mcgillianaire: (Default)
Until about a month ago I hadn't received a single spam call on my US number. Since then I've registered myself as a British voter residing abroad (which meant I shared my US contact info including my telephone number with Soon after I did this, my UK bank found out I had moved to Washington even though I hadn't told them. And since then I've also received a handful of spam calls from the UK - often, the same number appearing as a missed call on my phone minutes after a similar call to my UK mobile number (which I use on a separate handset). Until now I have not registered for anything in the UK using my US contact details. All of the evidence I've gathered so far is circumstantial but I find it hard to believe it is purely coincidental that this has all happened only after I changed my voter registration status.
mcgillianaire: (Changing Guard London)
"Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London.
No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life;
for there is in London all that life can afford."

~ Samuel Johnson ~

On Thursday morning I fly to DC, drawing to a close over nine years in the UK. It seems fitting for such an occasion to delve into the memory bank and recollect how things have changed since I first moved here on a sunny May morning in 2007...

  • Tony Blair was still PM, Ming Campbell was Lib Dem leader and Ken Livingstone Mayor of London.
  • A woman had yet to serve as Britain's Home Secretary.
  • It was legal to smoke in pubs.
  • £1 was worth nearly $2.
  • Kate and Wills had just broken up.
  • Waterloo Station was still the Eurostar terminus.
  • Free newspapers thelondonpaper and London Lite were still in production and you had to pay for The Evening Standard.
  • Steve McClaren was England's football manager and the national team had yet to play at the new Wembley.
  • Portsmouth FC, now in the fourth tier, had just finished 9th in the Premier League.
  • Mourinho was Abramovich's only managerial appointment.
  • There was no equal prize money at Wimbledon between men and women.
  • The Digital Switchover had yet to begin.
  • Britain's Got Talent, Outnumbered, Would I Lie To You & Only Connect hadn't aired; Parkinson & Grange Hill were still on.
  • The iPhone hadn't been released yet.
  • Spain hadn't won a football World Cup or European Championships since 1964.
  • Pep Guardiola had yet to manage Barcelona and therefore hadn't won any of his 15 major trophies to date.
  • Djokovic had not won a Grand Slam yet, Nadal just 3 and there was only one British appearance in a final since 1977.
  • Myspace was the most popular social network, Twitter was just a year old (with fewer than 700,000 users) & Facebook had 20 million active users (it's now over a billion).
  • Justin Bieber hadn't been 'discovered' yet, Lady Gaga hadn't released her first album and Taylor Swift was still unheard of despite having released her first album.
  • Jennifer Lawrence had not acted in a film yet.
  • And finally, a little-known African American senator from Illinois had just announced his candidacy to the US presidency.

I hope I return to Blighty 21 months from now. I'm sure the time will fly. But my life has not quite gone according to plan until now, so who knows what the future holds. What I do know is that my lifelong love affair with The Great Wen and all things British will never diminish. So long Great Britain and its great people, thank you for all the wonderful memories.

Signing out for the last time on this side of the pond (for now), this is That Bloke in the Big Smoke.
mcgillianaire: (South Park Me)
I'm in America. I've been here 3 weeks, and I'll be here for 9 more. The weather in Providence, RI is a lot warmer (and sunnier) than London - so far. I'm thoroughly enjoying it. I'm staying with my sister and future bro-in-law. I'm taking a couple of online courses from Harvard's continuing education school and a course to prepare for the GRE. The GRE is a standardized test for postgrad studies in 'Murica. I've decided to turn my back on the legal profession and return to university next year. I'll be applying for public policy degrees in the neighborhood. Boston is commuting distance so there are quite a few options to pick from. I definitely don't have the grades or accomplishments to even consider the likes of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, but hopefully I will get admitted to the next rung of alternatives below it.

