Wednesday, December 23, 2009

2000s - The decade of "Prakash Murthy" "In America"

As the 'Noughties' come to an end in a few days, giving way to the 'twenty-tens', there has been a deluge of 'best of/worst of the decade' articles in the mainstream media. Looking over one such list today, it stuck me that the Noughties decade does indeed mark a couple of significant milestones in my life.

The first one is, it is literally the first decade of "Prakash Murthy"!

I got my name legally changed to Prakash Muthy at the end of 1999, after being N. Prakash in school records, and Namagundlu Prakash in my first passport. If possible, I would prefer to go just by my first name, like some of the rockstars :-) The original name in the passport started to become an embarrassment during my first visit to US in 1998, and very soon it became one other thing I hated about myself. During a 3-4 month break from career during 1999, took time to get my name legally changed in India. It was a simple procedure though - had to file an affidavit in the court, and then put out advertisements in a couple of newspapers announcing the name change.

Some anthropological study would probably have a better explanation about why significant portion of the population in Karnataka state - specifically those in the southern part of the state - have the habit of naming their kids with initials, and with no proper last name. Nevertheless, that is something that has annoyed and embarrassed me no end. And these days I do make some efforts to ensure that a new-born among my relatives back home does get named properly before their birth certificate is made.

The second major mile-stone the 2000s decade commemorates is my shifting from India to United States - from living with my parents for the most part, to leaving the nest and making it on my own in the wide world! After about 6-8 months of working towards shifting my career base from India to US, I finally arrived in New York in the early part of June 2000. And have been here ever since. While there have been moments when I have come very close to calling it quits and heading back to India, overall I have done well here in the United States and am well on my way to build something remarkable with my being in New York.

Looking back at the decade reflectively, I am proud of the things I have accomplished, the goals I aimed at, what I didn't accomplished, the risks I took, the risks I did not take, the experiences I let myself into, and where I have ended up. There were heartbreaks. There were triumphs. There were periods of desolation and drifting. There were periods of furious energy and enthusiasm.

Overall, it has been a memorable and satisfying decade. The 2000s decade would be a decade when "I grew up"!

Looking forward to the next decade and the rest of 21st Century with quiet confidence, hope, and excitement.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

"I can't afford to hate people. I haven't got that kind of time"

That memorable quote is from Ikiru - an awesome Japanese movie made by acclaimed director Akira Kurosawa. And no doubt this quote being an inspiration for many, the clip from the movie with this quote is available on YouTube. Here is the clip:

The movie - made in 1952 and in Black & White - is a masterpiece. Here is the synopsis of the movie from the website:
Considered by some to be Akira Kurosawa’s greatest achievement, Ikiru presents the director at his most compassionate—affirming life through an exploration of a man’s death. Takashi Shimura portrays Kanji Watanabe, an aging bureaucrat with stomach cancer forced to strip the veneer off his existence and find meaning in his final days. Told in two parts, Ikiru offers Watanabe’s quest in the present, and then through a series of flashbacks. The result is a multifaceted look at a life through a prism of perspectives, resulting in a full portrait of a man who lacked understanding from others in life.
I got to see the movie thanks to Ravichander from whom I borrowed the DVD.

Despite moving very slowly, the movie captures the viewers' imagination by setting up his plight at the beginning and making them ask "What will he do?" for the first two-third of the movie, and then "What did he do?" as the movie switches to flashback mode following the main protagonist's death.

This is probably the first movie of Akira Kurosawa that I have seen, and I am very impressed by his craft. The best illustration of Kurosawa's mastery - in my opinion - is how skillfully he juxtaposes the moment Watanabe realizes what he needs to do to redeem his life, to a birthday party - thereby making it look like the revelers at the party are singing 'happy Birthday to you' to the main protagonist, on his starting to live at that moment!

Here is the Trailer for the movie:

Do check out the movie. Highly recommended!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Yes, I do like Christmas songs... (a few of them)....

The day after Thanksgiving (4th Thursday of Nov) is the unofficial kick-off of Christmas Season here in the US. One thing that signifies this more than anything else is the FM radio stations starting to play Christmas songs. Some stations even turn themselves into a 24 hour caroling machines. While I don't mind an occasional 'Jingle Bell' or a 'Feliz Navidad', being subjected to it non-stop during the day is something I prefer not to put myself through.

In this context, an annual Christmas related activity is the re-programming of the favorite channels on my car radio. All 24-hour-Christmas-songs-stations get a pushover in favor of other previously-rarely-heard stations just because they are not jingling all the time.

Don't get me wrong, It is not that I don't like them at all. There are a handful of Christmas songs among my favorites to listen.

There was one particular Christmas Instrumental tune - filled with majestic movements & swings in sound - that is a special favorite of mine, but I did not know what it was called or who plays the music. On some reflection, the one thing I could figure out about the song was that a similar tune was used in a Garmin commercial on TV/radio. With that piece of information, it was time to submit to Lord Google for answers. And give answers he did!

So the name of the song that I was looking for was 'Carol of the Bells'.

Looking up on Youtube for 'Carol of the Bells', I didn't find the one I wanted immediately. There were quite a few versions of this song, and among them was this delightful version sung by Celtic Woman:

There is something about an all-female ensemble group singing in unison!

A few spots down from the Search result on Youtube - after checking out a few versions of the song, I found the one I was looking for - The Instrumental version done by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra! Here it is - for your viewing & listening pleasure:

Once in a while over the next couple of weeks, I will switch over to the 'hidden' FM stations; I might discover a new favorite.

Friday, December 11, 2009 is on-line is finally launched!!

Well, it is not entirely true though. I did have this domain for a while (couple of years) and had redirected it to my main blog at the time. Now I have decided to discontinue all my other blogs and use this one alone in the future.

I have been a very irregular blogger, and in fact have not blogged at all in recent months. My intention now is to resuscitate this habit and develop it into a hobby, blogging on a regular basis.

To hold myself accountable, here are my stated goals for this blog/personal website:
  1. Keep it interesting.
  2. Write a blog post at least once a week. (There is going to be a deluge in the first few weeks as there are quite a few ideas welled up in my mind)
  3. Write about stuff to open up new doors and brings new people / opportunities into my life.
There will be a lot more refinement of the blog layout, the content, and the objectives over the next few weeks/months. For now, without much ado, I would like to hit 'Publish post' button on this and move out the starting gate!

A final Thank You note before going: Thanks to my buddy Krishnan Palaniappan for encouraging me to start blogging initially, and for again pushing me gently to take it up seriously. The Your Blog is Your Mothership link he shared with me will be the guiding light in this effort to create an expanded identity through this blog.