Music, Unsorted

Goodbye, Level 0.

Dear Zonk,

I’ve been practicing my violin a lot lately. And also both my guitars. I’m beginning to feel that old familiar restlessness again. And I really, really wish I didn’t have to work right now.

This week I went off course a bit with practice. I composed a piece to go with one of my songs, and did a rough recording and took it to my teacher to have him hear it and give me tips. I thought he’d spend a few minutes with it, and then move back to the book. But he didn’t.

Instead, he taught me how to write out the piece, and figured the best bowing pattern for it (which is a bit too hard for me to manage yet), had me record a video of him playing it (for reference) and told me to practice just this all week. And also one tiny piece from the book, but I already know that, and so my focus stays on this.

2018-03-13 13.21.35

If I ever learn to play this well, Zonk, I’ll record it and put it up here so you can listen to it. I believe that you learn to play instruments in sprints. You go through the motions and follow the rules and get better at it bit by minuscule bit – and then one day you have a breakthrough of some sort. The instrument starts to fit your body suddenly. It feels more like a natural extension than an object you need to wrestle into place. Things become easier beyond this point. Partly because you’ve become used to playing it. But mostly because everything hurts less and it finally starts to be more about the music and less about the mechanics of it all. It begins to be fun.

And then you’ll be stuck on that plateau for a long long time. Until the next breakthrough happens, and you suddenly hit a point where you become good at playing the damn thing. (And then you’ll be stuck there, and so on.)

Anyway, my point is, I’ve finally powered up to Level 1. It took me 8 or 9 lessons to get off of Level 0. That’s 2 months. Of which I spent at least 3 weeks not practicing very much at all. It’s a shame – all these years that I’ve wasted – but I can sort of play now. I mean, if I pick up a violin today and start to make some sounds, you wouldn’t need to drop everything and run into the next room. That sounds sad, I know. But with this painful instrument, it definitely counts as progress :)

I realised today that I lucked out with both my music teachers. My guitar teacher taught me to play with blood and instinct and not worry about breaking rules at all. My violin teacher teaches me the math and science of music playing. But he always places it in the context of improving my art.

If ever I learn to do both simultaneously, I will be satisfied.

In other news, C’s piano teacher is organising a little homey open mic sort of event. Well, the mic’s not really open as such, but that’s the vibe. And she’s asked me to play a bit. Which is why I’ve been working with both my guitars so much lately.

All of this is a lot of fun. But it’s also very distracting. And I have a ton of work to do right now that I should really not be ignoring.

And so, goodbye. Be good, Zonk. Practice hard and follow the rules and keep your fingers round.

I’ll see you again soon.

Love always,


Music, The Violin Project

My very many violin woes.

Dear Zonk,

Learning to play the violin is a bit like learning to drive a car. Sadly for me, I can’t drive at all.

Before I get into this, here’s a brief timeline of the events leading up to my third violin class this morning.

A brief timeline of the events leading up to my third violin class this morning.

  • 2001 (or maybe it was 2000 or 2002) – went to the annual Book Exhibition at school, where my sister picked out a book for me. The Mozart Season by Virginia Euwer Wolff. In the book, a 12 year old violinist participates in a Mozart contest, plays a concerto for her dead Jewish grandmother, discovers that she’s an endangered species, finds a lost song, and practices her violin a whole lot. 13 (or was it 11 or 12?) year old me decided to learn to play the violin some day.
  • 2004 (or 2005) – 18 year old me got distracted and bought a guitar instead. Turned out I was reasonably musical. Stuck with the instrument, practiced for hours every day, got pretty good at it even, and wrote some semi-decent (and a few slightly shitty) songs. My violin dreams were shelved for a while.
  • November 5, 2010 – 22 year old me was kinda bored. I was writing better songs by then, but hardly ever practiced. I wondered if it was time to find new focus in my old ambitions. Asked my family for a violin on my birthday, got a cycle instead.
  • November 5, 2011 – 23 year old me asked for a birthday violin again. This time I actually got one.
  • Later in 2011 – found a violin tutor who had great expectations of me, and totally disappointed him. I went for 4 – 5 classes, made rapid progress, and then quit and decided to go the self-taught route. Terrible decision. Never try to teach yourself violin, Zonk. Especially if you’re a lazy bum and entirely lack the discipline and rigour required to master this cruelest of instruments.
  • 2012 – 2016 – Picked up the instrument and dropped it again roughly 234 times. Figured out how to play Scarborough Fair and May It Be (Enya). Felt momentarily accomplished. Accomplished nothing.
  • 2017 – Planned a bunch of life changes for 2018, including but not limited to – marriage, moving out, quitting my job, going freelance, becoming a person who understands money; and learning to play the fucking violin.
  • January 2018 – Called up Furtados, got a list of numbers for violin teachers, arranged to meet the first one that answered his phone. Luckily for me, he turned out to be excellent. He told me that adults can learn to play pretty easily too, and that I do have an ear for music. Which was quite a relief to hear, because by this point, I’d almost entirely stopped playing anything. The last song I composed was written at least 2 years ago, and the fingertips of my left hand were smooth as baby’s bum. I’d figured my musical ear must have rotted itself off my head by now. I paid up immediately, and started going to class.
  • Today, 8.30 a.m., January 30, 2018 – Class #3.

