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Posts in category Culture

Culture Center Again!

One of the good things about being back in Delft is the Culture Center. Now I have spoken about my love for the Cultur Center in different ways. But It’s nice to see that it’s open even during this period of the summer break.

I was reminded of this fact by my good friend Gaurav who is an excellent guitarist and is gradually progressing on to become a drummer as well. He had booked a drum room to practice there and,being a drummer, I had to go visit him and get back on the drums.


Gaurav Learning a new Trade                                                                             View from the top 

I used to visit the Culture Center at least 3 times a week but for the last month or so I haven’t been there since I was moving into a new place and then I had exams and then I went to Germany. So it’s a relief to be back with ample time to play drums finally! 

Since I will be starting a proper study schedule to prepare for the August exams, I’ll need some respite at the end of the day, and what beter way than to play drums?

Looking forward to more sessions at the Culture Center 🙂


Tot Later  

Brown Town in Bebop- Part 2

Follow up to the first part

On a rainy Saturday evening, it was time for the mini party+gig.
We had a last jam session at Tanai’s place and headed to Bebop.

As we entered, the café was still quite empty and I
immediately went ahead to set up the drums. The café had thankfully let u use
their in house drum set. I had always wanted to play on it and this was the
time! While Gaurav and Nishant set up the guitar and bass amps, Tanai and I set
up the drums. It’s a 4 piece drum set and has a typically jazz sound including
one crash cymbal and one riveted ride cymbal. In the midst of setting up
everything, there was no time to be nervous!

Slowly, people started trickling in and Radhika was there
too! It was her night after all.

It was time for the performance to begin. We started with ‘Plush
(Stone Temple Pilots)’ and halfway through the song, Gaurav stopped playing. He
wasn’t satisfied with the song. We looked at him, perplexed! He suggested we
just jam on something improvised. Thus, the tone for the night was set- laid
back, informal and just fun!

We jammed on a brilliantly improvised guitar solo by Gaurav
and then moved on to our ‘set list’. The set list was also varying and we
removed/added songs as we liked. The crowd didn’t mind and enjoyed it on every
step. My friends in classmate from Aerospace Engineering also showed up for the
show. Antanas even recorded a few songs!

Radhika’s guests (and our friends) Raghu and Arvind clicked
some lovely photos. Ujwal (a friend and member of the TU Delft Social media team) took
videos and tried to distract me while playing as much as he could. I wouldn’t
budge, it was funny.

Chetna’s performance of ‘Babe I’m Gonna Leave You (Led Zep)’
was brilliant and Nishant’s guitar work on it was amazing as well! We took a
break, while Tanai and Leo (together as Millennium Bugs) played a couple covers
and some originals too!


Chetna’s gonna leave you!                                            Multi talented Tanai!                               Bass man Nishant 

When we got back on stage, we decided to play ‘Take Five
(Dave Brubeck Quartet)’. Playing that piece was the most fun I had that night.
See for yourself-

‘Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd)’ went well too and Nishant
and I (for the first time) didn’t fight over the intro solo.

Radhika and party were thoroughly enjoying it and even
cheered us on! As I’ve said before, it was a lot of fun and I cannot stress
this more.


Other Worldly Gaurav!                                                   Thank you Radhika!                               Confused Haider 

We ended on a high note and packed up. Afterwards we went
out for some pizzas and more drinks.


Everyone enjoyed it, but I guess we enjoyed it the most!

Thank you for the opportunity Radhika! We miss you in Delft.

And a special thanks to one of the favourite TU Delft
student hangouts, Café Bebop. It was an honour to play there!

Tot Later


Photo Courtesy : Arvind Jayashankar 

Brown Town in Bebop- Part 1

My band Brown Town and I were looking for a gig. We had been
jamming in each other’s living rooms and were aching for a gig! It’s not like
we hadn’t played live before, but it had been a while.

Luckily, one of our friends, Radhika was organizing a get
together with friends at Jazz Café Bebop in Delft. Unfortunately, it was a
farewell party. But she wanted us to perform there!

