r-h music, Black Asia Volume, Rajesh Hardwani

Sunday, October 07, 2007

They are here today, so tell them you appreciate them...tell them you love them.

It's true what they say...that the good go too early. We'll never understand it and, sometimes, we'll take too long a time to accept it.

I have trouble accepting some things in life. And then, without warning, after some time, you do realize the reality of the situation and it hits you like a ton of bricks.

I'll always remember my friend, Sing. I met him in the early 90s and despite not having a childhood history I can say he was closer to me than some of my childhood mates. With Sing there was no fear of opening up to him. He never judged and was always impartial.

If there was one word to describe Sing I'd use the word "CARING".

I could count on him...always. Knowing he was there, knowing I had Sing in my life made life easier to deal with it. Rare are those who are willing to help all the time.

He was passionate about life. He was a good man, husband, father, friend, and a kind soul.

When I first heard he was ill I thought, "He'll get out of this. He's a fighter."

And fight he did. He fought hard. And despite the discomfort he smiled, joked and laughed. But a Higher Power had other plans for him.

I don't know if I'll ever accept his passing. But it comforts me to know that he will always be in my heart, that he was a part of my life, that I have friends that love him as much as I do and we are there for each other.

It will never be the same without Sing. But like Colin said, and I could never have expressed it any better, we'll all be together soon.

Thank you, Colin, for sharing your eulogy...

People often ask what I remember most about Sing. I spent the last few days going through a chest full of memories about my best friend…my brother. And after 20 years of friendship, one memory does stand out. And funny enough, it’s not the obvious ones; it wasn’t his smile, or the experimental dishes that he conjures up for me to taste, or the many workouts in the gym we had. The thing I remember most is this…

About 10 years ago, when Sing worked out of his home, and when I was a school teacher. He called me during one of my summer breaks and suggested we head down to the central business district of Singapore at 5am, get ourselves coffee, sit by the sidewalk and watch people scurry to work. All this, so we can sit, relax, sip our coffee, and enjoy the fact that we didn’t have to. As strange as that sounded, it actually appealed to me and I agreed (I guess this is why we got on so well). So, on the day we decided to do this, he woke up at 4am, jumped into his convertible (a car he was driving at the time), and came over to pick me up. He would park his car at the foot of my apartment block, waiting for me to call to tell him I was ready to come down and then off we went. We drove with the top down and the wind in our hair. As anyone who’s ever lived in the heat of Singapore will tell you, it was a real delight to have the top down at that time of the morning because of the cool, unpolluted air. Anyway, we got to the middle of town just before 5am, bought ourselves coffee from the 24 hour convenience store there, and sat on the sidewalk. And you can imagine at that time of the morning, we were the only people foolish enough to be in town. Still, we sat and watched the empty streets gradually fill up with people, enjoying one another’s company. And it didn’t take more than a cup of coffee and simple conversation for us to have a great time. We enjoyed that morning so much that it became a regular thing with us. We would wake up early to do this, at least once for every holiday I had, and it became somewhat of a tradition with us. It was something we shared, just time to ourselves, as we watched people go about their daily lives.

My dear friend, it’s now 4am, and as usual you’ve gotten up way before I did. I can see you driving in your convertible with the top down, the wind in your hair, and a big smile on your face. You’re on your way to pick me up, but I’m still asleep. It might take awhile for me to wake up and get ready, but believe me brother, I will call you when I am ready. Someday soon we will have that coffee together, as we sit on the sidewalk and watch people go by. But I promise, this time, the view will be heavenly.

Rest in peace Sing…you will always be my best friend. ~ Colin Santa Maria

Peace & Love,

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Miracles & Superstition

What up beautiful people?!

My dad was pretty quiet the other day. Sitting by the corner of the sofa he seemed disturbed. He's 76 and while he keeps himself busy he does often think of death. In a way, he is, unconsciously, preparing for that day.

We're, Sindhis, a small community here. And when there is a death in the community all members are informed via telecommunication. Last week, in the first 3 days there were 2 deaths. All were men in their 70s.

My dad then said he had heard that there would be 5 deaths in that week. The older folks in the community said that every year at a certain time 5 deaths would take place. I thought that was crazy. And I knew my dad was wondering if he'd contribute to this figure. I must admit I was worried too.

I then battled with myself about superstition and facts. Psychology has taught me that there are no such things as magic, miracles, or superstition. But I find this hard to adhere to considering I myself witnessed the absorbing of liquids by the Hindu deity, Ganesh. And this took place at the same time all over the world. All types of statues, be it wood, silver, plastic or foam, if it was of the Ganesh deity, it would "sip" water or milk, or any form of liquid offered to it by its believers. And the statue would show no physical signs of stains. I saw this, I was there when it took place, and I also participated in this. So I do believe that miracles do happen.

By the 6th day 3 more deaths would take place. Totaling 5. One of it was a freak accident. I don't know what to make of this. I must say I am confused. Could this be a coincidence? But then this is a belief based on astrology and numerology, that 5 deaths would (or must) take place at this given time and space. Is this not superstition?

