The year was 1995, the place, Berlin. The Berlin Wall collapse was still in public memory, and a personal wall was collapsing for me in the form of my first stay abroad. As a twenty-something year old young man, this trip opened new doors for me – exploring the WWW, developing personal friendships with Europeans, attending live classical concerts and an Opera, and buying 50 western classical music CDs to bring back with me (as they weren’t available in India then).
There are many unforgettable memories of those days. My partner from India was a Jew, and we once searched for the only synagogue in the capital of the Nazis. On wandering unsuccessfully in the area near the address, we finally gathered courage to ask a couple of security guards outside a government building. The guards were holding the most lethal weapon I had ever seen up close, and since my partner couldn’t speak German, I had to do the deed. We finally discovered that that building itself was the synagogue, and it was closed on a Sunday, and the guards were part of routine 24×7 security.
I made many friends during my stay. Wild weekend partying with a couple of graphic artists who spent half the year working in Germany, and the other half partying in Goa. A French colleague who programmed, cooked, sailed his yacht in the Atlantic, with whom I discovered common interests like astronomy, philosophy, and quantum mechanics. A gentle German friend who played the Moonlight Sonata for me in his living room, and showed me videos of Herbert von Karajan rehearsing with his orchestra. Techno music was the ‘in-thing’ in Europe at the time, with all the pubs and discos grooving to it.
Another colleague, Stefan, told me that he too played the Tabla, and I was taken aback. It turned out that he had it as one of the instruments on his synthesizer, which he had also hooked up with his PC. When I visited him, I fiddled with the keyboard and soon my Dhumali bhajan taal (rhythm) had his curiosity piqued. He added a cool techno beat to it. I then added some Tambora with a twist, and he added some drums. A flute, some vocals, and some techno sound effects completed the track. It was Stefan who finally used software to edit and give structure to the track, but this was my first (and only) experiment with composing music!
I recently played a real tabla after a very long gap of over 20 years, and realized that if I wanted to play anything worthwhile, I’d have to give up working and blogging!
This is a low fidelity MP3 version created from a 1995 audio cassette, using the recording and noise filtering technique described in my first article on MakeUseOf.com. Now, I couldn’t pass up plugging that could I?
Disclaimer: This techno-bhajan is not meant to offend the religious sentiments of any ultra-conservatives, including all types of human or ape ‘Dal’s and ‘Sena’s. Clicking the Play button absolves the author of any moral transgressions.
I am not a graphic designer and do not have the dedication required to learn complex graphic applications like Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. However, I do have an artistic itch. Hence when my wife endeavored to set up a business partnership for a corporate psychological training service firm, I endeavored to design their logo. It was a perfect opportunity for me to scour the graphic design application landscape on Windows for amateurs like me (or like myself?).
Paint.net is sometimes positioned as a free and better replacement to built-in Windows Paintbrush, but it is really something like Photoshop Lite. Packed in a tiny 1.6 MB package, this is truly great software considering that it is completely freeware. Check the screenshots here for a sample of what it can do.
Using its support for layers, unlimited undo, some special effects, and some great tutorials in their forum, this is what I came up with:
I know it’s not that good-looking, but hey, I’m an amateur!
Professional designers will tell you that logos should be designed as vector graphics, not as raster images like with Paint.net. This is so that they can be easily manipulated and scaled to suit different applications like web, print, etc. Adobe Illustrator and Coreldraw for example, are vector graphic imaging software. So how do you start without spending a penny on such expensive software?
Inkscape is a great open-source vector graphics application that was originally designed for Linux, but now runs on Windows too. Most of the digital graphics you see on Wikipedia are designed in Inkscape by volunteers. It takes some time getting used to working with vector graphics – for example, there is no ‘Eraser’ tool to quickly obliterate your mistakes and tweak your pixels, because there are no pixels here, only lines and curves – but it’s not difficult at all.
I also decided to get a bit creative on the logo concept. U Turn’s services all have their base in psychology. Now, the Greek letter Psi (Y) is the symbol of everything ‘psy’ – psychology, psychiatry, etc. So I wondered if I could make up Psi using U and T of U Turn:
So above are examples of some of the designs I’m proposing to the entrepreneurs. Would love to hear your feedback and suggestions as well.
If you do not want to install or learn any software, but are simply looking for a quick and dirty way to come up with some text-based logos primarily for use on the web, the following sites may interest you:
Note that logo design is a profound and complex subject. I have only focused on easy to use logo creation tools here. The design concepts, art, philosophy, and marketing strategy behind logo design is a fascinating topic by itself, and is out of bounds for this post.
