Friday, 4 December 2015

On guardian angels and the adventure of a lifetime - part 2

Cont'd from here...

So I walked to the famous double decker living root bridge of Nongriat, and I must admit it wasn't as impressive as I expected. It was pretty cool but I'd found the long root bridge from earlier to be way more awesome. The shorter span of these twin bridges I think were largely to blame. Still the location itself was quite idyllic with a small waterfall, the little pools and the river, plus all that lush greenery.

While I was walking across the bridges and taking pictures, there was a group of Indians hanging out by the water below who I felt were eyeing me curiously. I tried my best to ignore them and just enjoy the moment. I sat down on the lower bridge and was quietly taking a mental image of the place when I heard someone address me from below. It was one of those guys. He wanted to know how to get to the single root bridge. I told him and also explained that it was worth going to because of the longer span. He thanked me and went away with the two girls he was with (all from Bombay).  The other guy (from Bangalore) said he and the Malaysian girl he was with were camping out in Tyrna. I'd also met two other dudes from Bangalore, and another couple who didn't stop, all on their way back up. Aside from those few I hardly saw anyone else, which was a relief. Heprit and the others at the dorm had all mentioned how crowded Nongriat was getting these days. Guess I got lucky and went on an off day. 

I'd decided to try and go to Rainbow Falls (a somewhat hidden falls some ways away) the same day if I reached Nongriat around noon. Since it wasn't much past that, I decided to give it a go.

I came back to my room; changed into my swimsuit; wore my jeans and t-shirt over it; packed my little daypack (a tiny backpack I’d bought at the Sohra market the day before) with the other two t-shirts, some snacks, my camera, towel, my zune (which I really should’ve left behind, but I had vague notions of listening to some nice music either on the trek or by the waterfall), a bottle of water, and some other odds and ends; and headed out to Rainbow Falls.

I had gotten widely varying estimates on how far away this purportedly amazing spot was – Heprit said it was 2 hours each way from Nongriat; Raju said bees minute, and after a pause added shaayad apko thees minute; and Charlie, guy who ran the guesthouse, said one hour to get there. I decided the locals knew best and one hour each way was doable before it got dark (it was 1:15pm when I set out and sunset was around 4:30).

It was fairly easy going at first, and I thought I should even be able to do it in the dark with my flashlight. Only, there was not a soul in sight, aside from an abundance of pretty butterflies fluttering around. Nor could I hear anyone. Only the constant high pitched chirping of insects and the occasional bird call. Before long, I started to wonder if I had again taken the wrong road. Thankfully, just as I was considering turning back, a group of guys approached from the other side. They assured me I was on the right track and went their way. Feeling more confident now, I walked along briskly and before long came across the long steel(?) suspension bridge and the root bridge right after it that I was told to look out for. Also, right after crossing these bridges (what fun to do it all alone!), I came upon a sign about the construction of a concrete footpath (which I’d been told about) and the footpath itself.

Up until this point, there had been a trail of rugged stone steps but they were rustic enough to still be fun. Now it was just a boring concrete path with proper steps. ‘Twas a downer even though I knew it was coming. Still, I made the best of it and was encouraged by the sound of falling water that kept growing louder and louder. Soon I spotted a pretty little mini waterfall and a pristine pool of water beyond the trees. No sign of a rainbow though, so I just took a few pictures and carried on the concrete path, ignoring what appeared to be a rudimentary trail leading to the pool. Sometime later, the concrete path just ended where there was water flowing across the path. On the right, I saw some sort of a waterfall, but it was more like a dribble, though from quite a height. Just ahead, across the water, was a pile of rocks stacked almost straight up. They didn’t look impassable exactly, in hindsight. But, for some reason I thought that was the end of the road.

I remembered someone telling me they had to climb down to get to the falls, and that it wasn’t an easy climb. And since I could still hear falling water downstream from where I was, I assumed Rainbow Falls was somewhere between where I was and the pool I’d seen sometime ago (foliage cover had been dense since my one sighting of the pool and I’d lost sight of it). I decided it was time to get back into clamber mode and took a path as close to the water as I could.

