Wednesday, August 30, 2006

MASUM plays with the Ocean (contd...) - the Finale

This WAS a BIG day for us....there were lots of things yet to do. We had to meet the Indian Ocean band members, talk to them about how we could arrange our stage plan so that their setup wouldn't be disturbed much...we had to talk to Biju, the guy handling the sound system about our instruments, cables, monitors, etc.

Things got a little delayed in the beginning...had me worried quite a bit...but going by how friendly, down-to-earth and adaptive the Indian Ocean guys were (Aseem, Sushmit, Rahul and Amit) - things worked out pretty well. We would have liked some more time for our sound check though...but am grateful for whatever few minutes we got! (The Indian Ocean guys sound-checked first and actually apologized for taking time for setup....that was real sweet considering it was THEIR show!!!)

The show was scheduled to start at started at 6pm...our lead guitarist Pavel entered from the rear of the auditorium playing a solo piece walking his way to the stage....Mudi and I followed after a while....and once all 6 of us were on stage we started with Tumhari friends tell me i looked nervous in the beginning...which i WAS...i need to work on getting into the moment when needed! Mudi was his usual cheerful excited self...and that sure helped!

We kept going from song to song...and we kept getting a good response from the crowd! By our second number "jab se dekha use" i started feeling comfortable and got into the groove myself...Each one of us seemed to be in their elements....Looking back, feels like the whole segment was more like 5 minutes instead of the actual 25 that we spent on that got over so fast! Going by the applause and response we got, seemed like we'd surely done a good job, if not great...

Indian Ocean came up later and rocked the audience. This was their second concert I attended in the last 4 months, and they sound so damn good in their live concerts...just like they sound in their recordings! of course, with a lot more energy and enthusiasm and fascinating trickery!

We later got a chance to interact even more with the band, and it was very pleasing to see them encourage MASUM, especially for the fact that we do our own compositions.

This show has indeed inspired us to keep going stronger and to never give up. We're aware of our shortcomings, but at the same time, we're a young band with lots more to learn and experience. And knowing each one of us - all will surely work towards the goal. I'm so glad and thankful to be part of this band of young enthusiastic and talented musicians! Thanks yo'all ! Next up on our agenda is to take a smallish break from shows and record a couple of our songs to put up on local radio stations and on our website (

And yes...I've been waiting to get to the end to mention the most important part. We're so happy and fortunate to have so many friends and family to support us and our music. To see some of them fly in or drive down from different parts of the US (as far as NJ, VA and FL) for us, was just too heart-warming to say the least! Thanks ALL :)

Also, thanks to Vye and the entire IMACS team for their trust and Biju for great work on the our friends who help us with our website and other ideas (Rajat, Priyavadan, Anu, etc.) Moni for selflessly coming for our looong practice sessions whenever she could to help us out with stuff...and everyone else who've been a part of this beginning of ours! (If I've missed someone on my or the band's behalf, please remember it's not deliberate :)

PS: This picture is © Amin Gilani.
I'll be posting other pictures/links soon

MASUM plays with the Ocean...(the Countdown)

After more than a month of some tiring practice sessions, organizer talks, decision-making, et al, the day that MASUM would open for the Indian Ocean concert at UT-Arlington finally arrived.
There's just so much to write about this I thought I'd break it into two blogs - the Countdown and the Finale.

Cut to around mid-July'06: I meet Vye, a very dynamic and hard-working guy that I came in contact with while we used to perform in UTA till last year. He tells me he wants to arrange an Indian Ocean ( concert in UTA on August 27th, while they'll be on their US tour. We discuss a few things related to this and then he randomly asks me if we'd want to open for the show. I think for almost exactly 7 seconds and go "Sure...why not??".