My family would like me to remain in America after my postgrad degree, preferably close to my sister, but I am pretty clear in my mind that this is just a short adventure across the pond. That said, I am really looking forward to the opportunity of studying in America, and I am open to the idea of staying here for a year or two afterwards if I can secure a job in DC (or anywhere else, as long as it's in public policy). But I would like to return to London eventually.

I haven't quite left permanently either. Once my three months on the visa waiver program ends, I'll be flying back to London for the Christmas period. As amazing as the weather is right now and as cool as it is to be in America, I miss Blighty. Thank fuck, if you'll pardon my French, for smartphones and tablets. And thank fuck for the BBC. The radio app has been a godsend. It's like I've never left. Although waking up to You & Yours has been an interesting experience; sort of like the opposite of waking up to Up All Night when I'm in Oman or India. And with free VPN apps, I've even been able to tune into Sky Sports to watch live events, while catching-up on the latest comedies via the iPlayer app!

It was also interesting to vote in the Labour leadership election while sat on my computer here in America. I didn't give Jeremy Corbyn any of my nominations and instead plumped for Kendall, Cooper and Burnham in that order. None of my choices did well in the deputy leadership and London mayoral candidate election either. But nothing was as amusing as the media and shadow cabinet meltdown that greeted Corbyn's victory declaration. The Tories and right-wing media predictably labelled him a threat to humanity. And Blairites clearly didn't know what to do; cross the floor, jump ship or piss from inside the tent. Basically a raft of similar options that will not change the result in 2020.

And poor Corbyn, the chap clearly wants politics to change, but I don't think he feels comfortable leading the circus. Leadership necessitates compromise, and if there is something that sets Corbyn apart, it is his principled consistency. Love or loathe him, he has made a career out of it. The leadership will be a test of his political ambition and nous, neither of which he has displayed until now. Yet there are many attributes that I admire in Corbyn (the backbencher), and it is refreshing that someone of his disposition has risen to the top of British politics.

Alas, one wonders whether Labour should reduce itself to simply a party of protest, or seek to position itself as a government-in-waiting, ready to take over from the Tories at a general election. It's one thing to secure a thumping mandate from the cheerleading squad, quite another appealing to a wider electorate.

I wasn't even bothered about his appearance at PMQs, at St Paul's cathedral, his insistence to remain silent during the national anthem, or the chaotic manner in which the shadow cabinet was formed. It reflected a person for whom substance matters over spin. But I can understand why the electorate may have viewed it differently. You know, the same people whose votes he needs in 2020. Corbyn faces an uphill battle. The Tories plan to reduce the number of MPs and re-draw constituency boundaries - largely to their benefit. And there's still no sign that Scotland will abandon the SNP. Which leaves about 50-75 marginals to gain from the Tories in order to form a government.

Corbynistas are banking on three things: the 35% that didn't vote in May, old Labour UKIP voters and old Labour Green/Lib Dem voters. It's true, a lot of people didn't vote in May and Corbyn's election may inspire some people to vote for the first time/again. On the contrary, Labour voters who really don't like Corbyn's policies, but voted for Labour earlier this year, may jump ship too. It also remains to be seen whether young voters stick with Corbyn, if he continues to compromise on his principles (eg: accepting a role as a privy counsellor etc). As for old Labour UKIP voters, UKIP finished second in many Labour-held seats. There wouldn't be much point if those voters returned to Labour. Labour needs UKIP voters in Tory-held seats to 'return to the fold'. It's a big ask. One suspects such UKIP voters would not have been impressed with Corbyn's refusal to sing the national anthem at an event commemorating the Battle of Britain. And as for old Labour Green/Lib Dem voters, well they may gain a dozen seats or so that way, but what use will that be? They need at least 50. I just cannot see Corbyn winning a general election.

It may all be be a moot point. Several pundits have chipped in with their predictions of how long they think Corbyn will last, ranging from a few days to three years. Even members of his shadow cabinet refuse to say with any conviction that he will fight the next general election. For what it's worth, my guess is between six months to a year. Once the novelty wears off, once conference season ends, once there are a few more media "gaffes", and once the opinion polls tank, we'll see whether he roughs it out. Unlike power-hungry careerists who would refuse to fall on their sword until the last possible moment, I think Mr Corbyn would recognise his role in a sinking ship and jump.