For a while I followed the water downstream, and though it wasn’t exactly a cakewalk, it wasn’t terribly difficult either. After a while, however, the boulders close to the water started getting sheerer and more slippery. I persisted still and found a small hidden gush of water beneath some rocks. There was a handy boulder nearby where I could set down my things and take a dip, which I was quite ready for by now. So I stripped down to my swimsuit, put all my belongings in a pile safely away from the water, and gingerly stepped into the water.

The water was quite cold, but after all the walking and sweaty climbing, it felt rather nice. However, the force of the water at that place was too much for me to not get swept away, and besides I spotted a foreign girl sitting in a nice spot right by the big pool (same one from before) a little downstream from where I was. She seemed busy with something (her own thoughts perhaps) and didn’t notice me. I considered yelling and waving, but decided it would be rude to break in on her solitude in that way. Instead, I decided to grab my stuff and try to get where she was - there had to be a path leading to there, surely.

Pack back on my back, clothes in one hand, shoes in the other, I clambered on barefoot. After a while though, I started running into roadblocks. Had to keep backtracking and trying different ways to get ahead. Then I had my first really close call – slipped on some moss while trying to jump from one boulder to another, and fell in between! Thankfully, my big hips (those things are good for more than childbearing as it turns out) saved me from a certain case of broken something (possibly my neck), and I stayed wedged between with my feet dangling, until I could finally get my nails into a groove on one boulder. Managed to literally claw my way back up, heart beating wildly and head swimming.

I should note here that, aside from that girl I’d seen from afar, there was no sign of any other human being for miles around. As I was hanging on for dear life, I had fleeting thoughts about how bad a place that would be to die at. I wasn't even on the trail anymore. No one would even know I was laying dead there for days or weeks perhaps.

After this very scary experience, I decided going barefoot wasn’t smart, and wore my shoes again. Also, stuffed clothes into daypack to free my hands – had been tossing them on ahead of me so far when I needed my hands. The going got more and more difficult, and I kept almost giving up but never quite. Part of it was a determination/bull-headedness to see this through, and part of it was, well, fear of what would happen if I did fall whilst trying to backtrack. Seemed like getting to that girl was my best bet.

I finally found an approach that got me within a feet or two of the pool, but these last couple of feet were basically a sheer drop down into the water. I could get into the pool, sure, but there was no way out that way. So, if I left my stuff behind and jumped in, there was no guarantee that I’d ever get them back.

Meanwhile, I saw her again, and this time I didn’t have to think twice before yelling and clapping to get her attention. I’d actually yelled out “hello” and “help” before when I thought I was stuck with nowhere to go a little before I finally managed to get to this spot. But, the sound of gushing water was so loud here that there was no way she would’ve heard me. So this time I clapped as well, and that worked. She looked around confused at first, but then finally saw me across the pool.

I signed to her asking if there was a way to get to where she was. She signed back that she’d come from somewhere behind her (the trail I’d ignored before as it turned out). She didn’t know how I could get to her from my spot across the pool. Swimming, combined with wading where the water was not too deep, seemed like the only option. Stupid me thought I could swim with my pack on my back and not get anything inside too wet (especially my phone and my camera), if I managed to keep it mostly afloat. I was doubly stupid to think I could swim with my trekking boots on.

Of course, as soon as I jumped in, I went down like a rock. My pack had too many clothes that all absorbed water and made the whole thing heavy as lead. On the other end, my shoes and socks got completely drenched, and did their part in pulling me down into the cold as fuck water (I was no longer longing for a cool dip!)

For a bit I thought it was game over for me. But I wasn’t quite ready to give up and resign myself even now. Had to think quickly. Managed to get my pack off my back which helped me to surface for a bit and gulp down some air. I didn’t let it go, however, and managed to drag it to the side, prop it up against some rocks, and pushed it up above the water level. Also managed to drag myself out somehow (still had my shoes on and the boulders near the water were slippery as hell, no grippable spot in them).

I tried to squeeze some of the water out of my pack, but it wasn’t happening. So I took out all the clothes and dumped them on the rock, saving just a couple of shirts to insulate my camera and phone (which I should’ve realised were already quite drenched by now). Also dumped a soaking wet roll of TP (god knows why I got that with me!) and decided to try again with the now lighter pack.

