Sunday, March 27, 2011

Re-falling in love with an old song

Watched "Raising Hope" this evening, where a woman was singing a baby to sleep and her husband was strumming the guitar. The song they sang was "Danny's song" and it brought back such a flood of memories.

My beautiful mom with her then long hair waving as she bobbed her head, accompanying Anne Murray with a guitar as me and my sisters tried to lisp along. My beautiful big sister pretending she was Anne Murray, holding a hairbrush and mouthing the words as Anne crooned on our old tape recorder. Me pretending I was big sister and mimicking her moves in front of the mirror, and then quickly pretending I was brushing my hair all along when somebody entered the room... 

Big sister seemed to us like a vision of loveliness with her long tresses. Mom had cut our hair short, and big sis' hair epitomised glamour and adulthood, and we'd watch as she brushed it every morning before school. It was long, thick and straight, parted in the middle, with a slight wave at the ends. She also had a good singing voice, so sometimes, when she felt like it, she'd honour us with a song- and she wont just sing, she'd grab her brush and dance along, and we wanted to be like her...

When big sis had a son, she would lull him to sleep with the Carpenter's "Close to you" and "Beechwood 4-5789". And of course, Anne's "Danny's song". God, I miss those days/songs.

Now 3 of my sisters have had children, and I have unofficially adopted one of my nephews. He's an energetic fat little baby who thinks he'd be missing something if he falls asleep, so getting him to sleep is a huge problem. 
Singing nursery rhymes to him only makes him more awake as he tries to babble along. Maybe its time to break out Anne Murray and the Carpenters and it will all be like yesterday once more.

And even though we ain't got money
I'm so in love with you, honey
And everything will bring a chain of love
And in the morning when I rise,
You bring a tear of joy to my eyes

And tell me everything will be alright....

"Danny's song"- Anne Murray version. Written by Kenny Loggins, who, too broke to buy his brother Danny a gift when Danny had a son, gifted him this song instead. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Beautiful disasters, bad days and drum covers.

Early 2005. He'd raved about Elton John's "Tiny Dancer" making its appearance in the movie "Almost Famous" and I was all "Oh, that's niiiceee" and promptly went back home and listened to the song over and over and over again. A few days later, when he came over I grabbed his arm and cried, "There, there, thats the song I was talking about. See, the girl is depressed and she's drawing sad pictures on the wall and the guy modifies each one so that they become all happy.." (Well, not in those words exactly, cos we spoke in Mizo, obviously) and he was also all "oh, that's niiicceeee". A couple weeks later, he said, "There is this fabulous song by some guy called Daniel Powter, you should give it a listen. I've been listening to it over and over".

That's how its been, he and I and music. The initial attraction when we met at the end of 2004 was sparked off by a mutual interest in the same kind of music. Since then, we have been recommending songs to each other, a silent unacknowledged competition over who would make the better find. When one of us makes the find, the other would act all non-committal, no matter how we might secretly like the song.  Then a couple weeks later, the other would act like it had been him/me making the original find.

But Cobus, I willingly concede the original find to him. Last year he showed me this clip of this boy doing an amazing drum cover of one of my fave songs, Breaking Benjamin's "Breath". I flipped. Then recently he gave me some more amazing covers done by the same boy, Cobus Potgeiter.

He plays the drums himself and since being with him, Ive started to pay more attention to stick-work. I don't know much, but this I know- Cobus is an extremely talented kid. But more than the talent is the enthusiasm and the sheer exuberance with which he plays his drums. And the way those hands move- Here.

The way his hands fly towards the end of the song, it's like the comments say, he's got tentacles for arms and kryptonite in his wrist bands :D Its like he's not even banging those drums, he's making them move through sheer will-power. Aweeeesssommmmeeee. The fact that he absolutely loves what he's doing only makes him that much more watch and listen-worthy.

Been air-drumming like crazy and my arms ache and I'm exhausted and exhilarated and so darned chuffed!!

Hey Z :D 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Walking away from a slow dance

There's something about that kind of song, when you're feeling like that, that heals. It made me feel better. It feels like you're not the only one feeling that kind of melancholy.”-  Tommy Lee James.

 It's a toss-up between Johnny Lang's "Walking away" and John Mayer's "Slow Dancing in a Burning room". Mayer's virtuosity and Lang's passion. The guitar duet at the end of Mayer's performance, Lang's all-out-there performance. Pure electricity, pure soul.

