Sunday, June 28, 2009

Kirtan - Signing praises of Durga

A party next door, a north Indian Kirtan, with lively music (live, of course) and dancing. The woman in the brownish sari is the principal singer/storyteller, reading verses about Durga and explaining them.
Signs of a party:

A party next door, a north Indian Kirtan, with lively music (live, of course) and dancing. The woman in the brownish sari is the principal singer/storyteller, reading verses about Durga and explaining them.

Here is some of the singing.

The women get up to dance. The North Indians have much livelier rituals than the South Indians. Most of the the songs are in Hindi, with a big chunk of Punjabi thrown in.
Video of the dancing:

A new bike

Picking out a bike.
Waiting for the bike to get checked out.

Putting the bike in the car.
Some scenes of the road outside the bike shop:
All kinds of vehicles.
A happy sight: Little girls coming home from school.

Land grabs blocking public roads in Jakkur

This is what the path to Jakkur village looked like last September 2008 (I think I even posted this picture before). Not lovely, but at least there is a passage for villagers to get to the main road.
The construction site decorated for Dassara.
The path to the village can be seen beyond the mango leaves to the left.
These huts were around the corner from the mango leave'd entrance to the construction. Slowly the building is going up, but now both the building and others (unknown at this point) have enclosed the space -- where there was a road once upon a time connecting the village with the main road. Here are the pictures of the scene today:
Some women scaling the wall nearby to try to get to their village (you can see them in the middle in pink and green saris):
The well remains in the far corner of the plot, but the path to the village has been shut off by the corregated metal fence. You can see where the path used to be where the brick wall ends.These women were trying to get back to the village. Sub intervened with the security guard (generally from the North, so Hindi-speakers) to open the locked "secret door" to make their return home easier.
The guard finally unlocked the door for them.
Tomorrow in the office I need to check the Master Plan and see if this space is supposed to be a public road (which I believe it is). If it is not, it should be, as the villages that are being consumed by Bangalore's growth get locked in, people are cut off from walking and easier access to public transportation, and space that should be public gets taken over (not even privatized, just stolen).

Friday, June 26, 2009

Missing Michael Jackson

When I heard that Michael Jackson died, I remembered back to a sleepover at my friend Theresa McCoy's house when I was in 5th or 6th grade. We played the board game Life with modified rules, so that you could marry and divorce specific folks. Michael Jackson was one of the potential husbands, and my friends (Theresa, Lorraine, probably Stephanie, and I don't remember who else) got mad at me cause I wouldn't divorce Michael after I had "married" him. As you can surmise, I thought he was great. That he was black didn't seem to matter -- I was at an integrated school and had friends of both races (and at a sleepover in the "black" section of town -- Theresa's father was African-American and mother was Japanese). He was SO cute, his songs were catchy and he could dance. I continued to have a huge crush on him until he started getting too weird.

I can't add much new here, but I will (like others) note how much I enjoyed Michael Jackson's amazing singing, dancing, and overall performance skills during his early career. Off the Wall was , still is, one of my favorite albums. Yes, I still use that word, despite the changes in technology. Thriller was pretty great too, and some of the Jackson 5 and earlier solo tunes (ABC, I'll Be There, The Love You Save, even Ben).

Even here in India, there is wall to wall coverage of his death. The good thing is that we get the chance, again, to hear and see him before the weirdness set in, although we are also getting to see that more sordid part of his life. I hadn't seen the clips of the Jackson 5 in so long (but now I know that I should watch them from time to time on YouTube), I had forgotten about the cute afro, the motown coordinated dances, and the laughable outfits from the very beginning. I have to say that I prefer those to the later thong outside the pants look along with the re-sculpted face. That beautiful little boy (and the charmer on the over of Off the Wall) mutated into someone scary. So while we will miss his performances, in some ways it will be easier to focus on the great performer, musician and dancer in our memories.

On another topic, congrats to Jonny Flynn for getting drafted #6 in the NBA draft -- a big success from Niagara Falls! Now, making it in the NBA is the hard part, but as he noted (with tremendous poise) in the post-draft interviews, adjusting to the off court life is probably harder than the challenges on the court.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Scenes from Brazil

Nothing for quite a while as I traveled to Brazil, and am only now getting over jet lag. I'll write about Curitiba, Rio, and comparisons between India and Brazil, but now I'll do the lazy thing and just post some photos so there is something here.

The view from one side of the hotel in Rio -- breathtaking beach with SugarLoaf in the background.
The other side -- a favela.
The luggage line for the flight to Angola from the Sao Paulo airport. Lots of purchases.

My first stop in Brazil was Curitiba. Great public transportation.
The bus rapid transit system with the tubes where you pay, converting the system into a "metro on the surface."
Recycling bins, available in many many places around the city.
The Planning Institute, where I spent a morning.
The grounds of the IPPUC, the planning institute.
Brazilian juxtaposition of Petrobras and McDonalds.
The longer articulated buses used on major routes.
Lovely tiled sidewalks, with the special ridges for the visually impaired.
The view from my hotel window. Looks like a large city, no? However, its population is about a third of Bangalore's.