Greetings from the Land of Enchantment: March 2007

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

rough mix

I got a note from the producer Krishan today: "I got some really amazing stuff. I had a bass player, tar and sitar player, a violinist and a trumpet player come in. They were all very talented and I am really excited about the album." So it begins. . . .my little ditties begin transformed into actual music!

I'm very excited. At some point in the next day or two I get to hear a rough mix of the instruments--there's still much to do, but there's progress to report!

I hope to post some sound clips eventually. . . .but I need a techie friend to help! So, if we can stand the suspense. . . .it's coming.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Oh what a feeling

You know the one--that I've-finally-found-someone-feeling. I didn't think it would ever happen to me again; I was resigned to experiencing the 3HO set up if necessary (arranged marriages the new-fashioned way). But then, bam, out of nowhere, there it was. And just as quickly it was gone. It just shows you the polarities of life--what brought you such ecstatic joy and bliss on Saturday becomes a thorn in your side on Sunday. Not because they aren't the same person, but that things aren't going "your way"--that stark chasm between what you thought was and what is.

The universe has a funny way of playing tricks. There is a small part of my psyche that believes I may not recover from this one; but that feeling too shall pass. Not that it isn't a challenge: To have waited this long and to have the one my soul has been longing for (for as long as I can remember) appear and then just as quickly slip by me--ouch. Thank God there's always the Guru--and my friends and family. And as usual, I'm speaking preemptively. [End it in my mind just in case it ends, in reality. Softens the blow, don't you know.]

But patience pays--so I will wait and continue waiting to see what tomorrow will bring.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Time flies

When you're trying to catch up at work. It seems I looked up and it was Friday. I've gotten a lot of positive feedback on the scratch CD I brought home with me, which bodes well for the final product. Haven't gotten to hear anything new yet and they're finishing within a few days, but I trust it will be "all good".

I was reading a review of Reign Over Me, which deals in a covert way with the loss following the 9/11 attacks, and it made me remember a conversation I overhead while in NYC. Someone was saying, "she uses that excuse every other sentence because her husband was a firefighter--and he didn't die, or even get hurt, but she uses it like it affected her." Leave it to the New Yorker's most affected by this tragedy to begin calling "bullshit" on the victimization that's in its wake.

On other fronts, Edwards wife is showing great courage in staying on the road during the campaign despite her not-so-great prognosis. Good on ya' Elizabeth.

Book Report (embedded, ha!)

Finally read Jhumpa Lahiri's not so new novel, The Namesake--just in time for the movie! Actually I'd been meaning to read it for a long time now because her collection of short stories, The Interpreter of Maladies, is one of the greatest collections of short stories I've read in years. This novel, while interesting, doesn't feel like it has the same gravitus that her short stories did. There's a dismissiveness to certain parts of the story, like she just wanted to move on, which I found disappointing. Nevertheless, it does allow you into a world that is not often talked about--the children of Indian immigrants and the choices they make in the face of a very traditional culture. True, it applies to many other immigrant cultures: Chinese, Korean, Iranian, etc. but there seems to be a deeper groove to jump in the cultures of India. Could just be my take on things though.

Will the Democrats get us out of this war? That's the story of the week as they review the funding bill and continue to cower under the rhetoric of the president. But it looks like the decider may just be in for a rude awakening--how refreshing. And what a sad legacy--to be known as the 'decider'--a joke, a reminder of his not-so-eloquent ways--for the remainder of his presidency--and possibly beyond. Payback is a b_____ as they say.

well, that's it for the eclectic run-on of topics far afield....

Monday, March 19, 2007

New York New York

What a wonderful town! Well, I don't have many adventurous stories to tell, but I had a lovely time, ate great food, stayed with old friends from Seattle and ran into others, took the subway a lot, got a free cab ride from a fellow Sikh (see more below), and generally enjoyed just being there.

I don't know why I have such an affinity for New York City, but after this trip, I know that I eventually have to live there--at least for a while, or if the funding is there, parts of every year would be great! Walking the streets, taking the subway, grabbing lunch, there's just such a local feel to everything, no matter what part of the city you're in--and I love to feel like a local.

