Monday, March 5, 2018

Turn To God... with Songs of Joy

Had a wonderful long weekend... Thanks to the festival of colour Holi falling on a Friday.... A weekend that had its fair share of work and relaxation. 

Got back to this blog after a long break.... I also managed to find some time to spend time working out some music on my keyboard.... and the first songs that came to mind were religious songs. 

Flashed back to 2012, when I was invited to help out with the Children's Choir in my then parish - St. Michael's Church Sharjah. I used to spend at least an hour or two, coaching enthusiastic young musicians on the liturgical music to be played the next week... and what a satisfying experience it was. Moving to Mumbai, I almost immediately got involved in the liturgical music of the parish, with further opportunity to be part of the Music Ministry at the parish CCR (Catholic Charismatic Renewal) group.

Also in Mumbai, I encountered a different mood of Christian music.... Christian Rock from India... that's made waves around the world through performances at World Youth Day events over the years. 

My first encounter with this genre was at a workshop on Praise and Worship Music conducted by Lenny Soares - a singer, composer and worship leader who led the gospel band 'By Grace' to World Youth Day gatherings to Sydney in 2008 and Madrid in 2010

A few months later, at a wedding I was compering, I met a friend that I used to play in the band back in the early 90s - Samir Viegas - who introduced me to Macklin Lacerda, the lead singer of Open Secret. It was interesting to note that we shared a lot in common. Besides having sung and played with the same wedding choir that I was part of during college days, we also shared a common place of work - FCB Ulka Advertising in Mumbai. 

This Lenten Season - Open Secret have lined up a series of 11 concerts in and around Mumbai - check out for the venue most convenient for you. 

On 25th June 2017, I along with my kids were among the thousands of people who assembled at Shanmukananda Hall to celebrate 25 years of a Christian Youth Movement - Jesus Youth. I encountered the movement during my stint in the UAE, but had little or no idea about the calling of this movement. While Jesus Youth volunteers were always around supporting all the events in Church, only in India did I realise the proportions of faith that this movement drives. 

After a Celebration Eucharist con-celebrated by the Archbishop of Mumbai, His Eminence Oswald Cardinal Gracias and a host of other Bishops and priests, the gathering broke into a festival of music and song, with the Rexband. Music from the Rexband has regularly featured at our parish Sunday School events with our children performing dances to their songs like this one - Rise Up and Dance.

Members of the Rexband will be in Mumbai this week, sharing inspiring inputs with singers and musicians on how to use musical talent for the Glory of God. I'm planning to be there.... How about YOU?

Saturday, March 3, 2018

A Musical Start for 2018

And just like that.... Two Months of 2018 have raced by...

2018 began on a high note of music....

7th January 2018 
#OLPSchembur celebrated 60 years with a musical extravaganza featuring talented musicians of the like of Ram Sampath, Darren Das and Shankar Mahadevan. 

There was absolute nostalgia in the air as alumni and ex-students from school connected after 30, 40, and some even after 50 years... Made a host of new friends just being part of the celebrations. Was great to just connect with old friends - could remember many of them, but some of them just didn't ring a bell. 

It was really a wonderful experience for me to be a part of the evening as part of the organising committee, as I spent the last few months of 2017 coming up with ideas for promoting the event on social media. 

The day was one of celebration as even the morning was dedicated to celebrating our school in all its splendour. Was wonderful catching up with teachers and batchmates, including some famous ones. 

OLPS Batch of 1986

with the famous mythologist - Devdutt Pattanaik
A great way to celebrate the first weekend of the year. 

14th January 2018 
The music continued on the next weekend... This time it was Country Music at the Neighbourhood Winter Festival organised at the Carter Road Amphitheatre... The artiste, none other than Keith Pereira, a young country star from New Zealand (making his first musical appearance to Mumbai). Was a privileged member of the audience as part of the artiste's family (he's my nephew). Took a trip back memory lane to some of the songs I've enjoyed listening to and singing through the years.... The Eagles, Garth Brooks and more.... but the best was the finale.... Country Roads. 

20th January 2018 
Another weekend and the musical spree continues... Back to school yet again as a special guest on the Annual Day. And honoured for my contribution to the Alumni celebrations of two week ago. 

But the greater joy came as a parent of two wonderful musically talented sons... both of them singing in their respective sections. Still receiving accolades from people I meet for that flawless rap sequence.   

Yes indeed.... 2018 has had a great musical start for me... And I hope it brings you lots and lots of music for the rest of the year.... 

Getting back to this blog after a long time... I do hope to be able to make more time to keep the music alive...

Monday, November 27, 2017

Beautiful Sunday

Sunday morning, up with the lark

I think I'll take a walk in the park

Hey hey hey, it's a beautiful day

Sunday morning... yesterday... and I woke up before sunrise... 

