What’s heaven to you?

To listen to a beautiful Sahana, followed by Kedara Gowlai followed by Saama (perhaps a vocal flute duet between Musiri and Sruthi Sagar) followed by an evening well spent at a cricket ground (perhaps Chepauk or Wankhede; the red soil pitch offering plenty of turn and bounce) watching Cheteswar Pujara and VVS Laxman take on the spin bowling duo of Shane Warne and Nathan Lyon (aided by the fielding side: Ian Healy (wicket keeper), Mark Taylor (slip), Mark Waugh (silly mid off), David Boon (short leg), Ricky Ponting, Andrew Symonds and Michael Clarke (point, covers, mid wicket etc etc). To watch live, as dusk engulfs the ground, with Sahana and Saama and Kedara Gowlai from the morning playing and replaying in your head, VVS and Che Pu take on the Aussies.

Dreams

One day I hope Tamil Nadu will lift the Ranji trophy. To watch Balaji mentor these young bowlers with the smile never disappearing from his face and to watch Dinesh Karthik stride out to bat with a Tamil Nadu emblem on his helmet stirs the heart like no other. Hope some team down the line lift the Ranji trophy…for the likes of Balaji and Badrinath, for Sharath and Robin Singh etc and many many others.

How the tides turn……

The 1990’s were quite a time to grow up as a cricket mad boy in Chennai. Just as India were regularly thrashed by Pakistan (Wasim….Anwar….. Sharjah) so too Karnataka regularly thrashed Tamil Nadu. Particularly embedded into the consciousness / psyche are two heavy defeats separated by nearly 20 years: the Ranji Trophy finals of 1996 and 2015. To see a young Tamil Nadu team sans India test players Ashwin and Vijay defeat Karnataka in 2 days at Vishakapatnam in the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal is something to be cherished for a long time. Particularly heartwarming are the performances of people like Aswin Crist, Thangarasu Natarajan from deep in the Thamizh hinterland. This adds to the pleasure of India finally defeating England 4-0 in the recently concluded test series. After winning in England in 2007, I watched, dismay turning into cynicism turning into numbness, India lose 4-0 in England in 2011, 2-1 in India in 2012 and 3-1 in England in 2014. In the heydays of English triumphs in 2011-12, it seemed like India would never defeat England in the foreseeable future. To see this victory now is particularly sweet. Ah, the sweet taste of victory, particularly when (as in Tamil Nadu’s case) it is few and far between.

Raaga thoughts

Are raagams *fixed* ideas that get approached by songs or are they *flexible* that they *bend* to accommodate the vagaries of the song? ( This thought was inspired by listening to a very meditative Ramanatham Bhajeham in Panthuvarali sung by KVN. He seemed to be focussing more on the aesthetics of the song structure than the grammatical structure of Panthuvarali itself. Was Panthuvarali alright but very much a Panthuvarali informed by Ramanatham Bhajeham. Hard to describe in words the actual musical effect. The “linearity” of Panthuvarali as the 51st melakarta raagam was somehow gone but it was totally Panthuvarali alright without violating the “grammar” of Panthuvarali. Seems to lend more credence to the after the fact imposition of the Melakarta system.) How much is a raagam characterized by the *stretch* of the sangathis ( this inspired by the Surutti that followed the Panthuvarali. The master presents a leisurely Githarthamu.)

Dileep Premachandran on Sehwag

Dileep Premachandran has a lovely tribute to Sehwag here:

http://www.wisdenindia.com/cricket-blog/happy-38th-sehwag-floating-butterfly-stinging-bee/226202

We will never forget the Sehwag of 2004-05 and 2008-10, though. A soft-spoken man with no time or patience for theatrics, he ripped apart pretty much every single notion we had about opening the batting in Test cricket. Others like Graeme Smith were perhaps better across a variety of conditions, but Sehwag, like the floating-butterfly-and-stinging-bee Muhammad Ali, was the entertainer and path-breaker.

For a brief while, in the first decade of the 21st century, India were the best team in the world: the batting greats: Sehwag, Dravid, Laxman and the incomparable SRT, the spin bowlers: Kumble and Harbhajan (but don’t forget the support spin bowlers like Karthik, Pragyan Ojha etc) and the magnificent swing and seam bowling of Zaheer Khan.