Within the next 2-3 days, I make a few calls to the rest of our band members to confirm their availability. I call Mudi (who unfortunately for us, works in Virginia and not in Dallas) and ask him to book flight tickets to Dallas for the show. (Someone who's reading this and is looking for a smart, dynamic IT Business Analyst in Dallas, please get in touch with him :)

At this point, we have Pavel (lead guitars), Kalyan (keyboards), Sanjeev (drums), Mudi (vocals) and me (vocals, rhythm guitars). Three important issues ahead of us: We need a bass guitarist, we need a drum kit to practice with and a room to practice till the D-day.

Fortunately for us, as we kept going ahead with our practice sessions...everything interestingly seemed to fall in place. We kept asking around for a drum kit....a few friends tried real hard but things didn't work....till i casually mentioned this to a good friend Anisha, and she goes "of course, we have my brother's drum kit that's unused cos he's off in California...take it!"....and that was it...such a big relief for us. (thanks anisha!)

Getting venues for practice looked like a big issue to start with...well, till Vye and others from the organizing team helped immensely and booked a room in the University for all days till the show.

The biggest issue still was the bass guitarist. The toughest part here was to convince someone to play with us for free as we weren't gonna get paid for this show, and were doing it just for the exposure. Hard to believe, but this bit got finalized only days before the show when Shane agreed to play with us (thanks a ton shane and andrea...and to the "Janmashtami" celebrations organized by the Agarwal's where we actually met up for the first time to sing and to talk about this!). At that point,going only by what people said about Shane's talent, it wasn't surprising that he picked up the songs in only two sessions before the actual show!

So anyways, we decided on doing 4 songs in popular number by Strings called "Ye Hai meri kahani" from the movie Zinda...and 3 of our original compositions, "Tumhari Yaadein", "Suraj Naya" (both performed earlier, liked by many) and a new one called "Jab Se Dekha Use", which now happens to be one of our favourites! can't wait to get a demo recorded...

We kept practising...kept practising...along with our busy schedules at work, etc. till the final weekend. Mudi came down, we practised some more....more sleepless nights, over-stressed vocal chords, lots of gargling, cups of turmeric powder-with-milk (a.k.a Haldi doodh).....till the D-day made its entry...

Monday, June 26, 2006

Strings attached??

June 24th 2006 will be a night to remember for the rest of my life...and i'm sure it'll be also for the other few hundreds that were at the Irving Performing Arts Center in Dallas, Tx that evening.

I happened to browse through a local Indian community website called EkNazar roughly over a month and a half ago and saw something that i never imagined would happen so soon. Strings (, the very popular Pakistani pop/rock band, were scheduled to perform in Dallas in about 6 weeks...*B-I-G wide smile* ...emailed a few friends immediately and bought the tickets rightaway.

Now Strings is a band that I've been extremely fond of ever since I started playing the guitar (and started singing outside the 4 walls of my bathroom) sometime in 1999-2000. Their songs have easy chord progressions, comparatively easy lead guitars, and yet sound very catchy and are very addictive. And I also thought their songs suited my ever since i started strumming their "Sar kiye yeh pahar", there's been no looking back!

Anyways, coming back to the show, it sure was a long wait to get in....the scheduled start of 8pm looked unlikely as hordes of people gathered outside and there were no signs of the doors opening till much later. The show started finally at 9.15...and gotta admit, it did start with a bang. (There was an opening fashion show, which i feel doesn't deserve to be written about....looks like they took the word 'opening act' too literally, considering the dressing malfunctions that took place :)

Strings had a pretty good setup...kinda reminded me of our MASUM shows back in UTA. They had a drummer, a bass guitarist (who harmonized vocals also) and a lead guitarist who toured with them for this concert....and of course, Faisal Kapadia (lead vocals) and Bilal Maqsood (rhythm guitars and vocals). Surprising part was they didn't have keyboards (which...generally are liberally used in their songs)

Faisal got the crowd involved in a BIG way right from the start....he'd sing a line and get us to sing the next and so on....they started off with Chaaye-chaaye and then kept belting out their hits one by one....Anjaane, Sar ki, Duur et al. About half-way through the show, they switched to unplugged mode with very light drumming and sounded great...even better with a slow rendition of "Mera Bichra yaar" to start with...

