MJ and I

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Read Time:6 Minute, 1 Second

Hi friends,

You guessed it right. It’s indeed Michael Jackson I’m referring to. It’s his birthday today (sob, sob). As a generation, we grew up on his songs. Then I was a youngster; I could just listen to his songs and enjoy them. As I grew up, I could write too – that’s what brings us to this blog, today. I wanted to use this opportunity to pen a few lines about the King of Pop. Unlike a few other worthless singers who audaciously titled themselves ‘King of Pop’, MJ was named that by his producers, critics and fans unanimously. That’s what a true legend looks like.

Mah nigga… wait, I’m not Samuel L. Jackson, so I’ll drop the n-word. MJ was born on 29th August 1958; 18 years before I did. That’s approximately one generation ahead. No wonder, my Mamas (maternal uncles) were hooked on this kind of music. The household I grew up in, was quite liberal in terms of religion, politics, music, etc. – no bounds, no limits. Audiotapes (it was the ’70s) of M.S. Subbalaxmi, Yesudas, Ilayaraja could happily co-exist with MJ, Boney M, Carpenters, ABBA, etc. This is what exposed me to equal amounts of Indian and Western music.. both contemporary and classical.

Getting back to MJ… he began early as the lead singer of The Jackson Five. His parents’ musical pursuits brushed off on him too. While his father played the guitar in his leisure, his mother played the clarinet and the piano. Music already ran through his veins. I am sure that is what made him joined his brother’s band – aptly titled ‘The Jackson Five’. They were Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon, and Michael (R.I.P.). The other four brothers are alive, though. It was around 1975-76 that MJ decided to go solo. But hold on…. this is not his biography. This is about how MJ’s musical timeline coincides with my life. Let’s get to that point now.

My first brush with MJ music dates back to his fifth solo album – OFF THE WALL which was released in 1979 (I was 2, going on 3). One song stayed with me – the soulful ballad SHE’S OUT OF MY LIFE. Unlike other fast-paced MJ songs with oodles of oohs and aahs… this song was slow and melodious. If I had a break-up, it would cut right through my soul. But I was just 2 – a toddler. ‘Relevance’ hadn’t set in yet. I just enjoyed the songs.

Cut to 1982. Then I was 6. No longer a toddler – I was then a boy and could walk and talk properly. While the entire world was going ga-ga over the song THRILLER from that album – I was replaying a few other tracks too – from the slow-paced HUMAN NATURE to the medium-paced BILLIE JEAN, BEAT IT and THE GIRL IS MINE all the way to the fast-paced WANNA BE STARTIN’ SOMETHIN’. I loved THRILLER too (so does my 9-year old daughter). Those were the days – school days – carefree days full of fun and frolic.

BAD was released in 1987. Then I was 11 – a bigger, BAD-der boy. I just made up that word. I had my entire peer group crooning to the tune of the melodious, slow-paced LIBERIAN GIRL, I JUST CAN’T STOP LOVING YOU and MAN IN THE MIRROR – moving on to THE WAY YOU MAKE ME FEEL, DIRTY DIANA, SMOOTH CRIMINAL and finally asking who’s BAD?

Then came DANGEROUS in 1991. This time though I was slow on catching up with MJ. It was only in 1997 that I graduated from college and got my first job that I could PURCHASE my first audiotape… MJ’s DANGEROUS. I relished on gems like BLACK OR WHITE, WHO IS IT, REMEMBER THE TIME etc. While REMEMBER THE TIME reminded me of the time when I had my first brush with teenage romance (one that failed miserably), soulful ballads like HEAL THE WORLD begged the whole to restore peace and harmony. BLACK OR WHITE sent a message asking all of us to get above RACIST lines. These songs indeed had a considerable influence on my persona.

This stage of my life marked my growing distances with MJ’s music. This was the time when I was introduced to the INTERNET and had access to other artists’ music. All I had to pay for was internet access. I could (surreptitiously) download several MP3 tracks. That was the in-thing those days. ‘In-thing’ = ‘trending things’ in millennials parlance.

