Thursday, November 24, 2011


having lived in thailand & usa most of my life (at least what i can remember) there are many functions/events that i've had the chance to experience with a diverse sets of individuals - be it diwali in bangkok with all the other indians in thailand, or thanksgiving in chicago with friends from bangkok... its always been a mix of people who might not all be where they would have seen themselves celebrating said-event.

this time around though, i found myself celebrating holi in november in singapore with lebanese, french, indians, thais, koreans, americans, pakistanis, africans, brits, irish... you name it. the nationalities outnumbered the various colors we had!

one of the best celebrations i've ever experienced given the amateur nature of the setup - i mean it was not amateur in the work put into it, but it was by no means the kind of holi setup you would expect.

a tent in a parking lot, with 4 tables for food, 2 tables with color, 2 tables with drinks and one large speaker plugged into an ipod. oh and a renegade hose lying on the floor, used by anyone that realized it was on.

the clincher for me was receiving this email after a night of celebrations & questions from my non-indian counterparts...

so what is holi? whats the significance?

"We put our best guys on this and the short answer is: Although historically celebrated as a harvest festival, in recent times it is more a celebration of unity – an opportunity  to forget all differences and indulge in unadulterated fun. It is typically celebrated in high spirit without any distinction of cast, creed, color, race, status or sex. When everyone is covered in colors and looks the same it brings people closer."

Thursday, November 17, 2011


About 10 years ago, I remember sitting on a couch in my college dorm, looking at my roommate's guitar as he was strumming along to No Rain by Blind Melon, Under the Bridge by RHCP, and Wonderwall by Oasis, thinking to myself this could be heaven or this could be hell... wait, no sorry, I was actually regretting the fact that back in 8th grade when my parents enrolled me in guitar classes, I did not take advantage of the opportunity. And I already knew back then that guitars = chick magnet. For some reason I still did not pursue it - mind you, when you're 13-14 that's a humongous incentive, or should be anyway... I still wonder why - I think my boredom at the repetition of certain songs and the theory kept me away from seeing the bigger picture. And in this case I don't just mean the ladies :) But yeah... no pain no gain. In my case it was more like, no sitting your arse down, no rocking out the town (which will make sense later).

So here I am, listening to the songs, and wondering, "what if" when my roommate says to me, "V you should try it" and... I do. I pick up the guitar and play a tune (in my head), which sounds like a wailing sheep (yes that's a reference). He doesn't budge. Tells me to try again. So I do. And again, but this time the sheep have multiplied. Yet, my roommate is not phased. I decide that if I'm going to go sheep-style, I might as well try to represent the entire population and so I start belting out tunes, feeling sorry for Clarice, and wondering just how NZ-landers would probably feel hearing me now...

Fingers bleeding, back aching, ears numb..... and suddenly I hear someone say, "oh hey - is that Wonderwall?" and in that moment of my own Silence of the Lambs, I am reborn.

This is where I will fast-forward to the present, but as I'm fast-forwarding just mention some key points. Imagine images are flicking through in 4X speed or so. I play for friends, get suggestions of songs to learn, join a band on bass, then join another band, then randomly play anywhere I go, start traveling with the guitar, decide that the guitar is another appendage, join yet another band, and another, and another, and all this time, practicing because I enjoy it. Because I want to. Because I choose to. Loving every second.

OK - back to real-time. Crap, no guitar with me. I'm sitting in a hotel room in Sri Lanka typing this up - let's rewind ever so slightly.

Boom - P3 INSEAD - with a show called "Cabaret" on its way. On the steering committee looking at the line up of acts, realizing that I know a few folks that might be interested in jamming a couple o' tunes for this here show, why not, eh?

And this is where I met the Lebanese Percussionists, an Indian guitarist/prodigy from NYC, our Israeli rhythm guitarist, and Dutch keyboard extraordinaire - all wrapped and sealed with a Korean American LA-native who represented us on the front line - ie our lead singer.

Le Shaken was born.

And why the shaken? A few reasons... first and foremost, we have a bar in Fontainebleau called Le Shaker.

And secondly, more importantly, because we like to shake things up.

Sing a song to the tune of another similarly composed tune, or change the lyrics, maybe even transition into songs unexpectedly, or with mashups as some call them - and much like most musicians i've had the pleasure of performing with, most of us knew our own instruments quite well.

Pick a song. Everyone learns their piece and then we meet - at a friend's chateau (Le Taverne - because we couldn't actually find a place to practice) and we jam. Most of the time we end up changing the lineup, until we're satisfied for that day with our song selection.