Bebop usually has jazz nights on Tuesdays were brilliant
jazz musicians just jam while others enjoy the music and drinks. I’ve been
there one too many times but haven’t really had the guts to actually play
because, well compared to them, I suck! I was really excited that we were going
to get a chance to play there, but on the other hand, quite nervous already
since the place is used to exceptional skill!

Nishant, Gaurav and I, proceeded to make a playlist for the
day. We came up with about 10 songs and started practicing! Among these were ‘Wish
You Were here (Pink Floyd)’, ‘Break on Through (The Doors)’ and ‘Hey Joe (Jimi
Hendrix)’. To keep the jazz spirit of the place alive, we decided to play one
of our favourite and most fun jazz numbers, ‘Take Five (Dave Brubeck Quartet)’.

We had only two weeks left but decided to go for it anyway
and started practicing and learning all the songs. Since we were only three, we
tried to manoeuvre around as much as possible but we would definitely need
another member. Luckily for us, or new friend Tanai decided to step in on bass,
drums and/or vocals where needed. Perfect!

Practices were fun as we didn’t really stick to our usual
instruments, for instance, Tanai would sing on a couple songs, play drums on
some and then bass. Same with me! It was nice to revolve with the instruments.

After eliminating and adding a couple songs to the playlist
we were ‘ready’. Another friend of ours, Chetna, would also be providing vocals
on one of the coolest songs ‘Babe I’m Gonna Leave You (Led Zep)’. We had quite
a varied mix of songs and hoped that, despite our last minute preparation, we’d
be ready for the amazing night at Bebop!

More on the actual gig later!

Stay tuned

Tot Later!

The Short life of Anomaly!

A few months ago, towards the end of the second quarter, my
friend Arti messaged me about starting a new band. We had jammed a few times
before and had been in a sort-of band a year ago. Having similar music tastes,
and being in need of a drummer, he approached me. I was thrilled and completely
on board.

Thus began the short lived but fun experience. The band
consisted of Arti (on lead guitar), Sunniva (on bass guitar), Victor (on rhythm
guitar) and me (on drums).  We started
out covering a few Guns N Roses (GNR) songs.

All of us suggested one GNR song to practice each. These
were: Rocket Queen, Out to Get Me, Civil War and Patience (my choice). My band-mates
were a little surprised by the fact that I had chosen Patience since it is a
completely acoustic song without drums. Nevertheless I stuck to it since I
really liked the song and knew it well. We decided to make it a little ‘harder’
and added some drums!

Practice began slowly, one song per jam session at the
culture center. Then two songs. And then slowly we were finessing all four
songs! But there was still something missing. Of course! A vocalist!

We asked our friend, Marijn (an excellent vocalist) to come
try out! We tried him out. He’s no Axl Rose, but sang the songs in his own
style, which we all took a liking to. We kept perfecting the songs with vocals!
And then we decided to throw some other covers in the mix (I was frankly
getting a little tired of the GNR monopoly).

New songs! These were: Tie Your Mother Down (Queen- Arti’s
choice), Dazed and Confused (Led Zep- my choice), Fly Away (Lenny Kravitz-
Marijn’s choice) and two more songs which I can’t remember who chose (18 and
Life by Skid Row, and Kickstart My Heart by Motley Crue).


Haider                                                                      Victor (l) and Marijn (r)                                              Arti 

We started finessing these songs as well and were doing 8
songs per jam session! We tried keeping one jam session per week but that didn’t
always turn out as we expected. And also the band couldn’t always show up in its
entirety. It was still fun though.

In breaks we would switch instruments and take pictures and
jam around. When I was confident about a song I would also ‘jazz it up’ in
between. This would be followed by bouts of head shakes and laughter by Arti.

We then tried to write our own material and started looking
for gigs. But then, exams hit us. The frequency of practice sessions reduced,
and Arti and Sunniva took the hard decision to initiate the disbanding. I was
quite sad, as were the rest, but I guess it had to happen.

It was a great experience and totally fun! You guys are
quite cool and excellent musicians and I’d love to jam with you from time to

And Thanks for the Pictures Victor!

Tot Later


Amsterdam. That’s right. It’s quite a city. And even better
in the sun! It’s usually always been grey whenever I’ve visited the city. But
lately, thanks to the well behaved weather, it was sunny in Amsterdam! So, a
perfect day to visit it indeed!