I know it does not mean that my dad has another year. I hope he has many more than that. But I'd hate to have this thought over me, that every year, at this time, 5 people I know or am aware of will pass on.

There is peace in knowing less.

Peace & Love,

Friday, February 23, 2007

"Colourism" & Power

What up beautiful people?!

"Fairness Cream" or lotion that's supposed to whiten your skin sell like tooth paste out in India. Now this is out here in Singapore too. The babes want to be white. They want fairer skin. The ads in India show girls/women in more favourable circumstances just because they got their skin "whiter". What's that supposed to mean? What's the message? Being naturally black, brown or tanned is a curse?

In India, till today, being white gets your farther...in the social and work environment. Yes, it is changing for the better but I can not rule out that should two individuals, one tanned and the other fair skinned, compete for a position the fair skinned one would have the upper hand even before a word is spoken.

I saw the same in Bali, Indonesia. But sometimes it's not just about the colour of skin. Maybe it's the "foreign" concept. As a Singapore DJ visiting Beijing or Bali, I got more respect and attention then I ever did back home in Singapore (from the Industry). Foreign DJs who visit Singapore get their ass licked...even if they don't know the difference between vinyl and wax. When I was in Beijing I got better treatment than the DMC Champ of China. And that's because I wasn't from Beijing, I was a foreigner and I looked different.

But culture plays a part too. Look at Hip Hop music. Bentley sales have gone through the roof. Tattoo shops are inking 24/7. Denim sell like never before. South Indian dudes are shaving their heads and showing off their undershorts...and briefs with loud labels sell real well these days, retro sportswear isn't just back but it has evolved, and there isn't a better time to be Black. And so if you're a Black, your stereotyped. It means you can either sing, rap, dance, play basketball, or all of the above. And if I was in Beijing with a Black dude and my DMC Champ mate, the Black would get more respect because he's not just foreign material...he's Black. Back to colour...negative or positive...one would still be judged by colour.

My mate Cedric from France knows this too well. He's based in Bali and spins at various clubs all over Indonesia. He's Caucasian. He loves the beach and the sun but was once told by a Balinese DJ to not get too tanned because "club managers and the locals like white DJs". White DJs sell better. At least in Asia. That's one of the many reasons why Caucasians love living in Asia. They get treated like royalty. Back where they come from this would be a dream. Yes, it pisses me off when there are those who are aware of their "status" take advantage of that. But let's be kind, I personally know many who, while they acknowledge that being white on this land is good, do show respect.

This literature is not an attack against the Caucasoid race. The whole point of this article is my frustration of the lack of pride, confidence and identity amongst us Asians. To me, most Asians aren't proud of their culture. If you want to be like somebody else, if you try to be like somebody else, you're obviously insecure or you just don't love yourself enough. This isn't about idol worship or some crazed fan. This is about your identity, self-concept, self-esteem.

And while the Indians, Malays and Chinese want to have fairer skin, the white folks want to get tanned. And they go to extreme lengths to achieve that shade of brown. So do the Japanese. Yes, these days it's more of a question of beauty. A fashion statement. But is it really?

I have come to the conclusion that there are various factors involved here. It's not just about physical appearance but self-esteem as well. The notion of a "superior-race" is man-made, and it is absurd. People of the third world (here we go again, branding, stigmatization) may perceive the people of developed nations as superior. The latter are aware of this. The former can't help but envy, admire and even experience threat. Bear in mind that the term "Third World" is a "political designation originally used (1963) to describe those states not part of the first world, that is, the capitalist, economically developed states led by the U.S., or the second world, the communist states led by the Soviet Union. The third world principally consists of the developing world, former colonies of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. With the end of the Cold War and the increased economic competitiveness of some developing countries, the term has lost its analytic clarity" (Third World, Britannica, 2007).

So who came up with this term "Third World". A bunch of men and women in suits had this important meeting and came up with this term? Did China, India or Indonesia get to have a say in this? Was it just laid out like that? I can not help but feel that this was an imposition by the so called "Developed Nations", the more "powerful" nations.

Look at India's and China's rise today, note the potential finally being realized. There are still issues to iron out. The class gaps are way too wide, extremely rich and extremely poor. This is not new in India but relatively new for China. And India and China are now working much closer together. The United Sates and other "Developed Nations" can not help but feel threatened.

Yes, racism exist. But "colourism" is the root. You need not be a foreigner to experience this. Individuals of the same race exercise "colourism" amongst themselves. It is not rare to see fairer skinned individuals get better treatment than their darker skinned brothers and sisters, and here I mean all are of the same race!

