Friday, August 24, 2012

Canoeing

We were taking a stroll around the harbor front, watching the sun go down over the Lake Ontario. M shouted "look there" and five eager faces turned to see a huge board bearing the words "Boats/Canoes for rentals". The next thing we knew, we were in there chatting with the guy at the reception.

"How long are you renting for?" the canoe owner asked.

"We're thinking of paddling to the island and back. That will take an hour and a half I guess," replied M.

"Wonderful. All six of you going?"

Yes. The six of us then signed a paper that claimed  the canoe owner should not be held responsible if we ended up inside a shark or something. I guess none of us read through the paper before signing it. We were too excited to get on the water.

"Any of you know swimming?"

We all looked at each other expectantly. That's when we realized we have gotten ourselves into a pretty good mess. Six non-swimmers venturing out into one of the largest lakes in the world. Sounds exciting, machi.

"We have life jackets," I pointed out the silver-lining.

"When the boat topples, life jackets will keep you afloat. How are you guys gonna swim back?" he asked, fixing his gaze on G as though to suggest that a canoe bearing an overgrown male is bound to topple. G looked offended.

 "Surely help would be on the way?" 

"The Island is quite far and usually deserted. A perfect setting for a murder I would imagine," he chuckled.

The last thing on our minds was to paddle our way to our graves. Sure, the lake looked beguiling and all that, but I want to live to see India winning a gold medal in hockey, thank you very much. But the sly dog that he is, he breathed not a word about the potential life-ending risks involved until we paid him. And there would be no refund. Yeah, right, that's company policy. Periya Kekaran Mekaran company! I so wanted to take him along and murder him in the setting he was so bragging about. Too many wily schmucks in the world and not enough tigers to eat them.

And then he revealed to us the only way out of the soup: he'd would send along with us one of his men, an expert lifeguard and also a skillful canoer. Steering the canoe is a skill that's apparently beyond novices so he'd steer it for us while we paddled away. A perfect solution. Only, it came at the cost of few more freshly minted papers. The guy knows the Achilles heel of his customers - the fear of death.

That's how we paid for the service we scarcely required. Once or twice we were scared out of our wits when our canoe rocked precariously in the wake of passing motorboats. But otherwise we were in control. We even decided on the color of our outfit when we participate in the next Olympics in canoeing. I told you, we are all geniuses. :-D  It was a great ride but the greatest ride was had by Mr. Expert-canoer-cum-lifeguard. He settled himself near the nose of the canoe and barely moved till the end. He was just a happy passenger who was being shown around the lake by six sweating, grunting, panting, paddling nincompoops.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Blagh phost

Waking up at ungodly hours gives me a longing to write silly blog posts. There was sunshine when I started from work but by the time I got home the temperature dropped suddenly and there was a bit of chill in the air. I snuggled into the blanket and had a refreshing nap. It was so heavenly that when I awoke I was sure I needed another one. Another one I most certainly had. It was well past midnight when I woke up again. Yes, the day has begun. Many Many hours to kill till I can nap blissfully again when my morning status call begins.

S came over to Toronto this weekend and we had a long delightful chitchat. We laughed over the recollection of the many mischievous stuffs we did in Goa last year. With his marriage just a couple of months away, he bemoaned that he couldn't hope for those fun days to come back again, but was also optimistic that marrying the love of his life would bring new happiness and chaos. I've never heard him speak so maturely that it was kind of eerie. We then giggled over many useless photos on Facebook for a while. Boy, didn't I have so much gossip to catch up with! Not being on Facebook is synonymous with living under a rock. Almost all of my batch mates are either engaged or married. The list of all single men could easily be written on the back of a stamp - my name at the top. I was strangely thrilled to note that my cute petite high school crush is now a plump mother married to a pot-bellied uncle with receding hairline. Yes, I am evil. Take a hike, cutie-pie. :P

I borrowed 'The English Patient' last week from the library. It's been languishing somewhere since then but I can't remember where I placed it. Our house is such a mess right now that I'd sooner find a needle in a haystack than a book in my living room. We're running low on internet quota and we've a week to go in this cycle(Yep, no unlimited internet in Toronto. Boo hoo!). I have only the book to fall back on. So I'd better go now and hunt that book. Toodle-oo.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Backbeat - Loved them do

If you are a Beatles fan, Backbeat is one play you shouldn’t miss.