Somehow I could never get MJ’s music out of my system. I bought his audio tapes (no money for CDs or CD players, you see). The DVD was for the rich. We could go as far as CDs. I could barely manage 1.44 MB floppy disks. Hence – audiotapes. One thing led to another and one sad day, i.e. 25th June 2009, I got the sad news of MJ’s death. I was in a movie hall. It was the interval and I had gone to buy some coffee. It was purely instinctive. I bought the coffee, turned around and saw the large-screen television flashing the news of MJ’s accidental death (lethal overdose of propofol). 

I was in tears. To me, he was a living legend (till that day – afterwards we could not use the word ‘living’ alongside legend). I was amongst a crowd. Many MJ fans like me, were confused – not sure how to react. I wanted a release. I dumped my coffee and headed for the loo. I locked myself and wept my heart out. It was over in a minute. I was 33, a man and crying in public was not meant for men (that’s what the society said and I believed then). I regained my composure, washed my face and walked out of the movie. After that, I could not watch the movie for obvious reasons.

I went to my apartment and crashed (went to sleep). I didn’t want to talk to anyone that night. All his melodious songs were racing in my mind. I’m sure some readers may think, “big deal – he was just an artist”. They say, “to each, his own”. For others, it may not be a big deal – but to me it was. Not that I went into mourning, or drank heavily – nothing like that happened. It was just immense grief – that’s all. I was out of it the next day. The show must go on. Time waits for no one. In a few days, I was over my grief completely. Akon gave me a good parting song for MJ – HOLD MY HAND. While the song was recorded in 2007 i.e. when MJ was alive, it was posthumously released in 2010. That song still gives me a ‘lump-in-the-throat. It’s been over a decade now (12 years to be precise).

The void he left in the musical scene (in my opinion) remains vacant. For people like me, there won’t be another MJ. So here’s to you MJ – Happy Birthday. I’ll miss you till the end.

May your soul rest in peace.

Bye folks.

About Post Author

Kottayi Amith

A teacher, a father, an agreeable (do I have a choice?) husband - I love to play with words. I spin the yarn - and she maintains the (cob)webs. As different as chalk and cheese - we get along very well on this one topic - My Website. Welcome to our world of words and ways of word-smithy. I hope you do not regret your visit here, to say the least.
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Ma L’amore No

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Read Time:3 Minute, 47 Second

Malena (2000)

For the clueless lot, this is the name of an eponymous track sung by Lina Termini, an Italian singer-actor. It was included in the 2000 Italian movie Malena. That is when I heard it for the first time. The movie is based on the WWII era (1939-45), especially when Italy entered WWII. Oh, WWII means 2nd World War (just in case you were still scratching your head). As IMDB succinctly describes the movie, “Amidst the war climate, a teenage boy discovering himself becomes love-stricken by Malena, a beautiful woman living in a small, narrow-minded Italian town.”

WWII

One thing that fascinated me was that this movie fulfils my near-psychotic nostalgia. Somehow, I love things from the past when things were (seemingly) easy and simple. At least, that’s what it looks like, to me. I sometimes yearn to get teleported to that ‘simple’ era. When reality slaps me hard in the face, I do wake up and smell the coffee. The other thing about the movie – regarding the title – Ma L’amore No (But Love No) is the haunting melody of that song.

Good old days

Since the first time I heard it, I’ve (almost) always been transported back to the ‘40s or even the ‘30s. in an eerie coincidence, my grandfather was a teenager then. Now, where did he come into the picture? All in good time. To know the reference to this emotion, one needs to read ‘Long time ago…The village Doctor’. His romance with his wife was legendary. No – not the mushy type portrayed in the movies. He was the ‘40s convent educated, yet Indian man with little to no regard for mushy romance. You read it right – romance, wife. What started with dating, ended only at his funeral (not even at her grave – she died a few years before he did).

