Saturday, January 30, 2021

Music Stores and Sense #6

 We all know about the 5 senses (sight, sound, smell, touch and taste), but there is a mysterious and unknown sense that we all possess, known as the 6th sense, or Extrasensory Perception (ESP). My theory suggests that this 6th sense is usually triggered by one or more of the other 5 senses. Familiar tastes, smells, touches, etc all lead to a heightened sense of awareness and triggers memories, emotions, reactions and more often than not, gives rise to a feeling of deja vu. This post is about my tryst with this 6th sense and the role physical establishments and more specifically, music/electronics/record stores, have on my bowels — yup...that’s right.

Ever since I was a child, music has been at the center of my life courtesy my Father. My love affair with music started at a very young and tender age of 2 or 3. I remember being all of 2 feet tall and looking at 7-8 feet of wall-to-wall shelves stacked up with records, cassettes, which were soon followed by CDs, DVDs and books on music and film. Particularly, the smells of the paper sleeves, cassette covers, and touching them evoked a great sense of pleasure and the feeling of being all “grown up” if I was able to handle such delicate objects, nay even get the chance to put a record on and carefully lower the needle on the groove to begin a track on a Man Machine record. These thoughts, familiar smells, sounds, have stayed with me since that tender age. I still remember listening to cassettes on repeat until the tape wore off, memorizing the album covers and the inlay cards so much so that one could wake me up from my sleep, play the first 5-7 seconds of a song, and I could rattle of details of the song/album/artists/composers, and even hum along giving you details of the instruments used in the interlude and the counter-melody in the background while the song played.

Independence for me particularly meant the ability to walk into a music store and touch/feel physical music media as well as listen to the strains of the music that was playing in the store and try and identify the track or the composers/writers/artists who had taken the pains to produce some wonderful melodies. So intense was this love affair with music stores, that I even ended up working at music store right around the time most people end up chasing the proverbial dream of getting an MBA, finding a stable job, earning 6 figure salaries and being the most eligible bachelor in town. Not in my case. I left a plum job at ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Co. and walked into a store called Music World on Park Street, Kolkata to beg the store manager to allow me to join the Operations team for the flagship store on Park Street. I even recall being interviewed by a Senior Director in Chennai (where Music World was headquartered) right outside a restaurant in Kolkata called “Stun The Sun” and mumbling out revolutionary answers (or so I thought) in the hope of finding my dream job. 

He asked me, “What would you do if a shoddy employee was constantly late, lackadaisical in his approach, careless about the work he was doing, but was a fantastic salesman? How would you handle such a person reporting to you?”

My answer: “Make him a supervisor in the store”

Crickets. Chirping. Loudly.

“Explain” came the immediate response followed by, “so you’re saying, you would promote a seemingly uninterested employee. Why?”

I then recall using the words “reverse psychology” and mentioning that if an individual were really good at his job and was excelling in what was expected of him, but at the same time was being careless about his/her approach to work, maybe putting him in a position of responsibility, where he’s responsible for not just his performance but that of a team would make him more attentive, efficient, and maybe put the onus on him to act right since he would now be responsible for a team of people and as a result, sales of the department/store which would hopefully force him to mend his ways.

This gentleman hung up the phone, and immediately called the store manager to tell her that she would be cuckoo to hire someone like me and put me in charge of Operations and that if she did, she’d be risking her job too. Well, she took that risk. I unceremoniously assumed the role of Operations Head for Music World, Park Street and soon after, for 11 other stores in the Eastern Region and for 2 consecutive years after that, we shattered the record for the highest music sales of any music retail store in the country with my team of seemingly careless/inefficient/lackadaisical group of what I would call the most passionate set of people I have ever had the pleasure of working with. Yes, even more passionate and committed than the group of people I worked with at Google in its early years. The Director (now retired) remembers me (not fondly) and acknowledges the achievement, but still thinks I’m cuckoo to have a seemingly radical approach to an operations-intensive business such as retail.

That is why a significant part of me died when Music World shuttered their stores in India on July 1, 2013

I’ve clearly digressed, but the seeds of being in a store surrounded by music have always given rise to a sea of memories and feelings that not only make me nostalgic but keep my digestive system in order, so much so that I can’t spend too much time inside a music store unless there’s a clean/well-stocked loo available in the vicinity. 

