on similar subjects would lend credibility to their craft if they used genuine stuff in the process giving credit where it is due plus doing much needed service to the artist community. It would be a graceful gesture from practitioners of one art form to those of another.

I think Rock On!! would be archived as:

1) one of the first significant contemporary responses to the Rock phenomenon in Indi (who made it, who saw it, who approved).

2) as a milestone in the field of regional rock documentation (subject).

3) as the first to introduce a niche music format onto Pan Indian Hindi Blockbuster platform – successfully. People had missed the point in Jhankar Beats because of its treatment (treatment).

Somebody had to stand up out there and take it up for these Rockers struggling their asses off. It is time listeners acknowledge that they are not simply aping the West anymore than Mahnish Bahl is, with his western ensemble.

Through their music these regional rockers pulled the regional languages to a new stature. By rocking in it, THEY MADE THE VERNAC ROCK boosting regional language like nothing ever has done before.

I wish, now, post Rock On!!  there would be a MUSICIANS COMMUNE of some sort protecting the intellectual property rights and interests of these groups. The consortium could also help get this sector organized so that music directors, record companies, event managers etc can tap into the vast potential of this form that is evolving, and is as alive as the time itself. Isn’t that what rock music was meant to be?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CACTUS Sanjay seen accompanying his wife here in a private project after he broke up with the band, at Planet M,  Kolkata

Condoms in Call-Centres?!

make it a must in all hotel rooms, lodges, dharmshalas, hostels instead and everywhere else they have night duties

In Sunday Times of India today Pallavi Srivastava writes : Condoms@Call Centres – Why single them out?

She lists two reasons given by the people who want condom machines at call-centres:1) night duties 2) lot of young people working together(!!) 3) assumption here is young immature people with money have a lot more sex.

I think putting condom machines and free distribution would be great- but WHY only CALL CENTRES?

If HIV-AIDS is an issue, then consider : 1) NOT just sex that causes it 2) gay men (MSM) are more likely to get/spread the virus as they switch partners oftener than most others ( so consider ALL places where men hang around together for a long time)  3) just the incidence of young people doesn’t necessarily cause gay abandon.4) you can even get it in an arranged marriage, where the guy has slept with a carrier earlier or if either of them switch partners.

Then the other point – do people have sex only at night?

If HIV through MSM during night time activity is an issue, then consider people have night duties @ : BPO, KPO, Airlines, Hotels, Lodges, Dharmshalas, all night Bus Service Stations, Fire Stations, Drilling Sites, Ad Labs, Hi-End Research Centres, Editing studios, News Paper offices (a lot of young people hang around here round the clock), Support Services, Multinational Corporate Offices, Banks, any set up with a 24/7 service.

The third part: where do people have sex oftener?

1) hotels/lodges 2) dharmashalas which act as trveller’s lodge 3) boys hostels 4) men’s hostels 5) railway rest rooms 6) guest houses etc.

If people forget, in their hurry, they could still run across the corridor and get it, even if they are only wearing a towel. In all hotel rooms let them have a packet of Condom for Men and Preventives for Women as well. So you have prevented unwanted pregnancy and  birth of an HIV infected child as well.

Let them have  Condom Machines and Free Distribution in ALL possible places. If they are honestly trying to help and not targetting any particular industry.

In India, where babies rain, it would help in the other way too…it definitely is a GOOD IDEA. 🙂

APSACS almost hit the Mark

APSACS almost hit the Mark

sharing something I read lately

@ Shunya : his notes to himself about what an Artist should do

I overdid what reviewers do with an excerpt, but the piece was really very long and therefore a ‘little extract had to be this long…didn’t want to mess up too much with what he was saying there. To enjoy it in his own inimitable style, you would have to read the original. 

“Perhaps (young artists) will begin with memories of innocence, or a private rage, or a heartfelt lament—you’ll offer yourself to the world… the result would be less akin to art, more to the dynamics of masturbation… I offer my two pesos worth on the matter…

Culture,… is the realm of the variable, free, not necessarily universal… a collective response in a particular time and place, including not only its visible side but also its elusive underside—myths, anxieties, humor, repressions, prejudices etc. Examine the prodigious multiplicity of cultural expression. You may find that, beneath them, there are only a handful of elemental responses. Consider this carefully: are some responses better than others? Why?