I had a Carrie Bradshaw moment: Fully intent on being "in love" with the city, I take off for the show at the Guggenheim. I struggle with getting lost, inclimate weather, full bladder, the whole nine yards, only to find it closed when I get there! Sigh. But on my way back to the subway after a disappointing trip uptown, a Sikh cabdriver stops me and asks where I'm going. Union Square I answer (downtown) and he says, hop in. He hands me a Japji CD and proceeds to recite Rehiras all the way down the East River Parkway. I felt like I'd been transported to another world. Just as we pull up to Union Station we're finishing Rakhe Rakhanahaar, the only part I know by heart. It was so surreal. I got out of the cab so disoriented, but in a good way. A beautiful moment among many.

I'll report more in the days ahead. Until then, it's good to be home.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

music and more music

Tonight Ram Das Singh flew in from the Bay Area. He's going to be working on my album along with several other session musicians. I can't wait to hear what the instrumentation will bring to the project.

People keep asking, Does it have a theme? and all Krishan and I can say is -- everything! It's really a fusion of all the styles of music that I love and listen to: African, Celtic/folk, Indian, Middle Eastern, Cuban, pop/rock. . . .I feel like the title should be Fusion Guru (smile).

There's definitely going to be a little something from everything. . . . a perfect reflection of me. Ms. Eclectic. And I have total confidence in Krishan--and Ram Das, after hearing his favorite musicians (it was like filing through my own CD collection) and hearing him play the keyboards and flute. I completely trust their instincts and look forward to hearing what they come up with.
I'm squeezing in a little trip to NYC before I come home--Sunday was the earliest direct flight they could get me anyway--which gives me the opportunity to come back and hear a little bit of what they're putting together for the album.

For all you New Yorkers, I'm having a little kirtan gathering at Golden Bridge NYC tomorrow night--Wednesday, 8:30 pm--ya'll come! Oh, I guess New Yorker's don't really say ya'll do they? Well, come anyway. It'll be fun!

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Sunday, March 11, 2007


I got an opportunity to see the Vietnam Memorial yesterday afternoon. It was a perfect day; the sky was clear and it was just warm enough for people to be out enjoying the sun, the first taste of spring.

It's an impressive monument. You really get drawn in by the way it's laid out. I cried at the sight of so many names and to witness someone getting a shadow imprint of their friend's name and hearing them reminisce. Very moving.

The reflecting pool between Washington and Lincoln memorials was empty--a bit disappointing--but at least I couldn't fall in like I did when I was a kid.

Meanwhile, we had Ethiopian food for lunch in this great neighborhood and I realized that it's nice to know there are places in the world that I could live other than Capitol Hill in Seattle--There's capitol hill in the capitol--DC! ha. . . .seriously though, it was a really charming neighborhood and should I ever decide to move again, it will be in my top five!

I head to NYC later this week to visit friends I haven't seen in years--maybe I'll find a top five neighborhood there, too.

latin lovers

Greetings everyone,

Well, we finished two vocal tracks today--which means, the entire album has been laid out -- vocally anyway. These two final pieces I'm really excited about. One has a beautiful prayer in it praising God, using all the names overlaying one another so that together they create their own internal rhythm; and the other is exciting because it's so different from anything else I've heard over the years. It's got a Cuban samba feel to it and it's going to be a really great dance track--so all you salsa dancers in Chile (Guru Atma!) get ready!

We've got two days left to correct a few vocal tracks that need attention and to begin adding a bit of the instrumentation, but most of that will be done after I'm back home.

Everyday of this process has been so amazing. I think you all are going to love it!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Aisaa Naam--redux

Well, I met with Matamandir Kaur this morning to go over pronunciation--do I have a lot of work to do! Pretty much everything we did yesterday to 'finish' Aisaa Naam will have to be discarded and start over--frustrating, but at least I have the opportunity to try to get it right. I thought most of the feedback would be regarding the Shabd Hazaray interpretation I'm doing, but instead, it's with what I thought would be natural--Japji--something I do everyday. But she said it's common because what we do everyday has more opportunities for creating bad habits--and I evidently have lot of them!!! I'm just grateful she took the time to go over it all with me. Between her and Sangeet, I may just get it right--all mistakes will be my own though (that's my disclaimer statement, ladies!)--and the guru will cover me.

