Tech-Savvy Woes

I’ve written earlier about the advent of Alexa in our lives. Red was in the market for good quality speakers and was considering buying Sonos and then suddenly got his head turned by the cute lil dot that now talks to us in a STRONG American accent and frequently gets our song choices wrong because she doesn’t get us much. And that’s funny because the offspring has his own twangy accent that sounds kind of like Alexa and yet they don’t always communicate correctly.

Properly enunciated crisp diction rings her bells though. Take for example, MLM wanting to hear Ra.One’s Chhammak Chhallo. He yelled out into the general direction of Alexa, “AlexaplaymeChamakChalo” and pat came the reply, “I’m sorry. I am unable to understand you.” El Brato grumbled, “Stupid Alexa” and then yelled out to me, “Ayu…come and tell Alexa the song I want to hear. It’s not listening to me.”

And there I was, speaking to the dot, yet again, telling her to play Chhammak Challo, said with tight lips and no hint of any accent anywhere. And she popped up saying, “Here’s ChamakChalo from VishalShaker”. I swear there was no difference between her and MLM but someone must have a hearing problem somewhere so I’m still running interference for them both and waiting till he asks me to tell her to play ‘Rashke Qamar’. Last time he asked her to play the song she played Paula Abdul’s Rush Rush

For my troubles, I get to hear the dratted song on loop till my brains start to leak out of my ears. *rolls eyes*

Signing off!

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Music Vs. Melody

Getting MLM up in the mornings was usually a bit of a struggle. I tried all the methods my folks tried on me: stern wake-up calls after a point, taking the blanket away and even shaking him awake when nothing would seem to work. But because he’s made of sterner stuff and mainly because he cares two hoots about displeasing his parents; my flesh and blood would make like a snake and coil up good and proper and it was tough to get him to uncoil.

This child has always liked music. From sudden forays into Sufi-based stuff to Cars to jarring Bollywood beats he likes pretty much most things. They just need to be uptempo. For the past few months we’ve been waking him to music. Thanks to the advent of Alexa in our lives, the songs can be changed even if I’m not nearby and that helps because this kid goes through playlists like the Flash on steroids!

Anyhoo, after weeks and weeks of nothing but Bollywoody stuff my ears were begging for a change and I was determined to give it to them! A search for Indian raagas I hadn’t heard in a while got me to a beautiful arrangement of Raag Jaunpuri played on the Esraj by Pandit Ashesh Banerjee. And my ears felt blissful!

See, there’s a thin line between music and cacophony. One person’s music is another’s headache. Cacofonix has been a poster child for that for years. But not everything has a melody to it. Lots of notes can be strung together to make an arrangement that isn’t jarring but it doesn’t always uplift, soothe or invigorate. Now, I’m up there with most of the Bollywood song junkies here. Most songs I like and dance to at home are the stuff auto rickshaw drivers blare over their cheap, tinny, scratchy speakers. In fact, I heard my go-to song while travelling in an auto a few years ago and it never fails to disappoint or do the trick when I need to get out of a funk.

But a properly arranged and played melody liberates you…the gradually rising tempo, the adding of new, more complex notes and musical arrangements seem to mimic the cadence of your breathing, your exhilaration and finally your sense of joy or contentment. That’s not been happening with the daily dose of Swag Se Swagat and Kaala Chashma blaring on the speakers.

Still, once music enters your life, it never leaves. It may take twists and turns and you may find yourself in musical alleys of folk music, kiddy movie OSTs or even a Brahms lullaby but it never leaves.

Thank goodness.

Reruns

are fun! They are easy and uncomplicated.

You watch them because you know there’s fun, drama, tears, shock, eye-rolling moments all packed in.

And because they are reruns, you never really mind pausing them, running errands in between or putting it off for another day. You know Rachel gets off the plane. You know Meredith and Derek will have their drama together over 11 seasons before he exits. You know Gibbs will keep head-slapping Dinozzo till he leaves too. Beckett will eventually say yes to Castle and he’ll keep being an overgrown baby.