… Over time… fiction becomes a kind of popular truth, framed around an us and them… rooted in a silent belief that people are built differently… In them, we fail to recognize cultural practices that are variations of our own….. So for … the mass media in the West… An average man from modern Cairo, Baghdad… is variously imagined as … a Bedouin on a camel, a religious extremist simply because he adheres to Islam, a mustachioed sheik leering from behind an oil pump, someone who routinely abuses two of his three wives, a gun toting terrorist, and the like…. Them less civilized than Us.

 This is not just a Western malady and casteism is not just an Indian one. Hasty, reductive judgment of people based on speech, custom, faith, sex, etiquette, profession, nationality, or place of origin is endemic… Learn, therefore, to see each person with fresh eyes… Live many cultures, be of many cultures.. Travel… travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living…

This’ll teach you more about when to say a story is good.

Pursue knowledge — it makes the highs higher and the lows lower… not just information about this or that, but learning why things are the way they are. Pay…attention to eternal debates… This’ll help you make better choices….

Pursue… the voice of life, this living, this wonder at being conscious, of seeing at every breath the birth and death of possibility, of feeling resonance fleetingly… with the unhearable symphony of the universe..

 

There may be enough ‘going wrong’ but avoid the mushy, carping, chic variety of pessimism..it’ll.. make you rant and rave at what others do, or fail to do..

Society, like language, implies change. Glorifying past generations from postmodern nostalgia is suspect—their imagined virtues are phantoms of our mind…

Mine-fields lie at the extremes…the artist ought to tread the middle ground, survey the fault lines…”

And I especially liked that bit where  he says, that like everything around, Language too changes…There is NOTHING fixed or permanent about Language is one reason perhaps we should be somehwat grounded in Grammar. If it were just rules, you could have picked it up anyway, like two plus two four. But since it is basically convention…one needs to keep learning from transit point to transit point, one language to another…

Well, for those interested you can also see how Shunya plays around with the visual side of script of a language here  

Thanks Shunya, once again for a stimulating post, hope my friends enjoy it as much as I have.

PS: Shunya is dot net and more than one person write there, so I can’t always make out – dnt know if Namit posted this or Usha. They both write well.

 

My Question after the first Reading:  If artists do not tread the middle path, what then?

 

Their art ceases to be great art? Do they otherwise end up being activists more than artists?

Language Teaching 2

An Open Letter To Ian Parker

Thank you Ian for taking time to post your view on the subject in this post.

I hope teachers and anybody reading this post check your link out. Even if we do not comprehend all of what is written there, (I don’t, not ‘all’ of it, but it is NOT necessary to delve into research details), only, how the learning of the process of Language Acquisition is used by you is what is relevant for me as Language Teacher, at least, and it would give people some idea as to whats going on: how important it is to understand HOW language works…if not in depth atleast the foundation ought to be laid down right when it makes a lasting impression  on children and in a way that matters and aids the process : grammar ought to be taught in school.

I think a lot of teachers, trainers, syllabus framers and parents would agree that the way we deal with Grammar and think about it has to change at the school level itself. Children do not become something great one fine morning. Their hard disk keeps processing information and how they relate to the world around at each and every stage of their lives. A lot of important impressions become the seed for a decision later on in life and they draw on the memory of earlier days : On how it was and How I had FELT IT SHOULD be. And a great researcher or a scientist is born. So what we teach them at school and ‘how’ we do it is very important.

I hope what Ian says in his comment and an exploration of these sites, and his own site provides an additional philip to the work some people have started here lately in the way languages are taught. I mean in Ahmedabad.

Also, owing to many international schools here, offering the International Baccalaureate Course, Teachers have had to deal with a part of curriculum called the TOK – Theory Of Knowledge. Hence this discussion might make sense to a lot of people who have to design a lesson on Language Acquisition as an Idea or behaviour.

I am a High School ESL Teacher living and teaching in India, where people speak various languages – often a different language within a span of, say, a hundred kms. Every state speaks a different language and lately as I moved West from the East of the country I found myself with a Language Handicap. It has been a struggle to navigate my way along in a city where every public sign is written in something that looks like a picture to ME…and to think that I, like any average, common Indian  speak four different languages including English. I can read write speak in all four easily.

Yet, here in Gujarat, am lost. And have the luck to watch me picking up another language. It’s interesting, how I often use the other languages I already know,  to figure out rules in this one and yes, I am constantly looking for rules, so I become more independent, so I don’t have to mug up expressions I might need to communicate.

English is THE ONE common language we have in this country. Yet, English Language Teaching continues in a very slip-shod, unsystematic way, especially what bugs one is the extremely SLOW dynamics of information insemination across domains and borders. What becomes twenty years old in the West might be what percolates down to us via some enterprising individual as “the latest”. The Government has no ‘policy’ as such it seems and I have been around for nearly fourteen years now.

