Welcome to Darkside Daily

When I'm not writing about my experiences in this journey called 'life', I'm singing and uploading my own interpretations of modern music. Click on "Cover Songs" to hear them, or on the YouTube logo on the right to see my YouTube channel.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Melomanic Musings

It's been a very busy week, and I haven't had time to blog about the Melomanic Sessions last Saturday. If you weren't there, you definitely missed out; this was only my second time but it was so refreshing to be part of a group of such talented musicians and singers (not forgetting the very appreciative and faithful crowd). A lot of credit has to go to CC and Asela for putting on a fantastic show; the stage layout was especially excellent (though the photographers were not so enthusiastic in their praise).

Since I'm late, let me link to a better review by T. Below are the videos for my set; we did a bit of everything, and overall I think it turned out alright, if I do say so myself.

It was a special night for me, personally, performing with my brother. I always enjoy it, as you can tell from the videos when I look at him and laugh after each song. We improvised on the fly for one of the songs, changing the ending at the performance itself for some reason, but I suppose that's all part and parcel of the 'live' experience. He did a stellar job, and I'm extremely proud of him.

Of course I have to mention how great CC was; his cover of Florence and The Machine's "Cosmic Love" is still getting rave reviews all over my Twitter and Facebook feeds.

So without further ado, here are the videos from the show. Hope you like them; do leave me some comments!

Shinedown - "If You Only Knew"

Pearl Jam - "Black"

Sting - "Fields of Gold"

Switchfoot - "Vice Verses"

In closing, let me just say something about "Vice Verses". I've always believed that singing words that you actually agree with brings more meaning and power in to a performance. Despite the song not going too well during our rehearsals, I was adamant that we do it because it was the perfect song for me and the situation I was (am) in. How often have I felt lost and confused, disillusioned by what I once thought was gospel, by what I once thought was infallible truth. As I sang "Where are you in my broken heart/ everything seems to fall apart/ everything feels rusted over/ tell me that you're there", it wasn't Jon Foreman's words coming out of my mouth, it was mine. 

It was a good night, and I am so, so grateful for opportunities like these where I can just 'sing out'. 

Again, if you missed out this month, I hope to see you the next time.

Before I go, let me leave you with this:

♫ I know that there's a meaning to it all,A little resurrection every time I fall.. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Return of The Melomanic Sessions!

It's that time of month again, time for some mellow music, care of the Melomanic Sessions!

The Melomanic Sessions is an opportunity for you to listen to some cool, laid back acoustic music from some very talented artists. It's not your average 'music show'; there are no bells and whistles, just heart and soul.

I was lucky enough to be asked to perform for the last show in January, and I'm guessing I must have done something right to be asked to play again this time. Just like before, it'll be held at the Warehouse Project in Maradana (a place that I feel is perfectly suited for some relaxed, refreshing live music), and just like before the entrance fee is up to you! All proceeds go to charity, so whatever you feel you can give will do (but give generously!).

Hope to see you there this Saturday, 630pm, at the Warehouse! Click here to view the event on Facebook.

For a taste of what you can expect to hear there, let me link you to some excerpts from last time.

shamistha's set - january sessions by themelomanicsessions

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Which Kind of Girlfriend Are You?

By now, Axe has made a name for itself by making a list of rather racy ads for their rather mediocre deodorants and other products. Yes, despite being just about ordinary, Axe continues to try to persuade you that you too can experience the 'Axe effect'.

So when I stumbled across this new set of advertisements for their shower gels, I was pretty surprised. No more are they trying to tell men that their products are essential for picking up random hot girls; nope, instead, their products are going to help you keep the girl.

So, ladies, which girlfriend are you?

And this one is my personal favourite - The Sporty Girl!


Friday, March 16, 2012

"Mighty, Mighty" : The Power Of The Mob

It has been an unsettling couple of days in the city of Manipal, India. I use the term 'city' here very liberally however, as Manipal is more a student suburb, an elevated hamlet saturated with universities ranging from medicine to management to hospitality to engineering. The most famous of these are the Kasturba Medical College and the Manipal Institute of Technology; I was a proud student of the latter.