Old Couple

In the twilight of their lives, the couple would sit at the veranda, looking into nothingness, speaking just a few words here and there, yet speaking volumes even with their silence. Now that’s what I call the ultimate romance – words not required. Wait a minute – what’s this blog about? Geriatric romance? Not quite. I’m getting to the point. By the way, I call it a geriatric romance because by the time I could realize their emotions, they were already septuagenarians and hence a geriatric couple.

Now let me join the dots – the hauntingly melodious song and the geriatric romance. Now, whenever I hear the song, I imagine them waltzing to that tune in the same era the movie depicts – the ‘40s. That is when they would have been in the prime of their youth. I know this sounds crazy – a quaint couple from Kerala would seem like a far cry from the erstwhile Italian lifestyle. There is still some logic to it – she was an Anglo-Indian and waltz or some form of ballroom dancing would not be new/strange to her. He went to a convent school and hence would not be ignorant about it too. It makes perfect sense to me. Even till their old age, as mentioned above – I imagine their ‘silent’ conversations with the song playing in the background on an imaginary record player. Well, ‘imagine’ would be an incorrect term – these are thoughts that flash across my mind whenever I hear the song with my eyes closed. Such was the influence the melody had on my psyche.

His old dispensary, his belongings, his romance – they all bear a trademark of a bygone era – something that sadly remains confined to the annals of history. I would be the last of my generation to have borne a silent testimony to it. The next generation is way too fast and lacks the attention span that I had as a kid. I know, this song, the melody, the romance, the nostalgia etc. will subside with me. I write this so the next generation (if they read it, that is) can understand what romance meant in the ‘40s and how it lost its glory somewhere down the timeline.

There is more I could say about that barely two-minute song and its immense impact on my psyche – but I doubt if the readers would have the energy left to endure it. So, given my readers’ well-being, I stop right here. You can thank me later.

Bye for now!!!

Reference:

About Post Author

Kottayi Amith

A teacher, a father, an agreeable (do I have a choice?) husband - I love to play with words. I spin the yarn - and she maintains the (cob)webs. As different as chalk and cheese - we get along very well on this one topic - My Website. Welcome to our world of words and ways of word-smithy. I hope you do not regret your visit here, to say the least.
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Why I adopted Linuxfx

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Read Time:5 Minute, 44 Second

I make no bones about the fact that I’m a Linux-o-phile (I’ve just made that word up, don’t look up the internet). I’m that child with a fascination for the moon. Well, this is not the first time I’ve dabbled in the Linux waters – it’s the first time I’m penning down my experience though. The best part about all this ‘dabbling’ business is that Linux offers a LIVE CD option – where you can test/experience the OS without installing it. If you’re not impressed, reboot your computer – you’re back to Windows.

My first brush with Linux was when I was a newbie netsurfer (if you know what that means) in 1997-98. I’ve forgotten the name of the distro – but all I remember is that it came with KDE (K Desktop Environment). It was love-at-first-sight. But my issues had just started. I’d fallen in love with an OS I didn’t fully understand (familiar territory?). Then, I didn’t realize that the internet can be used for ‘learning’ too 😉. Good luck with wondering (and judging me for) what I did with the internet, if not for learning.

My first brush passed off like a girl I saw once, somewhere and then never again, for a long time. But my then-dormant flames for Linux were rekindled when I worked as a showroom salesman in Nagpur. My boss entrusted the sales for some Compaq computers that came pre-loaded with Linux (Ubuntu, I guess). While he asked me to install a pirated copy of Windows 98, I stuck to Linux. That’s where I learnt about XMMS. XMMS was to Linux what Winamp was (and still is) to Windows.

Cut to 2011 – when I got married and discovered that my wife is a ‘Linux-only’ person. When I gifted her a laptop for the first time – it came pre-loaded with Ubuntu (an extremely popular Linux distro) – I offered to clean-install Windows. To my utter surprise, she refused. That’s when I realized that she’s totally into Linux and calls out Windows for all its inconsistencies. I’ve never looked back since.

