To Pop or Not To Pop. The Cherry.

This is a piece I wrote last year for my other blog but one I like to republish whenever possible because of the message I hope it can send out.

Virginity. Female virginity at that.

Some of you may remember a post I made a few years back about Condom Fashion. As it is almost always in our blogsphere, the discussion drifted away and at some point there were people talking about the benefit of anal sex because then the girl could have her fun and still remain a virgin until she ties the knot. Coming from someone who is most probably still below thirty years of age, I found it disturbing that such ideas still exist among us. It was then suggested by someone that a post should be written on virginity and related issues. This was written with my generation and society in mind.

First of all, what is virginity? Virginity is, in essence, the term used to describe the state of never having engaged in copulation. Pretty simple. It is the different interpretations of and beliefs regarding virginity that have made it the complex issue it is.

What does virginity mean to you? To some it’s a virtue. To some it’s old fashioned nonsense. To another it’s based on religious beliefs. To others it is based on cultural ‘values’. The list goes on.

What does virginity mean to a man? That is a question I will leave open to the men who read this, feel free to leave your definitions, interpretations so that I won’t be accused of misrepresenting you. But I do need to mention that male expectation of female virginity still does exist in many societies including ours and it would be interesting to hear the point of view and justification of those who want a ‘virgin bride’ so to speak.

What does virginity mean to a woman? Before moving on to my own point of view, I will just note the general female thought regarding their virginity which once again varies according to different individuals. To some it is, as I mentioned before, a virtue. To others it is something not worth worrying too much about. To some, it is a duty, a responsibility. And whatever other interpretations women may have regarding it. Once again, it would be extremely interesting to hear different views of females about their virginity.

And now for my view on the whole issue of virginity. I first got to know about virginity somewhere around middle school (i think) when there was a trashy sinhala novel circulating around the class and we stumbled upon the part where the bride and the bridegroom have spent their first night together and the groom’s mother comes to their room in the morning to check the bed sheet for a blood stain. Some of the more knowledgable classmates enlightened us as to what this blood stain was supposed to be and we listened, fascinated. As is with the age, we already had most of the theoretical knowledge about sexual intercourse but the importance on virginity was a whole new thing.

For the longest time, I only ever thought of virgins as women. The fact that a man is also a virgin was a thought that never crossed my mind because nobody really cared. It was almost as if males were expected to lose their virginity with no questions about the how and the when while at the same time females were expected to guard their box with their life.

Personally I don’t regard virginity to be a virtue. I respect women regardless of the fact whether they are virgins or not because it is a choice which I believe is up to each individual. A choice they may or may not regret but definitely something only the individual has a say over.

One of the biggest issues regarding virginity seems to be premarital sex. As strange as it may sound to some people, we live in a country where daily there are women visiting doctors wondering if their hymen could be restored because in some instances, the woman had sexual intercourse with a previous partner and is now about to get married to someone else.

Once again, from a woman’s point of view, I think it is her choice. I’m not going into factors such as age and level of maturity but as a person who has been aware of her actions and consequences for a long time, I think most females also have an understanding, however remote it may be, whether their choice is right or wrong and if it is what she needs at that point of her life.

In a religious context, I’m unaware of the views regarding female virginity because I simply don’t know. My life and choices are not based on my religion but I respect those whose lives are governed by religion, whatever my opinion of them may be. I don’t impose my opinion on them and I will tolerate them as long as they don’t impose their views on me.

If an unmarried woman feels that she is ready to advance her relationship with her partner then that is necessarily her choice. If she thinks she’d rather wait until she gets married, that is again her choice.

For my part I have never been with nor would want to be with a man who expects a virgin bride. It is a very narrow and foolish idea especially since the proof they look for is an intact hymen. And we all know that sexual intercourse is just one of the many ways a hymen could break which means it is unfair for a woman to be tested in such a stupid method while men are not tested, not even by a stupid method.

Technical Virginity. I suppose this could be called a compromise. Technical virginity refers to engaging in oral and anal sex thus leaving a person technically a virgin. I for one think it is silly and proves why the huge fuss made about virginity is a load of bollocks. Again, my opinion.

I will end my rant with something Voltaire said, which to me sums up both the stupid notions regarding virginity and my own opinion on the whole issue.

