Sunday, August 06, 2006

Act V: All's well that begins... well??

Google is known for its "define:" keyword, whereby a user can get the definition of oft-used and relevant terms. It didn't turn out so lucky for me, for this is what I got on querying a definition for "event management": services that provide basic capabilities for the management of events, including asynchronous events, event "fan-in", "fan-out" and reliable event delivery! I've given up, for this narration can then be about what event management shouldn't be...
Let's name this guy EM. Now repeat it aloud, after me: EM for... Event Mis-Manager! That's better! He presented himself at 2pm, when we were at our wit's end, feeling and looking like fish taken out of water, and put on a footpath in hot Chennai!! We gave him a piece of our mind as soon as we shook hands with him.
Mankind has committed many a folly, all through what he's been calling technical advancement, a fatal mistake being the coinage of the word "sorry". This mean, unfeeling word is solution to all blunders done and all crimes committed. It's the easiest way to wash off one's sins, though it doesn't put the victim in any better a situation. By habit, he spat out the word: "sorry"...
EM never had the aggression that an event manager usually has, neither did he show any professionalism. That's when I realised it's more a game of money and contacts, than involvement in work or skill in execution. He made a mess of the schedule, told us to alter our playlist, was confused about which event to begin with, where our event should be placed, unable to answer half our doubts, and kept changing the topic when we asked about our wages (The usage is quite intentional, as that's the way everyone looked at it! Wages for the Gaanamela Troupe!). Descriptions help little in portraying the attitude of such a person, and all that needs be said about EM is he wasn't worth his salt.
The sylvan surroundings of Kkm were real good, and the hotel was very well maintained. A walk to the farther side of the hotel led us to a splendid view of the backwaters. The place is surely worth a stay, but it's quite another tale to be here as performers. You are grilled, ill-treated and trampled upon. It's insult upon injury, when you are expected to rise up, like the WWE superstars do on TV, and perform!
KK and I tailed EM like dogs, and we did much more than just performing a few English numbers on stage. We put on the coat of acting Event Managers. The programme for the day included a katcheri by a Carnatic troupe. The schedule placed Heavy Metal before Himagiri Thanaye! I was dumb-struck! We snatched the paper from the compere, and altered the schedule to make it look good. Chrimson chords was to blast out, playing heavy metal songs for two hours, but the schedule gave us half-an-hour! The next thing that struck me was:
Our new wage = (Our old wage / 4)!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It's a simple argument that would come up at the end! You played less, so you deserve less!
We got our performance duration extended. EM never reacted, and he nodded to whatever we said, concluding every recovery operation of ours with a monotonous, annoying philosophical dialogue. East met West when the carnatic troupe wanted to play fusion, and approached us to do an impromptu on stage! I shivered at the very thought! Details follow in the next Act, the penultimate one...

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Act IV: Bearded Schumi and the outcastes' refuge!

I'm not starting with a reminder note this time, for it's obvious that an Act IV will be preceded by three other Acts!

PR's Pearl had to be side-lined. The college drum-kit took its place instead! That brought back the smile on my face, for the most crucial factor worrying a drummer should be the tone of his kit! A Swaraj Mazda took us to Kkm, a bearded man at the wheels. Quite a character he was. Just the kind of person you would associate the careful-with-this-guy tag. The introvert that he was, one never knew if he responded to your query, be it a request to turn the music player on, or an offer to share our snacks. A cold stare was all we got as reply!
The music system on-board sounded more like a buzzing bee! Another new proverb for music lovers: All treble and no bass makes any listener turn violent!!! Smoke On the Water droned(!) through the speakers, and it sounded like Ian Gillan was singing, holding his nose closed tight!
And then, our chauffeur brought the vehicle to a grinding halt. Key words would suffice to describe what went on:
1) A call on his... mobile?!!! A cell-phone, by definition, is an organ external to the human body, but one that is essential for the survival of the human species. Or atleast, that's the level of prominence people have bestowed upon the gadget!!
2) A Lajjaavathiye ring-tone: For clarity's sake, that's a song(?) which hurled South India off its feet. A mega-hit to the extent of cars hooting this tune while going in reverse!
3) The driver acted like he was Bill Gates, but for a second, though! He received the call, blurted out his name, and when he heard the word "Muscat", he said: "Muscat?! No, this is Cct! Wrong number!!" Situational comedy it was, and we laughed our heart out! Muscat!!