No matter which city/country I visit, a trip to one/as many music stores as possible is always something that I eke time out for, whether it’s in the dingiest and remotest by-lane or inside a fancy mall on the city’s Main Street. It’s like a drug. One whiff and you can’t stop. There are just way too many emotions tied up with music in my life to be able to jot them down coherently, but some things that I immediately think of when I’m inside a music store include - my Father, our music collection, maintaining a database of all the albums we have, the record players/stereo systems and speakers/headphones in every home I’ve lived in (or still live in), happiness, heartbreak, courage, falling in love, heartbreak again, tears, discovery, exploration, inquisitiveness, wonder, hope, dreams...the list is endless.

Even in the Bay Area, where I’m currently situated, a walk/drive down Lower Haight, Berkeley, Campbell or Market Street makes me yearn to go into Amoeba or Rasputin (though Rasputin has shut their Market Street store for a while). The excitement and inclination is similar whether it’s Mumbai’s Rhythm House (which also shut down), Chor Bazaar; Kolkata’s Planet M, Melody House; London’s Phonica Records, HMV, Virgin Records stores (also closed); Jackpot Records in Portland; or Sydney’s aptly named record store, The Record Store. Just the knowledge that those stores exist/existed is enough to invoke a childlike eagerness to walk in, buy suitcases full of music (talk about “a kid in a candy shop”) or walk out empty handed, but irrespective of what I purchase (or don’t), I leave with a heartful of happiness as I make my way to find the next place of solace and relive the experience in my mind on the throne at the nearest establishment that is conducive for reminiscing in peace by obeying the orders and following the commands of my 6th sense.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Festivals and Pandemics - 2020

My social media feed is awash with people wishing each other and their loved ones with cliched and inane messages such as "from mine/ours to yours", " you and your loved ones", etc. and it makes me first want to hurl, then shake them by their shoulders and ask them why they're living in denial?

2020 is not a year to celebrate and least of all, make an ostentatious show of it. What exactly are you trying to prove? Sure, treat these festivals as a sign and beacon of hope, but for heaven's sake, don't congregate, throw parties, take group pictures and post anything preceded with the word "Happy" against it. Is there anything truly "happy" about 2020 given what's happening around you?

"Stay home, stay safe" should be the mantra of this unfortunate year when tens of millions of people are falling sick, hundreds of thousands are dying and a cure seems to be months away (at least). Set aside the festivities and "teen patti" parties, the regalia, and the joyous/moronic get-togethers that people are  seen regaling in Instagram posts, Twitter and WhatsApp wishes. These seem terribly misplaced at this point in time. Not to mention, that this is a downward spiral at the end of the day. Seeing influencers or people you follow on social media makes the "influenced" and "followers" go out and try and replicate the same experience with the intent of one-upping the other and addressing their FOMO (fear of missing out)  issues. It becomes yet another endless quest to gain more likes, shares, followers, and subscribers leaving aside the original intent of the festival, forgetting the fiasco that 2020 was, is, and continues to be and makes everyone posting these messages look like ignorant fools. What is even more surprising is that the same people who have been lamenting about someone in their family/extended family/social circle having contracted the disease are the ones inviting others to their homes to come and "spread the joy and celebrate the festival of (insert inane symbol) together as one".

Agreed that this is a moment to reflect and celebrate little sparks of joy in an otherwise terrible year. Enjoy, appreciate, respect, and be hopeful...but don't treat this year as any other year and pretend that all is well in the world. It's not, clearly. And if you think otherwise, just look around you and make note of the fact that you're presumably alone for no fault of yours, sitting at home, not going to work, continuing to hear your friends lament about how their kids are being deprived of an education, using covid-19 as an icebreaker in a conversation, reading articles about how the world is coming to an end (unless of course, you're more interested in reading about the conspiracy theories about suicides in the Indian film industry), although ironically, you may have become numb to the news of despair unless it's personal and have begun scrolling mindlessly through such articles. 

Be more coherent. Be more aware. Be responsible. Be more respectful and be cognizant of your surroundings. Enjoy the various holidays and festivals. Do what you have/need to do, but don't make a show of how ignorant you are by posting "group selfies" on social media. Grow up. And thank your lucky stars you're still alive.

Friday, January 1, 2016

The Scheme to Cure 43.4 Million Choking Lungs: Delhi's #OddEven Plan (or the lack thereof).

Delhi is a city that’s always been in the news for all the wrong reasons. From rising crime rates to rising (and hence deadly) pollution levels and everything inbetween, discounting politics almost entirely since that’s just fodder for everyday cacophony on news channels.