“It is one of the superstitions of the human mind to have imagined that virginity could be a virtue”

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Regenesis – HollowPoint Halo

Date: Friday, August 8, 2008
Time: 8:00pm – 11:00pm
Location: Club Nuovo, Taj Samudra

I apologize for this review being two weeks late but to use a hackneyed phrase, better late than never so here goes.

I looked forward to this gig from the day I saw their first evasive advertisement in a Sunday newspaper which simply said ‘888’. I looked forward to it so much that I planned a lot of other things around this gig rather than the other way round. There were two reasons for this, one being Thriloka. The other was HollowPoint Halo (HPH) whom I had never watched live (except for a tv appearance a long time back) but about whom there has always been a lot of hype, if I may put it that way. And there was the added bonus that my exams had finished two days ago and so I was eagerly anticipating to be musically spoiled. I’m sorry to say that it didn’t exactly go according to plan.

The opening act was Powercut Circus and in all honesty I was not expecting anything great from them because I saw them perform a while back and wasn’t impressed by them. So my plan was to get to the gig around the time the second band would play but as it is with gigs, it got delayed and Powercut Circus started playing a few minutes after I walked in. And I’m glad I was able to catch their set because they completely changed my opinion about them.

I’m not very familiar with their songs (though I did recognize Red Spit and Arrack Attack) and I must say their set started off very well. I liked the fact that while their music was for most part technically unchallenging, they were constantly experimenting, especially the vocalist who had vastly improved from the last time I heard him sing. Maybe it was the venue or the fact that the audience was still pretty thinly spread out by that time but either way, I was able to observe the vocalist better and he is a much better singer than I initially took him to be. There was a very nice texture to his voice and the use of the pedal and the megaphone only enhanced it.

This band would have more potential if they would push themselves a bit further and explore their style because towards the last ten minutes or so of their set, I found their music to be redundant. But it was a job well done as the opening act and they set the appropriate tone for the gig.

Next up was Thriloka and at the risk of sounding subjective, I need to state at least once that I love these boys. If their own gig Almost Acoustic showed that they are ever evolving, then their set at Regenesis showed the adaptability of their music and talent.

While their lineup was the same, they had opted for an electric guitar and an organ for this gig and it changed their sound to a great extent. I believe it was different to the usual Thriloka sound (though I’m open to correction here) and was more in keeping with what their set was leading to; HPH. Due to a variety of reasons I couldn’t keep track of all the songs they played, a task made no easier by the fact that the song changes were seamless. What I can say for sure is that they had the complete attention of the entire audience and those who had watched Thriloka before as well as those who were seeing them for the very first time were mesmerized alike. It was a superb set which included some fancy drum work by Harshana Gallage and the band had good chemistry as well.

One of the shortcomings I saw in their performance was that though the bass line could be heard better this time, it was still capable of going unnoticed unless you strained your ears. I still can’t help feeling that the Thriloka experience is not complete without hearing all of them properly. And from everyone I spoke to later that night, it was evident that the only shortcoming most of them found was that the set was not long enough.

Next came what was supposed to be the climax of the show, HPH. And what an anticlimax that was after the excellent buildup by Powercut Circus and Thriloka. First of all, I don’t believe in paying money to listen to more cover songs than originals. I understand why bands need to play a few covers and there have been several covers by bands such as Paranoid Earthling which I have immensely enjoyed. But playing cover after cover is ridiculous, especially when the event description says, “Re-birth – a renewal of everything that lies at the core and a reinvention of all that surrounds and encapsulates it. When we started out as a Collective of artistes, 4 years ago, we wanted to experiment, we wanted to engage people and, most importantly, we wanted to enjoy the creative process. That still remains true today. Of course, we have changed, we have fought, we have braved and we have faltered, but one thing that we have never done, is submit…”. HPH needs to seriously rethink their vision (and I don’t mean change it to ‘we are a Tool tribute band’) or show evidence of an actual creative process because even their original songs sound like the covers.

Marsh Dodanwela has a very good voice but he has to realize that if he is to attempt the kind of music they play, he would have to put much more strain on it which would mean more vocal training. He sounded very weak at certain points. And although I don’t want to use the same adjective twice, ridiculous is all that springs to mind about HPH taking the Maynard tribute a tad too far with Marsh singing several songs while standing behind a screen. There was nothing in his voice to hold your attention and towards the end of their set, the noise made by audience members chatting to each other was increasing rapidly.