Not just me... my two sons as well... as we set out at 6.00am to the park... The ground where I've run, jumped, bounced and kicked for twelve early years of my life. That's the St. Anthony's Society Ground adjacent to my school, Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Chembur, Mumbai... 

The same ground where over a 1000 students would assemble on a Saturday morning in our whites for exercises, to the call of our PT Sir or sometimes even our School Principal. The ground where more than fifty of us would run after one football for 30 minutes and you were lucky if you got one touch on the ball. The place where we would sit and chat during our recess break.
Yes indeed, it was a beautiful day. 

I've got someone waiting for me

Not just someone... but more than 850 people... from the age of three to eighty-three (was there anyone older?) who got together for a common purpose. To run for a cause... a cause connected to my Alma Mater, as we set out on The OLPS Run 2017... There were children, their parents, alumni and many many more others who assembled there in the given zones as they set out to run.


The #OLPSrun was an event to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of the school where I and thousands of others have learnt from ABC and 123 to the laws of Physics and Chemistry, the theorems of Geometry, the problems of Maths and Algebra and knowledge about the world around us in History, Geography, Civics. We even learn Art and Craft... and lots more. 

As time passed by the ground started filling up with men, women and children... but there were some special ladies in attendance.

And when I see her I know that she'll say

Hey hey hey, what a beautiful day

Have you ever considered that in a boy's school, there are far more women teachers than men. As I stood around the ground, greeting the people I've met, one lady came up to me and greeted me with a big smile, with the words, "How's your mum?". While she looked so very familiar, it took me time to recognize her as one of my many teachers from over 30 years ago. While nearly all of my school teachers are retired, there was this energetic lot of present teachers who were thoroughly enjoying the occasion and the call to run...

Hi hi hi, beautiful Sunday

This is my my my beautiful day

When you said said said said that you loved me

Oh my my my its a beautiful day

As the run was flagged off, there was an absolute burst of energy.... Students in their uniform running, the rest in their OLPS t-shirts specially designed for the occasion running, jogging, walking - it just doesn't matter, as long as it is fun. Met some old friends, made some new ones... reminisced about old days, but best of all celebrated the first place out of home I knew. Thought of my teachers - a few of them present, some far away... Thought of the friends, I ran in the lawns with, and played some strange innovative games with... Thought of the fun times we had, and some times not so much fun... Thought of the times we ran to school (especially in the morning) and times that we ran back home. 

The OLPS Run 2017 went through a familiar path that I walked and run through many times in my childhood.... I've even raced that path on my offbeat cycle... The route passed through my house that I grew up in... and am lucky to live in even today... Yes indeed it was a beautiful Sunday....

And as I look back at yesterday, I look forward to another beautiful Sunday six weeks from now - Diamond Jubilee Celebrations of the school that we all loved.  

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Mumbai Deluge 2908


That's exactly what we saw in Mumbai yesterday...

Stepped on the train running some 10 minutes late on what appeared to be a normal wet day. Reached office in good time, looking forward to the long day ahead... and got busy right away.

As the day progressed, there were comments about the rain, and the only colour I could see outside the glass windows was GREY... but that didn't matter. It's rained heavily before. And as the day progressed, the reports started coming in.... videos, images across news channels and the craziest network of all - WhatsApp... and the one question on everyone's mind was Who'll Stop The Rain.

As the afternoon progressed, the warnings started getting louder... The Tide Is High... or soon going to be...

As the office announced a rain day, four of us headed out to Chembur stepped out in the rain... but soon we lost two, who returned back to starting point... A short walk to the station and spotted the stalled trains... moved on to the junction further to see crowds waiting on the streets looking for taxis. After a brief walk to and back, we jumped into the first bus we could get on... reached the destination and hopped onto another, this time to Wadala Depot... With a dead battery on my phone and a dying one on my colleagues, we managed to get some power on our phones, thanks to a nice security guard, and some rest at the canteen, filled with stranded people trying to figure out how to move ahead... Keep On Moving...

A couple of hours and cups of tea later, the buses were ready to get to service... So off we stepped on for the next leg of our journey... the bus started, it moved and at the first junction the snacks came in through every window of the bus and got passed on... Five minutes more that then we reached the clog... the bus was on an absolute crawl... One hour... and then two... as we saw people wade alongside in knee-deep and then even waist-deep water... There was absolutely no stopping them... One brief glance outside and I spotted a colleague who lives in far away Mira Road walking in the flood waters... I tried calling to confirm it was her, but no response.... the phones were buzzing... An elderly gentleman getting a call every 20 minutes, to check on his progress. Others were posting messages home... Got a few calls from family and friends offering refuge... but we were moving...