The Delhi Government heralded by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) recently announced that the commuters of Delhi will need to follow the system of alternating between odd-numbered and even-numbered vehicles. They’re giving this a 15-day trial-run. The only people who will perhaps gain from this are the law enforcers who will ‘challan’ commuters at the drop of a hat, provided they are able to tell the difference between odd and even numbers, although given the potential amount of money that they’ll make, math tuitions and YouTube videos are going to be the flavor of the day.

Bizarre punishments of handing out roses to violators of this odd/even rule is not only laughable, but also immature and will be looked upon by the public at large as a gimmick and a stunt for AAP to tom-tom on Twitter and the like. Similarly, exempting women and bikes (or anyone/anything for that matter) from this ‘plan’ is providing immunity where it’s not required and promotes discrimination in a law that is meant for the habitants of Delhi/NCR, which renders this ‘test’ as a limited and a partial one at that.

In isolation, this plan/program/test/rule is destined for failure and will cause more inconvenience than providing the people of Delhi relatively cleaner air to breathe. One can only assume that the Government has already given thought to the points below and their’s work underway to address these points.

1) The cost of purchasing a car in India is very affordable by the middle-class people in Delhi/NCR relative to the rest of India (and even the world), what with the flexible and convenient EMI schemes that banks and financial institutions offer. This will almost ensure that one-car households will soon become two-car households and will cause more traffic due to the lack of parking some time very soon.

2) The concept of car-pooling is alien in India. Giving ride to strangers in your car is akin to what private cab drivers tend to do for quick cash and is looked upon with disdain. Not to mention, the safety aspect is going to be a main concern for people, especially the womenfolk in the area that this rule is being implemented/tested out in. I am a frequent user of public transport and prefer that method, but in Delhi, riding with strangers or using public transport is absolutely out of the question.

3) Public transportation is not only inadequate, but also lacks coverage especially in the satellite cities which are far-flung and large.

4) The main cause of traffic + pollution in Delhi/NCR are the corporations that are housed in Delhi, Noida, and Gurgaon that employ workforces that would put factories of yore to shame. The first thing that the Government should have looked at implementing (or perhaps they already are), is making it compulsory for companies that employ more than 150 people in a single location to organize and maintain a fleet and schedule of deluxe buses/shuttles and almost incentivize their employees to ride in these. Building parking centers at a place where people can park their cars and then board these buses would also be a welcome addition.

5) Car-riding services such as Uber and Ola need to be encouraged to introduce carpool services in Delhi/NCR (and across India) rather than being threatened consistently and continuously with the consequence of being shut down on flimsy grounds when these services have proved time and again that they are safe, reduce traffic, increase employment, and are loved by consumers wherever they operate. Checks and balances do have to be in place and as long as they comply, they should be encouraged to innovate and experiment, as well as pilot new ways of improving commuters lives in India.

6) Incentive schemes also need to be created for the public to encourage them to be more efficient in their usage of transportation. Cheaper fuel for cars that carpool 5 days out of 7, creating dedicated car-pool lanes, encouraging resident complexes to promote carpooling in their communities by offering them Municipal tax breaks, are just some of the ways in which I think carpooling in general can be promoted rather than an archaic system of an odd/even rule.

Basing the premise of this rule on a simple philanthropic acknowledgement of reducing pollution and pollutants is not going to bring about any positive change when it comes to the regular commuter and the woes that they undergo on a daily basis, that of traffic and time spent on the road. Delhi needs to address this, but the lawmakers’ expectation of getting the public to adapt themselves to a crippled and incomplete solution is perhaps not the right answer. The only solace one can find is that this is a test run and that the Government will learn from this and use this opportunity to make this viable and convenient for the people of the national capital and home to 43.4 million choking lungs.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Lyrics to Night Lovers (1992) by Bappi Lahiri

My Twitter timeline recently had this gem of a song that I had completely forgotten about. The only memory of the song that I had was the song title and the tune that it embodied. It was a good refresher and brightened up my day. When I listened to the song this time, somehow the lyrics piqued my interest more than before. Perhaps because I've become inquisitive about the nonsensical lyrics that Honey Singh trashes out or  perhaps because they were so ridiculous in this day and age of YouTube that my interest was piqued.

Anyway, I tried my best to find the lyrics to this song on Google. Found absolutely no search results for this! Went to various sites that I believed to have contained lyrics to all the possible Hindi songs ever released and didn't find it there either. I realized that this was my "golden" opportunity to do community service for Bappi's legion of fans.

I took it upon myself to listen to the song over and over, and try and figure out the lyrics to the song to the best of my ability. I found this quite a challenge to be very honest, even though I've lived all my life in Calcutta, the heartland of where Bappi's accent comes from, and have heard English words being Bonglicized in various accents through that time. This was quite a daunting task and eventually, after 45 minutes, I was able to come up with some sort of a sensible (ironical, isn't it?) version of the lyrics to the song.