I hope we get some useful insight into how important Grammar is to Language Teaching through inputs from people who care and share my angst against the unsystematic and utterly unimaginative Language-Teaching-Learning practices we have here ( and I am NOT just talking about English or ESL/EFL).

I Advocate We teach Grammar.

Every web-designer worth his salt knows ‘code’. In fact, the wizards would tell you code is poetry . What code is to a web-designer, grammar is to whoever uses language all the time!! 🙂

Well, technically language is the code. But for my purpose I took the liberty of consigning that status to Grammar, which is basically the conventions or codification of the conventions on the basis of which a language is used to make sense. Hope nobody minds it that much, in context, where I am preaching teaching Grammar again, but in a way that is in keeping with contemporary understanding of language and how it works.

Introduction to Ian Parker : A Brief Bio in His Own Words

I am a retired scientist. I gained my PhD in theoretical Solid State Physics from the University of Sussex (England) in 1969. I have worked most of my life in Industry. I have a strong interest in Artificial Intelligence and am a regular contributor to the usergroup “Creating Artificial Intelligence” I speak fluent German and French and have some knowledge of Spanish.

He blogs here, and have Guest Written here and here on my request, on the importance of teaching Grammar. Thank you.

Changing

Hi been here quite sometime.

You know, I feel the page design one uses, especially, since I cannot write code to create my own design and therefore use other people’s designs, I feel all the more that the page design is like an extension of your world. I notice that I take a long time to choose. I have definite ideas about ‘how’ it ought to look. My scraps I mean. No. Wait. Since ‘viewing’ (your writing) is also part of the reading-writing-composing experience, the Design is rather like another Window to look out of.

I don’t know if you would agree – but it gives me a sense of ‘different perspective’. I mean each design gives a different ‘feel’ and ‘mood’ to what you are writing! 🙂

Well just try different designs on your blog and you just might guess what am trying to say here. If not, bear with me please – just take it as another ‘tick’ of a crazy soul.

I moved why I Advocate We Teach Grammar away from here as it seemed more appropriate in the other blog. The colour over there in the banner appears to soften the jagged edges of the stance….the thoughts and the subject as well. Also it was necessary to keep the reading space of our school children separate from my own personal space.

I do hope you enjoy the space….and tripping between two coasts now and then….

And don’t you agree this design’s absolutely fresh and white too and very urbane and smart? Eagerly waiting to know what you think 🙂

I Advocate We Teach Grammar

I propose we teach grammar.

Not because I harbour evil designs of making some lives unnecessarily miserable with boring study of rules. But simply because they are not just a set of rules as most of us are wont to believe.

O well, I truly believe Grammar study isn’t just about mugging up rules. You can think of it as the ‘logic’ that tells – rather ‘shows’ – us what the conventions of a certain language are and how the elements of language work together.

Language is easier to learn if one knows how its elements work. Most of us that speak and write well in a certain language, are able to do so because we have ‘figured’ this ‘logic’ out or perhaps it was the training in language studies, one may have had at school.

Gopi a very brilliant teacher of TGES had once declared that she produces pretty cool sentences, that she is at ease with the use of the English language, but doesn’t remember whether she is using passive or active voice of a verb. The point here is that, yes, Gopi, you think so, but you do KNOW!

She may not be thinking of the terms, but her mind knows. Her language-brain has figured out the various acceptable arrangements, functions and the conventions of how they are used.

What aided her in her case is obvious – long, systematic and wide exposure. Regular drilling. Plenty of opportunities to use the language in real life situations. Most of all, systematic, persistent monitoring through feedback, by teachers, peers, books, journals, music, cinema and the community in general.

Gopi is about five years younger than me. It means she went to school roughly about the same time as I did. It was a tradition among teachers back then to do some grammar in class: especially, lots and lots of exercises in changing the tense of verbs in sentences, the voice, the mode of narration, word forms.

They also taught us what each part is called, along with the rules for using them. Just as the biology or the physics teacher taught us what stuff are called and how the universe works. How many of us remember that today? Or care? But we still can function more than efficiently with our hands and minds and use a pressure cooker quite correctly. So then why teach those subjects even? And, to all and sundry? Language at least is useful to all, but why should Biology or Organic chemistry matter to someone like me?

A lot of us drive today. I mean women. How many of us do so knowing where the coolers are or how it all works? What about computers? Plenty of people use a Laptop today. Ordinary teachers like me as well. Yet, do we, do I know how my machine works? Am I helpless when simple things go wrong?

