METALLICA LIVE!

Blood, sweat and bone crushing squeals dissipated as Twenty Thousand demonic horns raised their heads to the sky. They call them the Gods of Heavy Metal, gleaming like golden statues under the eternal sky. We stood and cheered and jumped and sang and celebrated them, their music and an ode to the music that we grew up with.

I was never a METALLICA  fan, One being their only song that I truly liked. Something about the band being too main stream in high school and being in a phase where everything remotely mainstream is uncool, just stuck. When the news that Metallica was coming to Bangalore did hit the airwaves however, I knew deep inside that this was something that should not be missed. Definitely! Totally!! Should not be missed!!!  Fast forward to 2 days before the event and I still did not have tickets, both to the concert or to Bangalore. You’d be right in thinking I’m a little off center here but plans came and went but at the end of the day, I still wanted to go. And then it happened. A friend called and asked if I wanted a free ticket to the concert! A hour or so later, another called with a bus ticket to Bangalore!! The fug was going on here??? A few hours later I was on the Hyderabad Bangalore highway bound to meet another friend at the event. A miracle? Is there a purpose to us all??

The news about the cancellation of the Delhi show was on the lips of everyone waiting in line outside the event. Whispers of the show being cancelled in Bangalore as well, was always within earshot. We waited, for hours under the scorching sun and sudden torrents of rain. I was really blessed to meet two twin Punjabi brothers, who carried their share of food and water. True camping veterans these.

The sun finally set to the sound of “The Ecstasy of Gold” as the gates were opened to the horde of black and weary. We ran,  from puddle to carpet to barricade, hearts pounding and thoughts racing. And then we waited. Again.

The show finally started with INNER SANCTUM from Bangalore. Heavy to the core and a great way to start the show. Fabulous guitar sound. I’m sorry but there are no high quality videos of them playing live.

Next came GUILLOTINE, the lowest point of the entire show. It’s no surprise that there is no mention of them in any of the reviews.

The official opening act was by a Scottish band that I had never heard of BIFFY CLYROTo be completely honest, had I known who they were and if they were the main act, I would have traveled the same journey to see them live. In a way it felt like watching “A band that has made it” live, only with a different kind of energy and under gentle pouring rain, a stark contrast to the performance on stage. They made me think of The Foo Fighters and I would see them again.

Nothing and I repeat nothing had prepared me for the show that followed. We were all tired, half soaked in mud and inexplicably dehydrated. After waiting the entire day and then being told that the show could not start until we stopped crowding in front of the stage did not help either. Repeated chants of “Safety First” and police threateningly waving their batons at us did not help either.

Night fell on us, an endless veil of distant stars and the stage went black. Hushed silences crept from every bated breath as a lone whistle drove us to attention. The crowd roared the timeless chant and tear filled smiles gleamed on every face with defiant horns raised to the sky.

We stood and cheered and jumped and sang and celebrated them, their music and an ode to the music that we grew up with. This was how it began and this was how it stayed from song to song till we could stand no more and still they played and we rejoiced from Creeping Death to Enter Sandman, The Memory Remains.

I’ll leave you now with a video of what still is my favourite Metallica song and for those who weren’t there, you haven’t seen Metallica live if you haven’t seen Metallica live.

On the banks of the Tungabhadra River: Day 2

Day 2

The Paid Temples

Hampi is basically a tiny little village with tiny houses inter connected by narrow alleys. The people here are simple and trusting and though it might have been more comfortable to stay at the government hotel, at the end of the day, a warm smiling face welcoming you back makes all the difference.

This village however is on the verge of destruction as the central government has already started demolishing the main market to make room for further excavations. The local people have been provided with an option to relocate to a nearby area, 20 kms away but this is where they were born and its hard to leave it all behind. There will be more for the tourist to see and you will probably have to stay in Hospet in the near future but its sad for the residents.

An interesting fact: You will probably notice a large population of monkeys haunting the ruins and boulders. According to some rumors, a french film was shot in this area, where-in every known species of monkeys were brought in for the shooting. Once the film was completed, all the monkeys were left behind and not returned to where they came from.

