Nov 29, 2010

The biggest gig of my life

As I sit near the jamming pad waiting for my band's turn to rehearse, I get time to breathe and look back at the last week or so. The schedule was/is back-breaking. A three-hour rehearsal everyday for two weeks. Yes, I'm preparing for the biggest gig of my career - not with Shor Bazaar or Cirkles, but with Pralay at Independence Rock XXV.

Pralay is a hard rock act that shot to fame with a nomination for a Grammy in 2004 in the world music category. Since then, the band has undergone many lineup changes. Their lead vocalist has left the band now the vocals are handled by the guitar player who's no Dave Mustaine. They have some of their songs in very Indian sounding scales and modes - D phrygian, for example.

I did a couple of freelancing gigs in 2009 with them. It was a strange experience because the music was unfamiliar and the band was not as tight as one should be. This time around, however, things are much better with a good combination at work in the drum/rhythm section.

We are sharing the stage with the behemoths of the rock/metal scene in Mumbai - Bhayanak Maut, Scribe, Demonic Resurrection, Indus Creed are the other bands. Throw in Axetortion featuring best guitarists from around the country and the rebranded Dinosaurs of Rock, the line-up is pretty intimidating. I hope that we can match up with the big guns and give a decent show.

The event happens this Sunday at Chirtrakoot grounds, just across the road from my apartment. I also happen to be playing alongside my heroes and drummers who have played with Shor Bazaar - Sidd Coutto and Jai Row Kavi - who are playing with the Dinosaurs of Rock and Indus Creed, respectively.

Wish me luck. Wish us luck.

Nov 25, 2010

Cousins now Know - part 2

Cousins now know - Part 2

My sister is not stopping anytime soon, I guess. Coming out on my behalf seems likes an ulterior motive on her mission to deliver the baby. She came out about me to the fifth cousin - one who's doing his masters in engineering in the States. She forwarded me a reply from this cousin to the mail that she had sent.

It started off something like this - 'It is neither a shock or a pleasant surprise to me.' Good, I thought! He went on to say that irrespective of my orientation I would remain to be his inspiration - I have always been an inspiration when it came to academics, and I guess he meant that. Despite being this positive, my cousin, who's in South Carolina, warned my sister of negative implications if she let other cousins know about my gayness. That, to me, is a little confusing. Why shouldn't my cousin, who has seen the world more than many others, have a positive attitude about others accepting me as I am?

Apart from my sexual orientation, my cousin went on in great depth about plans to help me come out of my familial hibernation. He seemed to even have sympathy at my apparently 'lost' path, and wanted my sister to take step my step approaches to winning my confidence back. Now, I'm not sure if I need this sympathy. I can see the intent underlying this feeling, but what comes out is probably unacceptable.

Since all of my cousins read my blog, I would like to let them know that I have always been family-phobic. Let me remain that way now. I appreciate their steps to get back in touch with me but I'm not sure that's what I need now. I need support in terms of understanding my neuroses and lack of efforts to restart communication via phone or in person. I don't mind e-mails or SMSes.

If you want to help me, please let me be me.

Nov 22, 2010

Engayging Lives on

"Engayging Lives," the documentary about four gay men (whose title is derived from this blog), one of which is yours truly, got featured in Wall Street Journal's blog! I am so happy to announce this!

Here is the link.

Heartfelt thanks to everyone involved in this project!

Nov 10, 2010

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

I watched this movie (only) about a month or so back. I had somehow forgotten to blog about it. I have no explanation for either of the preceding two statements.

Until I watched this movie, whenever I used to think about Jim Carrey, what came up in my mind is “The Mask” and the fact that I hated the movie. Stupid. That’s the word. I think I have also watched “23” sometime in the past. That revealed a darker shade of Jim Carrey. But still, the word remained the same—stupid. One word refer to an actor who portrayed such a fantastic character in Eternal Sunshine.

I had a very similar reaction to Kate Winslet and had slapped her (along with the fantastic Leonardo DiCaprio) as an eternal clich├ęd romantic, after having seen enough of footage from The Titanic without ever having watched the movie. That’s how commercial blockbusters can ruin the image of wonderfully talented actors. I have the habit of stereotyping—why, because my mind is not exactly spotless.

Anyway, I watched Eternal Sunshine, and I have one word to describe it. Whatay! Everything in this movie—the concept, the screenplay, the characters, and acting—is, unfortunately I have to use that word again, spotless! A technology to erase specific memories about people from your mind for a price? Priceless! How easy it would have been for us to deal with breakups and fall in love with the same person all over again without having any memories of past trauma!

This is sci-fi and drama combining at its best. Something close to Inception, I would say. I am rating it 4.5 stars! Bravo Jim and Kate! You have given me a new perspective to stereotype you with!

Nov 9, 2010

Saying "I Love You" ain't so hard

No it isn’t. It’s very simple. Just say “I love you!” I learned it when during my 3-year-relationship with Vinokur. Everyday, we would say “I love you” to each other several times. I agree that ours was a romantic relationship and it would necessitate such wordy confessions of amour. But you don’t always need romantic relationship to say it.

Before Vinokur, due to my Indianness, the word “love” itself was so heavy that I was scared of using it. I guess most Indians are in one way or the other scared of expressing their love toward others. I never used to say “I love you father” or “I love you mother” in my childhood. They never used to say that they love to me either. I grew up in an environment which promoted the notion that only couples on movies should say it.

However, things have changed for the better now. Now, I can easily utter the “dreaded” three words in almost all social contexts. It goes hand in hand with my tendency to complement others. I enjoy doing that to affirm my platonic relationships with my colleagues, all of whom I dearly love. Sometimes, it’s just for fun, and adds to the drama and “romance” at the office. But when I say it, I do mean it.