One of Corbyn's illustrious predecessor's is often quoted (though perhaps incorrectly) as saying that a week is a long time in politics. Well, what a week it has been. To those who complained that politics had become a sterile affair, you've got your comeuppance. Now then, are you prepared for the consequences? I'll be watching from afar with interest.
mcgillianaire: (Union Jack)
This is what I wrote on Facebook yesterday afternoon:

"Gutted about the result but congratulations to the Tories for an extraordinary victory. Did not see that coming at all. An absolute bloodbath in political terms for the opposition. A country divided unlike ever before. A broken electoral system. And an impending escalation to the austerity programme. I do hope the vanquished dust themselves off quickly and work together in every way possible to fight for the cause of social democracy. Unfortunately, the voices of liberalism are all but dead in this Parliament and worse still, perhaps for another generation."

Douglas Alexander, Danny Alexander, Jim Murphy, Charles Kennedy, Vince Cable, Simon Hughes, David Laws, Ed Balls, Nigel Farage, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband. It felt like the political equivalent of that climactic scene in The Godfather when Michael Corleone ordered all those assassinations while attending his nephew's christening. Lynton Crosby, like Clemenza before him, had carried out all the dirty work, leaving Don David Cameron to take all the credit and assume absolute control.

Five years ago I voted for the Lib Dems and I did the same again on Thursday night. We've gone from our first stint in government since the War to the edge of obscurity. There will be a lot of soul-searching in the years ahead. The legacy of Jo Grimond, Jeremy Thorpe, David Steel, Paddy Ashdown and Charles Kennedy lies in tatters. The rise and fall of Nick Clegg feels like a modern adaptation of an ancient Greek tragic hero. Yet, the optimist in me believes our day will come again. I sincerely hope so, particularly for the cause of British liberalism.
mcgillianaire: (Geetopadesham)

The Highgatehill Murugan Temple was the first Hindu temple that dad visited in England more than thirty years ago. And therefore it has a very special place in his heart. Every time he passes through the city, he pays his respects and last weekend was no different. This is how it looks today after a front extension upgrade giving the appearance of a Tamil abode of worship. Dad (along with many other devotees) paid towards its construction. The two statues in gold colour are of Muruga and Ganesha (the elephant-headed God) who are the sons of Shiva and Parvati. Muruga is often referred to as the God of Tamils and wherever in the world you are, a Murugan temple is the best evidence of a Tamil community in the area. Mounted onto the inner-side of the window, halfway between the two gold statues is the Hindu symbol Om depicted in Tamil. And just above the main entrance are two sculptures of peacocks, the traditional vehicle of Muruga. If you're ever in the area, the temple serves a simple yet delicious free lunch consisting of just three Tamil dishes every day around noon. All are welcome. And here's a cheeky photo I took of the main Muruga idol inside the temple a couple years ago.
mcgillianaire: (Hooka Pipe)

A photostitch of the exquisite interior of Muscat's new Royal Opera House.

Best buddies from high school.
Beach-side shisha cafes.
Gorgeous weather.
Home-cooked food.
New "family" members.
Indian satellite TV.
Dinner parties.
Chilled-out badminton sessions.
Bargain-priced new clothes.
Cheap nights out.
Swan Lake by the Mariinsky Ballet in Muscat's new Royal Opera House.