Hampi is also the home of the monkey kingdom that was mentioned in the Ramayana 🙂

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On the banks of the Tungabhadra River

Hampi – a haven for spectacular 15th century south Indian temples and awe inspiring landscapes sounded like the perfect idea for a weekend trip. Nothing and by nothing I mean websites, flickr posts or magazine reviews,  nothing can prepare you for the beauty that is Hampi.

The overnight bus ride from Hyderabad got us there at 7 am and immediately we found ourselves in the center of auto rickshaw drivers, quoting rates and refusing to talk in Hindi, only English. “We’re in an Indian World Heritage site aren’t we?” is what I caught myself thinking, till we realised that the majority of the tourists there were Europeans dressed in sarongs, shorts and sandals. Considering that they seem dressed for the beach, they probably came down from Goa to escape the grey clouds.

Staying:

  1. If you’re on a budget then the guest houses around Hampi Market at about  Rs 500 for a double room are a good option. We stayed at Archana Guest House but you can pick one that you like. The auto drivers were helpful enough.
  2. If you’re with a family then I suggest the K.R.S.T.C Government Hotel at Kamalapuram, with rates starting from Rs 1500 per day. This is best if you mean to travel with a guide and have things planned for you in advance.  KSTDC Cottages.Tel: +91-8394-8108 Karnataka State Tourism Website
  3. If you have a little more to spare, then the Krishna Palace at Hospet is a fair option at Rs 4000 for a regular double bed room. Website

Traveling:

  1. Rent an auto for the day and the driver will take you to all the sights that you need to see. You can get a guide for the paid temples but personally I find it more fun exploring a place without someone telling me where to go and what to see 🙂 We rented one for two days, with the plan to view the free temples on day one and the paid temples the day after. All this was settled at Rs 1000 for the entire trip.
  2. Rent a bike( TVS Luna) for Rs 150 for a day. You will have to pay for the gas separately and make sure you get a 5 liter can for extra just in case you run out of gas in the middle of nowhere.
  3. Rent a bicycle.

Food:

There are a fair amount of restaurants in the village with moderately priced and clean quality food.  The village auto drivers swear by Mango Tree and they are not wrong. Do remember to try the porridge here and the mushroom dishes both at Mango Tree and the other restaurants. Lunch will cost about Rs 100 – 150 per head.

NOTE: There are no ATMs in the village. The nearest is in Hospet, 11kms away. Please plan accordingly.

PS.  The government guest house is the only place you can legally get Beer here. 

 

Day 1

Free Temples

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Meghalaya: Come home to the clouds

Meghalaya, the Sanskrit term for Abode of the Clouds is a small state nestled in the North East of India, bounded by Assam to the north and Bangladesh to the south. The capital of this state is Shillong, a city with a population of about 300,000.

Meghalaya is one of the four major tribal states of the North East, with Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland being the other regions. In India the term ‘tribal’ is essentially used in administrative sense and officially these communities are called Scheduled Tribes. It does not represent their economic or cultural levels of development. It is home to three major hill tribes: the Khasi, Jaintia and the Garos.  The term Khasi generally includes the Khasi, Jaintia, Bhoi and the War. They are collectively known as the Hynniewtrep people and are mainly found in the four districts of east Meghalaya namely, the East Khasi Hills, West Khasi Hills, Ri–Bhoi and the Jaintia Hills districts.

The Jaintias are also called Pnars. The Khasis occupying the northern lowlands and the foothills are generally called the Bhoi. Those who live in the southern tracts are termed the War. In the Khasi Hills, the Lyngams inhabit the North-western part of the state. But all of them claim to have descended from the ki hynniew trep and are known by the generic name of Khasi–Pnars or simply Khasi.

The Garos belonging to the Bodo family of the Tibeto – Burman race live in the Western Meghalaya. They prefer to call themselves as Achiks and the land they occupy as Achik land. In addition to these ancient communities, there are some smaller tribal communities scattered mainly in the southern and western parts of the state. They are Mikir, Lalung, Hmars, Rabhas, Hajongs, Boro and others.