Wouldn’t life have been easier if someone had taken the time to explain my machine to me? At least I would have been able to take better care of it. I would be able to use it better too. Is it not empowering to know more about the stuff we use?

I do believe knowing always helps. Those who understand their bodies, do better at coping with its idiosyncrasies and pain and all that. In fact, with patients today in the

West, I believe it is common practice for doctors to explain to them what is going on in their bodies, and what treatment procedures the docs are about to undertake, to help. This not only enlists his patient’s co-operation, it also perhaps helps psyche the patient to experience psychosomatic (am not sure if this is the term, if am wrong somebody please let me know) responses to his condition for healing to begin from within, which works faster anyway. I really am not sure of the medical facts but what I mean is when the mind is at peace, it can help the body heal.

I do believe knowing the names of the parts of your car, and knowing how they work empowers you to use it well. It gives you the power to talk about it when things go wrong. You then understand what your mechanic is doing to your beloved car – wrecking it further ensuring a second visit soon for a few thousands more or really fixing it. It gives you better buying insight. It certainly helps you to use your car better and appreciate it for what it is.

ClichéMen love their cars – one major reason for that is they understand the workings of it. O yes! They do know the names, and the rules/functions. THAT is WHAT makes them go ‘wow!-’ when they see a good car. Am sure we have all come across shy men open up and rattle off all the features of his favourite Skoda when the talk finally comes around to “Nice car!” They know how the gear works, so can appreciate the new gear features. Just the same way somebody aware of how language normally works would appreciate what you do to your sentences in poetry or prose. “O look at that formation now, see how he turns it around – lovely!”

Appreciation for fine things usually come from an ‘understanding’ of the inner intricacies of stuff – be it wine, your car, beautiful diamonds or just plain language.

By the way, how many of us, including teachers, even realize that it is the one most important programming tools we are using 24/7! How do you train? How do you mould those minds, moderate behaviour at a crowded shopping mall? How do you transfer knowledge and skills? Using bloody what? Just as a Programmer would use his Visual Basic/Java/C++ or whatever to communicate with his machine to make it do stuff for us, we’re doing the same with everyone around us with language. We don’t realize it as it’s so integral to our system. So vitally important after nourishment. So basic. We are so used to it. We hardly know its there. But it is there nevertheless.

I wonder how many English teachers, text-book writers-reviewers, syllabus framers at the Education Boards,  are aware even that there isn’t one but at least half a dozen different kinds of grammars? That it is NOT an absolute set of rules? That it is not even rules as we know them, but conventions of the culture that developed that language? There is nothing absolute about language. No wrong or right. Simply acceptable or unacceptable. Conventional or unconventional usage.

It is simply because of this fact alone that we should continue teaching grammar in ways that is in sync with the contemporary understanding of how language works and with the technology associated with it. Ever since research in Artificial Intelligence* became popular, in fact it did only AFTER some leaps happened in the world of language research – it was perhaps with Chomsky’s work on language acquisition, that sped AI research miles ahead, Development of Machine language improved too.

As language teachers we ought to be aware of how important it is, for developers of machine language, to know how and on what levels the language we use work. We need to know there are engineers who painstakingly study how a child’s mind file words, acquire new structures, embeds patterns, discard aberrations etc so they can figure out how best to graft a language into your interactive intelligent machine.

Awareness of such things would help us appreciate that Grammar teaching is not such a waste of time after all. We do not have to teach what was written 100 years ago. But maybe as practitioners we should try and find out what is the ‘grammar’ of the day? To those who are aware, my question is, doesn’t it make sense to show learners how it works? Isn’t Transformational Generative Grammar a sensible option while dealing with a restless class? Aren’t a lot of games we play based on that?

Most Principals have heard of or have learned about CLT at Government/BCL sponsored or perhaps OUP funded seminars and workshops. Knowing what CLT stands for (Communicative Language Teaching) is itself like ‘O something’ with them. They use it too, I have noticed on many occasions, at interviews especially, to impress or intimidate a teacher or simply to test awareness. However, what we are not paying heed to probably because BCL/OUP or the government isn’t telling us is-the grammar the CLT METHOD of teaching is based upon. What contemporary understanding and theories of language-acquisition led us to profess CLT as an effective method in an L2 environment? Do we not need to know that as well? An understanding of that might help practitioners better use the method and the material designed for CLT.