I moved to a spot as close as I could get to the other side, but the pool was much deeper at this point and I knew better than to try swimming there. It seemed to me I’d have better luck going around the pool the long way because I spotted a few boulders just beneath the surface along that side, which I thought I could use to take breaks between my swimming (I’m completely out of practice, and even in the best of times, I was only an okay swimmer).

Oh, how wrong I was! Parallax error. Boulders underwater were nowhere near the surface. I almost drowned again. The pack itself, which wasn’t waterproof, was absorbing water, and my shoes were dragging me down again.

Meanwhile, my guardian angel across the way realised I was quite of my depth (heh) and started changing into her swimwear. I caught a sight of her doing this as I was floundering in the water, struggling to find purchase on the boulder nearest me to get myself out of the water. I can’t tell you how much courage that gave me. And hope. Above all hope. She wasn’t going to abandon me and go on her way. I had someone who was going to at least try to save me.

I redoubled my efforts and succeeded in clinging on by my fingernails again. She was an excellent swimmer and had reached me by now. She took my backpack from me, said she’d take it over to the other side and come back for me. Relieved of my pack, and relieved I wasn’t on my own, I got calmer and managed to hold on. Still no luck getting out of the water on my own though.

She came back as promised, however, and helped me up and out. She then told me she could take my clothes (the ones I’d left behind) and my shoes, if I could manage to get myself across without them. I thanked her profusely, and accepted her assistance, after protesting a bit to not worry about the clothes because they weren’t important at all. She assured me it wasn’t any trouble and she could easily take everything, and even come back for me, if necessary.

It wasn’t necessary though. I managed to swim across on my own, albeit very slowly and clumsily. When we got to the shallower part, she told me I could just get up and wade through that bit. However, that proved tricky, because my legs felt like jelly, and I couldn’t stand let alone walk/wade. So I kept to swimming until the pool became too shallow for that, and then she helped me up.

I was shivering like mad, but extremely thankful to still be alive. She realised I had nothing dry to wear and not even a towel to dry myself, and offered me her own towel and a shawl to wrap around myself. We then wrung my soaking wet clothes, but they were still too wet to be of any immediate use. My own shawl was the least wet of all my things, so I wrapped that around me, and wore my soaking wet shoes again, and tried my best to follow her up her path. I’d managed to lose my contacts whilst floundering in the water, which I only realised when trying to see where I was going in the now deepening twilight. Everything was blurry, so I tried my best to follow in her exact footsteps as much as possible.

My adventure wasn’t quite over, as it turned out. At one point, I stepped onto a slippery rock, which together with my wet shoes brought me down hard. Almost fell through the cracks again into another sheer drop, but luckily she caught me in the nick of time, and helped pull me up. Got away yet again, with just some bruises and scrapes.

Decided barefoot was better, and managed that tricky steep section with her help. After that the going finally got easier. It also got pebblier, so back on the shoes went. We soon hit the old concrete trail, which I was now thankful for tbh. My shoes were so wet that I joked that I still felt like I was wading through the pool. But I did manage to squish my way back to Nongriat without any further misadventures. Oh, so grateful to still be in one piece, bruised and battered and rattled as I was!

I don’t think I can ever thank this girl, D, from Germany enough. She quite literally saved my life that day. And made not the least fuss about it afterward. Was even kind enough to invite me over to hang out with her and the other guests staying at the homestay across the river in Nongriat, when she found out I was all by myself at the guest house.  Before going over there is when I wrote down all of this in a handwriting that's gotten even more ugly from disuse (I seriously had trouble making out my own writing in parts when I was transcribing this).

My only regret is not asking for her contact information that evening. I was afraid to seem pushy, and thought I’d ask for it the next day as I made my way past their homestay to get back up the mountain to Tyrna. Unfortunately, she was out that morning, and though I left her a note (more like an essay, because I’m too wordy for my own good as you, too, have realised by now), I haven’t heard back from her yet.

So there it is. A bad and scary day, in one sense. But also, my luckiest day ever as well!