After about 3-4 practice sessions, we finally set aside a few goldens - Sweet Child, Save Tonight, Bad Romance, and finally Ice Ice Baby.

Cabaret in P3 was amazing. The night was... well - surreal. We had no idea what energy we were coming to the stage with. To start, the lead guitarist did the Sweet Child of Mine intro, and I accompanied on the bass - both of us standing in the style of one of Pearl Jam's most famous posters:

Coming out of this show, I can only say there was an amazing high. A high that was unmatched by the party that followed because our adrenaline was so deeply surging that we can only remember the smiles, the screams, the sounds of a happy INSEAD crowd singing a chorus for you... an amazing night to remember. And one that kept us pretty content...

And then we had a redux in P5. Most of us reunited in Singapore, another Cabaret pending. This time, we decided to really challenge ourselves, and picked out some recent mashups - things that were somewhat significant to our classmates, but also just good tunes... Chasing Cars sang to the tune of Every Breath You Take, followed by Fallin' with Seven Nation Army on chords, and finally - Party Rock - complete with a reggae beat.

Once again, the adrenaline. The energy. This time Le Shaken was a smaller few, but the energy was not compromised. It was almost doubled with the realisation that this was it. One last chance for us to belt some tunes, enjoy the company of our classmates, and give them a performance worth remembering... so with 2 percussionists, a guitarist, a bassist, and a vocalist, we transformed a few minutes into what we'll remember as golden memories encased in a name, forever immortalized: Le Shaken.

Will miss you guys. Am sure we'll find moments to jam in the future... but until then, keep making music!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Definitely NOT

In Time.

By far, one of the worst movies I've ever seen. And I had such OK expectations for it. Normally, when I have OK expectations (which is to say I don't really want to watch the movie), there is at least 1 element of surprise that presents itself that gives me a sigh of relief - a feeling that is a mixture of gratefulness that the director invested enough time in the film to keep audiences on their toes, and that while I could have been doing something else that I wasn't (yes yes, opportunity cost), I'm not entirely unhappy at my decision.

I hope you can see how I am tempering my feelings about this. I'm trying so hard to be so level headed on my reactions. Calm. Composed.

In Time failed even in that regard. In fact, even writing this blog post about the movie is making me feel a bit like I'm still wasting my time. But the one thought I did want to share - why I had even remotely OK expectations for the movie - is because it was about time. Time as a currency. Time as a valuable asset that's traded for the likes of food, resources, work, etc... now that is a pretty cool concept with which you can probably already imagine an unthinkable amount of scenarios full of suspense. And maybe that was the issue. There was so much to do, but so little time... pun intended.

Brings me back to the end of this trek I'm approaching. Approximately 1.5 months!

corny, i know...

Friday, November 4, 2011


i know what you're thinking.

home? what could he possibly mean by HOME?

this homeless, homie who switches "homes" every few years has the audacity to post about "home" to such informed readers like ourselves?


and yes, i agree with you. i do. but hey, they say home is where the heart is - and before you assume my heart is without loyalty because it moves homes, let me say this: home to me is really a variety of experiences that i associate with a place, more than the place itself. honestly. everywhere i go, and for how much time i spend and the relationships i am able to develop, i start to develop a sense of comfort and feeling of "homeliness" so yes, while it is confusing, this is really how i am able to establish a "home" context.

the amount of times i have filled in different destinations for the disembarkation or arrival cards... bangkok to poughkeepsie to north chicago to chicago to fontainebleau to singapore to who knows where next... i sometimes wonder if i am in this odd system that shows with no-chance-of-fraud identities, which i believe quite a few of my friends are probably members of. least likely to actually forge documents but most likely to make mistakes on them because they are not quite sure how to fill in the form. like issuing country vs issuing embassy.

anyways, home is where i'm at right now. home being bangkok where i grew up. and where my parents still reside. a place that has seen some quite ridiculous turns of events over the past year and a half. from man's natural tendency for conflict to mother nature's natural tendencies... i am quite shaken, to say the least, by all that is happening. and i am here now just to feel my feet on its earth and to ask myself - what next?

i have never thought about moving back to bangkok specifically after travels have sent me half way across the world. however, being closer to "home" as i am using in this context, is important for so many reasons. yes, when i depart to get back to school in a couple of days, and am responding to friends asking me "when are you coming home?" i may in fact switch contexts, but that doesn't change how i perceive where i am and where i feel i'm going as well as what i am "leaving behind" - a part of my heart, always resting, at home.

and who better to greet you when you arrive home?