Archive for May 30th, 2008

A trickle down theory

May 30, 2008

Of pens, of course: over at Bitch PhD, Sybil Vane:

I find this hard to comprehend. “Where,” he eventually asks, “do you think pens come from?”

This question (which was not but should’ve been followed by “Do you think they grow on trees?”) was fascinating to me because I realized I’ve not really any idea where pens come from. I don’t think I’ve ever purchased pens. Ever. And yet I have more or less always had one when I needed it.

So I thought for a few seconds and realized that I’ve never considered individuals to be in ownership of pens (fancy engraved pens excepted). Basically, what I assume happens is that offices (of companies, doctors, university departments, whatever) buy a big quantity of pens every year and that they serve as the source for the distribution of pens throughout society. I need a pen, I go to the main office in my department. I assume Mr. Vane does something similar. Its the trickle-down theory of pens, especially in the sense that one never really owns the pen, it just stops with you for a spell before re-entering circulation.

So lately I’ve been thinking about how it doesn’t really work this way, but should. I’ll probably continue to operate as though it does. Thank god I personally have never had to think about actually buying pens. Worse than batteries almost.

While you are at it, this teaspoon research might also be of interest to some of you!

A tribute to two musicians

May 30, 2008

Lakshmi Devnath profiles Tanjore Kalyanaraman:

He tuned the ashtapadis of Jayadeva only in Hindustani ragas, incorporating his unique touch. After all, wasn’t Jayadeva from Orissa? Kalyanaraman’s recitals of these included fast-pace taans too. Listening to his disciple sing Suddhananda Bharati’s ‘Nilayam Onru Enukku Arulvaai,’ GNB walked up to him and demanded, “Teach me this and give me the notation.” And that, one supposes, is the final word.

Sriram Venkatkrishnan, in his Encore piece, profiles a musicians’ musician  of the bygone era, Sabhesa Iyer. As usual, Sriram’s piece contains some hard to come by nuggets of information — like this one, for example:

Padinaindu Mandapam, or the street of fifteen pavilions, is in Tiruvaiyaru. At the instance of King Tulaja II of Thanjavur, Rama Brahmam, Tyagaraja’s father, was entrusted the responsibility of distributing the houses on this street to learned Brahmins who specialised in Varuna Japam, the chant that induced rain. One of the families that benefited from this munificence was that of Nayam Venkatasubba Iyer, a vainika in the Thanjavur Court. His grandson was ‘Pallavi’ Doraiswami Iyer. He was a vaggeyakkara also, composing songs with the mudra ‘Subramania.’ He was also a talented painter and did watercolours for the themes of his songs. Some of these have survived and are with his descendants.

Take a look!