For years to come, fans of Bappi Da will remember me to be the man who revived the Night Lovers song and penned it down (quite literally).

I still need some help in the sentences that have a "(?)" against them since I really couldn't catch the words and this really is a best guess effort.

Night Lovers (1992)

Laavers (Lovers), Night Laavers (Lovers)
When I see a pretty gaarl (girl) moow (move) een (in) the deesco (disco)
I want my fraends (friends) to khaao piyo kheesko (khisko)
Leave aas (us) alone on the dance floor
Groove in the night the hours (?) could be more.

Laavers (Lovers), Night Laavers (Lovers) (3)

Saturday raat ko hota hai bukhaar
Monday subah tak utre nahi yaar
Kiss kare, mees (miss) kare, ban kare kees (kiss) (?)
Yunh sharmaaon na, come here pliss (please)
Laavers (Lovers), Night Laavers (Lovers) (3)

1900 mein go bunanus (bananas)
O mere dilbar, o jaanejaanaas
Rock out the clock in archies or sailors (?)
All you pretty girls and you naughty fellers (fellows)
Laavers (Lovers), Night Laavers (Lovers) (3)

{confused and misplaced Indian classical fusion interlude}

Juhu Beach, Chowpatty, Maaaadh (Madh) Island
Fusion, Rock, Pop, sab ka hai yeh band
Bang eet (it) on the beach, shake eet (it) een (in) the sand
But maamy (mummy) ke saamne, nayver (never) hold hands.
Laavers (Lovers), Night Laavers (Lovers) (3)

Pehle teleephone (telephone) pe pataao
Doston ki caarein mein khoob ghumaao
Ice cream kheelao (khilao), juice bhi peelaao (pilao)
Daddy ko magaar heent (hint) na dilaao
Unko lage tum collayj (college) jaate ho
Paataa (Pata) na chale kahaan se aate ho
Shaart mein, coat mein, yaa ho jeans pant
Premiyon ka rap, let’s all chant
Laavers (Lovers), Night Laavers (Lovers) (3)

{painful trumpet interlude with "Christmassy" cymbals}

Laavers (Lovers), we are Night Laavers (Lovers) (3) 
Eeeeeyyyyaaaahhhhhhh we are Night Laavers (Lovers) (2)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Say what again?

The idea behind this post is not to lambast Flipkart (or anyone else for that matter), but to offer some constructive feedback to let them know that they need to fine-tune their response (and policy if required) so that they can continue doing the absolutely awesome job that they're already doing especially when it comes to some spectacular customer-service. Confused? Read on.

Ever since Flyte launched on Flipkart, I've been using it often not just because I am interested in purchasing music, but am generally enthusiastic about the kind of content that people consume as well as the obscure stuff that keeps showing up on and off. There seems to be a serious, concerted effort by the likes of all the music labels who are digging out all their inlay cards, digitizing all their music, investing in providing accurate metadata/information about songs, and sourcing their long-lost albums.

I have been a Flipkart fan ever since I started using their service to buy my first book on 24th October 2011 (which incidentally was a pre-order): "Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography - Walter Isaacson" and have since used their service to buy various things apart from books with music having caught my fancy.

As a music aficionado and a guy who works at Google, I generally have this OCD about incorrect data being supplied and users being provided incorrect information. On one of my various late-night browsing endeavors I happened to get sucked into the vortex of browsing for songs/albums to purchase and happened to chance upon a rare album called 'Lata and Kishore - Live Concert at Sangit Kala Kendra'.

I was flabbergasted not as much by the fact that I had happened to stumble upon this album, but moreso by the song listing provided. 

Here are some anomalies that I found (circled in red) and my commentary alongside.

1) Album says 'Lata and Kishore' but the album artist is 'Asha Bhosle'

2) Artists listed on the album include everyone except Lata & Kishore.

3) Most of the tracks that mention 'live' are not 'live' (except Main Shair To Nahin by Shailendra Singh).

Before you jump to conclusions about how boring a post this is and how often you see this etc., what I was most surprised (and upset) by was that I mentioned these things as feedback against the album hoping that Flipkart will notice this anomaly and send me an email letting me know that they had removed the album and will correct the metadata and add it back to their list.

Well, I did get an email. But, it was to inform me that my comment was removed due to their 'policies' (working in an MNC I so hate that word).