My teacher introduced me to sight reading, adding one more thing to do to the growing list of things one is expected to do simultaneously while playing a violin. Keep the bow parallel to the bridge. Keep your bow hand flat and loose whilst not dropping the bow. Put your middle finger in the curve of the heel and your pinky just so and with your ring finger, you must poke the frog in its eye. Keep your thumb rounded. Keep your left hand loose (I cannot). Keep all four fingers curved, and find the right note with absolutely no markers to help you do it at all. Keep the scroll pointing up. Bow surely, at a consistent speed, and ease the pressure up at the right times. Use the right section of bow, at the right distance from the bridge. Keep your right arm still from elbow to shoulder. Pay attention to the sound you draw out – try not to sound like a dying cow. Do all of this simultaneously, of course and oh! Slow down! You have to be playing in time! 

I’m not very good at multi-tasking, Zonk. Nor am I good at Math. I realised today that musicality can really only take you this far when it comes to music. And with the violin, it probably barely even counts. So much of this is technique and practice and hard hard hard work. It’s a bit overwhelming. But, let’s be honest. It’s also kinda exciting to think that if I keep up with this, I might actually be able to play respectably someday.

So my aim this week is to get as close to an hour of practice every day as I possibly can. I think it should be doable. I doubt it’s gonna be fun. Either way, it’s time to buckle up.

*grimly puts rosin on bow*

Love always,


Schrodinger’s Career (or First World Problems)

Dear Zonk,

I’ve spent most of this past month worrying about work, thinking about work, planning around work; and not doing any work at all. And now January’s almost done, my strange little vacation’s drawing to a close and actual, serious work is about to begin in full swing.

Or, you know, half swing. Because I’ve taken up a part time retainer and a project, both design and copy, and I’ll have 4 days in every week that are all my own. My part time dreams are finally coming true. For the next three months at least. And now that I have all of this Time on my hands and money’s no longer an object, I’m beginning to feel a little bit afraid.

You see, it’s easy (in a way) to feel creatively unfulfilled and overworked and unhappy with where you’ve ended up in life. But sometimes, if you’re lucky, life gives you a chance to make more of it, and all the resources you’ll ever need to do so.

And that, Zonk, is both exhilarating and terrifying.

Because imagine if all the excuses get taken away and you still end up falling short.
If you have it all and fuck it up anyway, who’s left to blame but you?

Love always,


Violin-ing and so forth

Dear Zonk,

I went for my first violin lesson today.

I’d planned to make a detailed post tonight– about how more than half the lesson was spent holding the violin and the bow just so, about the exercises I have to do and about my teacher, who is excellent. It’s all very exciting. And I did well and it made me wonder if maybe this year I’ll end up actually keeping a resolution.

But the day’s almost over, and I’m suddenly sort of blue. So I think I’ll go watch a shitty show instead.

And so it is.

Love always,



I got married, and other such things.

Dear Zonk,

I’ve been gone a while. I’m back now, and everything’s different. I’m not sure where to start– so, in no particular order, here we go.