Wedged between two septuagenarians, I couldn’t contain  my excitement as I waited for the curtains to go up. People streamed in and filled up the Royal Alexandra Theater within five minutes of opening the door. There was still good thirty minutes till the show began. The Beatles were the talk of the auditorium- animated elderly men describing with lively details what living through the Beatlemania was like and young children wondering what was all the fuss about (I overheard one kid arguing with his father that ‘Let it be’ was Justin Bieber’s song. And no, the father did not strangle him to death. Love is blind, you know).

The play was brilliant. It follows the early days of the Beatles from their gig at a bar in Hamburg’s Red Light district  till the release of their debut album ‘Please Please Me’. More than the birth of the Beatles, the play was about the friendship between Lennon and Stu, the fifth beatle and a gifted artist, and the beautiful romance between Stu and Astrid.

Beatles were destined for unprecedented greatness from the beginning. There was something magical in the music they produced that drew music lovers in droves. But the band did not have have their best line up when they played in Hamburg. Two weak links apparently stood in the way of greatness – bass guitarist Stu Sutcliffe and drummer Pete Best.

Voorman, a German artist, shows up at the bar and is blown away by the music he hears. He strikes up a conversation with the band and makes their acquaintance. Unaware that he’d be the first one to be hit by the hurricane that’s shaping up, he talks his girl friend into coming to the tacky bar to listen to the band. Floored by their music, Astrid begins frequenting the cheap bar and a romance with Stu blossoms. She persuades Stu to ditch the band to pursue his dreams in arts. Stu stays behind in Hamburg to be with his girlfriend when the band goes back home.

Back in Liverpool, The Beatles sans Stu play at Cavern Club, two streets away from a record store owned by Brian Epstein.  Brian hears of the band from a boy who shows up at the store asking for My Bonny by the Beatles (Beatles did musical backing in that album by Tony Sherdian). He drops in at the club and is — no surprises here — floored. Convinced that the boys will be bigger than Elvis, he becomes the band’s manager and works to get them a recording contract. George Martin offers the contract but on one condition: Pete Best must be kicked out. Richard Starkey aka Ringo Starr replaces Pete and thus was born the most successful and influential band of all time.

The play was also about music. The actors are also musicians who played some early Beatles stuff, rocking, exhilarating, powerful and fun. They played  a few songs that the Beatles had in their repertoire before they started making their own songs. 'Dizzy Miss Lizzy, 'A Taste of Honey', 'You Really Got A Hold on Me' were delightfully good while the rendition of 'Rock and Roll music' had many dancing in the aisle. When they ended the show by singing 'Twist and Shout', the last song recorded for 'Please Please Me' album, there was not one soul in the auditorium who could keep his posterior on the seat.
A beatlemaniac myself, I had many “goosebumps” moments. During the scene when Astrid takes photos of the Beatles, the original photos by Astrid were projected on the screen behind the stage. I had a lump in my throat when some rare photos of young John Lennon came up. The romance between Stu and Astrid was so well portrayed that when Stu drops dead in her arms, one couldn’t help but weep for Astrid. But Paul is portrayed as a whiner, jealous of John being very close to Stu. I’ve have liked to see a much stronger Paul, as I know him. John helping Paul to complete ‘Love Me Do’ gives a peep into one of the greatest songwriting partnerships (my favorite moment in the show).

The cast graciously played a few popular Beatles numbers after the show (As great as the show was, it had none of the popular Beatles songs. Understandably so, because the play was about their early days). When ‘When I Saw Her Standing There’ was sung, I spotted a few elderly men and women standing on their seats, singling along, shouting, flailing, dancing and reliving Beatlemania. Only the Beatles!