Showing posts from December, 2015

Riding the Back Beauty

Those steamy, smoky and sooty days
Sometimes I sit back and think of some of those jolly train rides in the Indian railways. I have always liked them, and even though I could opine like most others that it is desirable that those trains be cleaner, punctual and efficient, they still cast a spell on you, from all the way back to the period when the role of the elephant was usurped by this mechanical beast. Today people are richer, are on their own, zipping through in their cars and bikes and planes, but it was not so long ago that a ride in the train was any day better and safer than on the fully laden Ambassador careening through our potholed roads. Or if you were on two wheels, consider the scene where you are perilously perched at an angle on a rickety ‘hand me down’ Bajaj scooter or hunched over, helmetless, on a roaring Jawa motorbike zigzagging through a mass of humanity and a collection of beasts on their two feet. Yeah! The train ride is in comparison so serene, and a great opp…

The Sitar in Norwegian Wood

George Harrison and the sitar, the Beatles
Beatles remain a favorite of mine and I have always liked the perky number Norwegian Wood. The opening chords stayed stuck in my memory and the other day I was wondering about how this instrument got used for the song, assuming naturally that it followed from the much talked about visit of the Beatles to Rishikesh and George’s training sessions with Ravi Shankar.  As I started checking it out, I found that the song predated their visit to India and that it had an interesting story behind it. So for those who like the song and the Beatles, here goes…
1964, The Beatles had a great tour in America, George Harrison the lead guitarist characterized it ‘every bit a knock-out’ and it was a time when they met equals like Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan. Beatlemania spread in America and a second tour was announced for 1965. The last two shows at the Hollywood bowl were smash hits.
Just before they crossed the Atlantic once again, they finished shooting f…