Sunday, January 29, 2006

The marvel that is the web

When a couple of years ago, John Doerr (a partner at the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins) said that the web is underhyped I chalked it up to standard silicon valley hyperbole. However, the ever evolving ways in which the internet continues to transform how we consume information and entertainment and conduct business compels me to admit that he was right.

Just recently, I have discovered two wonderful sites that present and filter information from some of the best periodicals in the world. 3quarksdaily and the Chronicle of Higher Education's Arts & Letters Daily are a dream come true for anyone trying to find the best writings on Science, Literature, Philosophy, Art and any other topic that would pique a thinking person's interest. Some of 3quarksdaily's editors are of Pakistani origin which, rather quaintly, induce in me some feelings of pride. Good work Raza family and your fellow editors and contributors!!

One other precious resource that I have enjoyed immensely is SAWF's classical music site. Rajan Parrikar's scholarly articles on the various ragas are superb (even if like me you can only understand them in bits and pieces). The explanations come alive with all the light, semi-classical and classical music clips that provide examples of performances in those ragas. There are many rare gems of music in his archive. Ustad Abdul Karim Khan's sublime thumri in Jhinjhoti ("piya bin naahin aawat chain") is a personal favorite. Before discovering this treasure trove of music I had never had the opportunity to listen to many of the masters of the Hindustani classical tradition: Ustad Faiyyaz Khan, Bundu Khan, Amir Khan, Salamat Ali Khan, Omkarnath Thakur, Mallikarjun Mansur, Roshan Ara Begum, Zohrabai Agrawali, Vilayat Khan, Bismillah Khan, Bade Ghulam Ali Khan etc.

I will return to talk about my favorite writing on Hindustani classical music at some point: Lutfullah Khan's "Sur ki talash", Daud Rahbar's "Kuch batein sureeli see" and Sheila Dhar's "Here's someone I would like you to meet".

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