78 rpm Records of Indian Music: V. Balsara

The keyboardist and composer V. Balsara was responsible for a great many releases of light music, including some film scores, orchestral projects and novelty recordings. These two sides present his harmonium virtuosity with ensemble accompaniment.

“Dance Tune 1”

“Dance Tune 2”

Born in June 1922, Balsara learnt music from his mother Nazamaye, and gave his first solo performance at the age of six with the pedal harmonium, in use in those times, at a packed C. J. Hall in Mumbai.

Barely ten years later, the young lad was assisting famous Music Director Ustad Mustaque Hussain, in a Bombay film production ‘Baadal’.Link

He died in 2005:

V. Balsara, synonymous with the sound of music in the city, died on Thursday afternoon. The legendary pianist and composer was 83.

Balsara, known for his versatility with an array of musical instruments, had been suffering from geriatric problems for the past few months and was undergoing treatment at his nephew’s residence in Ballygunge Park.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Thursday expressed grief over the death of the virtuoso, who had been honoured with a D.Lit by Visva-Bharati, among a number of other awards.


A thin, frail man, Balsara always amazed with his verve and energy and went on composing music for Bengali as well as Hindi films till the end.

Though essentially a western composer, Balsara traversed the Indian classical terrain with consummate ease.


Balsara would often fuse eastern and western elements of music but was loath to call it fusion. “I merge pure Indian classical music with the most modern rhythms,” Balsara had told Metro during an interview at his Bowbazar house late last year. “In fact, I am allergic to the word fusion,” he had insisted.

He was from all accounts a genuinely nice person and a fine musician. That said, to my compositional ears, Balsara’s work tended to the insipid:

He was not afraid to be simply silly:

Or even sillier:

78 rpm Records of Indian Music: The Manhattan Jazz Band

Here’s a change of pace: a disc from the “Manhattan Jazz Band,” released on the Calcutta-based Zonophone label. My best guess is this was from some point in the 1920s or 30s; the music is what was called jazz at the time — by people who didn’t know what jazz was.

In the late 1990s I picked up a great many 78s at a small store in Bombay’s Chor Bazaar. Among them were a few of these recordings of “English Music.” Apparently these were mostly recorded in England and released in India, for the enjoyment of the Brits. I had a brief fantasy that these were Indian musicians hired to play this repertoire, which would have been ethnomusicologically fascinating. Turns out that’s not what happened. Ah, well.

The amount of crud on the surface of the disc is beyond imagination.

Enjoy “Everybody’s Jazzing Now”:

And here’s “That Big Jazz Band”:

Year 2, Month 4, Day 22: Move Over, Earthlings! The Planet {!Z@p&rd*p*!} Needs Lebensraum.

Chronic morosity and worriage is not generally compatible with prosidic goofiness. But today I made an exception for this LTE to the Reno News & Review, which ran a short piece about the pod people on the Energy and Commerce Committee.

This one was mailed a while back but somehow failed to make it onto the schedule for posting. Mailed March 17:

It reads like the plot of a late-night “B” movie: aliens take over the bodies of American politicians and start passing laws undermining America’s support for science. If the current crop of GOP legislators were actually extras in a “Plan 9 From Outer Space” knockoff, we’d be able to sit back and munch popcorn while making jokes at their expense. Given the potential for crippling impacts on American agriculture, infrastructure and public health from runaway climate change, it’s astonishing that the Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee won’t even admit the problem exists, let alone take steps to address it. These cynical opportunists really do walk, talk and legislate like enemies of our species, making a compelling case for the “alien enemy” hypothesis. Unfortunately, these invaders from the Tea-party Nebula are entirely real, and their anti-science agenda is endangering both our global reputation and our national future.

Warren Senders


Just wow. Wildstone is apparently a brand of male body products in India. Their TV spots are clearly pushing the boundaries.

Note that according to at least one customer, it’s not entirely satisfactory stuff.

If Complexion Is Insufficiently Wheatish, Just Adjust Your Monitor

Well. This is truly weird.

New Delhi: Indian bachelors keen to get a taste of married life can now log on and apply for a virtual wife online in a scheme that offers a glimpse into changing Indian society.

Bharat Matrimony’s biwihotohaisi.com (an ideal wife) website allows men to choose from four different types of wife and then receive automated telephone messages from them that reflect their character.

This is a truly obnoxious website that includes some pretty dumb sounding autoplay sound effects, and an entry screen that looks like this:

The Deccan Chronicle describes the four “virtual wives” offered to interested men, beginning with two fairly “traditional” types who embody conservative cultural values, before moving on:

While these two characters would be clearly identifiable for men of older generations, it is the other women who offer the most revealing insights into the changing characteristics of modern Indian womanhood.

Milli Chulbulli (Milli Naughty), 21, is an excitable secretary in a multinational firm with a life that revolves around shopping trips, neighbourhood gossip, and an addiction to television soap operas.

Finally, the website offers a chance to hook up with Shalini Sheherwali (Shalini From the City), an ambitious 26-year-old banker.

An independent, tech-savvy woman who purrs, ‘we’ll totally connect, honey!’, Shalini Sheherwali loves shopping online and loathes soap operas.

What I want to know is whether Bharat Matrimony is planning on offering “virtual husbands” any time soon…and if so, what stereotypes they’re going to, um, embody.


I get mail

Arrived in my inbox about an hour ago.