The good luck, guardian angel protection, what-have-you continued on the next day as I made my painful way (would've been painful enough even without all the extra hurt I'd stocked up on thanks to the previous day's outing) back up the 3000 steps to Tyrna and then back to Sohra from there.

First it was the guide from the Cherra Holiday Resort, who was taking a guy from South Korea back up after a daytrip to Nongriat. He offered to carry my bag up for me. And though I politely refused his kind offer the first time, I very gratefully accepted it the second time, after I’d climbed about halfway up.

Next it was the two nice gentlemen from Assam, also on a daytrip, who kept me company for the last 500 odd steps, bought me frooti and tea, and finally, and most importantly, saved me the kilometer long uphill trek back to the bus stop at Mawshamok and the gamble with the bus back to Sohra, by offering me a lift in their car. And thus ended my adventure of a lifetime! Had a nice story to tell the new people who’d now taken all the beds at the dorm too. :)

Many lessons have been learnt on this trip, but the greatest of them all is to never forget how wonderfully kind people can be, and to always try and be as nice as I can be to others in my turn. Pay it forward, even though the debt will never truly be settled. For I truly believe I am the luckiest dumbo alive, and can’t imagine how I shall deserve even half the kindness and good fortune that has come my way.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

On guardian angels and the adventure of a lifetime - Part 1

In my last post I wrote about random acts of kindness that I've been on the receiving end of. Since then I've experienced such incredible good fortune and aid from the most unexpected of quarters that I'm almost convinced that I must have a guardian angel or dozen watching over me. That, or, like I used to imagine when I was little, I'm the unsuspecting avatar of some goddess and I'll finally come to realise it one day like in those mythological movies of old.

Anyway, story time. I wrote the following the old-fashioned way with borrowed pen and bits of scrap paper, while I was alone in a secluded guest house in Nongriat cut off from both civilization and technology. The former I dispensed with voluntarily and willingly. The latter... well, that's what the story will tell.

I woke up at 7:15 am. Had spent the night at By The Way, the backpacker's lodge in lower Sohra. The Lithuanian wasn't in his bed, the Israelis were still asleep. Walked over to the loo, found the shower was occupied, so came back to our room to put finishing touches on my packing for the overnight stay in Nongriat. I'd thought packing a 45 l backpack was hard, but a tiny daypack was harder still. I really suck at packing light, but in this instance my overpacking came in handy. By the time I was done, the Lithuanian came back from his shower. So I grabbed a hot shower, dumped my old clothes into my backpack, left the backpack with Heprit (guy who runs the lodge), draped my damp towel over my shoulder and set out to catch my bus. The bus stop was right across from the lodge. Took my place with the local crowd and waited for the bus that would take me as far as Mawshamok. From there it was about a 1 km walk to the head of the 3000 step descent to Nongriat where the double decker living root bridge was.

While I was waiting at the stop, Heprit came over and we chatted for a bit until the bus arrived at around 9:30. A small mini bus, it was packed completely. After letting the couple of people who got down out, I hurriedly squeezed in afraid the bus would leave me behind. I needn’t have been in such a hurry though, because nearly half the bus emptied out at lower sohra and I even managed to get a seat.

At first the ride was nothing special, just some dusty roads. But soon things took a turn for the awesome. Winding, twisty roads with the most gorgeous views. At one point I could even see past the mountains into the plains of what I assumed was Bangladesh! And so I grinned all the way to Mawshamok.

By the time I got down I was starting to feel a bit hungry. Luckily I found myself right outside a tea stall. So I went in, took my seat and asked for sha. Shopkeeper girl made me and the local customers some dud sha (milk tea) and distributed it along with poori and what looked like sweet potato. She only had poori by the time she got to me, so I took it and ate it plain following the lead of the others around. No sabzi wabzi for these hardy folks. After finishing my tea, I politely took my cup over to the back of the shop where she was doing the dishes, and still got overcharged (I think) - 20 rupees for a cup of tea and a poori!