Got off at the designated stop... and crossed the street for the last leg of our journey... and a car moving ahead stopped to offer a ride... but not in our direction... Crossed the bridge hoping for another one of those... With no rickshaws in sight, we hailed the first car we saw... and got a big welcome smile... a couple of minutes later, I stepped into the comfort of home... 

Lots to be grateful for.... It might have taken long, but it could have been much harder... Most of all, we didn't need to wade in the drain waters of Matunga and Sion... We just drove through, slowly but surely... 

Thought about the days in the past, when I've negotiated floods in Mumbai... and even in Dubai where I've driven to flooded roads that took three days and lots and lots of pumps to clear. Yes, the rain gives us some crazy days... but these are tests that we need to make the life an adventure... and of course, we need the rain to feed us.... The Rain Song.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Happy Friendship Day

'Twas the First Sunday of August two years ago, and I spent some time writing a blog post to celebrate #FriendshipDay - Happy Friendship Day. The next few days got me a host of connections on Facebook and Twitter from a host of old friends - from school, colleges, work places and just other people I met someplace sometime. 

Over the past few weeks I've had the opportunity to connect back with friends in school to work towards the celebration of OLPS DIAMOND JUBILEE ALUMNI REUNION as my school (and now the school of my kids) celebrates 60 years of existence. And as I reminisce of the years gone by while enjoying the thrill of being back in Mumbai, I thought I'd share my favorite friendship tunes from the Hindi movies...

Starting with the Friendship Anthem of the movies, from the biggest blockbuster of the 70s - SHOLAY - Yeh Dosti.

Back in the 70s, there was also this powerful song that compared friendship to faith and life.... ZANJEER - Yaari Hai iman Mera Yaar Meri Zindagi (Friendship is my Faith, My Friend is my Life).

The last Friendship song for this post, was released in the year 1999 (takes me back to my RJ days at AIR FM) and featured in the school film - Rockford - Yaaron Dosti.

So once again, wishing all my friends (schoolmates, college friends, colleagues at work, students, neighbours, associates, acquaintances and just everybody around...),  a VERY VERY HAPPY FRIENDSHIP DAY... It's great to be connected.  

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Parents Day

May - 2nd Sunday - Mothers Day

June - 3rd Sunday - Fathers Day

July - 4th Sunday - ???

May is for Mother's, June for Father's and July for both of our wonderful PARENTS... yes, for Papa and Mama... because Papa Loves Mama.

Like every year, this year as well the Sunday School at our parish celebrated Parents Day. While the Sunday School along with the Family Cell in the parish organised a session on Parenting In the Digital Age, the children were busy with art. Most of the classes spent their hour creating beautiful cards to gift their parents. But I was pleasantly surprised when I received this as a WhatsApp message from my elder son's Sunday School class.

As a child, I usually associated Parent's Day with December - that's when we used to celebrate it in school. Parents and Prize Day was actually our Annual Day when we, students, put up some talented performances for our parents to enjoy (and be happy about)... from One-Act Plays, to Dances (Traditional Dances - snake dance, tribal dances - as well as from Around the World) to an array of songs (a performance I always was a part of). While I remember singing for a Christmas Play while in Grade 2, I also recall the many plays on mythology performed on the same stage (discussed in the print column Devlok authored by my batchmate Devdutt Pattanaik. As we put up these pereformances, we had one question for them... Do I Make You Proud?

The observance of Parents Day in July is actually to celebrate the feast of the St. Joachim and St. Anne (that actually falls today - July 26th) - the parents of the Mother of Jesus - whom we affectionately honour as Mother Mary. 

The day is also celebrated as 'Grandparents Day'. I'm sure that they had some influence in His upbringing - just like our own have (or have had) in our own wellbeing... Thanks to you... for You Raised Me Up.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Fourth of July

Just yesterday my son was asking me for suggestions for patriotic hymns. The only one I could think of was 'Rise India'. But on the Fourth of July - Independence Day in America , I thought I'd use this blog  to share all the American Patriotic songs that I know and love. 

What better way to start the blogpost than with the National Anthem - The Star Sprangled Banner.

For the music trivia lover, the most famous version of that track would be unmistakably the Jimi Hendrix performance at Woodstock in 1970. 

During the one trip I made to the USA nine years ago, I recall attending Church on Sunday when the choir began to sing this song - America The Beautiful.

Back home in Mumbai, I remember singing the next song as a child of 7 or 8. Never knew at the time that it was an American Patriotic Song - Battle Hymn of the Republic.

Another song I remember as a child, and possibly heard among the family medleys was this classic - This Land Is Your Land.

So whether your a native American or one of my many Indian friends who live there, here's wishing you a Happy Fourth of July. Yes, Happy Independence Day. God Bless America.

While looking for videos for these songs, I chanced upon an interesting compilation of the Top Ten Most Patriotic Songs from

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