I touched upon Indians not making it easy for others to appreciate their art recently. I then mused about the melting pot that is India, and how difficult it can be for Indians to appreciate their own regional arts. Hence I would like to experiment sharing my affection of a Marathi song, and see if music is indeed a universal language as they say.
The song is “Mana Tuzhe Manogata” from the Marathi feature film “Kalat Nakalat”, composed by Anand Modak and sung by the versatile Asha Bhosle. Not only do I love the song immensely, I think it can be a learning experience to examine how Modak uses the composition to express the meaning of Sudhir Moghe’s lyrics.
It helps to visualize as follows:
- Voice: Soul, the being expressing itself.
- Flute: Close Friend, representative of the Child in a person.
- Piano: Friend, who punctuates the entire vocal expression. It plays host to the whole scene.
- Violin: Friend, who enters the scene later, but is the most eloquently empathetic.
- Chorus: Group of empathetic friends.
मना तुझे मनोगत मला कधी कळेल का? Mana tujhe manogata mala kadhi kalel ka?
(Dear Mind, can I ever understand you?)
This question sets the context of the entire poem and song. Are we able to fully understand ourselves? Are we able to empathize with our deepest thoughts and emotions?
The mood of the song is introspection and sharing. Introspection invokes a panorama of thoughts, emotions, memories, fantasies, etc. It typically happens in a situation of conflict, as in this movie drama of an extra-marital affair. The song provides a musical backdrop to this conflict, and its instrumentation evokes empathetic sharing.
The poem describes a being trying to understand itself, a soul addressing its mind. A soul, with a great magnitude of sensitive and often irreconcilable thoughts and emotions is wondering whether it can understand its mind. Usually, this is represented as a conflict between thoughts and emotions, mind and heart, but this song transcends all that. It does so by providing a harmonious backdrop to the interplay between the mind and heart, an intimacy between emotion and thought. Is this a dialogue between a thinking heart and an emotional mind?
तुझ्यापरी गूढ सोपे होणे मला जुळेल का? Tuzhyapari goodh sope hone mala julel ka?
(Can I be enigmatic and simple like you?)
Will I be able to make any complex thing appear simple, like you do? The soul is thus respecting the mind by saying that the mind can solve each and every mystery in the world. The descending order of notes reflects this ability of the mind.
The multiple notes of pari preface the word goodh (enigmatic) to highlight its complexity. The word goodh is in simple notes, highlighting the ability of the mind to simplify complex things. But, this simplicity is achieved only after traversing the complex notes of pari. Such is the action and capability of the mind.
The flute, a close friend, is the expression of the Child, adding emotional value to the voice. Whereas the voice has a relatively simple tune, the flute adds all the intricacies denoting the Child’s emotional convolutions.
The flute is a friend who understands not only what is explicitly conveyed, but also empathizes with what is shared emotionally. It says: “Yes, I understand how it must have felt”. It acts like a friend who resonates and encourages one to share further.
In the ending notes, it tries to anticipate the intense emotional experience that the soul needs to share and entices it into sharing further.
कोण जाणे केवढा तू व्यापतोस आकाशाला; आकाशाचा अर्क देशी, एका मातीच्या कणाला
Kon jaane kevadha tu, vyaaptos aakaashaala; aakaashaacha arka deshi eka mateechyaa kanaala
(Who knows how much you engulf the sky; you can extract the essence of the sky into a single soil particle)
Observe the helplessness in the notes of the words “Kon jaane” (who knows). This helplessness suggests that nobody knows.
When the tune reaches ‘aakaashaalaa’ (sky), it literally flies. It roams the sky. Its notes are like the flutter of a bird taking flight.
Meanwhile, the chorus is behaving quite empathetically, letting the soul know that it is understanding. It’s rising notes also anticipate, that the peak of the emotional expression, is yet to come. It anticipates the high notes, like a friend who anticipates what we’re going to say. This pattern of the chorus is repeated again with the same effect in the following stanzas of the song.
The stress and emphasis of the second line is in the word ‘ekaa’ (single). The word is given importance by its position in the meter and its low note, making it a fulcrum. The low note and emphasis on this word provide the necessary impact for the meaning of the line.
तुझे दार माझ्यासाठी थोडेतरी खुलेल का? Tuzhe daar mazhyaasaathi thodetari khulel ka?
(Will your door open, at least a little, for me?)
The peak arrives poignantly, the voice expressing a yearning desire to let the soul get a glimpse of the mind! The notes are as if a futile, yet persistent attempt is being made to open an automatically closing door. There’s helplessness in the tone, expressed also by the pauses in the voice as if taking a breath before trying to push the door open. The task seems impossible, unachievable.