Got out and took the road that lead straight from the bus stop, only to find after about 10 minutes that I was heading towards Laitkynsew and not Tyrna. Headed back to the crossroads and took the other fork. Turned on my GPS just in case, and sure enough, I was on the wrong road again! Back at the main road, I asked a construction worker for directions and he told me I needed to go back a bit (along the road the bus had come by) before taking the left at the fork. Finally on the right track, having lost about half an hour in all this back and forth, I set forth for Tyrna, cursing myself for not taking a look at the map before setting out.

And doubly cursing myself for not checking weather conditions out there. Hot and humid as fuck it was during the day, and my jacket was just weighing me down (though it turned out to be a good thing that I’d brought it).  I wore my jacket over my head (a la tea pickers) and trudged on in the heat, drawing odd looks along the way.

I’d learnt my lesson by now, and so stopped at every single fork in the road and asked someone for directions to Nongriat. At one of the last such forks I met my first guardian angel of the day – a villager from Nongriat who was heading back home after carrying up the luggage of some tourists from Assam. I think his name was Raju (at least that’s what I heard), and he was one of the nicest people I’ve ever known. He kept me company all the way down to the village, and even after I told him I had no money to give him, he still acted as my pro bono guide. Waited for me each time I fell behind (walking down so many steps really tries the knees!) and offered time and again to carry my bag as well. I thanked him in my barely passable Hindi and asked him to go ahead and not wait for me. He still persisted and even took me along some secret shortcuts only known to the locals, saving me at least a few hundred steps.

The going soon got very tough indeed. Never-ending stairs, and though the jungle and hill views were nice at first, my enthusiasm started flagging after the first 1000 odd steps. Fortunately just as my legs and spirit were about to give out, we arrived at the single decker long living root bridge at Nongthymmai. What a sight it was! So exciting to see such a marvel of human ingenuity meets nature’s bounty. Loved crossing this long bridge, and equally enjoyed the return route jumping and climbing over the rocks at the bottom, back to the other shore. After this I was back in full glowing form. So so happy to be there and then. :)

Past the long root bridge, the going was much more...not easier exactly, but definitely much more fun! I started getting more adventurous as well – walked/climbed along the sides of the actual steps, which I always find easier somehow. Stairs hurt my knees (guess I’m getting to that age, ugh), but clambering up and down rocks comes naturally to me. I’m quite at home among boulders, or so I thought until..but we’ll get to that in a bit.

Raju was quite amused by my child-like glee in all this and seemed to take a liking to me. He was even kind enough to say hum dono achche aadmi hai, in response to me saying he was one. He also included me in the garib aadmi club (I think because I told him I took the bus to avoid having to pay the exorbitant cab fares), and even offered to pay me when I shared one of the appam-like snacks I’d got from Sohra market with him, bless his soul! Then he gave me the most brotherly advice to find naukri because it wasn’t good to while away one’s time, and to also get married and have kids (heh). On enquiring about him in return, he said he wasn’t married and nor did he have any parents. :(

Once he realised my fondness for the rough trail as opposed to the laid out one, he took my by a shortcut to the guest house where I was planning to stay for the night. Saved me another hundred odd steps at least. When I found out he would have to backtrack quite a bit to get to his own house, I asked him to go on home and told him I’d find my own way to the guest house. But he wouldn’t leave me until I was safely settled in (which was a good thing too because there were many places where I could’ve gotten lost along the way). I really wanted to give him something to show my appreciation for all he’d done. Money was out of the question, so I dug around in my pack and found nothing at all suitable for a guy. I finally decided to give him the rest of my stock of appams. Had to practically force him to take it too. He thought he was depriving me of my breakfast! I thanked him with all my heart and all my stock of Hindi too, and headed out to the double decker root bridge which we'd bypassed on our shortcut.

Continued here...

Friday, 20 November 2015


There's nothing quite like the kindness of strangers or near strangers to warm one's heart. It always inspires such hope; hope that, despite all the shit we see and hear all around us, this world of ours will be alright after all. A reaffirmation of the basic goodness of my fellow creatures.

I've been on the receiving end of such random acts of kindness so many times in my life that I almost feel guilty. It can't be fair for one person to be so fortunate.