On the 10th of March, 21-year-old Ishan Nihalani, a second year engineering student suffered a serious head injury when he fell off the footboard of college bus on the way to class. Four days later, due to complications, he succumbed to his injuries. Immediately after this, the student council raised several issues with the director of the university, asking for disciplinary action against the reckless bus driver as well as to address the issue regarding the inadequate number of buses providing transport from the hostels to the university, a point which had been brought up repeatedly in the past. The MIT campus has banned all forms of private transport for the last 5-6 years, leaving students with only two options to get to class from their hostels - take the college bus or walk the 1.5km to 2km distance from the hostels to the classrooms. However, there are just not enough buses to accomodate all the students, a situation further exacerbated by the newly appointed director's decision to double the student intake of the college this year.

The details of what happened next are, at best, somewhat conflicting, but the consensus is that the director not only refused to acknowledge the role of the bus driver and the college in this accident, but instead laid the blame solely on the student for being late to class. If he had not been careless and had been on time, apparently, he would not have died.

This careless remark set off a riot among the student body, as grieving classmates and friends joined with agitated seniors to destroy property and then form a 2000 strong mob outside the university building, demanding the resignation of the director. Police were called in, as well as the Vice Chancellor of the university to negotiate with the student council and the director. After several hours, the Vice Chancellor appeared to the vocal mob, and announced that the director has resigned.

The video can be seen below.

It would seem unfathomable that the director of an educational institute would speak so flippantly regarding the life of one her students, but I for one am not at all surprised. Many times in my own experiences, the management and board of most large educational institutes in the Asian sub-continent view the student body as an agitated, lazy, undeserving collection of rich, spoilt children. Rarely do they see them as individuals who have specific needs and weaknesses, much less human beings eager to learn. An incident like this, no matter how innocent the victim, is immediately chalked up to negligence on the student's part, as the college does its best to wash its hands off from anything that besmirches the university's reputation, thus putting the names and jobs of the staff and faculty above the needs and rights of the students they teach.

This whole fiasco leaves me with very mixed emotions. On the one hand I'm disgusted that a person like the now former director of MIT could ever reach such an esteemed post while clearly having no connection with the student's that walk through her halls. This is not some petty revolt regarding raised hostel fees or some boycott of a campus club; this is the death of a student. But as I mentioned before, I am not at all surprised, for it seems that this sort of detachment is a prerequisite for the job. When I was in my second year, a senior had died in a car accident. When his friends approached the director at that time to inform the parents, he coldly picked up the phone in front of them, and said "Sir? Your son is dead, please come and collect the body."

On the other hand, I feel a great sense of pride in the student body at MIT. I don't condone violence or vandalism, and I have often denounced the petty protests that we had in college as being excessive (we once went on strike because the mess food wasn't tasty). But given these circumstances, I'll tell you now, I would have been right there in the middle of that crowd, chanting "Resign!" just like everyone else. I'm proud that for once, the students rallied together for a worthy cause, and for once, justice, however mediocre, was served.

We as Sri Lankans should take note of these events as well, for our universities are more famous for their protests and strikes rather than for any real academic achievements. In fact, the only times we hear of anything newsworthy from these bastions of local education is when some student is either ragged or if there is a strike by the student body. Ragging especially has only escalated in the last few years, with more students being physically and emotionally (and in some cases, sexually) abused while the perpetrators are allowed to go scot-free. No actions are taken to prevent these incidents, no one is held accountable, and the educational system of the country continues it's slow but steady decline. Somewhere, it has to stop, yet sadly the few academics who are genuine educators at heart are few and far between.

If you watched that clip, you can hear towards the end of it the vice chancellor imploring the students to please go back to class the next day, now that their demands have been met.

Wherever Ishan is, I'm sure he wishes that he could comply.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Brotherly Love*

How time flies, huh?

The day is almost done, but before it is I must give a 'shout-out' to my little brother, who just turned 20 and is not deserving of the title 'little' any more. Knowing him though, I'm not going to share this post on Facebook - I would lose a lot of points in his book for writing something as lame as this.

Twenty years. Man. I still  love telling the story of how when I was growing up, I told my parents I wanted a brother, simply because I was tired of playing alone. When they came home from the hospital with him, I was extremely disappointed. See, my 7-year-old mind didn't understand that he had to grow before he could 'play' - I just assumed he would be my age. I think my disinterest in the new addition to the family showed; my father was not pleased.

Seven years is quite a large age gap, and growing up we didn't always get along as brothers are supposed to. 

But as with most things in my life, I have often initially felt that the timing for something was inconvenient, only to realise later that the timing was perfect after all. Watching him grow, and teaching him things the few times I've been able to, has been such a joy. I watched him achieve things I never achieved when I was in school, excelling as a friend and a student, and I feel a special sense of pride. Pride and gratitude, that my fervent prayers for him were answered. 