Social Structure

All the three major communities of the state – the Khasi, Jaintia and the Garo are matrilineal.  The customary systems of inheritance and landownership found among these communities are intimately associated with the institution of matriliny. Among the Khasi, the Kur or Clan is the largest division in society based on the principle of matriliny. A kur is an exogamous unit in which every member is a kin of every other person of the same kur. It rests on the belief that they all have descended from a common female ancestry~ Ka Mei Kha. According to the local mythology, the original capital of the Khasi kingdom is present in the current state of Assam, a hill incidentally called Ka Makhya.

A man married to the youngest daughter normally lives in the house of his wife’s mother, while those married to elder sisters move out to establish separate households or they might continue to live with their husband in the house of their mother.

Among the Jaintias a normal residential arrangement till recently has been duolocal under which the husband stays with his own parents but visits his wife at her parent’s house. However, this system now is on the wane and matrilocal residence has become common.

The Garos, on the contrary, are divided into five matrilineal clans (chatchi) namely, Areng, Marak, Momin, Sangma and Shira. Every Garo individual is a member of anyone of these five matrilineal descent groups, each of which is ordinarily exogamous. Cross – cousin marriage is widely prevalent. There is however a great deal of variation with regard to the rules of residence after marriage. While marriage with the heiress is uxorilocal and simultaneously avunculocal since after marriage a man moves to his wife’s residence and lives with both his and her maternal uncle. Marriages with women who are not heiresses are neolocal, as the couple usually establishes a separate household.

Contemporary Myths

The Northeastern Region of India has always been under speculation, primarily because of the militancy that once plagued these lands. The common belief is that our foreign neighbours are always out to inch their way into our fair county, and when all else has failed, they coaxed their way into the local’s hearts, thereby causing various acts of violence. While the fact might be that the region has been the seat of many wars, to place the entire blame on just one party, would seem a little too perfect. As is it with most stories, there is always more than one perspective.

Before I continue any further, I’d like you to know that this is my personal perspective on the “situation” in the north east but my voice is one of the masses.

The seed of conflict was probably started in a civil war between the tribals of the region and the immigrating Bangladeshis. The reason behind the immigration is not entirely clear but the resulting occupancy of tribal land lead to a general fear of hostile takeover. It was because of these events that President’s Rule was declared and Meghalaya was declared a military state. The resulting creation of a reservation area for the Bangladeshis and a law that only Khasis can buy land in Shillong was probably the positive outcome of this event. The presence of the army however became a permanent one.

What started as an army camp, slowly spread its web to cover the majority of Upper Shillong and recently The Golf Links. Even the touristy Shillong Peak now fell under the jurisdiction of the army, whereby hikers, romantic couples or civilians to be more generic, would be seen as suspicious and hostile. Top it off with regular hit and run events between Army trucks and civilian cars and reports of army jawans storming into villages to rape and plunder and you have enough reason for revolt. What really lit the fuse, is a matter for debate but it was the youth, who rose with weapons in one hand and masters degrees in the other, demanding for justice… protectors of the meek.

With great power comes great responsibility and young men must as young men do, loose their way amidst power, lust and greed.  From freedom fighters to regular thugs, the decline was fast and pitiful. The common man now had more to fear and none to blame. Perhaps it was a loss of political support but soon the police raids began, with front pages splashed with surrenders and arrests. It was only a matter of time before we realised that the arrests were random and that the real “rebels” had fled off to different states or countries. The ones arrested were none other than the regular drunks or 15 year old kids running home from the grocer… forced to sign letters of confession.  Soon it became hard for us to leave home after 5pm and neighbourhood watches became the norm, held together by none other than the Mothers and Sisters of the society, while the men hid in the local forests or ran for their lives. This was perhaps the truest example of a matrilineal society. The forces came with their fire hoses and rubber bullets and clashed against a defiant wall of banshees determined to save their homes.

Eventually, peace came back to the state and in the year 2005, the first new years celebration was held at Kyhndai Lad, Police Bazaar. This was indeed the first time, in a long time, that people were out after 5pm and continued on till 5am, a celebration truly to be remembered and cherished.

After Thoughts

It saddens me at times to think that so little is known about the people and what transpires in these states. Our ignorance coupled with our apathy is what allowed these and many other atrocities to occur and continue to occur but I’m not here to play the blame game. My only intention is to attempt to shed some light into an otherwise darkened room and in the oxymoron that the  knowledge of its existence is all that separates us from the aware and the ignorant.