Linuxfx:

For starters, Linuxfx is distro (short for ‘distribution’ a.k.a. flavour) of Linux aimed at all those who want to test the waters with Linux. This distro makes the Windows users feel at home with the oh-so-familiar look and feel (almost) of Windows 8 or 10. The developers have gone to great lengths to provide first-time users, a near-Windows experience. One look at the screens (I’ve posted them too) and you’ll be amazed at how much the developers are bending it like Beckham – just to make you comfortable and your experience, a memorable one.

Linuxfx Desktop

They’ve retained the Windows desktop screen. This isn’t where the similarities begin, though. It starts at the welcome/login screen (where you need to login to your account).

Login/Lock screen
Login/Lock screen

Just imagine seeing this screen when Linuxfx boots up. Nothing new to a seasoned Windows user. Right? Right!!!

Here are a few other examples to drive my point home.

Now, the journey was not so smooth – I’ll be honest. Firstly, I learnt I need to use ETCHER to create the boot disk. Now that never worked for me. I learnt that RUFUS (what I always use) would not work. On the contrary – it did – a tweak was in order. I had to change the boot type from UEFI (used to boot Windows 8 onwards) to Legacy (for Windows 7 or older). Once that stage crossed, the rest of the installation was a walk in the park.

Just like other popular Linux distros with a Cinnamon (full-feature) desktop environment, Linuxfx comes pre-loaded with a host of commonly used programs:

  • WINE (a compatibility layer that lets you run Windows programs in Linux)
  • Only Office
  • WX Desktop
  • Windows® 10 theme
  • AnyDesk (remote desktop administration tool)

Some tech specs for the Linux fraternity:

Base operating system Ubuntu 20.04 LTS / Linuxfx 10 LTS
Graphical interface (DM) Cinnamon 4.6 + Linuxfx WX Desktop
Kernel 5.7.15
Office Suite OnlyOffice 5.6
Workgroup networks SAMBA
Active Directory PowerBroker (PBIS) / CID
.Exe / .msi compatibility Wine 5 (Linuxfx Version)
Theme for Windows® 10 b00merang GPL Windows® 10 Theme pack
Windows® 10 Tools Linuxfx WX Desktop system tools

Here’s something from the horse’s mouth (https://Windowsfx.org):

Here are some advantages of using Windowsfx on your computer:

  • Fast, very fast: Windowsfx can work very well on computers with only two cores (dual-core processors) and only 2GB of RAM.
  • Safe and stable: The base of Windowsfx is Linux, which by definition already tends to be stabler. Viruses and Malware developed for Windows® will not be a problem for Windowsfx, as they are different platforms, these malicious programs cannot run on Windowsfx.
  • Applications for Windows® and Linux: Windowsfx will give you access to a vast collection of applications. In addition to the apps you are used to, you will have access to a new store, with thousands of free apps, just a click away.

I could go on (and you would be clueless about what I am trying to say). Long story short – it comes to you as a complete package. Unless you are persnickety about your choice of apps, you are good to go with what Linuxfx offers you. I doubt if a regular user would need anything more (I mean installing programs).

(Power users – excuse my ignorance. I could learn a thing or two from you, sir/ma’am)

The trial phase went on fine; that is when I decided to go all the way in – I installed Linuxfx. The rest is history. Any regular Windows user could easily mistake my laptop for a Windows 8 or 10 based laptop.

There is something the developers did to make Windows users all the more comfortable – they retained the legendary Windows lag. If the OS went any faster, Windows users could easily find out it is not Windows OS.

If anyone of you out there would like to taste this already tasty flavour of Linux, contact me. I have been there, done that and would be glad to assist you.

Till then, Ciao!!!

Disclaimer:

The author is not a Certified Linux Professional. The information provided and view expressed here are solely based on the author’s own experiece. The screenshots were taken on the author’s Acer E5-575G laptop. Try/use Linuxfx or any other Linux distro at your discretion. The author disclaims all responsibity toward the consequences of your actions.

