Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Howrah Station April 1988

I knew what he did was wrong.

The air was a vacuum of damp sticky heat, heavy hot breaths and persistent sweat with the large exasperated sighs of the heaving steam trains releasing even more hot air into the Kolkata skies. I saw you had your eyes on Dad as he confidently marched forwards holding my sister's hand, trying to part the crowds so we could follow through. Losing sight of them in this muddle of noise and confusion would have been terrifying. A cacophony of chaos, men and railway children.

You gripped my hand tighter as we approached the platform as the crowds got thicker, denser and closer.

It happened so quickly. In an overheated haze it felt wrong and I didn't like it. I didn't know which one of the million anonymous faces the innocence-stealing hand belonged to but now, twenty two years later, I clearly remember its hard, inappropriate grip.

I looked up at you when I wanted to cry. But I knew telling you would hurt you so much more than it had hurt me. I would rather be eternally haunted by the stranger in the crowd and for you to never know it happened. I should have been shielded with you by my side and Dad and sister in front of me. I should have been as safe as I was when I was in your womb.

But he still managed to touch me, Mum.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Bandit Queen

You think you're having a tough day when everyone disappoints you and you freak out about where the hell and who the hell to turn to in your life and then you realise there are always people with more troublesome, harsher, 'real' lives than yours and that you are in fact nothing but a total drama queen.

Phoolan Devi was a low-caste Indian woman heralded by the masses as an incarnation of the Goddess Durga. She rose from poverty, rape, abuse and degradation to infamy as an outlaw, avenging her honor, raiding the rich with her gang, and sharing the spoils with the poor. She was assassinated in a revenge killing in 2001.

I remember catching Shekhar Kapoor's Bandit Queen film late at night in my early teenage-insomnia-leading-to-disturbing-film-watching-years and being shocked and fascinated by the movie. It was only a few years later when I was old enough to understand the severity of the social injustices demonstrated against her and the impact that her own decisions of avenging them made for both women and ethnic minorities. The horrific plight of one woman who did use violent means to highlight her cause spoke out for the millions of other women who faced and continue to face these ongoing social injustices that unfortunately are still deemed acceptable in countries like India; the ridiculously rigid fanaticism of the Caste system, child-adult marriages, the mistreatment of women as second class citizens and the shockingly disproportionate gap between the rich and the poor.

My father is Indian and my mother is Nepalese and although they have only lived in India for just under a year of their 30 year marriage, my parents are still made to feel actuely aware by first and second generation Indians in this country that they have married out of caste and it is still severely frowned upon. I doubt the views of a second generation immigrant musician female of mixed Asian parentage will ever be able to cause ripples or speak volumes but tonight, I light a candle for a woman whose life and death certainly brought some of these ongoing social injustices to the surface even for a short time; PHOOLAN DEVI.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

What else should I be?

EEK. That was fun. A completely impromptu jam turned into Samir (Kurt) and I (Dave) forming a Blue On Blue spin-off, well, a Nirvana tribute band to be precise, NOVANA!

Now this got me thinking about something that I have managed to completely avoid in my entire music-loving life, the "art" of tribute bands. The Rollin' Clones, Red Not Chili Peppers, Nearvana...the list is endless. I've never seen a tribute band play but after a bit of YouTubing ( I believe that this is a new 21st century verb, correct?), I'm really intrigued by how far and seriously some people take it! Samir asked me if he should bleach his hair and this made me question my own commitment to this project. I replied by asking his advice on whether I should have a sex change. I mean, I have always said in the past that I would go to any lengths for music....In fact, make it 7 inches.....

A few of my favourites below:
Korean Killer Queen band!

Guns 4 Roses

Jimi Hendrix Experience

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Proud of my roots. But who am I?

I don't have a place that I'm from or a family home that generations of my family have lived in for years. I am a nomad born and bred and this continual sense of restlessness will fill my bones until I die.

Being born of mixed Asian parentage and living a life which took me across all towns and borders shaped my tendency to make new friends quickly and throw all sentiment and longing out the window. I have never lived anywhere for longer than 2 years and went to 15 schools. So when people ask me where are you from, I look at them and say "London. The east end to be precise."

I've lived in London for 10 years and in the east end for almost 10 years. I've lived in Mile End, Stepney Green, Bow and now Bethnal Green. I love it here. It is my life and it is my home. I still have uncontrollable urges to travel the world but I feel London will always be my home. I came here seeking an education and to find and establish my own creativity as well as meet other like-minded souls.

Lately I've been exploring it a lot more than I used to. I spend days off going to museums, churches, anywhere....In particular, I have started exploring the east end more. There are fantastic buildings here - old and new - and I want to document them and learn about their history. I am proud of the east end's historic and cultural roots and feel it is something that should be shared hence I have started doing more local themed club nights like Blackchapel and Victorian Punk which was inspired by Clement Attlee's 'In Limehouse' poem.

Anyway, here are some photographs from my little walk around my neighbourhood today:

Steeple Court formerly St Bartholomew's Church
Bethnal Green, St. Bartholomew, Coventry Street (Essex, later Buckurst Street) [1844] 1941 Bomb damage, re-opened 1955. United to St. Simon Zelotes 1978. Church closed 1983, converted to flats.

St Bartholomews Gardens

The second church, dedicated to St. Bartholomew the Less, is situated in Lamb's-fields, at a short distance from the Mile-end station of the Eastern Counties' Railway. Like St. James's Church, it is in the early English style, with lancet-headed windows; the material, light brick with stone dressings.
Extract from Illustrated London News", 8th June 1844

Orion House, Coventry Road

Three Colts Lane