Remind me, what is it about London that trumps all of that?!
mcgillianaire: (LFC Liverbird)
As you know, my three favourite sports are cricket, football and tennis. It's been an eventful week for all three and the teams/sportsmen that I support. It started with Liverpool's victory away at Chelsea's Stamford Bridge last Sunday, continued with Roger Federer's demolition of Rafael Nadal during the week and subsequent unbeaten run to his 100th professional tournament final, 70th career title overall and record-breaking 6th ATP World Tour Finals success. In between, there were two close finishes in the Test cricket matches between South Africa/Australia and India/West Indies. Neither of the teams which I wanted to win succeeded, but both matches were a fantastic advert for the game's longer version. Then to cap off the eventful week, Liverpool became only the second club in this season's Premier League to take points off leaders Manchester City, in a game we really should've won. Not a bad way to lead myself into starting a new temp job tomorrow morning!
mcgillianaire: (Cricket Stumps)

Click on picture for link to book on Amazon UK.

There are several reasons why I fell in love with the game of cricket and this book is one of them. It was probably the first dedicated book about cricket that I ever bought and I remember the occasion clearly. My dad's favourite bookshop in the UK was Dillon's on Gower Street in Central London, now a branch of Waterstones. It felt massive then and even today it's the largest academic bookstore in Europe! I used to enjoy going to Dillon's on our biennial visits to the UK while growing up in Oman. On my first-ever visit there in the summer of 1992 (when I was eight) I bought this book. I wasn't a huge fan of cricket yet but I was slowly getting into it. For better or for worse, this book hooked me for life. I spent hours poring through every one of its 256 pages, the prose about the game's history and the tables of statistics detailing every record worth knowing.

Pakistan were touring England that summer and people who followed that series will remember it well. I know we were in town when Aamir Sohail scored a double century, at Edgbaston if memory serves. And I think he scored 205, possibly not-out. But the series made headlines for all the wrong reasons, what with ball-tampering allegations against the Pakistanis and what not. That was probably the first Test series that I had ever followed. Two years earlier I had been aware of India's tour of England and even bought my first-ever plastic cricket set during a trip to Snowdonia in Wales with some family friends, who also bought a set for themselves. But I know I didn't follow that series. I have a vague memory of watching part of a Test on the same family friend's TV, then going out into the driveway with their two boys and trying to emulate the players with our new cricket sets. Don't think we broke any car windows but our dads did break the bank to catch some action at Lord's. They also went to Wimbledon and caught some Centre Court action. So much for taking their boys along!

The emphasis in this book was obviously on Test cricket and though I probably wasn't aware of who he was at the time, it should come as no surprise that it was compiled by Bill Frindall. When I tried searching for the book (just out of plain curiosity) before I started on this entry, his name just popped out of nowhere. I couldn't remember the name of the book nor who had written it, but merely by recalling the image of the book in my mind, the first name that my memory bank associated with it was the Bearded Wonder. Lo and behold, it was by Frindall. I'm sure it's still stored somewhere in our house in Oman but I wish I had it in front of me right now!

(1992 was probably the year I fell in love with the game. You can read about another memorable formative cricketing experience from the same year that I posted about in March 2005).
mcgillianaire: (Default)
A week ago if I heard police sirens in the distance I might've wondered momentarily about what was happening, but I probably wouldn't have checked to see if anybody had tweeted about it. How things have changed. In the past hour I've heard three sets of police sirens in the distance and each time I've checked on twitter to see if anybody else has written about them as well. Nothing yet and hope it stays that way. Nighty night peeps!
mcgillianaire: (Default)

8 July 1995. Steffi Graf met Arantxa-Sanchez Vicario in the first of back-to-back finals at Wimbledon. This one will be remembered for the titanic 20-minute 11th game in the third set. It featured 13 deuces and 18 game points, ending with the German eventually breaking the Spaniard, before securing her sixth Wimbledon title on her serve. Graf went on to retain her title in 1996. Sadly, Sanchez-Vicario never played another Wimbledon final, but she will always be remembered for "that game"! I was in Chennai for summer holidays and I certainly remember talking about it at cricket coaching the next day. We knew we'd witnessed something special.
mcgillianaire: (Football player)

The English Cellar Alehouse in Providence, Rhode Island - conveniently located in the middle of Brown University's campus on Angell Street.
mcgillianaire: (South Park Me)

Hiding inside the freezer room of a McDonald's just off the Interstate Highway 17 near Liberty, Missouri. You can see dad's head in the left foreground. A tornado passed within a mile of where we took refuge!