One part we loved about them was the way they acknowledged the Indian community in the crowd and otherwise...they even had the Pakistanis and Indians sing for each other in one of the covers they sang....the feeling of unity was sweeet! They have blended in with the Indian music community very well in the past...they've recorded songs with popular indian musicians like Hariharan, Sagarika (they got together to record the song "Pal" for Channel[V] Jammin) and Euphoria....and not to forget their foray into the Bollywood music scene with the movie Zinda where they composed 2 songs ("Yeh hai meri kahani" and "Har Saans"). "Yeh hai meri" turned out to be a HUGE hit in india and abroad with a remix version to go along as well.

Anyways, humbly noticing my slight digression this (second) time around....they performed for more than 2 hours straight without a break...and had lots of improvisations to their songs, and also sang a few cover songs in form of a medley...including some popular hindi movie songs, a Nazia Hassan hit, some of their very first songs, etc...

it was a li'l surprising to see Bilal very quiet on stage....Faisal did most of the talking. Anyways, apart from singing some of his trademark songs like "Sar kiye..." and "mera bichra yaar", Bilal's harmonizing vocals made a big difference to all songs.

It was one very memorable evening....and the icing on the cake for us was the post-show wait to eventually be able to meet Faisal and Bilal in person and click photographs with them.... :)

Faisal and Bilal on-stage
(sad the lights were only on Faisal most of the time)

The whole band

For once we see Bilal !

...or do we???

that's me with face-all kapadia :)
(Thanks Rama for this one!)

Friday, June 09, 2006

a few lines....

i rarely write poetry....i've just written about 4 lines till date for a song called "Jab se Dekha use"...that we're still sequencing and making ready for recording...("We" here stands for my band MASUM...started by a close buddy Mudassar aka Mudi and me...with Pavel helping out with arranging, recording, guitars, etc....will have a URL for it soon :)
Anyways, Mudi had to complete the rest of the lyrics!

a few days back, wrote this other one...

"tere jaane se zindagi mein andhera hua
socha savere ki roshni mein kho jaaoon
is judaai ke gam ko pee jaaoon
par na darvaza kholne par noor aaya
aur chilman se baahar jhaanka...
to bhi shab ki siyahee hi nazar aayee"

ok...will translate it for the non-Urdu folks....but don't blame me if it sounds pretty corny in English :)

"You left me, and all i could see in my life was darkness...
i felt I should get lost in the luminescence of the morning...
to help me get over the sorrow of this separation...
but neither did the light shine in when i opened the door...
and even if i looked out from the blinds...
all i could see was the darkness of the night"

Thursday, June 01, 2006

The world of funny commercials

I love watching funny commercials....i've always felt a sense of respect and admiration for the ppl behind the making of some of the funnier's a profession that i find really cool..after all it's letting creativity and imagination run loose and wild...and that's something i appreciate in everybody....

over the years, i've had a couple of friends from that field and it's awesome hearing their experiences, about the plethora of ideas that emanate at their workplaces...and the cut-throat competition as to whose ideas are finally accepted....and also that they need to take care of the geographical factors in the sense that their idea might be a hit in the US...but if the ad they're working on is for the Indian market, it just might NOT work...
(at this point I shall mention that most of these points were part of a casual talk session with Ms. Karishma Shetty who gave up her job with a leading ad agency in Mumbai, India to get back to academics for a while)

anyways, thought i'd list a few of ads that i looked at recently and found pretty funny....

1. Honda Element "I pinch"
2. This ad is for some Double A paper company
3. The Blaupunkt commercial!
4. Fedex cavemen
5. Bridgestone

that's it for now...will add more later as i keep getting to them...