Here's the email I received from them verbatim. Note the highlighted part that confused me at first and then shocked me. Perhaps the shock was out of the confusion that it caused, but I had such high expectations from Flipkart that it surprised me that they had a policy which would not allow people to let them know that the track listing was incorrect so that they can avoid purchasing this album on the pretext of expecting something and being delivered something absolutely different. 

What do you think? Probably an over-reaction on my part?

Dear yyyyy,

Thank you for sharing your thoughts at for "Lata And Kishore - Live Concert At Sangit Kala Kendra ", dated 6th May 2012.

Thank you for bringing this to our notice and we have forwarded your concern to respective department and upon verification we will do the necessary amendments.

As per our review policy (, we are not allowed to accept the mention of incorrect details on our website and hence your review has been removed we apologise for any in inconvenience caused

(We are not allowed to accept the mention of incorrect details on our website...what?? seriously??)

We would shortly roll-out a customer centric forum welcoming your experiences and feedback on our service and products. We appreciate your patience in this regard.

Please feel free to share your concerns or queries with us at

Looking forward to your product specific reviews on

Yours Sincerely,
Customer Review Team

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Car Drivers Avilable (sic)


Received an email today from 'Raghav Drivers Provider'. Loved points 3,4, and 6. Text below:

we are "Raghav Car Drivers Provider" involved into providing the well trained / Experiened / verified and alcohel free. We provide the car drivers all over gurgaon.

1. Always wear my seat belt and ensure.That my passengers the same.

2. Obey all traffic laws, including speed limits and parking resitritions.

3. Never use a mobile phone while driving, only when parked.,
4. Avoid distractions while driving - like fidding with the sterio, smoking, eating and drinking.

5. Experienced, relible, polite and background verified drivers.

6. familer with rutes.

7. we are working on commision basis.

If u need and ur friends need a car drivers Please refer this E - mail pls call


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Madness in the name of Our Lord - The Indian Way

It's Holi today. For people unfamiliar with the word, it's the festival of colors where people in this country and their genetic protoplasm spread all around the world like a virus, shed their inhibitions and emerge like the Lochness Monster that's been lying dormant throughout the year spraying color and drinking unbelievable amounts of 'bhaang' (Indianized alcohol, that is deemed and believed to be holy, quite conveniently of course).

Here's a more, real description of what this day usually is like for Indians all over the world.

It's funny how we Indians believe that if there is an occasion to be happy about, they need everyone around them irrespective of caste, creed, and sex to be involved in their happiness. Well, 'forced to be involved' is more like it.

Loud music, unruly behavior, drunken stupor, creating a nuisance, disturbing the peace, forcing down one's beliefs and faith down other people's throats - these are the features of any Indian occasion. How and why are these such important elements of celebrating a festival? You're happy - good. Stay happy in your own home. Mess up your own compound, make a noise in your room, play loud music with your earphones on, spray color on yourself, your family, heck...even your dog. The fact that you're happy doesn't warrant you the right to impose your happiness on me.

Naturally, the rowdier elements of society use this opportunity to threaten the innocent passerby & demand money. But then that's an entirely different matter and doesn't even deserve a separate post since that's really their nature and enough has been written and said about it already.

Funnily enough, this is a day when the lower working class of the Indian population forget which religion they believe in and all of them make it a point to be punctual at the households they work in, are at their best behavior, with a smile upon their faces which is otherwise a contorted countenance on most other days.  There is only one factor that brings about this sea-change in their behavior - 'baksheeh' or money. They consider it their right to partake some money that they feel is rightfully theirs on this auspicious occasion. It is the same set of people who in times of national crises or when it's important for people to keep their wits about them, are up in arms citing religious differences as their main grouse and go about killing people in the name of this sudden attachment to their religious selves and texts alike. Hypocrites - all of them.

Every coin has two sides and if you think about it, this is one festival where this madness results in unity of some sort, where people don't distinguish between each other in terms of skin color or just color in general for that matter.

Coming back to the point. If you're happy about something - keep it to yourself. If someone wants to be a part of that happiness, they will come to wherever you are and join you in your reverie. If someone doesn't feel the need to, or the want either to be part of this artificial day-long craziness, leave them be. Stop that loud music, irrational behavior, crazy drunkenness, and make life normal for people who prefer to celebrate their festival in peace and in the comfort of their own homes. In short (and generalizing it a little bit), GROW UP!

Music Stores and Sense #6

 We all know about the 5 senses (sight, sound, smell, touch and taste), but there is a mysterious and unknown sense that we all possess, kno...