Monday, November 29, 2010

The Blue Elephant receives an Award

of Excellence from the SAARC Chamber for Women Entrepreneurship. The ceremony was this evening and it was a completely different experience for me meeting women from the SAARC nations and other awardees this evening, all wonderful ladies, 12 of them from India, Maldives, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and Nepal.
Also heard that a lot more people in Pakistan had watched me in Chote Ustaad and also said they missed me in the show. Something I also got to learn from Ms Tina Sahni when I went to Hyderabad to perform for the Hindu November Fest. Somehow, Pakistan does not understand the fabled North-South divide :D 

Nonetheless, receiving the award from the President of SAARC Chamber, Mr Huq, Consul General of the US Embassy Mr Simkin, Ms Indira Dutt of KPC, Ms Vinita Singhania of J K Lakshmi Cements was special. And for the first time, my mom told me she was proud of me.This was not an award that I ever thought I will get.

I started Blue Elephant on an over-fortnight decision thanks to a friend who told us to start the company watching what I was already doing as an individual. Blue Elephant, from then on, has grown, slowly and steadily. Clients have come in through references from one MNC to another. And they have stayed with us in all these years. I guess somewhere we have made the cut and have given our clients what they wanted.

We begin our training division very soon and are also in the process of tying up certain loose ends which did happen. The Blue Elephant has also not had a very easy journey. But thankfully God has been great and has helped us identify the right people and the wrong people at the right time. 
My thanks go out to every one of the linguists (in Spain, USA, Argentina, Mexico, Poland, Denmark, Norway, Hungary, Turkey, Kuwait, Maldives, Burma, Finland, Iceland, France, Germany, Italy , Latvia, Lithuania, Australia, China, Japan, Thailand, Korea, the Czech Republic, Russia,  Greece, Egypt, South Africa and the United Kingdom) that I have worked with and their excellent work. If not for them the company would not have come this far. My company is what it is because of them, their talent, sincerity and work ethics.
My thanks also go to my clients who have been with me, have stood by me and have also helped me in removing a weed or two, when they did crop up. 

To Mrs Padmhasini, Partner, Blue Elephant and my mother for all the support and taking care of the operations.

My thanks to Amudhan of WOC , Abhishek Shah and Sandeep Makam of BePositive24 who gave my company its name and the logo. Also thanks to Amudhan for telling me why I should go with this name. That I love the elephant is a totally different thing altogether.

To BePositive24 for being a constant support through the journey.

To all the well-wishers for your good wishes and sending me the positive energy that drowns out the negativity that I sometimes have to face. 
Thank you.

And to you I wish that you have several moments of happiness, success and support that you need and may it come to you from every direction so that you may realize the dreams. May you also make new dreams and also achieve successes in areas where you least expected. May you be happy and may your cup of joy overflow.

Concerts and experiences

and performing at Hyderabad, Coimbatore and Bangalore was fulfilling, satisfying to say the least. So many members of the audience shouting out to us that this is the best evening that they have ever had and to us, that was music to our ears. We kept up our tradition of making the audience that reads The Hindu dance. And they are amazing sports. A lot of fun and not really much of the stiff-upper-lip types as they are portrayed to be. The audience also sang along several times. That's a lovely experience to be a part of. I hardly expected people to know me in Bangalore but they did. Some people in the audience asked me to sing Ghazals yesterday and since it was not supposed to be in the format of the show, decided to give it a skip. Yesterday was my first concert in Bangalore.
More importantly I had this wonderful breakfast session on the day of the concert at Coimbatore that lasted 4 hours. Not much eating but amazing conversation to be a part of, more as a listener. If we but listen, there is a lot that people want to say. And sometimes I wish and pray that the aural tradition that we are famous for in India, through which most of our culture, traditions and arts have been passing down generation after generation does not take a break thanks to the impatience and busy-ness of our times.
The trip to Bangalore was quite an experience to say the least. Since Coimbatore and Bangalore concerts were scheduled on consecutive days it was kinda hectic. Then the flight from Coimbatore to Bangalore got canceled. We decided to take the road to meet with a Road-roko ome 50 kms off Krishnagiri and were stalled for over 45 minutes and then a little bit of panic set in. Mom got down and literally haath-jodkar asked people to give way so that we could go. We were the last to be let before they completely blocked the highway, for God knows how long.
We reached the concert hall 20 minutes before the scheduled start and the car containing my clothes hadn't arrived. Bangalore being the city it is, you lose the way, you are a gone-case. 5 minutes before scheduled start the suitcase arrived and I had a two-song headstart with Srini sir beginning the concert. 
Mahalakshmi Iyer, a singer I have always wanted to perform with was a part of the Bangalore show.  She shared so many anecdotes and experiences that are possible only at such concert settings. She is an amazing person.
When I joined the audience in the hall to sing along toward the end, some of them took away my mic. One member of the audience came on stage, took my mic and finished singing an the entire song of Chin Chin chu and I was quite amused by the entire goings-on. 
I had to drive back to Chennai last night as I had to speak at the plenary  session of the SAARC Chamber Council for Women Entrepreneurs this morning. I met some outstanding ladies like Ms Gariyali, IAS Officer,  Ms Rasheeda  Bhagat of the Hindu Businessline, Ms Janaki Pillai of Ability Foundation, Ms Indira Dutt of KCP Ltd, Ms Rajyalakshmi Rao who has been with the District forum, State and National commissions for Consumer Redressal, Ms Rohini, Ms Sharon Apparao of Apparao Galleries and Ms Radha Parthasarathy who has done some amazing work at Thandalam.
More than anything else, the HNF concerts have given me memories to cherish, absolutely good music from some stellar musicians from Kerala and Chennai and lovely times. 
Hectic activity ahead for Blue Elephant ahead and I totally looking forward to it.
To sum it all up, Musafir Hoon Yaaron... Mujhe Chalte Jaana hai.. Bas.... Chalte jaana!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What I sometimes do in my spare time