About Post Author


Kottayi Amith

A teacher, a father, an agreeable (do I have a choice?) husband - I love to play with words. I spin the yarn - and she maintains the (cob)webs. As different as chalk and cheese - we get along very well on this one topic - My Website. Welcome to our world of words and ways of word-smithy. I hope you do not regret your visit here, to say the least.


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We will survive…

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Read Time:3 Minute, 22 Second

Hello friends. It’s good to write once again, although this post comes a bit later – but like they always say – better late than never. The heading is aptly titled. We (humans) as a race are quite resilient. We have survived a lot – and we still move on undaunted. A few noteworthy mentions are earthquakes, famines, impact events, limnic eruptions, wildfires/bushfires, avalanches/landslides, blizzards, floods, heatwaves, tornadoes, tropical cyclones, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions etc.

I saved the best for last – epidemics and pandemics. We hear these terms being used interchangeably and thrown around a lot, these days. One that everybody’s talking about these days is coronavirus and COVID19. YES – these two, although related – are different terms. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) was discovered only in December 2019 while coronaviruses were discovered way back in the 1930s (almost 90 years ago).

I will not beat around the bush or even bother describing the two terms mentioned above. I’m sure you (readers) know a lot about them already. How correct your information is – is a matter of debate though. Now let’s look at the title once again. The reason this post is titled that way is that we have ‘been there, done that’ several times before.

To begin with I’d like to focus on the part where an epidemic is different from a pandemic. An epidemic is a disease that spreads faster than expected and affects more individuals over a widespread area. A pandemic is more like the big brother of ‘epidemic’ in the sense that the reach of a pandemic spans several countries simultaneously. But, as I said before – COVID19 isn’t the first or the deadliest of epidemics/pandemics. We have seen worse. Here’s a lowdown on some pandemic/epidemic humans have survived.

Ref.: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_epidemics


In the late 19th to early 20th century, there was smallpox. It raged for almost 100 years across several countries and killed as many as 500 million (50 crores). The 15th century gave us another dreaded killer – plague a.k.a. Black Death that raged across most of Europe, Asia and North Africa. It wiped clean as much as 60% of the European population in 22 long years. Its death toll was almost 200 million (20 crores). The 20th century threw another pandemic on us – Spanish flu or H1N1 or what’s technically called Influenza A virus sub-type H1N1. It killed almost 100 million people in just two years. 1855 to 1860 saw the demonic rage of the Bubonic plague that last for five years. In that time, 12 million perished in just India and China alone. The global numbers would definitely have been way more than that. This brings us to the recent scenario of COVID19 – it has claimed 60,000 (as on 3rd April 2020) or even more, globally.


The point I’m trying to make is that COVID19 is just a baby compared to the monstrosities the whole world has seen since we started recording medical history. The pandemic or epidemic should teach us a valuable lesson – we are vulnerable. We’re not the strongest beings on earth – but we are the most resilient. The dinosaurs perished, so did several other species (where human greed was not involved) – but we kept evolving. We won’t go down in history so easily. But to do that we need to understand our limitations as human beings. There are several diseases – we have no cure for. Our immunity and value for life are our strongest weapons in this perennial fight for survival. So, to see another day, in such critical times, let’s follow simple rules of hygiene, stay hydrated, exercise regularly, eat, sleep and wake on time, read a lot, try to learn new skills, list to music, meditate, cleanse our mind and body – in short – let’s stay home – and SAFE.

Live today to fight tomorrow.

Till we meet again, may the better sense prevail!!!

About Post Author


Kottayi Amith

A teacher, a father, an agreeable (do I have a choice?) husband - I love to play with words. I spin the yarn - and she maintains the (cob)webs. As different as chalk and cheese - we get along very well on this one topic - My Website. Welcome to our world of words and ways of word-smithy. I hope you do not regret your visit here, to say the least.


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