Why did I write this blog? Am sick and tired of watching teachers bumbling with methods and messing up children’s lives. A lot of them are nipping young poets and writers in the bud and costing the nation some Nobel prizes.

The whole language system is costing us plenty of good engineers and scientists who might otherwise develop and blossom if they could only get a hand out of that gutter called ‘passing exams in school’ especially in English medium schools.

A lot of sarkari paisa (read tax payers’ money) is wasted in misdirected training of clueless English teachers, even more clueless trainers. People spend 12-15 years in an English medium school and still need to go spend an arm and a leg at these ELTS centres to re-learn a Language they should already have mustered. It’s such a waste of time and money.

Isn’t language one of the most important resources that any community in the world possesses?

Just imagine one hour of you lives without any language at all. No words. No sound. Go on – just use sign language. Make your cinema with it. Write your report with sign language. Go build your bridges with just drawings and gestures.

If you have been successful, well then, let’s throw language away and my theory and let this argument rest. Thank you.

Links to site that tells you more about Artificial Intelligence:http://www-formal.stanford.edu/jmc/whatisai/

There is a movie by the same name by S. Spielberg if someone is interested. That doesn’t talk about language teaching par se though.

Steven Pinker is the one to dig for HOW A CHILD ACQUIRES LANGUAGE.

Link: pinker.wjh.harvard.edu/

YouTube VDO here:  http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3554279466299738997

Rock On!! 1

The Man-Woman Relationship – So SENSIBLE! Surprise!

I caught it by the way yet I would remember it.

I usually go for a movie on Saturdays. It happened that, that day I was working from home and was stuck in the middle of something. I decided to take a movie break instead of a tea break. I had wanted Mumbai Meri Jaan. At the counter however, as I slipped in the money, the boy shook his head “Woh toh Ma’am chala gaya”. What? Yeah, it is Friday so the shows have changed. I could watch one of the new flicks. There is Rock On!!…I didn’t let him go on. You mean it is on NOW? Thought I just read that they were making it in last week’s paper! Anyway, let’s Rock On!! then. Grabbed my ticket, flew upstairs to find that I had lost nearly fifteen minutes of the first part.

It didn’t make any difference though 🙂 Hindi movie hain na, predictable…

Right then, where are we? Onscreen it was distraught Prachi Desai declaring her pregnancy to her boss (I guessed). She was saying she isn’t sure if hubby would like to know.

Routine dialogue. Mundane delivery. I took the time to look around. The whole hall was empty except for the two rows in front and below me, nobody above me. I had all of the upper section to myself. Empty hall means a bad movie?

Meanwhile it was that bedroom confrontation scene between Prachi and Farhan. Farhan is in the bath with wife Prachi calling out questions at him from the bedroom. When she asks if he knew somebody called Killer Drummer, his hand on the shower tab stiffens….he enters the room walks to the mirror stands with his back to her, not looking at her, his whole body looks tense, stressed out even after his shower. With hair dripping with water, he climbs into bed still without looking at her and pulls the covers: good night. End of questions. And no answers!

Very quietly enacted subdued scene – like you see in some arty Indian movies or Angrezi ones.

Prachi takes a few seconds to adjust to the ice cold atmosphere in the room, then in one clean wifely gesture snuggles in at her husband’s back, touching him – with the back of her closed fists, but not daring to touch or hold him. That was cool, nice detail. The stranger like intimacy in this marriage is established. You get the idea that this is what it is like, they are used to it.

Chin on my hands, I tuck my feet up on the seat, settle down, deciding this is going to Rock On!!

It did Rock On!!, to a thumping close with splendid acting, directing, cinematography (well, at least I liked it, especially, the concerts did feel like filmed live shows) and “Meri Laundry ka ek Bill” in between.

I haven’t seen a contemporary Hindi blockbuster after Dil Chahta Hain, deal with man-woman relationship so sensibly. I mean nearly all the actors and the director are under forty probably. Farhan, Prachi, Kohli are unmarried I think. So to be able to render the subtleties of a marriage like that had to be the result of some pretty good thinking.

The Prachi – Farhan marriage is quite difficult. As the film unfolds, you see how she studies him, fixes things heaving their marriage out of its limitations, liberating both of them on a plane where they can finally be happy, together. Of course it happens only after he lets her do it for them. Then there is the Abraham marriage where the wife almost fails, almost loses him with the man pulling himself above common feelings, magnanimously forgiving her in the end. A true artist. O but it is a hindi movie after all, you say? Had to end happily anyway? But look around too? Aren’t little compromises like that very real?

Credible and convincing.