There was the classmate back in college who hardly knew me but noticed I wasn't well on a trip to Shimla and made sure I got back to the bus safe and sound. The driver from the other side of the freeway who saw me lose control of my car and go flying into the snow filled median and came to my rescue despite, I'm sure, having somewhere to be. The nice gentleman who saw me struggling to change out a flat tire and came and helped and vanished back without so much as waiting for a thank you. And many, many others.

These last 10 days I've experienced even more such kindness as I've been travelling in a far off region as a solo female backpacker. And that too one without much of a grasp of Hindi, which, as it turns out, it is absolutely essential to know to survive anywhere in India outside my own home state. Special thanks to D and her husband for watching out for me in N Sikkim and for the use of that hot shower (I know this isn't the book I promised you but someday maybe).

Not sure if this counts but my best friend's best friend has shown me such kindness and care and concern and consideration that I almost wish I had an older brother. Perhaps I should have tied you a rakhi as well when I came to your house that time, R. That hair toussle I shall treasure always. Now I know how Arya felt. I had such a wonderful time these last few days in no small part thanks to you.

The immediate push for this post came from a really kind soul who not only took the trouble to intervene on my behalf with the train guys on this Saraighat express to attempt to get me my dinner or my money back, but also when she found out that I had nothing to eat, offered me roshogollas that her mom made for her. Tastiest ones I've ever eaten and sweetened by more than just sugar. Thank you, D!

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

I want to believe

If travel is searching
And home what's been found
I'm not stopping
I'm going hunting
I'm the hunter

Heard these words last night whilst trying to find the right music to lull me to sleep. The opening lines to Hunter by Bjork. I've listened to the album and this particular song countless times but never really paid attention to the lyrics all that much. It was striking to hear this on the eve of my departure on my first (of hopefully many) travel adventures at home.

Coincidences abound this past week. And this just continued that trend. What does it all mean? Is it all some cosmic conspiracy trying to point me in a certain direction? Or the overactive imagination of a sleep deprived excitable mind?

The Scully in me thinks it's the latter. But the Mulder wants to believe.

P.S.: Forgot that the very next song on the album starts off with the lines

All these accidents
That happen
Follow the dots
Coincidence makes sense
Only with you


Sunday, 6 September 2015


The promised sequel..

I wrote this while I was literally on the road. Meant to publish it as soon as I could find time and internet to add some media to provide context, but couldn't find the two together until just now.


Hiroshima to Fukayama - the gorgeous gorgeous expressway to the tune of Seadrum by Boredoms - the perfect marriage of sight and sound. Ah, bliss. I fucking love you Japan!

The swells of the song are so perfectly matched to what I'm seeing that it almost makes me wonder if it was written whilst the members of Boredoms were driving through this very route. Perhaps in a bus much like this one. Such a dear thought.

It's no wonder this country has produced some of the most amazingly creative minds. How can one live here and not be inspired! So wish I didn't have to leave here so soon.

When I came on this trip I thought it was probably my one and only chance to see Japan. But now I'm almost definitely coming back for another visit. Or three.  Heck I'd live here forever if I could. Now there's an idea...


A Belated Rant

I wrote this a little while ago (while I was on a plane iirc) and never got around to publishing it. 


I've never been able to act my age. As a child I was too grown-up, too serious. My mom's main impression of me as a child is how I hardly ever laughed. I distinctly remember my uncle once asking me what I keep thinking about so intently. I think I was about 10 or 11 at the time.

As the years passed I started growing down, rather than up, as my best friend used to put it (with regards to herself not me). I can be quite silly these days. Be ridiculous and random and laugh, laugh and laugh. Not in public, mind. Just with a select few. But with those chosen few I can be positively nutty.

I'm writing all this now because right at this moment I feel quite the opposite of all that. I feel drained of all joy. For no reason in particular. Nothing bad has happened to me. Unless forced socialization over a fairly long period of time counts as a bad thing. I need to crawl back into my shell and lie low for a while. To recharge. Sadly I've put myself in a position where this isn't immediately possible.  I need to take a break. Alone.

Is solitude even possible in this bustling nation of mine? I'm actually on my way to another country atm on a short trip. Not alone though. Quite the opposite of alone. I'm part of a tour group. Ugh. Kill me now. 