is bake. The obsession started sometime earlier this year. And have been baking away. Bought a small oven and then bought a bigger one, with whatever sad contraptions that are available in the name of convection ovens (not microwave) in Chennai.
My mother was mostly complaining that I would never step into the kitchen except of course to make tea or coffee and then suddenly baking started. Coming to think of it, I don't know when and how I started off with this. Maybe a friend goaded me into it. And that was the beginning of this hobby. Yes, I think the credit goes to her and she said lets bake this weekend.  And we first tried a chocolate fudge microwave oven cake. Which came out well enough since we followed a microwave oven recipe. But figured microwave ovens, even if they have the convection mode are not designed for serious baking at all. 
And I have fallen hook, line and sinker into this hobby. Eggless baking mind you. Which meant checking out all the vegan baking books and just checking out what they do instead of eggs. And next calling friends over and asking them to try this and try that.
Breads and cakes and cookies and now icecream. Finally invested in a Kitchenaid stand mixer and its attachment when I went to Canada. And its fun. My mom however, still thinks this is a temporary obsession. And I think twice before baking cookies in this Sunflame OTG. But I figured the world really has not come to thinking of freestanding ovens for people like me. Friends of mine who have also recently taken to this dont want to get into the headache of calling their carpenter and redesigning kitchens for the sake of this. And though we want to fly high in baking wonderland, we find our wings clipped. Oh, the woes! :p

Nevertheless, to you, I'd suggest you try some sort of a food preparation except instant food, of course. I am sure doing this on a daily basis is ho-hum. But check out baking. Its quite a wonderful experience.

Monday, November 22, 2010

After quite a sabbatical from reading, I finished a couple of books in two days. Dreams in Prussian Blue and No God in Sight. Though I am no fan of fiction, I was drawn to reading Dreams... when a friend told me the story, seamlessly and in one flow. These two are page turners. Have 'Bombay' as the backdrop. 
And for me, they are slightly gloomy. but I loved reading them nonetheless. Loved the narrative. 
Nothing can be truer than the fact that books open up vistas you never knew existed or sometimes just become peep holes. Peepholes that could lead you to opening the door or just say OKThxBai, I'd rather not cross the threshold into whatever lies beyond that door. The mystery or maybe fear of not knowing what is beyond. And the fear that we could actually get lost in the nothingness of it all and horror of horrors, even like it, finally. 
Looking out of the window into a rain-washed city now that is trying to find some warmth and those who go on the roads wish, that the sun that peeps through the clouds would miraculously vacuum out the slush and murky brown and grey waters on the road and that their clothes could be saved the assault. We go here and there, rush about with this and that, lead the lives we lead, believing and kidding ourselves that it all has a purpose, when there is actually none, perhaps. All this, for what? The questions that has loomed heavily and largely over our heads, over our beings. And then we try and erase it frantically like a kid that wipes out mathematics theorems from the blackboard, wishing that it can be blotted out until the next fateful hour the next day. 
And we derive happiness and sadness, confusing purpose or the lack of it from all this transitoriness. Contemplate unsettlingly about all this, but go back to the familiar, and comfortable familiarity of that which has been done for aeons. Because it is easy to lapse into familiar drudgery than explore the scary beyond that we know nothing about. What if we actually see nothing, hear nothing and know nothing? Would we be happy that we started out in the first place?
Its easy being who we are. Doing the things we do. Singing the next song, humming the next tune, doing our next degree, working up the next rung in the cliched corporate ladder, lah-di-dah. 
And while I thought about all this, the phone rings for me to give a sound-byte to a radio station. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Next up - Coimbatore and Bangalore.