And after both, you find yourself breathless- rage spent, melancholia assuaged and yet, still lingering.  And you hit "repeat" over and over. It never gets old.
Thank God for music. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Shillong part deux

So, we attended the ISFNR (International Society for Folk Narrative Research) interim conference held at NEHU in Shillong. There were three of us from Mizoram University- me, Jamie and Dr. Margaret L. Pachuau. We presented papers on our folktales (it being a folktale seminar, d-uh)- Dr. MLP on the identity of the Mizos within folk narratives, emphasising on the pre and post colonial religion of the Mizos; Jamie on the archetypal portrayal of Chhurbura within the "fool" or "trickster" paradigms, and me on the representation of Mizo women in our folklore and consequently,how this reflects society, focusing on three characters- Mauruangi, Tualvungi and Zangkaki.  

Dr. MLP's paper generated comments on the influence of Christianity on the culture of the NE tribes- had Christianity erased or distorted much of our culture? The Mizo tales of creationism- that the earth was created by a female deity called Khuazangnu, and that an earthworm helped multiply mud, that the earth rested on the back of a tortoise and that the felling of a huge tree created vales, mountains and streams- sparked a lot of interest because of the similarity with creationist stories of the Red Indian tribes. Jamie's paper on Chhurbura was also compared to the fool and trickster stories of the Anansi Spider tales from the Ashanti tribes of Africa. 

My paper attracted a rather feministic response. I did try to focus on the representation and not the repression of Mizo women through the characters mentioned, but Mizo society being hugely patriarchal, the responses generated comments from women who wanted to know if a re-reading of those tales from women's perspectives have been done, on whether the history of our Mizo women have documented. Sad to say, only the story of Ropuiliani, the chief who made the last stand against the colonialists, has been well-documented. Then there was that man who so diplomatically and roundaboutedly commented on the 'sexual freedom' of Mizo women, asking if we now had the option to choose our own partners; so I had no choice but to diplomaticaaly answer back that, yes, nowadays we Mizo women have, for the most part, the option to choose the partner we want, and that the our seeming 'sexual freedom 'is actually a free and innocent mixing of the sexes, something which those coming from more conservative communities would misconstrue and misunderstand. Okay, I wasn't quite as eloquent, this being my first attendance in a seminar, but I managed to mumble something to that effect.  Afterwards, three women came up to me to complain about the attitude of that man and his ilk and their bigoted views about NE women and they wanted to know why I hadn't been more forceful. But when your'e on that stand for the first time, and the comment is phrased so roundaboutedly, well, its rather hard to breathe fire, sorry :( 

The responses we generated made me aware of the universality of our stories and the academic appeal they hold not only to the literary field but to sociologists and anthropologists, and also on the woeful lack of documentation that is available. I've met people from academic circles who say that we Mizos lack literary prowess and that our stories are not really worth being told. Some have even gone on to say that we should focus on stories that depict Mizo valour, bravery and tlawmngaihna, and omit stories like Chhurbura, since they could create a bad impression of our Mizo forefathers and people might think we Mizos are all like that wtf???? 

Literature is not just about Shakespeare and the classics and the romantics and the epics and the dramatis personae and the three unities bleh! Granted, our literary output in no way measures up to theirs, but they have had centuries of practice and all we've had till a hundred years ago were weathered men and women, sharing stories they've heard from their parents and their parent's parents. And maybe, they are not interested, but those that have sampled literary outputs the world over are interested in our stories, our history and our people. Funny thing that- at seminars and conferences like the one I've attended, it is the outsiders who take umbrage at words like insurgency ("You were not insurgents, you were a people fighting for your basic rights and the Indian government should be ashamed to label you as insurgents"), tribal ("the word has a negative connotation; in fact, all communities are tribal to start with), headhunters (you people should never be ashamed of being headhunters. You did not venture out with the specific aim of hunting heads). 

Heh, about headhunting, there's this story that Vanglaini posted on March 3rd. During the 1890's, the British administrators often ordered the Mizo chiefs to supply them with local maidens. Many of the chiefs reluctantly complied because the Brits would burn their fields and villages if they refused. Zakapa Fanai, the chief of Khawhri village valiantly defended the virtue of his womenfolk against C.S Murray in 1891 when this "Marliana" came and demanded that he and his men be supplied with the local maidens. During a heated argument, Zakapa not only refused but also wrested Marliana's rifle from him. Marliana and his soldiers retaliated by burning the village granary. The incensed chief Zakapa took a few of his men with him and ambushed Marliana and his soldiers. Zakapa managed to take the heads of six soldiers while the defeated and petrified Marliana fled to Lunglei. 

Ashamed of our headhunting past? Oh no, not I :D