An old song and a platinum story….

There are some songs that just move you with their stories – and I came across one such much-loved song this weekend on youtube. The song “Taxi” by Harry Chapin has lost none of its capacity to move me even today. The song has a simple premise – a taxi driver (Harry) picks up his last fare of the day only to have him and his passenger (Sue) recollect a time long, long ago when they had shared an intimate relationship – and they had drifted apart to find their own calling – she to become an actress and he to learn to fly.

As the song progresses, he recognises that both have been successful – albeit in ways unimagined – she is “acting” happy while he “flies” whenever he is stoned – and his life is but a sad medley of tips and being stoned. The song moves over to its tragic end when she offers him a 20 USD bill for a 2 USD fare and he accepts – acknowledging “that another man may have been angry, another man may have refused – but then another man may never have let her go”. The song fades out….and if you haven’t heard the song, believe me its like watching a classic movie.

I discovered to my surprise that he song had a sequel – where harry (now a rich man) takes a taxi ride to meet sue ten years later only to discover she has moved to humbler surroundings – but is happier for it. Listen to the rest of the song as he recognizes the wheel of fortune and moves you with another heart-rendering song – believe me, this song is just as good as the earlier one.

Thanks for the wonderful story harry. I am of course reminded of other stories that have moved me just as much – Jim Reeves’s “The Blizzard” which is nail biting story of a man braving a blizzard to get home – will he make it in time?

Or who can forget Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” where a proud actress suddenly finds the going tough as she ages – sample just the first verse below:

Once upon a time you dressed so fine
You threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn’t you?
People’d call, say, “Beware doll, you’re bound to fall”
You thought they were all kiddin’ you
You used to laugh about
Everybody that was hangin’ out
Now you don’t talk so loud
Now you don’t seem so proud
About having to be scrounging for your next meal.

How does it feel
How does it feel
To be without a home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?

Guess the bard was right when he said the sweetest songs often tell the saddest tales – and on that note, will bring this post to an end.

Are there songs and stories from your experience you’d like to share?

Tradition, Nature and Technology – a delightful potpouri

Its one of those days – where nature, tradition and modernity come pleasantly together; and we involuntary let out a sign of contentment. These moments are few and should be cherished – not because they happen infrequently -, but because we have so little time to notice such wonder these days.

For starters, its the “Deepavali” weekend, the weekend that the whole of India rejoices in – with everyone wearing new clothes, every home brightly lit with flickering earthen lamps, neighbours actively exchanging sweets and a smile playing on everyone’s face. And add an India-Australia cricket match and you certainly have a full hand. Thats tradition.

Nature seems to agree all is well and showers her bounty – a steady stream of rain – upon the earth. A few kids trying to light some fireworks run hither-thither in search of jugaads to make the fireworks work while the old woman across the street looks up to the sky as she remembers a long-forgotten, care-free childhood – and smiles a toothless smile. Nature is in her element and all’s right with the world.

I sit on the balcony, the rain pattering on the windows and a kindle in my hand reading John Grisham’s latest thriller. The Mobile brings in personal greetings from once-best friends – now lost in the mists of memory – and nostalgia competes for attention with the best seller in my possession. The messages win round one – soon tragedies of old reappear as fond comedies (remember when that teacher caught you cheating on your paper!), and foibles of youth now transform into achievements of your youth. Technology just brought the world – and the past – a lot closer to me.

On this wonderful occasion as we wish everyone a great festive season, here’s a hope that Tradition, Nature and Technology all continue to play such symphonies in tandem, delighting us with the ensuing harmony. Or to be more precise, to give us the “presence of mind” to be able to notice more of these enchanting dances and “leave the cares of the world” alone for a while – at least until the end of the festive season. Amen to that!

“Kindle”ing Nostalgia – finding precious treasures in the digital aisle

Yesterday, while browsing our endless digital aisle (also called amazon.com), I came across two priceless items – they make me so happy (and nostalgic) that this will be the topic of today’s post.

First up, I discovered several versions of Peter Cheyneybooks in the kindle bookstore. Peter Cheyney for those who are not aware was a very popular “thriller/detective story’ writer in the early 40s. It was my father who introduced me to Cheyney’s books while we were strolling one lazy summer holiday through Mumbai’s old lanes browsing through used-book stores – the only ones that stocked such items. I loved the book – a racy thriller with catchy dialogues and super heroes on par with James Bond – minus of course the blood and the gadgets, but awesome page-turners. Over the years, I have popped into several libraries and book stores in search of cheyney’s books (they are that good believe me!) – but for a library in Norwich, UK and an obscure library in chennai, India – havent been very successful. To find several of his books (and kindle versions meant I could download them right away) was a treat – and also brought back pleasant memories of a precious childhood moment. Thank you kindle team!

That got me greedy and I started looking for other favourites. Would they have asterix and oblelix comics online too? They didnt have that – but had something equally attractive. MAD Comics are online now as well. MAD comics represent humour, satire and artistic fervour at their very best – as anybody who would have read them in their childhood would attest – and to find them in all their glory was the equivalent of a “home run” in a World Series game…. For starters, I picked up “MAD about OSCARS” which featured parodies on lots of movies (The godfather became The Oddfather, A beautiful mind became A booty-full mind(!), The sixth sense became The Sick sense(!!) and of course The Lord of the rings became Bored of the rings). And the credits belonged of course to MAD’s famed “usual gang of idiots” and featured Alfred. If you haven’t read any of MADs works before – pease do get started with either the ‘MAD about Oscars” or their parodies on Super heroes – they are guaranteed to have you in splits.

All this goes to prove that Chris Anderson was right – the digital world does have a long tail (aka an endless shopping aisle) which allows us to pick items not just on today’s blockbuster list, but on our evergreen favourites list. And to this long tail, here’s a salute – thanks guys.