Aarti, a close friend of Nishant and I, lives and works in
Amsterdam but for some reason always spent her weekends with us in Delft. So,
to change things around, we visited her in Amsterdam this time! Though we
eventually did come back to Delft, it still counted!

It was a special occasion too, since it would be one of the
last times we would see Aarti in Holland before she goes back to India. Damn! People are getting old.

Aaanyway, so Nishant and I set out to Amsterdam, late
Saturday morning and were greeted by an always excited Aarti there. After doing
a bit of supply shopping and we headed out to eat. The city was sunny and full
of people as usual, which can be a nice change from the sleepiness of Delft. 

We ate at Maoz. And let me tell you, it is the best
vegetarian food I’ve had outside of India. I’m strictly carnivorous and consider
vegetables noting more than something that looks pretty on a plate. But after
devouring a falafel with pita bread 4 times, I came close to god. They had an
unlimited supply of salad and you could choose your own fillings with
vegetables, cous cous, chilli other sauces. It was heavenly. You have to try it
out if you’re there!


Nishant, Aarti and Haider (with Lord Ganesha in the background)                        Party in the Park                                    Brown Water 

With a full stomach and a happy heart, we headed to Vondel
Park, which reminded me of any pictures I’ve seen of Central Park in New York.
After finding a nice shady spot on the grass, we sat and started playing our
guitars. We were then joined randomly by an amiable Spanish man who joined us
and played with us. Within five minutes I stopped playing and just listened because,
well, he was just too good. He played some amazing renditions of Bob Dylan,
Neil Young and even Guns N’ Roses! When it was getting late, we took leave of
our new friend and joined other friend’s who we’d been waiting for.  When we met them, they went for a quick bite
to Maoz while Nishant, Aarti and I feasted on some Ben and Jerry’s ice cream
(our third ice cream of the day).  When
we had had enough of chilling and the sun was starting to set, we all headed
back to Delft, to end the day/night at the friends’ place with a movie.

The weekend was much needed and I had an amazing time!
Thank you Aarti, Nishant, Vivek and Srivi!

Tot Later

An Imperfect Circle – Dreaming in Rotterdam

On the 7th of April, 2012, just a few days before
my Aerodynamics I exam, Aaron Parks was due to perform in Rotterdam. I had to
be part of that!

Aaron Parks is a virtuosic jazz pianist who’s merely twenty
eight years old and the appreciation for his music spans all age gaps. I had my
good friend Bhanu Thakur to thank for turning me on to Aaron Parks. This
happened last winter when I was in Goa and he would play one of his haunting
tracks ‘Nemesis’ on his phone. I had to get my hands on that music.

When I came back to Delft in January, I would listen to that song on repeat and
quickly turned my friends here on to it too. They were as mesmerized as I was.
And a couple months later they too were listening to him on repeat.

Come middle of March and we found out that Aaron Parks was
going to perform live with his trio in Rotterdam! We decided to buy our tickets
as soon as we could and waited eagerly for the day.

So on the evening of 7th April, my friends-
Nishant, Gaurav and Siddharth- and I made our way to Rotterdam for what would
be an unbelievable musical experience. As we reached Rotterdam we made our way
across the city through the walk of fame. We stopped for a few minutes and
‘took five’ at the hand imprints of another Jazz great, Dave Brubeck. We then
crossed the majestic Erasmus bridge and finally reached the location.

Taking Five- At the Rotterdam Walk of Fame with Gaurav 

The Aaron Parks Trio was performing in an auditorium and as
soon as we entered we were taken in. The blue-pink lights were perfectly
spotted on the three and they played their hearts out. A lot of Aaron Parks’
compositions include a lot of guitar but the trio was just piano, drums and
upright bass. He played some popular ones of his like Riddle Me This, which is
something I catch myself bobbing my head to a lot. The show was coming to an end
and he hadn’t played Nemesis yet. I figured there was no guitarist so he would
just leave that one out. But then, suddenly, he played it! It was not like on
the record, but it was better in some ways. I loved their rendition and Craig
Weinrib’s drums were scintillating. As my friend Nishant described, it reminded
him of a sober Keith Moon. The show then came to an end and the trio received a
standing ovation which lingered on long enough to incite an encore!