Phew! Heavy rains overnight. Woke up at 4 to catch a plane from Des Moines, a 2h30 drive away from Maharishi Vedic City. All flights to Chicago were cancelled, including ours. Our connection to St Louis was also cancelled. No chance of getting to Detroit until tomorrow and that was contingent on the weather improving. We had two options, drive down to Omaha where the weather was probably a bit better or as bad as Des Moines, or drive to Kansas City and catch a flight via Memphis, Tennessee. We opted for the latter, only to find ourselves driving straight into the path of a 30mph tornado just before the airport. As the rain picked up we pulled into a Mickey D's. As the twister approached our temporary abode of safety, the kind staff hollered us into the freezer room. Needless to say, it was quite chilly inside but luckily we only had to spend about a dozen or so minutes there before it was safe to come out. We continued on to Kansas City International Airport. Just as we stepped inside, another thunderstorm lashed hard onto the terminal building. We're now sitting at the gate and hoping to board our aircraft to Memphis in about 90mins. Wish us the best!
mcgillianaire: (Portcullis Logo)
I voted about two hours ago - YES of course. But I thought I wouldn't because I misplaced my polling card. Turns out you don't need it. Surprisingly, I didn't need to prove my identity either, although I did take my passport and bank statement along just in case. The ladies at the polling station were the same from previous years - pretty as ever. I've voted every year since 2008 but unfortunately tonight's will be in a losing cause. Oh well...


Apr. 21st, 2011 02:00 pm
mcgillianaire: (Default)

Dad's given him away to another family because he was too aggressive. It's been a steep but eye-opening learning curve. Ultimately, we've decided to go back to Plan A and settle on a pure breed black labrador or boxer.
mcgillianaire: (Default)
Have any of you read the Matthew Shardlake Series by British historian/solicitor C J Sansom set in Tudor London? A friend of mine got the middle three books for Christmas (I think) and lent me one of them. Absolutely loving it but I decided to buy the first book titled Dissolution so that I could read them in order. I haven't read a novel in years but I'm confident of breaking the rut with this lot. And hopefully it'll inspire me enough to read others too.
mcgillianaire: (Default)

Dad sent this picture from his recent trip to Kuala Lumpur. Lord Muruga is the most important Hindu God for Tamils, who make up a sizeable minority of the Malaysian population (roughly 1.4 million or 5% of the total). This statue of Lord Muruga was unveiled in January 2006 and took three years to construct. At 43m (140ft) high it is the world's tallest statue of Lord Muruga and is located outside Batu Caves, thirteen kilometres north of Kuala Lampur (the capital of Malaysia). According to Wiki, the statue "is made of 1550 cubic metres of concrete, 250 tonnes of steel bars and 300 litres of gold paint brought in from neighbouring Thailand." The Batu Caves temple complex consists of three main caves and a few smaller ones. The biggest, referred to as Cathedral Cave or Temple Cave, has a 100 m-high ceiling and features ornate Hindu shrines. To reach it visitors must climb a steep flight of 272 steps. The cave is the focal point of the Hindu festival of Thaipusam in Malaysia that is celebrated mainly by Tamils. The festival falls on the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai (January/February).
mcgillianaire: (Ari G)
I've got a new computer and it replaces the HP Pavilion notebook that I got and posted about just before moving to London in April 2007. I hope none of you followed my lead and bought an HP laptop because it flattered to deceive within months of using it. Too loud, too slow, faulty DVD wiring (even after replacing it) and a terrible battery. This time my first choice was an iMac but it was beyond budget (approx £1300). Having used my sister's old Lenovo laptop during my recent stint in Oman, I was impressed with its performance as the PC was just months younger than my HP. And Lenovo had the cheapest online deals for the specifications that I wanted: an All-in-one desktop, 20" touch screen monitor, Intel Core i3 processor (but ideally i5), a better graphics card than the integrated Intel one, 4GB RAM, 500+GB HDD, Blu-Ray DVD-writer, min. 5 USB slots, FireWire & HDMI ports, integrated TV tuner, wireless keyboard/mouse and a 3-year warranty. But most importantly it had to cost less than £800 altogether. And I almost got everything I wanted except for the Blu-Ray. But that's fine.