The show in Hyderabad was amazing to say the least. I was performing there for the first time and also perhaps the first time with Shwetha Mohan. Only thing, this was a concert for which I had absolutely no rehearsal. My travel plans upset a lot of things. And on the day of the show, the flight had to be diverted to Bangalore instead of Hyderabad and I landed late. And hence missed the rehearsal that was happening that morning. Just got to check a couple of songs, during the sound check. But that was about it. Over and above that, battling an oncoming cold and a throat infection and making sure that it does not get worse.... But then that's the story of our lives.
Post the show, when I got tweets from some people saying that it was the best concert that they had attended in their 23 years in Hyderabad, I felt completely gratified. We had the audience dancing with us for the final couple of numbers. I happened to spot Anuj Gurwara in the audience and asked him to join us on stage. Strangely he had just messaged another friend of mine a couple of minutes before I called him up, that he wished that he could be on stage with us. Talk of immediate wish fulfillment :) He rocked it too. 
I had amazing stage monitors, again a rarity these days, though I wonder why. Once we know how we sound everything is a breeze. Otherwise its a total disaster.
Performing at the Corporation Kalaiarangam on the 26th and the next day, the 27th at Bangalore Jnana Jyoti Convention Center. This will also be my first concert in Bangalore and am completely looking forward to the experience.


Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The Hindu November Fest

And I am a part of it yet again. This time round we are performing Hindi Retro Numbers in Hyderabad, Bangalore and Coimbatore.
November 14th at Ravindra Bharathi, Public Garden Road, Saifabad, Hyderabad- 500004,

November 26th at Coimbatore: Corporation Kalaiarangam, R.S. Puram, Coimbatore.

November 27th Bangalore: Jnana Jyothi Convention Centre, Central College Campus, Bangalore.

I will be performing with Srinivas sir, Haricharan and Shwetha Mohan. Mahalakshmi Iyer would be performing at Bangalore alone. And am soo looking forward to this series once again.

You can see the rest of the line-up and buy tickets here
And as they say, Let the Music Begin!

New Releases - Engeyum Kadhal

Quite a few lately in Telugu Kannada and Tamil. Shopping Mall in Telugu, Minnal Minnum and a few more plus a song that I have been looking forward to ever since the day I recorded it. In Engeyum Kaadhal composed by Harris sir.
I sing with Harish Raghavendra after quite a while. One of our memorable duets was Noothana from this film called Karka Kasadara.
After singing this song, I felt in love with the world and yes that is quite a possible feeling. Working with Harris sir has been wonderful. Especially after Varayo and thanks to that song most of the awards were given to me, all credit and thanks to him. I can safely say a few more people began liking my work after this song. The audio is said to hit the stores tomorrow and the teasers that I have heard so far does not feature my voice. Teased me enough as far as I am concerned.
Also worked with Madhan Karky, the illustrious son of Vairamuthu sir in this song. Remember him walking in and was wondering who this college-goer was. Turns out he does go to University, but to teach! He happens to be a professor at Anna University. Lovely lyrics and he was also teaching us some new things about the iPad which had just come in at that time. After the recording, I also heard a few other songs of the album and a singer that is introduced anew is Aalaap Raju. He is a really good guitarist but makes his debut as a singer with this one. After I heard the songs I asked Harris sir how soon the album would release and all he did was give his trademark giggle. Soon, is all he could say. I loved listening to album and hope you do too.

Travels and music

If there is something called deafening silence, I heard it at Canada. All the time. Silence so loud that it wants to make its presence felt in your ears every milisecond of the moment. A silence so silent that you wish it would break the spell itself. The winter silence perhaps. Or perhaps the country as not so populated and milling with crowds and their melange of various thoughts through the day. Also because of the timing of my flight or whatever the reason may be, the thought kept coming to my head, while traveling to Canada, I was chasing sunset and on my way back home, I was chasing sunrise. A lot more times these days, I find myself silent and observant rather than wanting to speak. 

Anyway, that apart, I performed Kilimanjaro for the first time overseas at Canada with a really amazing head-dress that the group Agni had got for me.
Just so happened that they had made it in blue and it just so happened that it matched my clothes to a tee. Synchronicity or what!
The show was really well put together and I loved my sojourn there and finally made my way back to enough and more noise, typical Diwali style, even at the middle of the night back home :)
A lot more coming up. And Soon !