After the show, on a musical high we went down to the lobby
and got ourselves a beer. The venue was playing ‘Eleven Wives’ on the speakers
and we fell in love with the place again. But that was not it. We would have
never imagined what happened next!

Craig Weinrib, the drummer, was standing alone at a high
table sipping on a beer and then Nishant found the stones to go and talk to
him. Soon, we joined him and had a long chat which ranged from why different
drummers hold sticks differently and about his musical education. He’s
self-taught! When we heard that we exclaimed ‘We have hope!’ We were then
joined by the master himself. Aaron Parks was humble enough to join in the
conversation and give his insight into jazz and how he composes his music. We
were awed by how he was so down to earth and helpful. When Gaurav asked him
about how he knows if his composition is complete, he replied ‘When it
resembles an imperfect circle.’ Never had such a vague statement made so much
sense. We thanked him for his insight and then continued pinching ourselves to
see if this was all real.

It’s a night I won’t forget and I thank my friends here for
sharing it and being part of it!


Tot Later!


Brown Town Again

The eight minutes were coming to an end when suddenly I
realized what I was playing was wrong! So I slowed down and tried to match my
guitarist, Gaurav. I was smiling as I had known that the last thirty seconds
were completely out of time. I finally made it back and it was all good. We
ended our performance and got quite a welcoming response in the end.

I’m talking about my band, Brown Town’s, performance on
Friday at the Pakistani Cultural Event. We played two self-composed
instrumental numbers, which we still haven’t found a name for. A week’s worth
of practice finally culminated into an interesting performance with a few
mistakes. But I’m guessing my band (Gaurav, Nishant and I) were the only ones
who knew about the mistakes.


                                                                     Painting the town brown- Brown Town 

The event took place on Friday evening and it was quite a
success. It started off with a couple speeches (one of them by the president of
the Pakistani Student Society, my good friend, Osama…. I mean Usama). His
introduction was humorous as the presentation slide showed a picture of his
infamous namesake Osama bin Laden. The rest of the event consisted of
presentations on the various sides of Pakistan ranging from sports, to music,
to geography and culture.

There was quite a funny skit set on the premise of a
Pakistani male student that goes to a speed dating restaurant in the
Netherlands. It was a funny tongue in cheek version of what might actually
happen if he did go to a speed dating restaurant. It was done quite well by
Umer and Sanaa. Other parts of the event included a couple karaoke numbers by Ahsan and a dance medley. And of course a performance by our band Brown Town.


Speed dating Pakistani style (Sanaa and Umer)                                              Ahsan singing a popular Pakistani number

Oh and how can I forget, there was Pakistani food! Which is
quite similar to Indian food, so I was a happy man. I ate to my heart/stomach’s



I’d like to thank the PSS for organizing a great event and
for inviting an Indian band to play at the event. I guess the India-Pakistan
clashes occur only at political levels or on the cricket field. But the TU
Delft is no place for it. Just pure humanity and friendship.

Here’s a link to the performance 🙂  

Tot later


Time to Jam

Free afternoons are the best. They’re a reminder that waking
up to the blaring cacophony of the 7 am alarm clock was worth it. That now, yes
now, you’re free. Free to do what? To go to the Culture Centre of course!

The Culture Centre (CC from now on) is one of my favourite
places in the TU Delft. It’s definitely one of the smaller buildings on campus.
And it’s orange. Yes yes, this is Holland, there has to be some bit of orange
in everything. But what’s more impressive is what’s inside.

It houses various rooms where you can learn/play/practice
anything from the banjo to the balalaika. I usually go there to practice with
my ‘band’ and jam. It’s fun every time. 
There are two large jam studios in the basement. One of them actually
has seven drumsets! Yep, that’s seven …. SEVEN. I wonder why. Though,
ironically, the best drumset is the one that’s in the other jam room. The other
room has a couch too. I guess to rest if you’re tired of pounding the drums. Or
maybe even to call a member of the opposite sex to watch you perform. I’m
guessing it’s the latter reason.