The piano arpeggio takes off from where the voice left, and completes the emotional expression. It also returns the ear to the main note, forming a bridge or circle.
The flute continues acting as a friend, also inviting the Violin into the scene. It implores the Violin into joining its empathetic understanding. The Violin enters, reservedly, as if saying, “Yes, I am trying to understand”.
कळीतला ओला श्वास, पाषाणाचा थंड स्पर्श Kaleetla ola shwaas, pashanaachaa thanda sparsha
(The wet breath in a flower bud, the cold touch of stone)
तुझ्यामध्ये सामावला वारा काळोख प्रकाश Tuzhyamadhye samavala vaara, kalokh, prakasha
(Within you are encompassed wind, darkness, and light)
The notes span and traverse the scale, expressing how the mind encompasses everything in the universe – all dimensions of nature.
तुझे अरूपाचे रूप माझ्यापुढे फुलेल का? Tuzhe aroopaache roopa mazhyapudhe phulel ka?
(Will your formless image blossom in front of me?)
The soul is helplessly trying to understand the mind. It is yearning to comprehend and formulate the formless mind.
Now, even the so-far-reserved Violin understands the saga. It reaches the peak of its emotional expression. It becomes completely overwhelmed by emotions, languishing in them, as if reaching to the Chorus for support.
The soul is desperately trying to calm the Child in itself.
खुळा ध्यास आभासांचा पाठ्लाग कोणासाठी Khula dhyaas aabhasaancha paathlag konasaathi?
(For whom, this idiotic unremitting contemplation and pursuit of sophistry?)
तुझ्या मनातले आर्त माझ्या मनी ढळेल का? Tuzhya manaatale aarta mazhya manee dhalel ka?
(Will your intense longing yield to my mind?)
The poetic climax! While the soul has been addressing the mind so far, here, it is also referring to a mind of its own! This is symbolic of the fact that though there may be conflicts between them, the soul, mind, and heart are entwined together in an inseparable fashion. The listener is cajoled into this discovery, by the piano arpeggio. It is as if that this was what it was trying to convey since the beginning!
The film doesn’t feature the complete song – rather, it uses it in two sections for two scenes. As far as I know, a soundtrack album was never released, hence the song is not publicly available in its entirety as a single song (you can listen to 2/3rds of the song here). I was fortunate to get the full version but have split it into sections to respect copyrights.
Round and round
On shaky ground
The mind whirls
But one is bound
To one’s ground
To escape this cage
Needs an adage
No need to cry
One is born to fly
Personality is like a rose
Everyone likes it
It attracts for a couple of days
And is then thrown away
Character is like chlorophyll
Not many know about it
It’s not visible
But it sustains life on earth.
Therefore I breathe
Therefore I live
To live or not
That is the question
To breathe or not
That is the dilemma
Moments of panic
That are tragic
I am lethargic
There’s need of some magic
To be stable
I am hurt
But I won’t be curt
The situation does hurt
Who’ll clean up the dirt?
I will try
Not to cry
It’s about time
For me to fly
I can hear what you say
I sense we’re in a bind
I can touch what you say
So what if I’m blind?
I understand you
Better than most others
Engulfed in your hair
Smelling the flowers
The perfume of your hair
Lifts me out of despair
The darkness everywhere
Asks me, do I dare?
Am I fit to be your lover?
Blind, willing to bend lower
This is what tears me apart
Our love, will it have a start?
In pursuit of a dream
Hoping you will understand
About to spill over the brim
My shaky conscience; it can’t stand
If I were a tear in your eyes
I would lie on your cheeks and die on your lips
But if you were a tear in my eyes
I would never cry in fear of losing you
(Composed by a friend)
Start of a space race
What a disgrace
Amidst all the pace
Who lost their face?
His dreams shattered
Ayn Rand published
The world awoke
A railroad at heart
Yet, a work of art
Beneath a burden
Refused a pardon
Became a guardian
Acted like in a disco
Much like a fresco
His life exalts
Like single malt
In space, rollickin’
Became a Senorita
Mir space station
An unsavory destination
Can man have affection?
Mere words, with trepidation
A pale blue dot
In an ordinary spot
What have they got?
Freedom? Dictatorship? Democracy?
These may be human constructs
But the doomsday if Atlas really Shrugged
Is there for all to see
On top of all this assorted mix
Was Krish Ashok, a lover of Asterix
Dressing it all up with salsa
Using his inimitable Jalsa
This eclectic mix of characters
Reminds me of Lagaan
And that’s why on Independence Day
I say, Mera Blogosphere Mahaan!
(PS: For benefit of non-Indians, Mera Blogosphere Mahaan means My Blogosphere is Great!)