HPH was a disappointment and I was not alone in thinking this. Had not the other two bands been as good as they were that night, I’d have considered Regenesis as a waste of my time and money. HPH was greatly overshadowed by Powercut Circus and Thriloka and while there may not have been such a stark contrast had the gig been solely HPH, it would still have been apparent that HPH was not walking the talk. Rather than marking the rebirth of the band, this gig marked its demise and hopefully they take necessary steps to remedy the situation.

All in all, I’d still call it an average gig because the two opening acts almost made up for what the other lacked and would have completely made up for it if their sets were longer. I just hope the rest of the gigs in the coming months would be better than Regenesis.

Jaane Tu…Ya Jaane Na (Soundtrack)

Jaane Tu…Ya Jaane Na (Soundtrack) 2008
LABEL : T Series

Music – A.R. Rahman

It is the trend in Bollywood to release movie soundtracks months before the movies are released. And sometimes the worst movies turn out to have the best soundtracks, Saawariya being the most recent example. I usually check out the soundtracks as soon as they are released but with no cable tv at home for the last few months, I haven’t been that up to date with my Hindi movie soundtracks.

And that is how I missed out on the soundtrack for Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na until I watched the movie. Truth be told, I wasn’t interested in watching the movie but with all the hype about it, decided to check it out nevertheless. The first half of the movie was passable but then it just turned into the usual masala flick. But the music……

Let me admit it before someone accuses me of it, I tend to be biased when it comes to Rahman. He is one of the few men who can make me bawl my eyes out and/or walk around for days with butterflies in my stomach because of something as small as a beautiful harmony that lasted for a few seconds in a song. But I promise I will try to review the soundtrack as objectively as possible.

For starters, it is not Rahman’s best work but then again, I don’t think it was expected to be either. The songs are not challenging and don’t require extreme voice ranges. In keeping with the spirit of the movie, it is fun music which is not too intense. But there are some very good young singers at work in this soundtrack and I want to hear more of them.

Rashid Ali is a revelation. In ‘Kabhi Kabhi Aditi’ he sounds somewhat like Adnan Sami but definitely not nasal like Sami is. The song is very simple and the main instruments that could be heard are guitar, flute and drums. He sings with a slight Western touch which suits the movie but I’d love to hear more of him in different styles. And about the melody, I hope it was a coincidence but it sounds uncannily similar to the song Appudo Ippudo from the Telegu movie Bommarillu.

The other song Rashid Ali sings in this soundtrack is Kahin To and this shows more range to his voice than the other song. But I must confess I wished Rahman himself would have sung it because the higher range would have had more personality than Ali’s rendition. Vasundhara Das (Chale Jaise Hawaein – Main Hoon Na) is fabulous though she only sings four lines for the entirety of the song. Her voice complements Ali’s voice very well. While this song is beautiful, I felt that it was not suitable for the climax of the movie. The climax itself was not very good and the song did nothing to improve it.

Tu Bole Main Boloon was sung by Rahman. The song was very jazzy and reminded me of Vennila Vennila­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ from Iruvar. The tune was goosebump inducing but I felt that it should have been written a few keys higher so that it could have been sung gustily because the voice was not strong enough for the style of the song.

Nazrein Milaana, Nazrein Churaana is probably my favorite song out of the entire soundtrack. It is sung by seven singers and I’m yet to figure out who is singing which part. But I love the female voice that begins the song. It is a very husky voice, similar to but not as deep as Sunidhi Chauhan’s. The rest of the voices are also very good though there is nothing distinct about them. But they all work well together as a group. Also, check out the harmony in the few seconds between 0.52-1.05 and between 2.22-2.35. That is what is giving me ‘Rahman butterflies’ these days.

Pappu Can’t Dance is just fun. I love how the ‘thrikita thaana’ well complements the rest of the song which is very Western. The singing gets annoying at some points, especially the female voices but you get the feeling that it was on purpose. However I could be wrong about that. And any idea who pappu is? Saif Ali Khan? Muscular, popular, bachelor and quite angrez, in my opinion he also can’t dance. There is a remix of Pappu Can’t Dance by Krishna Chetan but there is nothing special about it.

Both Runa Rizvi and Sukhwinder Singh sang a track each of Jaane Tu Mera(i) Kya Hai and while I love both their voices, the songs were uninspiring. The arrangements were very different in the two tracks and I have a feeling that they will grow on me once I listen to them a few more times. Especially Sukhwinder’s version because I love his voice.

