Saturday, September 30, 2006

My Serious Valentine

Listening to a string quartet arrangement for My Funny Valentine made me wonder if there were likewise Hindustani or Carnatic renditions of mainstream music from India. It is amazing what a classical interpretation can do for a song with a catchy tune. I found the experience comparable to turning a regular floral arrangement into ikebana or introducing a gourmet slant to conventional cooking.

While semi-classical forms are accessible and easy and on the ear, they end up taking away the piquancy and edge from the real thing. Jazz aficionados will therefore not be satiated by smooth jazz. The nice thing about doing something like My Funny Valentine a la string quartet is that listeners with no previous affinity for classical music will come to appreciate the form in its original state sans easy listening compromises.


Ek Umeed said...

I had thought to comment on your posting "Homeward Bound Desis" but had just not gotten around to the fact when I noticed that you had already posted your latest blog entry. Well, since I had requested you to post on desi culture and/or desi relationships, I am glad to have caught that particular posting and would like to share my two cents with you on the subject:

Eve teasing or "ched-chad" in the vein of general abominable attitudes and behaviors towards the female gender in the street corners, sidewalks, and shops of India is the norm. I wonder sometimes if the phenomenon exists due to the low standards of education, poverty, and sophistication. But alas, I believe therein lies a much deeper reason that is the root cause of the problem (much to my consternation). I do not think it is merely enough to chalk up the sexist and perverted attitudes and behaviors of the men in India to blatant disregard for women as anything but objects of sexual pleasure and gratification. I am of the mind that one has to consider the strong probability that such lasciviousness results from suffering the lack of avenue for expression of their sexual repression. I think that is a psychological/anthropological fodder for research material and something to “chew on” so-to-speak.

While I do think the women might feel trapped in unhealthy extended family living situations or residence in rural areas upon their return to the homeland, I do not otherwise think the analogy and metaphor otherwise of the gilded age for women fits or is applicable. After all, in metropolitan cities as Delhi and Bombay, the above distressing situation is less likely to be a scenario faced by women. And even if the woman finds herself in that particular situation in an urban context, I think she has options that both husband and wife can together avail themselves of to better their status quo. As far as the need to adjust the “hemline of the skirts” goes, I think the matter comes from the fact that India is a country where a salwar-kameez- or saree-clad woman is still the hallmark of the traditional Indian morality, character, and beauty. Therefore, I hardly find it surprising that women dressing in Western outfits find themselves at the receiving end of hoots, whistles, and renditions of cheesy Bollywood songs. As somewhat a staunch feminist, I am not advocating such behavior but explaining the mentality behind it.

Moreover, I think the issue of raising children in a foreign country is an issue that desis cannot afford to take lightly. Therefore, I am of the mind that these desis’ plan of returning to India, if not the best option, is certainly one that allows them peace of mind. In places as North America and Europe, unarguably, it is much harder to have children take interest in the rich Indian cultural heritage, as many of them fall into the habit of aping all that represents Western culture and come to in the process repudiate their very own roots. So, the question that plagues the mind of these concerned parents is not only regarding the secure future of their children but successful transmission of cultural values. What good are wealth, job security, and residence in the United States if the self-made parents fail in the basic task of ingraining values of substance in their children?

And truly, living abroad often does not offer desi families the opportunity to build a supportive network of other desis where they can feel their children will at least have their aunts or uncles around; moreover, they often do not find comfort in their observations of other parents going through the woes and troubles of parenting abroad. While I think returning to India might not provide the desired “cultural envelope” (since many cities are transforming into mini replicas of open societies abroad), I do think it is worthwhile for parents to contemplate on the best environment for raising their children. If that means a return ticket to India, so be it; however, it should definitely not be the first option desis pounce upon.

ggop said...

Thanks for make me "get" why jazz lovers hate smooth jazz and the likes of Kenny G.

Can you post the link to the CD name? I'm interested.

SFGary said...

Classical music is losing its audience rapidly and like you illustrate various groups are using different methods to rope in younger audiences though I would have a heartburn if they start to do the type of mixes they do with rap and other newer forms. I don't know if crotch grabbing will go well with classical music...

Heartcrossings said...

Ek Umeed - From having seen desi kids that have grown up in the US or still are, I think I understand how and perhaps how things go wrong. More on that in a later post. This is not to claim that I have the silver bullet and will that one desi parent who gets it right or that J (my daughter) will turn out perfect.

Eve-teasing in India is as common as it is because the powers that be don't view it as a seriously punishable offense. It is not the human nature is significantly different anywhere in the world. The laws in the western world make it very difficult for the wrong doer to get away with his actions.

Heartcrossings said...

ggop - I heard that on NPR a few days ago on Performance Today. Check on their site and you should be able to ID it.

sfg -"I don't know if crotch grabbing will go well with classical music" - hilarious even trying to imagine that. But I won't be surprised if someone attempted it :)