And oh...just by the way, Google video and other such sites are a boon to the Internet...but then i guess that deserves a different blog altogether!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Memorial it sure was...

kinda had gotten into the habit of going someplace out of Dallas for every long weekend. this time though for the Memorial Day one, things would be different. After a hectic previous weekend at Austin, my roommate and i decided to stay put in Dallas....agenda was to catch up on sleep, relax, play a lot of xbox tennis, car servicing, house cleaning, gymming, swimming....
and i'm glad i managed all of it...

one not-very-good thing that came outta the weekend though, is my badly injured heel. If only the swimming pool lights were on yesterday, i'd have known exactly where to expect the floor while jumping right in! (not to forget my clumsiness in picking the wrong end of the pool)

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Top Spinning on the Xbox...

I've been playing that game for a few weeks now...and must say I'm hooked!
It's got some really neat graphics, awesome realism and feel....and i love the attitude feature where a player gestures at or taunts his opponent after winning a point...or might just throw away his racket when he loses one!

It's a pretty old game (came out in Oct 2003), and the players that you get to choose from reflects that - Sampras, Kuerten, Grosjean, Michal Chang, Hewitt, Kuerten, etc.
I wish they'd rope in King Federer at that time...but for now we'll have to play without him....Top Spin 2 includes him and a lot more of the current players and supposedly has better graphics (it better have...cos it's out only on the Xbox 360..and THAT is just wayyyy too expensive...maybe i'll put it up on my wishlist for my next bday)

For now, i'll just sit back and feel cosy with my sweet Xbox classic and the older version of the game.....but maybe i shouldn't get too comfortable too...cos these days i'm on a winning streak against my roommate....and i sure don't wanna lose that... :)

Monday, May 22, 2006

and yet again... seeing how popular blogging is getting these days, it again pushed me to log in here and jot down a few. Now i didn't even remember much from my previous posts, but well now i know that I'm 1.5 years into my G35 dream....and still don't think i can afford it....yes, it IS a little disappointing....did i make a mistake then by logging in to blog?
i feel for the most part I always like thinking positive...and so i shall say NO to that.

I've always for the last few years felt that i suck at managing time....i just want to do so many things at the same time....I know i do manage a few (or at times a lot) of them, no doubt...but i also know that to manage those things and the rest more efficiently, I need to plan more sensibly and also need to be on top my "plans".
In the recent months I've come into contact with a few extremely talented people who can do a HUGE number of things within the 24 hours of the day, it didn't even sound credible at first. and I also know that i'm not a 18-year old anymore.....changing my habits would've been much more easier back then....
BUT in case you've forgotten, I think positive....and i know we can change anytime, bring new habits into our lives, throw old ones out, learn a new instrument, a new language....anytime of our lives...all this, only subject to the one condition that our minds are open. We shouldn't hope that we change.....we should KNOW it...

Tuesday, February 08, 2005


I knew it....I just knew i wouldn't be able to keep this thing going....
but hey i'm i'm happy anyways!

just thought i'd blog about my love for the infiniti g35 coupe...i jus llluuuuvvv that car...and i wanna own it someday verrryyyy sooooon. it's not bad for a start-up dream car is it??? i hope to be driving one in the next 3 years...PERIOD. rigt now i don't have the money to buy even a brand new Kia (they're among the cheapest!) i'm not exactly paving my way for the dream...but then hey, dreaming don't cost me i'm just gonna keep fantasizing bout my G35 for now...

Friday, January 21, 2005

First Day of Blogging

feels good to start something i feel i should've done long ago....
always had these sporadic urges to jot down those important moments and how i felt when they happened. And to pacify those urges as a child, I tried in vain to maintain and update a diary every night. I still have 2 diaries with only 6-8 pages written in each...

but this is's ONLINE! convenience at its best.......
Now, how long this site holds my fancy and makes me come here n blog regulary is at this point a mystery to me (and to you too I hope!), and I really hope the mystery unfolds in the best of my interests... :-)