I obviously can’t comment on the lyrics and my insightful observations on them are that (a) there was more than a smattering of English words since the movie was urban and (b) the line ‘jaane tu…ya jaane na’ was repeated in almost every song.

Like I said, not Rahman’s best work and so far Jodha-Akbar remains his best work for 2008. But it is an addictive soundtrack and it’s all I’ve been listening to all day.

Thriloka – Almost Acoustic

Thriloka – Almost Acoustic
Friday 18th July, 2008
Russian Cultural Centre Hall,
Colombo 7

I have an aversion towards Sri Lankan fusion music. One reason for this may be that I grew up listening to a healthy balance of different genres and therefore have a real love for what is loosely termed as Sinhala music. Whether it is vannam or nurthi songs or music from the gramophone era onwards, I love good (there is a need for emphasis since there is an incredible amount of the not-so-good kind) Sinhala music. There are beautiful melodies, meaningful lyrics and amazing talent, though for the past few years it has been becoming more and more mechanical.

Therefore when someone takes one of these melodies, plays it with an electric guitar with traditional drums backing it up or adds a few hiphop beats to it or inserts meaningless rapping in between the melody and then calls it fusion music, I believe my aversion towards it is justified. For me, fusion music should be much more than a shallow experiment. The musician should recognize the essence of a certain genre of music, understand its structure and meaning and then fuse it with another genre.

Needless to say, I was slightly apprehensive about Almost Acoustic. Thriloka is called a Sri Lankan Fusion Band and though the band comprised of talent I knew of or had heard of and though the few tracks I had heard were good, I still had reservations about the evening ahead. But by the end of the evening, I had rephrased my stance to ‘I have an aversion towards most Sri Lankan fusion music’ and hopefully this review would tell you why.

First on what they called ‘tonight’s fusion menu’ was Monsoon Rain, an arrangement based on a tune by Ananda Premasiri, a veteran musician at the SLBC (Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation) and a member of the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka. I must confess I paid more attention to the individual musicians during this song because there was so much to observe. It was evident that each musician had excellent technique but it was not great technique that made them special. There was an almost tangible energy that pulled them together, something that was more evident in pieces like Unlucky Number and Seven 2 Six which had complex time changes. And most of all, they undoubtedly enjoyed themselves and despite there being no over the top showmanship, kept the audience glued to the performance.

My favorite was Loophole which featured Ranil Goonewardane of Hollow Point Halo. The answering passages between Sarani Perera and Ranil on guitar and between Sarani on guitar and Eshantha Peiris on piano were excellent. Arahatha Vandanava was based on a tune which was very familiar and the fusion was very subtle. Each time the tune was revisited, you realized that the diversion was so subtle as to leave you unconscious of it. With Seven 2 Six, Thriloka proved that they were constantly experimenting and evolving because the arrangement was completely different from the original in their debut album Bisura.

Harshan Gallage was probably born with drumsticks in his hands, as his solo performance proved. The drumming genes inherited from his father Hemapala Gallage who is a familiar face in the oriental music scene, were out in full force as he displayed technique I am yet to see in any other drummer in Sri Lanka. If I’m not good enough authority on this, then his teacher Aruna Siriwardena was recently on tv stating that Harshan is probably the best drummer in Sri Lanka to date. Search for ‘Harshan Gallage’ on youtube and you can see it for yourself.
Harshan along with Pabalu Wijegoonawardene who played a variety of percussion instruments were he two most animated musicians in the band and while it was evident that they were both skilled performers, their exuberance sometimes resulted in drowning the other instruments. Uvindu Perera on Bass in particular could not be heard most of the time and though there were initial problems with the sounds, I think the imbalance between the drums/percussion and the other instruments was more responsible for this. I had to strain my ears to hear the bass line complement the melodies.

Sarani Perera’s prowess in guitar was awe inspiring, more so because of how effortless he made it seem. Nebula can be described by one word only; trippy. I found myself closing my eyes and listening to the intricate changes that were hardly discernible. Sri Cuban brought out the performer in pianist Eshantha Peiris who I had so far only seen in his classical avatar. So needless to say I was amazed to see him almost get up from his seat while playing. Any attempt on my part to comment on the musicianship of these two musicians would put me in the danger of praising them too much and losing my credibility, so I think its best that you see them perform yourself.

