I have a layman's love of Carnatic music. I was introduced to it by my John Rodgers all round genius musician and composer. John was writing a piece for the Australia Art Orchestra's collaboration with the Sruthi Laya ensemble led by Karaikkudi Mani. I got to see them perform on their own at the tiny Cooroy Butter Factory.
At the Cooroy gig, we sat within reaching distance of the players. I just love this type of audience experience: much better than the distance created in a concert hall. G Harishankar (June 10, 1958 - February 11, 2002) was a renowned player of the kanjira, a tambourine used in the Carnatic music of South India. To date, he is the only Kanjira player to be awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, the highest national recognition given to performing artists. [source: Wikipedia]
Here is a short example of G Harisshankar's kanjira magic. I just love to look at how he uses his right hand. It's all in the palm. Enjoy, my friends, enjoy.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
I did a crazy thing. I bought a car on the internet. I saw a 73 250 Merc. It's understated elegance attracted my attention. White with blue seats, white wall tyres, rust free (as it far from the corrosive coast atmosphere, clean engine bay, stylish to hell....
It had been photographed in an alpine setting, snowflakes falling into the field of vision. In the stickiness of early Queensland summer, these images were unbelievably exotic.
I had no way of physically inspecting it: It was in the Snowy Mountains and I in Queensland 1200kms away. By a process of talking to the seller and to the local mechanic who had worked on the car, I had it thoroughly checked out. I punted that it was rust free it being far far away from the corrosive coastal air.
The seller turned out to be a noise artist of sorts and he seemed a nice guy. My father had mantra that, with a 2nd hand car, you always bought other people's problems. Damn the difficulties! Damn the escalating price of petrol, peak oil etc. I closed my eyes and bought it. Style was more important!
Leap of Faith
My good friend Ewart and I flew to Canberra. My plan was titled 'Road trip as leap of faith'. Just stick the key in the ignition and drive back to Queensland. Break through or break down. We did the purchase in a Kingston hotel room in the midst of a torrential downpour. It was far too heavy to even check out the car properly. 'Look's great.' I thought fleetingly, 'but what am I getting myself into?' This idea I quickly pushed away like an unwelcome advance.
The next morning we drove through clean streets, past the dwarf Stalin era flats of Northbridge and into the rural void of the Southern Highlands. "It's fucking boiling!" yelled Ewart. "Fix up the heating." Easier said than done. The symbols of 30 years ago were far different from todays. The heating system's symbols looked like diminuendos and crescendos. OK, I know this language but a half hour later it finally dawned on me these symbols were counterintuitive. The exhaust sounded throaty and the steering a little loose. Some 200 kms along I began to think 'we can make it... we can make it.' This car won't break down, won't blow a head gasket, won't cease up ( insert horror auto scenario) stranding us for days in the middle of nowhere.
But the car just went and went. With each flashing kilometre confidence in the car grew. In Dubbo a thunderstorm large enough to shrink any insurance company's heart fell upon us and there was not a leak. The engine sounded throatier as we drove and this turned out to be a manifold leak but the Merc was faithfully. In 2 days driving the Merc pulled into Maleny quiet and triumphant confirming my leap of faith.
I did a crazy thing but you should do crazy things every now and then.