My “now” song: Ambwa talay

Do you ever have a song, an idea, a story line, or an image stuck in your head? And it just refuses to go away? For some time at least? I have this with music — it could be a song, an instrumental piece, a jingle, a background score, etc. That particular piece of music becomes my “now’” song, and the “nowness”  (pardon my English here) could be for any length of time.

My current “now” song is Ambwa Talayan Amir Khusro composition, sung here by Javed Bashir and Humera Channa as part of a Coke Studio Pakistan performance.

Ambwa Taley is a traditional bidaai or farewell song, which is sung when the bride leaves her parents’ home for her marital home. The bidaai songs are usually weepy songs, but Ambwa Talay is different. It is a sublime song with just the right tinge of the bittersweet. The bride can’t wait to begin a new phase of her life with her beloved, and yet there is sadness at leaving her childhood behind — her dolls, carefree days of playing on the swing, the rains… The bride requests her palanquin bearers to halt under the shade of the mango tree to look back and reminisce.

A friend recommended this song to me about 2 months back and I was instantly drawn to it. It began with the melody and then the beautiful lyrics and each time I listened to it I fell more in love with it. Javed Bashir’s earthy vocals and Humera Channa’s melodious voice with just the right tinge of longing — for both the future and the past — were spot on and I can’t imagine anyone else singing this song. I also felt that the use of the clarinet as a substitute for the shehnai was masterstroke for mirroring the sentiments of Ambwa Talay. As a ‘modern’ instrument, it hinted at the future, and yet its reedy notes conveyed the sacredness and solemnity of the traditional shehnai, which usually accompanies a bidaai song. Ambwa Talay is based on Raga Desh, one of my favourite ragas, and one more reason for it to be my “now” song.

It has been a very busy time lately and I have been away from the blog for more than 2 months. Glad to be back here with this song that has literally captured my heart and my emotions too. Hope you enjoy listening to it as well.

PS: What have you been listening to these days and what is your “now” song? Tell me.


For more of my “now” songs and my other writings on music, do click here.

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Chamba Rumals: Painted Embroideries or Embroidered Paintings?

It was serendipity that led me to the exhibition on ‘Chamba Rumal: Life to a Dying Art’ at the Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City Museum (BDL Museum) one Saturday evening earlier this month! I call it serendipity for till that afternoon, I had neither aware of the existence of something like the Chamba Rumal nor of the exhibition.

It all started in my Indian Aesthetics class on Krishna Shringara by Prof. Harsha Dehejia. While giving examples of the depiction of Krishna Shringara in art, the embroidered Chamba Rumal was one of the things he mentioned and showed in his presentation. Ruta, one of my coursemates (and who was probably aware of my love for museums), told me about the exhibition on Chamba Rumal during the break. And of course, this meant that I had to go see the exhibition that very evening after class.:)

When I walked into the Special Projects Area of the BDL Museum and where the exhibition on Chamba Rumal was being held, the first thing I noticed was the display — large framed pieces hung on bamboo stands. The cool whitewashed walls, and the gleaming kota flooring was just perfect for the vibrant exhibits, which looked like paintings from a distance, but were actually exquisitely embroidered pieces, the Chamba Rumals.

Chamba Rumal, Crafts of India, Art, Indian Aesthetics, Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Delhi Crafts Council, Exhibition

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The Kala Ghoda Arts Festival 2016

Déjà vu. That’s the feeling I was left with after attending the 2016 edition of the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival (KGAF), which was held from February 6th-14th this year.

Over 500 events were organised during this iconic annual festival in the following categories: Children, Children’s Literature, Cinema, Dance, Food, Heritage Walks, Literature, Music, Stand-Up Comedy, Street and Stalls, Theatre, Urban Design and Architecture, and Visual Arts. While I wanted to attend some of the events in the Workshops and Heritage Walk sections, I couldn’t. I could only manage to view the installations at different venues — Rampart Row, CSMVS Museum Grounds and Cross Maidan.

I visited the KGAF 2016 on three separate days. The first was on the evening of the opening day itself. When I arrived at Rampart Row, it was to the familiar sight of college goers with selfie sticks, ‘serious’ photographers with even more ‘serious’ camera gear, families looking forward to an evening together, wailing toddlers… all queuing up impatiently for the security check. Once in, my eyes automatically sought out the installation of the “Kala Ghoda” or the black horse that the festival derives its name from. This installation changes every year and the 2016 version was a visual stunner. Fashioned like a giant chess piece, it was strategically placed in front of a horse-shaped cut out.

Kala Ghoda Arts Festival 2016, #HTKGAF, KGAF 2016

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Restaurant Review: Just Bing’g’e

I am a lazy foodie, in the sense, that while I’m very happy to try out new types of food and check out new eateries, I am rarely willing to travel for the sake of food. I’m quite content exploring places near my house or office that keep popping up regularly. I make it a point to at least drop in once just to see what a new eatery is like.

Restaurant Review, Just Binge, Just Bing'g'e Vashi, Nuvofoodies, New Love In TownThat’s what should have happened when Just Bing’g’e opened in Vashi. I can’t remember where I heard about /came across Just Bing’g’e, but I decided not to go there, even though it was fairly close to my place.

The reason was not related to the food being served, but to the way “Bing’g’e” was spelt. The extra ‘g’ and the inverted commas around it set my teeth on edge. Consider me old-fashioned or boring (in addition to the aforementioned lazy), but I’ve never been able to understand or appreciate ‘creative’ spellings just because it sounds good or seems different or unique. I generally ignore/avoid places, things and sometimes even people with such creative spellings.

Just Bing’g’e got relegated to that category and would have remained there if not for an invite from Pooja of Nuvofoodies for a bloggers’ roundtable or a tasting at Just Bing’g’e. I did cringe when I saw the extra ‘g’ again, but the warm and personal invite from Pooja won me over, and that’s how ended up I visiting Just Bing’g’e in Vashi one evening last month.
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Travel Shot: The Pandava Temple at Lohargal

Around this time last year, I visited Lohargal in the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan in search of a stepwell. I found the stepwell or Chetan Das ki Baoli, And along the way also stumbled upon a temple dedicated to the Pandavas, with a very interesting story attached to it.

The Pandava temple (shrine would actually be a more appropriate word) is on one side of the narrow pathway that leads to the main and ancient temple, dedicated to the sun. I would not have given this shrine, whose walls are covered with subway tiles, a second look if the priest hadn’t called out to me and told me to stop. I did out of politeness and was glad that I did for I had never seen or heard of a Pandava temple in worship till then.

Lohargal, Shekhawati, Rajasthan. Travel, Pandavas, Mahabharata

Krishna flanked by Yudhishtra and Arjuna

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Museum Treasure: Silk Money of Khorezm

Q: What does a country do if there is a shortage of paper to print currency?

A: No problem. They print currency on a material they have in abundance.

When the rulers of Khiva of the Khorezm Province in Uzbekistan faced paper shortage at the beginning of the 19th century, they turned to a material they had in abundance —Silk, which was used to print currency of large denominations

Silk Money, Khorezm, Uzbekistan, Museum Exhibit

Silk Money or currency printed on silk

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