A cover of Michael Jackson’s Earth Song was done and that was the only dish on that night’s menu that I didn’t like. I felt that it disturbed the flow of the rest of the pieces performed and when a band comprises of such talented musicians, you only want to see them challenge themselves more on each song they play. However guest artist CC who was a winner at last year’s TNL Onstage was surprisingly good. Surprisingly because I thought he was horribly off tune and mediocre when I watched him perform at Onstage finals but his performance at Almost Acoustic made me change my mind. Despite seeming slightly nervous (Thriloka doesn’t seem to be afflicted by nerves at all) his pitching was perfect and it was an enjoyable performance.

The closing item was Last Minute for which Thriloka was joined by Anthony Surendra on guitar and Kalani Perera on violin, who apart from being one of the best violinists in the oriental music scene, is also the proud father of Sarani and Uvindu. Though I can’t pinpoint to one particular snag, I felt that there was a lack of coordination between the band and the guest artists during this performance and I felt my attention drifting at times. Eshantha switched instruments for this piece, settling down on the floor to play a harmonium. I noticed that he was constantly bellowing the instrument, which was unnecessary but I suppose it is because hand coordination in a harmonium is different to that of a piano. But it was nice to see a harmonium being played because it is now an almost extinct instrument seen on stage, the organ having replaced it.

Almost Acoustic is the best live performance I have attended in a long time and there are only two suggestions I would like to make. One is a brief introduction to each piece, either in the printed programme or by the musicians themselves before they start playing. For an example, the programme described Nebula as ‘trip to Hameer from Poorya Dhaneshri’ and I did not understand it. Later Google told me that Purya Dhanashree is a raga but some further information to the uninitiated would have made the audience understand it better.

The other suggestion is about the venue. Understandably, there must be practical issues related to selecting a venue but a more relaxed venue would be better to better enjoy the kind of music Thriloka makes. One place I immediately thought of was Club Nuovo at Taj Samudra where there is a more intimate atmosphere because the audience can sit on the floor closer to the band. Even an outdoor location would be perfect though the unpredictable weather these days would make it difficult. If practicalities can be defied (the band had sponsored itself, which in itself shows that the circumstances may not be ideal), then a different venue would only enhance their performance.
Despite new bands mushrooming everyday, there is still a lacuna in the Sri Lankan music industry for good and original music and Thriloka has, for me, filled that void to a large extent. They are definitely worth your time and money and I look forward to more of their performances in the near future.

Daddy

I’ve been quite interested in the music this band has been making. Not because the lyrics are deep. Not because the music is anything exceptional. Simply because there is something very original about them which will probably help them sustain their popularity for a long time.

Though I’m constantly aware of the new additions to the Sinhala pop music scene, I’m not a big fan of Sinhala pop music of today. I much prefer Sinhala singers from about a decade ago with a few exceptions of new artists. I’m not into the whole Bathiya n Santhush style of Sinhala pop and all their clones, most of whom including Bathiya n Santhush cannot carry a tune properly when they are performing live. So as cliched as it sounds, Daddy was a breath of fresh air.

Their lyrics are nothing much but nothing much in the same way the lead singer Gayan Perera’s father Sunil Perera’s band Gypsies’ lyrics. And I mean that in the best possible way because the lyrics are in everyday language and witty and downright hilarious at times. Case in point is their new single ‘SMS’ which is about how texting has replaced the age old tradition of love letters. The song includes references that are very Sri Lankan. For an example, there is still a certain amount of stigma attached to teenage dating in this country and the lyrics state how texting is more convenient because you can erase the messages before your mother catches you. So there is a touch of realism mixed with humor in Daddy’s music.

If you listen to a Gypsies song like Lunu Dehi and then listen to a Daddy song like Borukari, you can see how the lyrics reflect the language, slang and popular culture of the time and is actually so much better than the pseudo intellectual s*** some lyricists sprout out.

Musically, Daddy definitely has a different style that appeals to the current hybrid taste of the youth. It’s good sing along music and like I said before, again there are parallels with the Gypsies though they are definitely not copying them. Same concept, different generations. And though they use guitar riffs (open to argument so you’re welcome to call them guitar ‘riffs’), they don’t pretend to be hard rockers and that works in their advantage. So their style of music definitely infuses a new sound to Sinhala pop music.

Daddy doesn’t pretend to be deep and I think that’s why their music works. I have no idea how the band members are in real life but the image they exude is one of a bunch of guys who are having a good time doing something they love. Their music is fun and that hardly ever happens in Sinhala pop music.