It’s not anywhere close to the stuff that a genuine luminary like PZ gets, of course, but I get a little warm feeling all the same.

And Now For Something Completely Irrelevant

From the Gentleman’s Magazine, September 1744.

Here lies then old Nick, as dead as a herring,
Full famous he was his flock of teeth for transferring
From his jaws to his shoes; that went things e’er so bad
He was sure, at each turn, to hit the nail o’ the head.
If a grave call’d to dig, he no plea cou’d alledge,
For as well as his spade, he his teeth set on edge.
If the hounds to maintain he the parish must lead,
Such a spur in the heel was worth two in the head.
No doubt but this scheme his brains had a hand in;
How else shou’d his teeth become understanding?
As the heroes of old fell in battle renown’d,
He cou’d stand on his feet, yet, like them, bite the ground.
But the biter is bitten; that wrestler, old death,
Tooth and nail fell aboard him, and beat out his breath,
Then tript up his heels — in the spite of his teeth.

One of my favorite epitaphs. Not that I have a huge stock of them, of course.

The Very Definition of Conservative Veriphobia

My letter to the Jakarta Times got picked up by a Colorado Conservablogger.

This is a good one, friends. It’s headlined:

“The Very Definition of America-Hating Liberal Guilt”

Then he cites my letter published in the Jakarta Times a few days ago.

To refresh your memory, I wrote:

As a US citizen, I must accept responsibility for my own nation’s abject failure to take responsibility for its actions.

As the world’s largest per capita emitter of greenhouse gases and as the enabler of a consumerist lifestyle which, if left unchecked, is absolutely certain to submerge the planet in giga tons of toxic trash, the United States has been the driving force behind the climate crisis.

Unfortunately, my country’s responsibilities are unlikely to be met any time soon, for we are in the grip of a political crisis brought about by a national exaltation of demagoguery and ignorance.

Thus our governing bodies are riddled with arrogant men and women who dismiss scientific expertise as irrelevant, preferring the comforts of ancient superstition.

Global warming’s realities are terrifying. But as citizens of ocean states can attest, ignoring those facts will surely lead to outcomes beside which our nightmares will pale into insignificance.

Warren Senders
Medford, Massachusetts

And here’s Colorado Right’s response, with my interpolations:

So we start off with a line that could be lifted from just about any Barack Oprompter speech outside the US apologizing for their country.

Whereas Conservatives know that taking responsibility, either for your own actions or those of your country, is totally wimpy and self-hating! America doesn’t have to take responsibility for what it does, because WE’Z NUMBAR WUN!

Indeed. We’re Number One in the production of trash, for one thing, which is another way of saying America is tops in the world at subtracting value from things (that’s what trash is, right? Stuff from which value has been removed.).

Anyway, USA ROOLZ, just because we can.


Breast beating about how we use lots of energy since we manufacture and consume so much that our economy is still 20% of global world output. In other words – we generate more economic activity and energy in 2 days than the entire country of Indonesia does in a year. Yeah, that’s something to be really sorry about.

And how much of that manufacturing and consumption is for stuff that, y’know, actually adds value to the world? Just because you pay money for the gas you burn while your Hummer idles outside the coffeeshop doesn’t make it an actual contribution of anything except greenhouse gases.

And the point I was making is of course that if we’re the ones generating all the pollution, we should be the ones taking responsibility for cleaning it up. And, furthermore, if a country like Indonesia, with a carbon footprint that’s less than a rounding error, finds its actual existence imperiled because of rising sea levels (triggered by climate change brought about by greenhouse emissions), then we have a moral responsibility to address the problem, rather than just shouting “USA ROOLZ!!”

Which loops me back to the issue of responsibility, addressed above.

Islamic foreigners think the US is Satan anyway – so knocking your own country as “a national exaltation of demagoguery and ignorance” and “riddled with arrogant men and women who dismiss scientific expertise as irrelevant” will make them feel so good about you. Of course you little knock about ancient superstition – does that include say Islamic beliefs about having 4 wives and marrying off your 9 year old girls?

When faced with irrefutable facts, what do you do?


Mind you, I hold all the Abrahamic sects in more or less equal regard.

Here’s a conditional for you: If America’s founders had been Islamic schismatics in search of a new place to carry on their particular version of their particular version of the tribal creed, and their descendants had written a secular Constitution with a First Amendment just like our own back in the late 1700’s…and modern America was filled with fundamentalist Islamic historical revisionists who were trying to argue that “America has always been a fundamentally Judeo-Mohammedan nation”…and they were denying climate science in the bargain — why, I’d have written exactly the same letter.

And here’s the one sure thing Warren – when Islam takes over America you will be one of the first ones up against the wall. Regardless of how much you grovel from your centrally heated and air conditioned, 24 hour per day electrically provisioned, suburban house that any Indonesian would chew off their arm to live in.

When Islam takes over America? What on Earth are you smoking?

I swear, Conservative Islamophobes are the biggest bunch of bedwetters I’ve ever seen.

On the other hand, when Muslim-majority countries like Indonesia and Bangladesh are submerged or rendered uninhabitable by rising ocean levels, there will be millions of climate refugees, all extremely pissed off at the industrialized West for very good reason. Where will they go? YIKES OMG!!!

Therefore, the best way to avoid an Islamic takeover of America is to fight global warming. Q.E.D.

The ball’s in your court, Spiro.

This article has been crossposted under my Username at Daily Kos.