Every day, before I leave work, I make it a point to go to the desks of all my colleagues and say “I love you!” Most of them have even grown the habit of reciprocating to it with a “I love you too!” And every day, as I walk out of my office building, I leave with a smile of remembering how beautiful my colleagues are and acknowledging it right in front of them.

You should try it. Seriously, it works wonders!

Nov 8, 2010

The official birhtday treat

Everybody in my team at the office knows how much I hate celebrating birthdays. They also are acutely aware that I detest the idea of cutting a birthday cake—this is because I don’t like cakes in general, or must I say I have grown used to disliking cakes in general. I’m a fast aging man and I need to take care of what I eat. I guess that’s the reason why I avoid almost all forms of sweet things offered to me—chocolates, pastries, cakes, do’nuts and more.

Coming back to my birthday—as promised, or should I say “as threatened,” my office colleagues didn’t turn up at my apartment on 7th of November (Sunday, yesterday). They might have gotten a hint or two about my social phobia, I guess. Besides, I had lined up a couple of dates on that day. But both of them got canceled—one man turned out to be married and the other one, my last interesting date, who was treating me at his apartment with dinner, had some sudden emergency to attend to.

Either way, my otherwise disappointing birthday was followed by a surprise birthday treat at the office. Yes, considering all my neuroses and likings/dislikes, my lovely office colleagues, especially S, prepared a huge birthday sandwich for me, which included all kinds of things that I love to have in a sandwich: bread, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, eggs, bacon, chicken salami. Here’s a picture of the sandwich and another one with me trying to bite into it.
They didn’t stop it right there. Again being very thoughtful and considering, they gifted me a bagful of frozen meat items that I could use to make food at home. That was such a kind gesture from them! I thank all of them for executing this fantastic idea! The only unfortunate cog in this whole process is that my refrigerator’s freezer is not working properly—so, I had to let S take all the frozen stuff to her home and let her have them cooked for me. Here’s a picture of the handing over ceremony!

All in all, it was a fantastic post-birthday for me at the office! I love my office!

Nov 7, 2010

The 31st birthday

It is my first ‘single’ birthday in 4 years. Last year this time, I was drowned in depression. I still remember the 6th of November last year. It was Vinokur’s birthday, and I had a gig that night. Before leaving for work, I had manually changed by date of birth on all the social networking sites to May 7th to make sure that I don’t get flooded with the ‘happy birthdays’ — happy was a word that I was averse to then.

This year, I did the same thing to confuse everyone. I was partially succesful. Some of them still remembered and wished me. The others saw that some people are wishing me and joined in. Besides, I am at a much saner state of mind to respond to the word ‘happy’. Also, almost to give me a helping hand, FaceBook has allowed us to ‘like’ others wishes instead of reciprocating to them directly.

Last year at the gig, I remember wearing my b’day gift from Vinokur — the T-shirt that read ‘I my Weiner’. This year, I didn’t receive a gift from him. Instead, I received a Skype call on the 3rd of November. He wanted to wish me for by b’day earlier because he was going to be out of station for a week or so — he is celebrating this year driving up to upstate New York. On Skype video, he looked plump but still managed to retain that wonderful aura combining handsomeness, intelligence, and love.

The fact is that I still love my Weiner.

Nov 3, 2010

The US Federal Government destroyed my life

It’s coincidental that I am posting this around the time President Obama is visiting India for his 10-day South East Asia tour. This is just after the mid-term elections in the US during which the Republicans, helped by the Boston Tea Party, gained many seats to assume majority in the House. The failure of Obama, and the Democrats in general, is considered to be due to his failure to pull back the economy on right track, unemployment, and the medical policy.

I am not a citizen of the United States. Yet, I follow the various developments in the States scrupulously. Why? Because, in one way or the other, the Federal Government’s policies are responsible for the situation my life is in right now. I’m talking about its stand on immigration equality for same-sex partners. My life was turned upside down because I couldn’t be with Vinokur, a citizen of the United States. Despite us being partners for life and having being almost engaged to each other, I couldn’t be with him in the States in the first place, which forced him to consider visiting me during a time when his health was not at its best. Now having been separated, Vinokur has found a new partner and has moved on.

Why am I bringing this up now? Because I know of another beautiful couple who are facing separation because the Indian partner being denied a visa to stay in the States. My friend Danny from the state of California, which has illegalized same-sex marriages after a brief period of legalization, had met his Indian partner a few years back, when he was graduating at the University. In a year’s time, they met each other and moved in with each other in Danny’s home. Danny’s boyfriend later found a job and had started working there.

Three weeks back, the couple flew to Canada to visit the US embassy in Montreal to renew Danny’s boyfriend’s visa. They stayed there for a week but the embassy delayed proceedings by asking for more documentation. Danny flew back to California and sent his boyfriend’s laptop and the necessary documentation. Danny’s boyfriend waited in a rented hotel room in Toronto for a positive message from the embassy for a few more days. After seeing no signs of reply, he decided to fly back to India.

At this particular moment, Danny is not sure whether his boyfriend will ever be able to come back to the US. Danny is crushed and his life is shattered. Of course, the couple did not bring up the same-sex nature of the relationship to the embassy. But had there been an already existing law which allowed immigration rights to same-sex partners of US citizens, things could have been so different.

These are just two stories from thousands of other broken relationships and families. It’s time that Obama and the Federal Government took actions to grant equal rights to partners of same-sex couples. Even though I cannot directly help organizations like Immigration Equality, and Human Rights Campaign, I’m morally with them on these issues, and given the slightest chance, would help them in any way that I can.