  • I’m a married person now. We had a sweet, tiny, non-sexist ceremony in my sister’s house with only about 30 people attending.  A week later, we had a giant fancy party with over 300 people attending. Both things turned out to be a lot nicer than I’d imagined they’d be. Mostly because C and I really lucked out in the friends and family department ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • I live in Andheri West. That’s over an hour away from Thane, where I’ve spent the last 26 years of my life. Andheri doesn’t fit me properly yet. I don’t always know where to find what and how far away something is.
    But here’s the good stuff: I’m a lot closer to most of my friends, and to most probable scenes. I’ve been going out without a big backpack and sometimes without a bottle of water even. Somedays I take a rickshaw home instead of an uber, and pay less than 200 bucks! It’s a strange feeling. And it’s really very liberating. I could get used to this, I suppose :)
  • Our new house is my new favourite place in the whole world. C and I both care very deeply about interiors and home setup. Our house is bright and funky and warm and cosy in the nicest of ways, and at the moment, there isn’t a single object in here that we don’t love wholeheartedly. Someday I’ll make a proper standalone post about it. Maybe I’ll even try submitting to Apartment Therapy. But for now, all I can say is that I love this place :)
  • I’ve been unemployed for 2 months now. For the first time since 2011. Unemployment doesn’t sit well with me :\ I spent a month doing wedding work, then half a month setting up house. It’s finally time to chill now, and turns out I’m really not very good at chilling. So, though I was really looking forward to this break, I think I’m ready to start feeling purposeful again. In the second week of Jan I’ll get started with my portfolio, and begin working on a single product with C.
  • I want to be making things soon. In a few months or a year from now, I hope we’ll be selling something analog and awesome somewhere on the internet. It’s a far fetched dream, and it’s all pretty hazy right now. But I’m hoping we’ll make it happen somehow.
  • A lot has happened in the past few months. And this is what I’ve learned from it–
    1. Big life changes are only supremely scary in anticipation. Everything is a lot more surmountable once you’re on the other side. People adapt to changed circumstances, new rhythms emerge. The pieces all fall into place eventually.
    2. There are way too many people in our lives who are willing to put our needs before theirs. It’s incredible and it’s touching and it’s very, very humbling. It’s also made me promise myself that the next time a close friend gets married or moves house or any such thing, I’ll go the extra mile and do everything I can to help out.
    3. It’s kind of impossible for me to run a house like clockwork the way my mom does. Not without a lot of hired help anyway. December’s been chaotic– with parties every few days and bad food and booze and staying up late. And no exercise, no work, and no productive routines to speak of. Come Jan, we’re going to have to figure this shit out. And I really hope we do it right. Because I’ve been raised with too much discipline to fall off the wagon now.

That’s all for now, Zonk. I’m sorry I’ve been so quiet this year. 2017 was a year in transit, and I’ve just been flitting between places and roles. I swear I’ll be more regular next year.

Love always,



Dear Zonk,

I haven’t been here in a long time. But I couldn’t help it. Getting married is a lot of work. Even if you get married in a small-ish way, like me.

So, here’s everything that’s been happening recently:

  • I am now officially unemployed. And it feels good. In Jan, I’ll start working again. I’ll start with freelance, and hopefully figure something of my own over the next year.
  • C and I have a house now. It’s on rent. We’re still doing it up, and I’m guessing it’ll take a month or so more to feel finished. But it’s beginning to come together and I’m beginning to be very very excited about it all.
  • In less than 2 weeks now, I will be married.

So that’s my tiny list of giant sized updates.

I’ll talk to you again. Soon.

Love always,


The Birthday List

Dear Zonk,

Troubling things are happening. In order to distract myself, I think I’ll make my Birthday List.

A list of things I want and need —

  1. A nylon string guitar. Because nylon strings are beautiful. And because, after all these years, I can kinda fingerpick now.
  2. An awesome backpack for when I have to carry my laptop (pre-approved by me or C.)
  3. A small leathery or cloth-like backpack for when I don’t.
  4. A Poorly Drawn Lines book.

  5. A Lunarbaboon book.
  6. The second Sarah C. Andersen book.
  7. A Kindle store voucher.
  8. These shoes.
  9. A very strong blow dryer. One that actually makes my hair dry rather than not-exactly-as-wet-as-5-minutes-ago.
  10. Calvin and Hobbes pajamas.

As always, I’ll pin this to the top of my blog till the 5th of November, and I’ll strike things off once I know someone’s called dibs.

And now, it’s 12.30. I really need to sleep.
Goodnight, Zonk.

Love always,