Month: September 2010

Zakir Hussain: “The Speaking Hand”

A colleague brought my attention to this fantastic documentary that concentrates on the art of tabla performance, which is available, in full, on YouTube.

Zakir is a Hindustani tabla player from Mumbai (son of Alla Rakha). Even if you’ve never heard his name, you have probably heard his work.  He has performed and collaborated with several American artists, including Bela Fleck.

Additionally, he’s composed several film scores (and starred in a few!).

The first segment of the documentary is below. Quite a bit of it is in Hindi, with German subtitles. You can view the rest on Youtube itself:

Part 1:

on finding motivation

I realized tonight, as I sit here spooning out the tail-end of a quart of Breyer’s, that for whatever reason, my system can’t handle procrastination. Once the flood gate is open, it compounds until I’m left sitting here with a mile long to-do list, an extra 10 pounds to carry around, and no motivation. Well I’m pretty ticked off at the whole thing.

I love what I’m doing. I mean I love it. I grew up with the kind of folks who said “you aren’t supposed to have a job you like. You’re just supposed to have a job”.  That was never me. It never will be. So then, if I love it so much then why am I self-sabotaging this week? Yes, all of my assignments are in. I’ve been staying on top of TA duties, my readings, and everything else that’s externally important. More than on top of them, really.

Yet this is the very first week I haven’t kept track of my productivity. I didn’t sit down this past Sunday and schedule my week, make lists, or clean off my desk. Am I really that OCD that the failure to schedule my week would cause this kind of chaos? I’ve started eating terribly again (hence the ice cream), anxiety is back, I’ve been getting 3 hours of sleep a night, I’ve stopped exercising altogether, physically I’m feeling pretty terrible, I’ve had headaches all week, I have no interest in playing with my pups, and reading has become a chore. Those are a few of the symptoms anyway. My partner’s out of town, so at least she doesn’t have to put up with me.  I feel uncomfortable in my own skin when I’m like this.

It’s about halfway through the semester. I know I keep reiterating this, but I really am enjoying my courses/job tasks, etc – with that said, it’s not “work stress” causing this. It’s not a lack of social interaction (which can sometimes happen as part of the lonely existence of graduate school). I really have no clue what the cause is. I only know it needs to stop. I need some motivators – and a bath. Or maybe I just need to sit down, clean off my desk, and feel the satisfaction of crossing things off a to-do list. Bath first.

Film: Political History of Tibet

Free Tibet

Image via Wikipedia

Below is a 55 minute documentary on the political history of Tibet. Although this video is sympathetic to Tibetans (made in France), I have also been trying to understand from the Han point of view.

Admittedly, I’ve been disturbed by the Chinese propaganda that can be found on YouTube and in other similar venues. Some of these videos look so forced and fake that it makes it difficult not to side with the Tibetans.  Certainly, I’ve been walking around with a “Free Tibet” sticker plastered on my laptops/instrument cases/cars for years (I grew up next door to a Buddhist retreat center), however I feel like I should spend more time taking a gander at “the other side”. I’ve been searching for a video or commentary by a Chinese scholar on the matter, or something objective. If anyone knows of anything like this, let me know.  Instead, I’m finding government-created short films.

Anyway, here’s the film. It’s quite well done:

Masala Movies

Nutmeg: Romance

Coriander: Action

Cardamom: Drama

Fennel Seed: Comedy

No? Ok so I made it up. Maybe I’m just hungry as I write…

Most Bollywood films are like Lifetime-meets-Broadway-meets-Wagnerian-drama. I would love to take a class in Bollywood films or Indian film music composers.  Some day, someone will buy me a ticket to the Filmfare Awards or the National Film Awards (India).  My birthday is in August… 🙂