A view from behind the drums                                                                             The ‘orange’ exterior of the CC 

It’s not just music, but the CC has art classes and
interesting workshops too. One of them once actually involved building a whole
new guitar. It’s a nice change to enter the CC after a day of heavy lectures
and confusing derivations. The welcoming interiors and the relaxed atmosphere
are a perfect place to let your right brain evolve!

That’s enough from me for now. I’m heading off to the CC.
Gotta practice one last time with my band for tomorrow’s Pakistani Cultural
. Do come check it out!

Tot Later 

Two Gigs- One Night

As promised, I’m here with a follow up of the TU Delft
Diwali event. And an event it was J

After a hectic day of a morning class in Rotterdam, postal
duties, Skype obligations and a quick 15 minute birthday celebration of a
friend I was finally ready to cycle to the culture centre. I reached at around
six in the evening, two hours after the rest of my band. As expected, things
weren’t really in place yet. After some heavy lifting of the drum kit (my
weapon of choice) to the performance area, we were ready for a sound check
(Take five of courseJ).
The sound check happened amidst several other performers preparing. But,
possessing Indian attributes, we were all happy to ‘adjust’.

The show started with a quick religious ceremony, while my band-mates
and I were, umm, chilling outside. This was followed by a bharatnatiyam solo
dance by Radhika. And then, what do you know, It was time for the awesomeness
of ‘Brown Town’, my band (pun intended). We played two instrumental pieces
somewhat blended into each other. The first one was our rendition of Prasanna’s
‘Kalyani Conection’. The second was something composed by our guitarist Gaurav
which he likes to call ‘Indian Heritage’, though I have my reservations about
the name J.
We did quite well and managed to get a genuine applause! There might have been
mistakes. But hey, only we knew! My sporadic bursts of laughter while playing
had nothing to do with mistakes, I promise J.
Hey, Nishant, the rhythm guitarist was laughing too.


Radhika's moves




Brown Town- Hell Yeah!




Followed by Brown Town was another dance, a more contemporary
Bollywood number. There was another dance followed by that. But that was unique
in quite an expressionless sense. It was a group dance where actions were
performed out accompanying a medley of Hindi songs. But the faces of  the performers were to be kept deadpan
expressionless throughout. To their surprise, they were joined by a toddler
from the crowd who imitated every one of their moves! That tore the crowd in
burst of laughter and applause. It was cute.


Someone got lucky :)




Work in progress



My friend Nishant had invited me to play along with his
friend’s to some likeable Hindi/Urdu songs. With some great vocal work by Raj
and Chetna and some very good guitar work done by Nishant and Yash (who laughed
too by the way J),
the show finally came to an end. They called us for an encore and I was tempted
to play some more. But I had already moved the drum kit off stage. I thought of
playing something on guitar and singing along but every Hindi song I knew vanished
from my mind into oblivion. Oh well, another time J.


Hawas ke mareez




Told you he laughed! - Nishant Jain



I almost forgot. There was Indian food! And I ate like
nobody’s business. Ahh, the bliss J

My friends and I then headed to the centre of Delft for a few drinks
to end the night in style. It was a great experience overall and my first real
performance for an audience in Delft. Let’s hope there’s more to come.

I’d like to thank firstly the organizers, Sumit, Sriram,
Maneesh and Sneha. You guys made it possible. I know it’s hard to get these things done
but good job in the end!

To the members of Brown Town who are also some of my
closest friends. Gaurav Genani with some face melting solos. Nishant Jain with
some awesome courage to play having such little experience and so well in the
end! Deepesh Toshniwal for helping us out on bass in the nick of time. And to
Leon who was our silent hero on the piano J

I’d also like to thank the members of ‘YashRaj
Productions/Hawas ke Mareez/Tharak ke Pujari’ or whatever you guys like to call
yourselves. Raj, Yash, Chetna, Nishant (again) thanks for letting me be part of
the experience you guys!

Thanks to Martin, Ilhan and Ruksandra for finding time to
come watch the show and get some Indian experience J

Finally, and most importantly, thanks to Gaurav Durasamy for
lending me your red shawl which, lets face it, looks better on me. You’re not
getting it back. Sorry J


As for me, I’m going to get into study mode now. Exam
week. Library here I come!

 Happy Birthday Sasho!

Tot Ziens 

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