This turned out to be a self-fulfilling prophesy in some ways. In others...well, I'll publish the sequel, also written some time ago.. However, I'm quite determined that my first ever experience of a packaged tour shall remain my last as well.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Aaranya Kaandam - a delicious treat of a film

I finally got to see Aaranya Kaandam today. And it made me smile. Nay, grin. Not all through. But at the very end, very definitely. And also through a lot of parts along the way. Quite a few laugh out loud moments as well. It wasn't all love though. I found myself puzzled and confused about where it was going and even how I felt about it as I was watching it, but it all came together eventually and the lingering note was yum.

Lip-smackingly good also was another tamil movie I'd heard a lot about and only just got to watch recentishly - Jigathanda. Contrary to my Aaranya Kaandam experience, however, that film had me in thrall almost right from the word go and never let up its iron hold over me until the intermission (and boy what a stunning sequence the one before said intermission is!). I was quite enraptured with it till that point. What followed was, admittedly, a bit of a let-down though still very good. That it wasn't nearly as interesting on second viewing speaks to how much the film hung on its twists to hold one's interest.

I suspect that Aaranya Kaandam will be unlike Jigarthanda and actually reward a second (and possibly more) viewing(s). Yes, it had its twists too. Or perhaps, surprises is the better word. But it's not only from them that its yumminess derives.

I really do have to watch it again. For one, I saw it on DD National (let me here express my gratitude for their Best of Indian cinema showings every Sunday and Monday nights that've given me the chance to watch so many good films I would never even have heard about otherwise..with subtitles!) and the cuts/bleeps seemed both extensive and excessive. And thankful as I am for the subtitles when watching a film in a language I don't know (at all or very well), they are rather distracting when it's a tamil movie because my brain keeps insisting on checking their accuracy and takes me out of the film. But even putting those issues aside, this is the kind of film that demands repeated viewings by its very nature. So much stuff to mine. So much deliciousness. Ah! 

Thursday, 29 January 2015

So long, and thanks for all the notes

If there's one thing I'll most definitely miss when I move back home, it's the live music. I guess I'll find some even there, but I doubt it'll be anywhere near what I've had the chance to experience here in the U.S. The sheer variety and quantity astounds me when I think back. Even living in middle of nowhere America, I managed to average about 20-30 shows a year, from genres ranging the entire spectrum pretty much. And I've only ever been disappointed once or twice in all that time.

I really wish I could've squeezed in more shows these final few months. But sadly, winter slows things down and there's been a dearth of live music. I did make it a point to visit New Orleans last week though, as one final trip inside this country before I bid it adieu. Went to no less than 9 shows in 4 days, and 4 weekdays at that! So much music. Highlights were Mike Dillon going wild, Helen Gillet being reliably awesome, and the Preservation Hall band's jaw-dropping jazz.

I thought that was the last of it for me since I leave in 3 weeks. But I just found out, to my uncontrollable excitement (hence this post after the long hiatus), that one of the best bands I discovered last year is playing in Chicago mere days before I fly out from there! I refer to Good Willsmith, of course. As it turned out, there was much more awesome music left for me to uncover last year after that discovery. Yet, if I had to pick one defining record that captured my imagination and, in a sense was the theme for my 2014 musically, it would have to be The Honeymoon Workbook. It was the record that reignited my passion for music and got me drinking in all I could. I really wanted to try and see them last year, but couldn't make it happen (I even passed through the same city they were playing in, only a few hours too soon). So I'm extremely thrilled to have this chance to see them again. And they're not just playing on their own. It looks like there will be other artists from and/or related to their Hausu Mountain label. This is going to be so awesome. I can't fucking wait.

It will be the perfect note to say farewell for the present to a country that has amply fed my appetite for that very special experience of live music. So long, and thanks for all the notes.

Sort of unrelated (or only obliquely related, since I just noticed that the post I linked to above about GWS also has an eerily similar unrelated note) - AMT just started following me on twitter. Like just now, right before I started writing this post. How weird is that. Also, whoa! I mean, AMT is THE live music band, and here I am thinking about writing about live music, and BAM! I have a new follower and it's them! Freaky. o_O