Through everything that has happened,especially with my family over the last 5 years, he has been a special kind of strength for me. We are so similar, and so different at the same time, which is what makes us get along so well I suppose. He mirrors my love to have fun and fool around (I have never met anyone, not one person, that makes me laugh like he does), my love for basketball and the Celtics, as well as parts of my temper, yet he is ice-cool when I am emotional, laid back when I am tense, and always a complete idiot when I am trying to make a serious point. 

So here's to you, 'boss'. I love you with all my heart, and I promise to stand for you my entire life, as I know you will for me.

*"He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" was too cliche, even for me

Friday, March 2, 2012

Oversmarting: We're Not As 'Smart' As We Think We Are

The advancement of technology these days is remarkable not just because of the achievement itself, but because of the way it is trickling down to the average consumer. Over the last 20 years, technology that was once restricted to either the very wealthy or to specialists from a certain field have been finding applications in day-to-day appliances. For decades, technical breakthroughs from Formula 1, rally racing etc have made their way into your Volkswagen parked outside, in the form of power steering, ceramic brakes, automatic gearboxes and the like. The same can be said of computers; today, the latest processors from Intel or GPU's from Nvidia can be found on your desktop or in your smartphone within a few months.

With this sudden ease of access to high end technology, it's not uncommon to find people oversmarting themselves.

"Oversmarting"? Yes, I just made that word up. It means to needlessly procure or use technology, be it electronics or computing, that one is either unable or incapable of using for its designed purpose.

This is a common issue these days, especially at the work place. If someones colleague buys a smartphone, it's not long before they are looking to 'outsmart' said colleague by getting something more expensive and feature rich. "Oh you got a Blackberry? Well I got a Blackberry with a higher number. Oh you did too? Mine is a Blackberry 'Curve'. Oh yours is a Blackberry 'Bold'? Well I've got... err... "

Lets talk about smartphones and Blackberrys. Look, not everyone is going to need a Blackberry. I for one have no need to be informed of work emails after office hours, nor do I have a network of Blackberry users to whom I can communicate using BBM. Hence, I won't be getting one. My father does need this facility, but he doesn't like phones with tiny buttons and tiny screens, so I've made sure he doesn't get one either. The same goes for smartphones, but this hasn't been followed at my workplace - first a deputy manager buys a Galaxy S2, then another manager gets the same phone, then another manager buys an iPhone 4, then another goes abroad and gets an unlocked iPhone 4S, and then two more managers get the Galaxy Note. Out of all these people, perhaps only two know how to use their phones properly i.e., more than just calling and texting. You don't buy a Galaxy Note if you're not going to use the Note's massive screen and the stylus that comes with it for notes, presentation edits etc; you might as well play table tennis with it instead.

Of course, after finally getting these dream phones, they have the arduous task of figuring out how to actually use them. Just the other day I noticed one of them fumbling around, desperately trying to figure out how to add a contact to his phonebook on his iPhone. Here's what he did:

1. Opens dialer, types the number.
2. Closes dialer, reopens and types again.
3. Calls number and quickly cuts.
4. Re-opens dialer, dials number again and deletes number.
5. Goes to call log, clicks on outgoing call and adds to phonebook.
6. Types name wrong at least ten times due to keyboard errors.
7. Adds the same number twice to same contact.
8. Deletes one number.
9. Calls number to make sure name shows up.

This isn't restricted to phones though. As I've mentioned before, there are now a lot of people who feel that a simple point-and-shoot camera will no longer suffice, even though the only pictures they take are the kind where they point it at themselves from arms length, or into a bathroom mirror. Never mind that they've never even used all the 'scene' modes on their tiny Canon, they believe that only a complicated DSLR will be able to handle their photographic creativity. This is as practical as buying a 42 inch LED TV for your toilet because you get bored while taking a dump. Try a newspaper, Richie Rich.

Of course, expensive items such as iPhones and fancy gadgets have always been perceived more as symbols of status rather than solely tools to increase productivity. We've seen it before in the form of MP's buying Range Rovers and those stripped down army jeeps with the big tyres just to cruise around Independence square real fast, or people who buy $2000 laptops so their kids can play games on them. However, if you're not one of those people, then you need to seriously look at your gadgets and think "Do I really need this, and if so, am I going to use it to its full potential?". If the answer to both of those questions is 'no', then for the love of technology, don't do it!

Remember, the Flintstones were just as cool as the Jetsons.

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