And yet it’s all fun. And along with it comes the music. Grey’s Anatomy has some really good music; usually softer tracks but chosen very aptly. Castle has some good ones as well. Got reacquainted with this song after years. And this one too both from Castle’s first season. The song my kid loves to dance to at ungodly hours is courtesy an episode of NCIS.

So basically you’ve got a twofer…a relook at old favorites or at the very least, decent recreation and good music. That’s a good deal in my book any day.

Alexa Mornings…

Red bought an Echo Dot for th house last year. Suffice to say it’s the digital pet. The offspring has bonded with Alexa quite a bit. I keep hearing his voice trilling , “Alexaaaa” on and off right from the time he’s up in the mornings.

Echo Dot has more capabilities that can be tapped into if you’re an US-based user. Lesser so in India. But apparently this year Amazon Music will be making its entry into the Indian market and then this kid will really go wild. Now there’s a Bluetooth sync with my phone and the songs which are saved on a separate song app or on my phone can be played. But we have to be far more hands on. And we’re all about remote management in this house. If we can just park our butts somewhere and just ask for songs to be played, it would be a pretty darn good thing!

This morning the offspring woke to a house with an absent father (courtesy a business trip) and he sat and pouted about missing the parent for a bit. And in an effort to cheer himself up, he turned the house into a dance club, playing Bollywood hits before 6:30 am. All courtesy Alexa.

Where’s the parental settings people? Is that in the next upgrade?

In the meanwhile, Kala Chashma gets looped sun up to sun down just because Alexa can!

Yo!

In The Dance Of Life…

I often suffer from tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon. My husband would disagree entirely given how often he gets a pained look on his face when I keep gabbing away or how quickly he reminds me that it’s really late and I should be FAST ASLEEP already!

There are occasions when a particular concept floats into my head but doesn’t make it down to my tongue. This morning, one of those nebulous concepts got cleared up…PITSTOP!

Mornings at my home are really a race, bar none! Usually Red and I work in a relay but often we tag-team just to get MLM out the door. And our precision is quite fine. In the 6 years the child has been going to school, he’s missed the bus only thrice. That’s practically a spotless track record! Pun totally intended.

Today Red got him dressed while I buttoned him up and got lotion on the spots Red missed. I got one sock on while Red did the other and then swapped me for one of MLM’s legs while I did up the shoe. Then I bundled him in his jacket (Red’s jacket which he’s usurped) while Red got his book bag packed. And we were out the door, near the bus stop before you could stop to ponder on life before having kids!

It’s an intricate dance…you have to get the steps right. Wake-up, brush, cha-cha-cha. Drink your milk, go bathe, cha-cha-cha. And then of course if things are right you either waltz your way into the school bus or you’re doing a tarantella and just managing to get a toehold on the bus.

I often have the William Tell overture as the background score in my head. And as psychotic as it may seem, it’s the truth! My kid makes me experience life at so many levels that I think in color, sound and taste!

And please excuse me while I cha-cha my way to my daily chores!

Alors on commence!

Movie Review: Arjun Reddy

After a long time, 10 years to be precise, I watched a Telugu movie- Arjun Reddy and enjoyed it quite a bit. As a person who doesn’t have too much fluency in the language, scratch that…I can make do if I have to, else I nod my head along to pretty much everything; I didn’t feel like the movie was beyond my reach at all. The only reason that I even ended up watching this movie is because the Lord&Master suddenly announced his wish to watch it and wanted me to come along. That alone was enough to pique my curiosity.

It’s very visceral and quite emphatic; possibly due to being an out-and-out drama and here’s my 2 cents worth:

  • Vijay Deverakonda– total hottie and does justice to the persona of a hot head who always wears his heart on his sleeve and is unapologetic for his emotions, especially when they run wild!
  • Everyone looks so bloody normal, it’s such a refreshing change! The hero doesn’t sport a V or an 8-pack, the lead actress isn’t so-called glam-down…she looks like a normal girl in college. There are no superbikes, no signs of being impossibly wealthy or anything that’s remotely unbelievable. Just normal, whimsical, idiosyncratic and occasionally damaged people.
  • The angst of love- it bites, it rips you apart and it makes you behave with just a touch of madness but the audience laps it up because at some point we’ve all felt a twinge of the same.
  • Rahul Ramakrishna– as Shiva aka the ultimate best friend. His unabashed support, despair and love for his friend forms a mainstay in the movie and despite it being all about the titular character of Arjun, Shiva has a huge role to play and Rahul Ramakrishna does it with aplomb!
  • The music- it doesn’t matter if you don’t understand the words, you feel them! The score by Radhan is edgy, it’s soft and it’s imminently hummable. Telisiney Na Nuvvey is stuck in my head although when I try to sing it am sure the words are being mangled horribly! The background score totally works.
  • The supporting cast- the dads on either side; grim, conventional or just biased…are stereotypes to be true but very believable because stereotypes exist for a reason. The grandmother, the friends- everyone fits well barring Kamal Kamaraju as the older brother trying to broker peace and shield his wayward younger brother.
  • The whole energy of the movie- it’s big, it’s dramatic and it’s very unapologetic! And that’s what makes it work.

I’m glad the director decided to use subtitles so people could keep up. There’s only so much you can deduce from body language and nuances alone. But the reason this movie works, despite the running time and at times overly dramatic posturing of the lead character, is due to it feeling real.

The lead actress isn’t a wallflower neither is she very prominent. Except that she is. Even when she doesn’t speak much, or just flits in and out of a scene, her impact on Arjun Reddy is what takes the story ahead. I’d read that Shalini had dubbed all her own lines…commendable given how different the Southern languages are for native Hindi speakers.

At the end of the day, every movie is made to tell a story. It’s made to entertain. And this one does…in spades! Despite all the controversies over the non-issues like liplocks and being tagged as misogynistic. On one hand if Arjun Reddy tells his girlfriend that she should be friends with a fat chick because a pretty girl and a fat girl are an equation that work, he is equally dismissive of a friend’s sister being married off to an NRI who outright objectifies women and demeans them without any provocation.

Everyone who saw this movie, found something they wanted to in it…I was entertained and got good music out of it…not to mention total eye candy! *wink wink* It should be left at that…a story about a brash man who feels deeply, loves deeply and takes on the world and screws up only to get back up again. Nuff said.

Of Deaf Leopards&Animal Scat

I’d overslept this morning and headed out to the gym midday, MLM in tow. Boy! That should have tipped me off exactly what would ensue while driving those measly 4 kms. But by all means, let me wax on and wax off Daniel-San!

Sorry, couldn’t help the last bit. Watched the original movie after ages and have been saying Wax-on, Wax-off in my head. Damn you Pat Morita!

Anyhow, among the less than pleasant traits that the offspring has inherited from moi is his urge to listen to the same song till he tires of it. Never mind others are already stuffing their ears with whatever they can to stop the earworm from advancing, but MLM and I remain oblivious to our surroundings and keeping blaring the songs.

After a few weeks of Fugly- Fugly ruling the roost in the car, I was finally given an opportunity to play something I wanted to listen to. A random selection brought up Vault and Hysteria came on. The little man instantly liked it (YAY!) and asked me who was singing. I often think about filtering my words before speaking to him but I was navigating through midday traffic and thoughtlessly said, “Def Leppard”. And we were OFF!

From laughing his hieney off about leopards being deaf to talking about big cats; I heard it all. I heard about animals marking their territory albeit in the uncensored version aka the leopard does “susu” on the tree and then kicks some sand on the tree with his feet backwards et al”.

Note: Anyone who doesn’t know how kids talk might think it was a very special kind of leopard or it was a mutated one, but “with his feet backwards just means with his back feet.

On we go…once he started talking about the big cats, I had to hear about each animal marking it’s territory, one by one. After the leopards came the tigers, lions, cheetahs, the jaguars, the ocelots, the panthers, the pumas and the snow leopards as well.

Just as he was running out of breath and I was pulling into the parking another thought meteorite hit him with a bang! “But why don’t they poop when they pee?” is the question he wanted answered.

As I herded him out of the car and up the steps I thought to myself, this kid is either going to be a naturalist a la Attenborough or he’s going to be a zookeeper! In any case ‘deaf leopards’ is a moment etched firmly in the annals of mother-son time.

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