Thanks to a good production team, Daddy has released some superb music videos. In fact it’s their first music video for the song Massina that elevated them to the popularity they enjoy now.

What is really special about these guys is that they have a policy of no lip synching. That, in my opinion, is the best decision they made because it is ridiculous how a majority of Sinhala pop artists just play a backup cd and prance around a stage lip synching. And because of all the pretending, even when they do have to sing something live, they sound so off tune that you wish they’d just continue lip synching. I’ve watched Daddy perform live on tv and though there’s room for improvement, they are pretty good.
Therefore I predict that Daddy is the next big thing in the Sri Lankan mainstream music industry and look forward to more of their original work.

What’s Yours is Mine, What’s Mine is also Mine

“….if only you were narcissistic enough, if only you took proper care of your smells, your hair, your boobs, your eyelashes, your armpits, your crotch, your stars, your scars, and your choice of Scotch in bars – you would meet a beautiful, powerful, potent, and rich man who would satisfy every longing, fill every hole, make your heart skip a beat (or stand still), make you misty, and fly you to the moon (preferably on gossamer wings), where you would live totally satisfied forever.”
Erica Jong, writer and staunch feminist said that in 1942 regarding advertisements and horoscopes, or rather whorescopes according to her, of the time. We’d be quick to dismiss her cynicism claiming that we are a new generation with new thinking and that such Barbie-like images of perfection and perfect happiness are a thing of the past. But the cynic in me, who is also a realist to a great extent, begs to differ because even with everything the ‘modern woman’ has achieved, dreams of gossamer wings are still alive and while women have undoubtedly conquered male territories, they still use their gender as an excuse to avoid inconvenience.
First of all, let me not be a hypocrite. I am also one of those women who are on equal footing and in some instances above their male counterparts but many are the times I have found myself using my gender as an excuse to my advantage. It could be something as menial as changing a light bulb or something a tad bit advanced like repairing a patched tyre. The general attitude shown by most women in such situations is ‘I can drive a vehicle just like you but I’m a woman so that lets me off the hook from changing the tyre’. We wanted, we demanded treatment on par with men but now that we have achieved equality (at least in a relative sense) we use our femininity as a pretext.
Admittedly there are biological differences between men and women which make some tasks and situations more difficult for women but then again the vice versa applies to men as well. The strength with which a man lifts a heavy load could be greater than a woman’s but at the same time the delicacy with which a woman sews an intricate pattern is superior to that of a man.
In my opinion such biological differences are the only valid reasons for a woman to be excused because as it is we have made a joke out of our equal status by saying what is yours is mine but that doesn’t mean I’m ready to let go of the things that make me the so called weaker sex and therefore what is mine is also mine.
The instant reply (or most probably retort) to what I’m claiming would be that our society is such that at the root of the idea of what a woman’s role should be, there still remains that well groomed beautiful woman waiting to be swept off her feet. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that being a well groomed beautiful woman is a bad thing. Truth be told, with metrosexuals sprouting in every nook and corner, women have to contend to hold on to their title as the fairer sex. My point is, as natural as it is to have the opposite sex in mind when one beautifies herself, it should never be the only reason behind it. And it is up to women to take a stand and pave the way towards change by showing just that.
For an example Harvard University in a historic first appointed a female president almost four centuries after its inception. While it is laudable, it also springs the question as to why it took so long (noting that the first female student was appointed in 1945). To come closer to home, there is a marked dominance of female undergraduates in Sri Lankan universities but sadly the dominance is limited to numbers. Student activities and especially student politics still remain mostly as male only territories. Once again, it is fruitless for women to lugubriously await change.
To be fair by females things have definitely changed for the better with women looking for much more in life than a happily ever after. I don’t think there is any need for an explanation as to how women have conquered male territory. In fact a recently reported case of a female shark giving birth without having sex makes me wonder if a day will come when asexual reproduction by women will also be possible. Now that would take female domination to another level.
Getting back to the negative side of things, there still lingers the notion that a woman cannot survive by herself. Yes, in the present context these notions are absolutely justified but only because it is women who inflicted most of those on themselves. It is easier to blame men for making it almost impossible for a woman to travel alone in the night rather than blame herself for not fighting to change that situation so that is exactly what we do.
The reason why I think women need to take the initiative in bringing about change to such conventional attitudes is because it is they who face stigma and also because it is high time something was done to make sure the equality we have achieved is not just nominal. We live in a world with Idiot’s Guides ranging from kama sutra to baby sign language so empowering ourselves with what is necessary (more on the lines of self defence and self esteem) should be easy.
While writing this piece, a song I used to sing in nursery kept ringing in my ears. A show tune by Irvin Berlin from ‘Annie Get Your Gun’, it was a duet meant to be sung by a male and a female. And I think it is only fitting to end this article with a line from that song which sums up what we women should do if we are to make sure that ‘what’s mine is mine’ doesn’t mean we become the weaker sex and also if we are to tell men that ‘what’s yours is mine’.
“Anything you can do I can do better; I can do anything better than you.”