  • Intel Core i3-350M processor (2.26GHz, 3MB Cache)
  • 23" (1920 x 1080) Full HD, 16:9 widescreen, with Lenovo NaturalTouch Panel & Surface Acoustic Wave multi-touch technology
  • ATI Radeon HD 5650 1GB graphics card
  • 4 GB DDR3 DRAM 1066 MHz memory
  • 640 GB HDD
  • Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)
  • Slot-in Optical Disk drive, DVD writer
  • 2.0 JBL speakers (2*5W) with Dolby Home Theate
  • Integrated hybrid analogue/digital TV tuner (AV in, TV in)
  • 802.11abgn Draft-N WiFi, 10/1000M Gigabit Ethernet LAN modem
  • 0.3M integrated Lenovo High-Sense Webcam & integrated microphone
  • 6 x USB2.0, eSATA, 6-in-1 card reader, FireWire, 1 headphone/line-out jack (with SPDIF digital audio support), microphone jack, HDMI in & out
  • Adjustable stand, Bluetooth Keyboard and Mouse (operation from up to 65 ft away)
  • Pre-installed software: Lenovo Rescue System 3.0, Power2Go 6.0, McAfee®, YouCam, Lenovo Dynamic Brightness System, Lenovo Eye Distance System, LVT 4.0, Common Components Installation, WinDVD® 8.0 (BD), Healthcare 2.0, PowerCinema, VeriGesture, AutoCollage, IdeaTouch and motion-drive games pack (with optional 4-in-1 Remote)
  • 670 x 207 x 525 (mm) (W x H x D) including base
  • 14.8 kg (32.6 lbs)
It's not the best looking computer especially compared with the benchmark set by the iMac but it'll do. Lenovo are not known for their aesthetics but their A310 All-in-One model gives the iMac a run for its money. Pity it lacked several of the key features which I wanted. My new computer is also pretty heavy but it can be wall mounted and a metal bracket is included. Good for movie watching. Its retail price is £1000 and is now available for £850 on Amazon but I bought it for £650 and it was delivered the very next day! I checked Amazon the day after it arrived and it was available for an even better deal of £600. So bear that in mind if you plan on buying a computer from Amazon. There are good deals but they come and go before you can say Brazil. And if you buy it on Amazon UK you'll automatically be offered the choice of purchasing a three-year warranty plus accident protection from SquareTrade for just an additional £50 (although I had to pay £70 for it). So all-in-all, a good machine for just £730. Half the price of an iMac+warranty and with some better features even. Bhooyakasha!

As for the computer itself, it seems great so far. The only things to bear in mind are that the wireless keyboard and mouse don't pick up movement immediately when you start moving them but if you remain patient for a second or two, all is well. I did read some negative stories from users of similar Lenovo models in which they had to continually pair their keyboard and mouse devices but that hasn't happened to me (yet). The cool thing for you gamers is that the mouse is a 3-in-1 which means it works as a wireless controller like you would with the Nintendo Wii. The link specified a 640GB HDD but it turned out to be 570GB with 550GB free. No biggie really.

