Sing Along.. Or not..

Everyone loves music. There’s no denying that. Whether its toddlers listening to the Teletubbies, a teenager listening to Adam Levine’s latest album or a 90 year old attending a Carnatic (Indian traditional music) concert; everyone shares the same passion for music. And sometimes, that passion can be source of great pain to the rest of us. 

That passion, induced by hearing beautiful music, makes people ‘try’ and emulate the singers by singing along. They have this desperate urge to express this passion. Of course, when a toddler sings, it all seems to be very cute. But as you get older, the ‘cuteness’ quotient reduces. You begin to sound distinctly like a dying walrus! And to add to the problems, people think bathrooms are soundproof rooms where you are authorized to sing as loudly (and creatively) as possible. 

 

                                           

As bad a picture as this might paint, it might interest you to know that there is one category of singers worse than the ones I’ve mentioned. There are some kids (boys especially) who are pressured into learning Carnatic music by their parents and relatives (some distant aunt, second cousin’s uncle, etc, etc). From the early hours of dawn right until the sun sets, they religiously and tirelessly practice, giving you a heart attack every time they reach a high note. And when the poor kid finally stops singing (hallelujah!) you sympathise with him, but sympathy turns into psychotic rage when he once again starts singing, like a frog heralding the rain!

The family of that boy is very supportive of him. When you meet the grandmother, she bursts out praising  her grandson’s voice. You control your laughter. You meet the mother a day later who asks you if her son’s singing has improved. You nod your head and try to change the subject before you strangle the woman in front of you. And finally when you see the dad after a while, his first and only question to you is whether you heard his son singing ‘Kurai Onrum Illai’ (a famous South Indian song). You mutter some praise about his voice, but you have reached your breaking point. You find a new house next to a loud construction site the next day and move over there for the sweet melody of the cranes and the drills. 

But all is not lost. Several studies show that singing out loud can actually reduce stress and make you happier (even if the rest of the world mourns). So even if you are traumatizing the rest of the world with your ‘wonderful’ voice, you are helping yourself. So sing out loud, but please, soundproof your walls (or your bathroom).

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The World of Google

It is only fair that my first blog post pays a tribute to the website which ‘Does no Evil’ – Google. Google knows everything. From the Archives, to right Now, there are very few things Google does not know. Right from when ‘Google’ became an official word in the Oxford Dictionary to Google launching Google ‘Nose’ (no, it is not real); everything Google has done has always impacted the world in some way. Despite being this corporate giant which seems to try to take over everything, Google is actually far more playful. Both because it knows everything about everyone and also because the only motto Google has is Don’t Be Evil. But no matter what Google does, there is an element of playfulness that accompanies it, which no other company can claim to have; not even Apple.

Google doodles are amazing pieces of art, Google’s April Fool’s pranks are some of the best and most of their products are a result of free time their employees have. Google has a rule of 20, that is every employee must necessarily devote 20% of his time every week to a project of his own. It is because Google is so relaxed that we have Google Instant, Google Now and Google Maps. Apart from this, work at the Googleplex has billions of other perks including free haircuts, laundry services, massages, free food (all of us would love that) and game rooms.

Google is representative of what a company which is willing to go beyond the book can achieve, what it can do. Not only does Google give us information at all times, it helps us store it, document it and even write blogs like this one! Unfortunately, Google is also a double edged sword. With Google, nothing is secretive. At no point of time do we have the exhilaration that comes with figuring out an answer to question after long searches. Perhaps that feeling can never come back to us now that Google has all but taken over the world; so I’m probably going to go on Gmail to find those Youtube links to Android’s KeyLimePie keynote release.

The Diary of a Younger Sibling

Parents. You can’t love them, you can’t hate them. As a younger sibling, the first few years of my life were bliss. Everything I wanted, I got. Everything I did not want, I got. My sister on the other hand, was not as lucky as me. I knew it, and I spent the first 12 years of my life taking advantage of that! I had great power, but not an ounce of responsibility. And then came my sister’s 10th grade and all the discussions about career options. Of course, as the younger sibling these conversations never required my insightful suggestions and so I kept out of them. The same thing continued for the next three years and then my sister was sent off to college. I now had possession of her room. I thought things would go back to the way they were, now that ‘career options’ were taken care of, but I was wrong. Very wrong.

 

Now not only did I have to bear the brunt of my parent’s bad moods all on my own, I also almost never got the attention I had before. All I ever heard was how ‘that poor kid must be suffering in college’ when in reality I was the only one who knew exactly how much she was ‘suffering’. In the first month she got an entire box of my mother’s homemade chocolate. In the second month she got a box of homemade sweets from my grandmother. Trust me, if those boxes were made available to the public, we would be millionaires (although I suppose everyone feels that way about their mom’s cooking). And while my sister got box-fulls of ecstasy, I lay in the background, feeling like a kid who had missed his bus. And this wasn’t even the worst part.

My parents had now crossed the hurdle of sending the first kid to college and this made the effects of old age evident on them. They now needed me to read their restaurant menus to them. They now needed me to repeat myself multiple times. They now needed me to remind them about their meetings, while they forgot parent-teacher meetings at school. I treated the entire process as some kind of punishment for what I had done earlier, and hoped and prayed that it would stop.

Here I am, one year after my sister has left for college. And while I make my way to the new Thai Restaurant, I think about how my parents had forgotten to attend the parent-teacher meeting that Friday, but I snap out of it when my father asks me to read the driving directions off Google maps because he left his glasses at home.