I'd like to quote Laszloffy & Rockquemore, in their book, Raising Bracial Childern.
In the United States, during the system of slavery, the enslavement of human beings because of the colour of their skin was justified by the belief that whites are superior to all other races, that is, white supremacy. This belief also supplied the rationalization of why the system was just. Black people were deemed to be subhuman, animal like creatures best suited for manual labour. Because their intellectual capabilities were believed to be limited, they were considered unable to care for themselves, so enslavement was deemed benevolent. The ideology of white supremacy made slavery possible, while simultaneously justifying its continuation. In short, that uniquely American principle that “all men are created equal” actually emerged at a time when blacks were not considered “men”, and women were not considered at all. So “all men” really meant “ all land owning white men” are created equal. ~ Laszloffy, T. & Rockquemore, K. A. (2005). Raising Bracial Childern. Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press

We can not change our pigmentation, but we surely can change our attitudes.

Peace & Love,

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Bali Gigs

What up beautiful people?!

We're approcahing the new year! Whoa! Okay...if you have not decided on your NYE plans, and there are (still) airline tickets available (lodging as well!), come on over to Bali and let me move you!

If I don't see you there...be safe, be merry and a high five and hug :: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Oh, if you show up...mention this blog and I just might have a funky ass tee for you *wink*

Peace & Love,

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Morning Call

What up beautiful people?!

I have trouble getting up early. Well, I never hit slumber land before 5 am so an early rise would be a problem. But I need to.

At around 6ish (morning) my vicinity has some really interesting sounds. And I do want to record these. I could stay up a little longer to make this date but I would be a zombie by then and I would execute the dub poorly.

It's those "early morning" noises that tickle me. One would be rinsing his/her mouth and the spit would sound like he/she had a score to settle with the basin. Another in hip hop mode, with an extended yawn sounding like "YO!". Windows with rusty joints but really an octogenarian's flatulence (damn, they're loud!). A turkey reaching orgasm like sound but she shoved her tooth brush too far down her throat while brushing her tongue.

Ahh...I'll get round to it some time.

Peace & Love,

Thursday, November 16, 2006


What up beautiful people?!

How's it all going? Been a while since I been back (again!). There's just so much updating and "follow-ups" and "this and that" that you often lose track. Having a schedule on your SMART PHONES or in print still doesn't help. You refer to these mediums of organization so often that just referring to them is a task itself. And what you dislike you tend to avoid. And so I sometimes forget to refer...and then you have a chain reaction.

Don't we all need a break!

The music has been great. The tracks on Black Asia Volume 2 are falling in place real well, and the recent remix projects have been exciting! That's pretty much all I can state...don't want to spoil the surprise.

I remember updating my blog on New Year's eve (2005) and was wondering what '06 would be like. And just look at it, it's November 2006 and folks are planning their December outings. 2007? Nah, will just ride with it...it's been an experience. I must say 2006 had been a year where I made the most appropriate contacts. I have met so many people and most have kept in touch on a regular. No, this is not your "MySpace" hook up. But a personal meeting because of mutual friends or the same passion (music, arts). It's really rewarding.

Peace & Love,

Monday, August 21, 2006

Changi beats

What up beautiful people?!

August 15 was a musically inspiring day. I was fortunate enough to share my knowledge with a talented bunch of promising media pros. Thanks to Imraan, a prison warden at Changi Prison (CP).

CP has an interesting history and the original prison has since been demolished. Only a 40 feet wall of the original prison has been preserved for historical reasons. The new centre looks complete but construction and building is still on going.

I have passed CP many times. From the time I was a kid when my dad used to take the family on outings to Changi beach. CP looked a whole lot different back then. It still is ever "dark" but the edifice looks current. I'd often wonder what it was like inside, or what it must be like to be an inmate (no, I do not want to know for real!).

Gone are the days when an inmate was left in a cell all day long. Only to be moved out for a meal, a walk in the yard or a transfer. Skills development help the inmates prepare for their release, build confidence and start a new life. This superb programme allows inmates to find a passion, learn from scratch, polish and be skillful at their craft by the time they are released. When Imraan told me about his inmates making music using REASON (a music editing software) and making videos, I was like "WHA???".

I was greeted by Azam at the Prison Link Centre. A building that receives families and friends of inmates for visits. I came a cross a shelving that housed works by inmates, mostly art & craft projects. It was impressive. A t-shirt print caught my attention. It had the "NO ENTRY" sign in all 4 common languages used in Singapore (Enlish, Malay, Tamil and Mandarin) an an image of a soldier aiming a rifle.

The inmates are wonderful folks. They have a genuine desire to learn and they "know their work"! Some of the 2D and 3D characters are amazing. There's this one dude who represents various inmates and officers with caricatures...all with a theme to suit their characters. A team of two that produce and compose music siuted for corporate videos and jingles and one that arranges tribal house beats. And a team of video editors making producing some really professional corporate videos and soap trailers.

The programming section is another interesting part of this set up. The inmates are building systems and sites that are server dependent. Languages like ASP.NET, RUBY, etc., are learnt from books and on-line tutorials and applied...with no physical guide or teacher. So I have invited my mate, Anthony P. V., audio engineer-cum-web server and programming geek to meet these future multi-media pros.

Tomorrow will be another inspiring day...I know Anthony will be.

Peace & Love,