I'm yet to test the extent of the screen's multi touch features or the VeriFace technology which allows you to create a password with your face, check who has tried to log into the computer and encrypt/decrypt sensitive files using your face as the password. The first thing that caught my attention was the size of the screen. It was quite an upgrade from my 15.4" laptop and the graphics are much more clear and bright. Score! Everything seems to be running smoothly and quickly; booting up takes under two minutes. There doesn't seem to be any substantial difference between Windows 7 and Vista but you now have the option to combine task bar windows even when it's not full. I like that task bar windows are minimised to their thumbnail icon (finally!) and the fact that you can create slide shows of background images (though perhaps this was already available in Vista?)

The speakers are fairly good for an inbuilt system but I'd still recommend connecting a dedicated set for better quality. I'm yet to test the inbuilt webcam and microphone but all in good time. The TV tuner was easy to use and installed all the Freeview channels. I'm hoping to connect a Virgin Media package with SkySports to it eventually. The computer comes pre-installed with software to record scheduled programmes which is nifty. The biggest downside is the lack of other useful pre-installed software, most notably Microsoft Office. If only I'd bought this computer in Oman or India. Nae bother, this is my chance to join the OpenSource bandwagon and make merry with OpenOffice. I'm even thinking of installing Ubuntu but I'm worried it'll slow the machine down too much. That was one of the main reasons I fell out with my HP laptop. Your suggestions are most welcome.

For more pics including side and back angles, click here.
mcgillianaire: (Lock Stock Still-frame)
The Social Network [2010] - 3.5/5
I really enjoyed it. Jesse Eisenberg acts well, though I suspect Colin Firth's performance in The King's Speech will top it off. Next on my list.

Wild Target [2010] // Bill Nighy, Emily Blunt, Rupert Grint - 1/5
A Britcom directed by Jonathan Lynn, one-half of the duo that brought Yes Minister to our screens, but this was a bloody disaster.

Cherrybomb [2009] // Rupert Grint, James Nesbitt - 1/5
A film set in Belfast but the location was immaterial. Yet another flick involving kids, drugs, booze and sex. I've had 'nuff Grint for the year.

Ken Park [2002] - 0.5/5
Worse than Wild Target. Only worth watching if you don't have access to porn. Can't believe this was recommended to me! Avoid, avoid.
mcgillianaire: (Ministry of Sound)

On Friday evening I went to a South Indian/Carnatic classical music concert with my dad and some of his friends. The star attraction was U. Srinivas (see video above) who plays the mandolin. He was accompanied by his brother who also plays the mandolin and four others on traditional South Indian percussion instruments, including three of my favourites: the ghatam (an earthenware pot), the morsing (played between the teeth!) and the mridangam (the South Indian tabla). They played for over three hours and it was held at Muscat's open air amphitheatre. The event was organised by the Tamil Wing of the Indian Social Club and over a thousand people attended. There were four types of tickets, two of which cost 5 Rials ($13) & 10 Rials each, while the others were complimentary and split into VIPs & VVIPs.

We had VVIP tickets which meant we sat in the front row, but to the extreme left side. I would've preferred to sit a few rows back in a more centrally located seat. In any case, it didn't really matter as long as the performance lived up to its hype. And that it did. I'm not well versed with the intricacies of Indian classical music (North or South), but even I could appreciate the mastery of Mr Srinivas. And his accompanying troupe were not too shabby either. Each South Indian classical work usually runs 15-20 minutes and of the 8 or 9 performed, I recognised about half. A couple of them were crowd favourites and elicited finger-whistling from the rowdier sections. There were even calls for more.

All in all, a very pleasant experience. I got twitchy towards the end but I'm glad I went. South Indian classical music is even less unknown than North Indian/Hindustani classical but is just as good, if not better. I've always been fascinated by how western (classical) instruments have often been adopted by South Indian musicians into its classical fold and to great effect. The violin is by far the most popular choice but the most notable is the saxophone, exemplified by the maestro par excellence, Kadri Gopalnath. He's worth a YouTube search.
mcgillianaire: (Default)
Thanks to the non-stop Oman Air flight, it took me less than 12 hours door-to-door. Just in time to watch Match of the Day! YNWA


mcgillianaire: (Default)

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