Anyways, I feel a bit more like thinking over the past year and what it has meant for me. Earlier in the summer I wrote about being fat and happy. I was basically being thankful for having a great life, a great wife, great friends, and just about everything one could ask for. After so much tragedy over the past week, I am just that more thankful for what we've been given. So I'll refrain from being even sappier. We can all agree that such time to reflect lets us really appreciate all the little things which make our lives more worthwhile.
With that said, 2004 had so many things which made my life interesting. Of course there are been huge changes like buying a house and getting a dog, but the year is made up of more than big events.
I must say that this has been the year of my return to music. I used to be quite the music junkie back in college and a couple of years after that. But the past couple years have been rather unmusical. Yes, there’s been good music, but nothing to make me want to write. This year I discovered so much music I don’t know what to put on my MP3 player first.
UK Asian music. I’m not quite sure what term to use when talking about this music, but it covers music which Adil Ray plays during his show on the BBC Asian Network and that which Bobby and Nihal play on BBC1. I haven’t written about this in quite a while, but I certainly haven’t forgotten about it. Artists like Raghav, Jay Sean, Mehsopuria, and of course, Zeus have shown me that there is quite a lot in store for Indian music in the coming years. These guys have taken their cultural backgrounds and music they grew up with, and flipped it to create great fusions.
Rock. Man I used to hate hip-hop and would only listen to rock music. Over the years, I’ve fallen out of love with the new rock music out there. This year I’ve re-discovered my love and passion for guitar, bass, and drums. Some of the highlights for me have been Franz Ferdinand, Modest Mouse, The Killers, and to top it all off…a new U2 album. Can I just say how much I love U2? I’m much less of a freaky fanatic when it comes to U2, but the new album has breathed life back into geezer rock :) But seriously, there is such good rock music out there right now, I wish I could name it all. Last year may have been a break out year for garage bands like The Strokes and the White Stripes, but it’s only this year that I’ve realized that it was just the beginning of a new era of great rock.
Hip-Hop. Can I get a holla for Kanye West? Sure, his album is very pop, but you know what? I don’t care. I’ve talked to friends about his album and it certainly has its faults, but it’s still a great listen. Not only are his beats catchy, he’s got some interesting lyrics which make you want to listen again and again. Plus, he’s clearly had influence on some other artists through his production work. Can I get another holla for Mos Def and Talib Kweli? Both came out with new albums this year. While Kweli has been consistently been putting out great musc, it’s been a long time for Mos since he’s been busy with his acting career. Both albums are great spins and if you haven’t heard them, you’re missing out. I wish I had the space to talk about all of the other Hip-Hoppers which have put out more stuff this year or those which I’ve just discovered…the whole Quannum Crew (Lyrics Born, DJ Shadow, etc) and The Roots are just two of them.
2-Step. If you don’t know what this music is, I’m not sure how to describe it…it’s sometimes referred to as UK Garage. It actually refers to the beat, but two of the best artists I know who put the beat to great use are Dizzy Rascal and The Streets. Both artists are from the UK (thus UK Garage) and both use these stark, bare bones beats to back up their stories. Dizzy’s on the freaky side of hip-hop, The Streets are on the dirty side of rock. If you’re looking for some really innovative music outside of the regular genres that get airplay on US radio stations, check these two artists out for a taste of a whole different world.
It would be an understatement to say that 2004 was a big political year. Not only were there presidential elections here in the US, there was a parliamentary election in India. My work with Young India over the past year has really helped me to take a step away from the political maneuverings and see the political landscape for what it is. I’ve been able to connect many dots. I’ve been able to develop a much more robust opinion on issues. Most importantly, I’ve forced myself to look at many aspects of an issue before deciding on my opinion. I’ve found that most political thought just scratches the surface of real, meaningful policy. While people on both the left and right love to point out flaws with the others’ thoughts, policies and actions, it’s clear that neither side has much holistic sensibility and no desire to come up with policy which actually addresses political realities while looking to create new realities. In 2005, I plan to be involved in many of the policy ventures which Young India is planning and I’m looking forward to further developing the political side of my brain.
Ok, what isn’t made better with a little love? This past year has seen a lot of love develop (and progress) amongst my friends. Two friends got married and in the progress many of us in the wedding party became much closer friends. Two other friends have found significant others and I can’t help but smile when I talk or chat with them. It’s easy to be cynical about falling in love. After all, most of us have played the games, looked for some fun or for some commitment, and found the wrong thing at the wrong time. But it’s those times when the stars seem to align that make it most worthwhile. Of course, let’s not forget the new ruler of our house: Junior, our golden retriever puppy. I’ve written more than once about animals and he’s basically the reason I’ve come to think so much more of the creatures around us (well, him and Rajah too). He’s been a handful these first few months, but it’s been more than worthwhile.
So this is an entirely too long post. Let's leave it at that and get back to things at hand. If you haven't asked our friends and family to contribute money towards Tsunami Relief efforts, please do so. We've all heard staggering numbers and seen the mind-numbing footage. Take a moment and donate whatever you can. Please.