Oh well. Keep up! as they say, right? On another note, I'm reading through the women's teachings while I'm here and I found the line that I'm using for the chorus in the Mul Mantra--The time is now and now is the time--pretty cool to find it in the original lecture. I initially saw it in The Teachings of Yogi Bhajan, that collection of his sayings.

Well, that's all for now. I'm hoping to get into the city today to see the Vietnam Memorial, but it's not looking likely. sigh.

I'm already getting a bit homesick--wishing I were back in my own house. . . .send me your positive vibrations so that I make it through another week! Sat Nam.

Friday, March 09, 2007

6 songs in 4 days

Well, Krishan and I continue to work very quickly together and the songs are shaping up really well. I continue to be amazed by the process and am looking forward to hearing the instrumentals and how they will change the color and shape of each of the pieces.

Today we completed the vocals for Aisaa Naam and layed out the structure and much of the vocal track for Ardas Bhaee. They both sound great. It's hard to have a favorite at this point. Everyday there's something new.

I hope to come home with a scratch CD and an opportunity to get feedback from friends. Until then. . . .

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Tomorrow is a day off

Which means a day of catching up on work that I brought with me. Krishan, the engineer, and I continue to work quickly together--and I think we're turning out some great stuff. Thank you for all your well-wishes everyone.

We've done four tracks so far--vocals, that is. I'm doing harmonies and so is Krishan, so there are some really nice 3-part harmonies coming together in a few of the pieces--very Fleetwood Mac. Ha! Because we're working so quickly together, I may get to be around to participate in a lot of the decisions around instrumentation as well. Although their resident protege, genius musician, Ram Das, won't be coming in until the day I leave.

I'm really blown away by this process; it all seems to be coming together so easily. By the end of the day I'm so worn out, but then I can't seem to make myself go to bed either. Who can know why?

Well, lots of work to do tomorrow so I'll sign off.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

first day of recording

Well, we spent the first day of recording going through the song list, the producer picked six pieces he likes with a possibility of two more--if they come together. We dived right into the Mul Mantra (always best to start at the root) and it's turning out really well.

Krishan is a great producer; great sense of style; and is making actual 'songs' from my little dittys that tend to be for live performance only. We work quickly together and so I have a good feeling that we'll be able to get all my vocals down before I leave. He, on the other hand, will have lots of work left to do.

Today we're working on The One I Love--a favorite of some of you out there, so I hope you like the way the new version comes together.

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

The Past 24 Hours

Have really been a struggle. . . .I'm in my cozy apartment last night looking at piles of clothes, an empty suitcase, and dirty dishes. I have flashbacks to my late twenties when I had to travel for work all the time. Those weren't my best years to put it mildly. I had borderline (and often full-blown) panic attacks, but at least back then I had prescription and nonprescription medication to calm me down--these days? Nadda. Just me and myself and my neurosis. Oh and a few friends. I called an old friend who back in the day used to help me pack for these trips that I couldn't seem to get ready for. . . . she said, just breathe--you should be good at that by now. Leave it to Tamara to be a smart-ass even when her friend is on the phone hyperventilating and crying--ha! I definitely needed a little comic relief.

Now, this wasn't just typical travel phobia, which I have to a certain mild degree. It was full-blown, I-don't-think-I-can-do-this sobbing; planning to hide in the bathroom; somehow trying to find a way to get out of it. But instead, I packed one thing at a time, called several friends, stayed up until midnight, and somehow managed to get up on time, wash the remaining dishes, make my bed and get to Santa Fe for the shuttle--crying the entire way.

For those of you who may not know the source of my distress, I have a very intense job; I have three pets at home that I worry about when I'm gone; the guy I work with didn't have my project that I hoped to work on while I'm here in Virginia ready until the morning I'm leaving for the airport!; oh, and did I mention I'm recording a CD this week with Spirit Voyage. Whatever brought me to this place must have known that I was ready, but my psyche/body/brain hasn't quite caught up to it.

It's funny; you think you know yourself. You think you understand the limits of your capacities, the extent of your neurosis, the quirks of your character; that is until you come under a different kind of pressure, a new circumstance that pushes a button that you thought you'd buried so deeply it would never need to be pushed--at least not in this lifetime anyway. Well, here I am being pushed. I've made it through the hardest part--getting here!

Wish me luck!