At 4 am in the morning, bearded Schumi was busy enquiring the route to Kkm. An hour later, we reached our hotel, at Kkm, where Schumi found solace on the nearest bench. He resembled the protagonist in any Adoor Gopalakrishnan film, face pointed upwards, eyes fixed at infinity, reaching eternal bliss at having discovered the route to Kkm!
We weren't assigned rooms! We were stranded at the reception, and there we waited, from 5 am to 10 am!!! No one attended to us, save the receptionist, trying in vain to use the word "sorry" and calm us down! The apology was more a result of training, than one of sympathy, blunt in delivery and blank in attitude!
The hotel manager denied having known us! We were referred to as the "gaanamela" people! That was annoying! It was akin to racial discrimination against coloured people. Late at the breakfast table, we were told: "The food's over. But we have idlis left-over! Care to have some?!" My heart was in my mouth. Hailing from one of the best technical institutes in the country, we were being served food claimed to be "left-over"... OUR food was always different from THEIRS. THEY, the residents of the hotel, had a buffet, where they could choose from an ocean of items! We had our food arranged with the staff!
I always find it easier to mingle with a crowd of ordinary people, and in fact, prefer to eat with them, but the wording and manner of the invitation doth tell a lot on how keen the host is, to play host. The invitation for lunch looked like they were rendering social service to us refugees! The whole band decided to boycott the lunch. We ate at a hotel nearby. My bill alone, was pegged at Rs.100, but I felt great paying from my pocket. It helped in shedding the refugee cloak!!
More of refugee treatment was in store, when instead of a room, we were given a house-boat! That was magnanimity on part of the manager, and negligience on the event (mis)manager's side. (We had never heard of the latter!) We freshened up, ready for the day's show. Just after lunch, we met the mystery-man, the event (mis)manager...

Friday, March 03, 2006

Act III... Pearl from PR!

To the reader: This post is the third in a series of narratives. Hence, it's binding on the reader to read the previous two posts (I mean, Acts!)... Sorry if I sound too text-bookish!!

Act III:

All Pearl drum-kits that glitter won't give out a good tone... For people not having much of a knowledge about drum-kits, Pearl is the leader in drum-kits and percussion accessories the world over. But, what about a Pearl drum-kit that has stood the test of time for 16 years? KK and I went to a drummer named PR, who rents out glittering Pearl drum-kits @ Rs.500 per day. A detour of considerable distance from the main road took us through three sides of a pond, a couple of hay-stacks, cow-sheds, a line of huts and last, PR's house. The colony was so silent that one could indulge in drumming or counterfeit note-printing without a soul knowing it! It resembled a villain's residence as portayed in many a Malayalam film! PR praised his kit sky-high. We believed him, and I had already started dreaming about the tone that would emanate from the drum-kit. Pearl, the two of us, the driver and the jeep made it back to college!
The other band members wanted me to practise on the rented drums. I set up the kit and started playing, only to see the three others in the music room place their hands on the appropriate sense organs to convey: "See no Pearl; hear no Pearl; speak no Pearl"! The bass drum looked like it was just out of a mob-fight, torn and bruised. It sounded eerie when played, and therefore, it was pointless to speak anything more about it! Being amateurs ourselves, we didn't quite have a sound knowledge about what tone a kit should have, though. Nevertheless, none of us liked the sound it gave. We reverted to the college drum-kit, which then sounded divine with a pleasing thud filling the whole room! CRIMSON CHORDS was beyond angry, and soon, expletives echoed from all corners!

Soon it was night-time, time to leave. CRIMSON CHORDS packed its bags, ready to perform for its first show outside college. A Swaraj-Mazda was arranged, and twelve of us (ten members and a drum-kit!) headed towards FSH, Kkm. The driver of the Swaraj-Mazda looked weirdly comical! More about him in the next Act...

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Act II: A band... without a name?

(N B: Please read the previous post titled Act I, as every post from then is inextricably linked with it!)