The Paranoid Spirit

The Paranoid Spirit

Sunday 11th May, 2008

Club Nuovo,

Hotel Taj Samudra

There are times when a self proclaimed cynic has to give in and admit there are still good things left in life. Happens to me often when it comes to music. I discover a new artist or song or album which restores my faith in human capabilities. It happened just last Sunday.

With exam stress piling up I felt the need to unwind and decided to check out ‘Paranoid Spirit’, a gig by Paranoid Earthling (PE), Sword of the Spirit (SOS) and Forsaken. I was really only interested in PE because they are a fun band to watch and always give a good show. So I walked in a bit late hoping I wouldn’t have to go through the ordeal of listening to the other two bands which I hadn’t seen before. I’m usually all for checking out new bands but that day all I wanted was to chill out and listen to something I already knew and loved. But typically, the gig had just started when I came so I settled in.

Forsaken has potential but they were (understandably) nervous and had a few tuning and drumming problems. With more exposure and more practice they should be able to figure out if they are good enough to continue or not because right now it’s too early to tell.

SOS played next but first let me get PE out of the way because this post is about SOS. The set by PE was fun as usual but as much as I love their music and them, I got bored because the new songs sounded exactly like the old favorites like Rock n Roll is My Anarchy, 69, etc. Hopefully this is just a temporary snag and the only reason for this criticism is because they are capable of pushing the limits.

What made my night was the set by SOS. As I said before I had never watched them perform and I hadn’t heard anyone talk about them either. So my expectations were limited to “a bunch of boys who jam together, sound okay but nothing to get excited about”. And was I in for a shocking reality check. So much so that I don’t even know where to begin.

First thing that hit me when they started performing was the amazing chemistry the band had. From the vocalist (Hasyth Abeyratna) to the guitarists (Arjun Dhas, Tony Jayathilake) and bassist (Javeen Soysa) to the drummer (Nirodha Jayasinghe) it was as if they were tied together by an invisible chord. Each guy was in a trance of his own, especially Hasyth, Arjun and Javeen, but there was a magnetism that pulled them all together which the audience could feel and needless to say we were awestruck. Or to put it in another way, unlike bands which connect with their audience in more obvious ways, these guys were oblivious of the audience while they played and their music and chemistry kept the audience rapt. For an example, in one of their originals there was an odd time change and that invisible chord I spoke of was apparent when all of them jumped in unison without coming out of their respective reveries.

They performed very good covers of Lamb of God, Pantera and Machine Head but what I loved was their original music. I’m yet to explore the lyrics and admittedly some of the titles sounded slightly clichéd but the arrangements and the performance were unbelievable. Good changes in the middle of songs and tight playing combined with the energy of a live performance was just perfect. And special mention has to be made of two of the guys.

One is guitarist Arjun Dhas who I have seen perform with Tantrum but was on a different element altogether in SOS. I was seated on the floor and from where I sat, I was closest to him. If there are any photos of the audience, I’m sure I’m staring open mouthed at this guy’s guitar prowess. At certain points I closed my eyes and isolated his playing and let it play havoc in my head. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one. And I’m still trying to figure out if one oriental sounding melody he played was part of a song or just improvisation while the vocalist took a small break.

The other is the vocalist Hasyth Abeyratne who I can say with considerable certainty will go on to become the best metal vocalist in Sri Lanka, provided that he maintains and improves his talent. From a technical point of view, I can as a classically trained musician say that his pitching is very good within the range the set from that night required. But what really set him apart from other vocalists I’ve seen in the local music scene is the passion and conviction he had in what he sang. That I felt was what made us believe in their music.

SOS is supposed to release an album this year and I earnestly hope it will be by the same lineup that played on Sunday. It is definitely a band worth checking out. And one more thing. If anyone from SOS read this, thank you guys for giving me one more reason to believe in music and in human capabilities.