...named... Goodness Gracious! We didn't have one! All the competitions we took part in got rid for us the troublesome job of naming the band, as we were called WEOK008 or MAE005, enough to communicate to the judges our identity! And the only place where we did shows was our college OAT (Open-Air-Theatre), where we were known as "students of NITC"! This being our debut forage into the vast, ever-expanding world of music, we had to give our band a name. A day and more of arguments finally gave rise to the name "CRIMSON CHORDS". Our band finally had a name!
The next day, KK's cousin called on us to meet the middle-man, someone suspended somewhere between Cct and Kkm (understand them as a couple of places, that's it!) and one of the event managers... a weirdo named FK (name abbreivated too!!!). KK and I went to his house, only to be met by horror of sorts. FK removed his cap to reveal copper-coloured hair, cut short using some equipment as powerful and efficient as a lawn-mover. A hunter's gun adorned one of his walls. Five computers, three phones and two mobiles filled his room. He handled two totally unconnected jobs: he was both seller of rice(!) and event manager of shows!! Excerpts from the exchange of dialogues between "us and him(!)":
FK: What is your band's name?
Us: Blinked tight, swallowed, sighed and then blurted out in chorus: "CRIMSON CHORDS."
FK: OK. Crimson Chords is spelt as C-H-R-I-M-S-A-N K-O-D-S. Am I right?
Us: We put him back on track!!
FK: How many songs can you play?
Us: Sir, as promised, we can play for one hour, which may come to twelve songs.
FK: What about making it 24?
Us: !?!##@%... Sir, we aren't a professional band! We just play a couple of songs as part of college shows! We just can't do a song more than twelve. It's OUR LIMIT!
FK: OK. Cool down! I understand! Do just twelve! You will get 8k as your band's payment plus conveyance allowances...
Us: Took a very humble bow. I almost fell down doing it, while KK asked: Sir, any restrictions on the type of songs? What will be the type of audience present?
FK: Shrugged, shook his head sideways, then nodded and finally said: Play whatever you want. You needn't bother about all that.
End of a seemingly fruitful conversation. Fred dropped us at the main bus stop, and we were back in the music room, content that the deal had finally been settled. He called us again to know if a Matador would be sufficient to get us across to Kkm, which was when I got the impression that they meted out the same treatment to us as they did to any drama troupe out there: I fancied a maroon banner at the back of our van. titled: CRIMSON CHORDS. Musical Orchestra Team, Cct! Oh! My! That's hard on us, ain't it?
By the by, our college drumset wasn't sounding all that good. That was when CRIMSON CHORDS thought of hiring a kit. A drum-kit called Pearl, from a drummer named PR. Pearl from PR?!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Crimson chords in five-star soup...

A good day to everyone reading this post! I never can fathom how long this is gonna turn out to be. If it runs to a number of chapters, I might as well consider publishing it... on paper. Nevertheless, experiences need to be shared to allow people to learn from our mistakes. And if you are prepared to learn, I vow a four-credit subject is to follow! It's more apt to title this post as Act I, as it does promise to be one hell of a drama as the plot unfolds. Do read on...

Act I: To go or not to go?
Nokia's 1108 woke me up, partially successful in its attempt. Companies of today know for sure that man is, by the day, becoming lazier: the reason why they invented remote controls, robots and e-whatevers as agents promoting this avoidable quality. Add to these the Snooze option in a mobile phone! It lets you squeeze the pleasure of lazing in bed for an extra five minutes!
After snoozing to my mind's content, I woke up, had my breakfast (?!), and rushed to the class. Alarms don't work here, but the vibrator of your mobile does wake you up. Nokia's bee buzzed in my ear, and I saw such a message: prgrm t fsh... ply fr csh... 8k grntd. Vowels put in and phrases reconstructed with a dash of readability, the message read: "Program at FSH (abbrev. for Five Star Hotel) for cash... 8k guaranteed!"
Do allow me a small detour... I first mistook it for the ubiquitous AIRTEL offers, claims like: "STD to any number in India at Re.1 for 30 sec pulses. Offer valid till the 5th of January! Hurry!" And when does an innocent customer like me receive this message? 4th January, 18:52!
The fourth hour was supposed to begin at 11:15. My friend KK (the sender of the above encrypted message!!) and I were near the coffee shop, deciding whether to go or not. I was in two minds, tilted more towards not going! His cousin was instumental in suggesting our band's name(more about that later!) for the show. KK told me we were to play heavy numbers and welcome the NewYear by carrying on the show past midnight. I just visualized the whole scene. It didn't seem very pleasing to welcome the dawn of a new year with heavy metal. And, the repertoire of songs we had was ready to drive away the new year with ease! KK's cousin said: "Don't worry a bit about all that: just play your numbers, and blast it out." Yes, we were prepared to blast it out, but little did we realize the crackers had every chance of fizzling out!
We decided to go, and then I took out my notebook, the one meagre stack of papers that has stood the wear and tear of two semesters(read 12 subjects)! I jotted down the songs we were prepared with, and somewhere along the line I felt we were playing stuff a tad too heavy for New-Year's eve! Songs had names like Suicide Messiah, Foxy Lady, Tornado of Souls, Paranoid, etc!!! KK's cousin's advice rang like a bell and reinforced our playlist: New Year had to be welcomed by a heavy metal band named.....