Recently I decided it was time (after three years) to backup my mobile phone photographs. I only started taking mobile photography seriously after getting my Note 3 and that enthusiasm swelled with my iPhone 6 Plus. In all I had about 1,300 photographs made since I got my iPhone — just the photographs I wanted to save, the total number of photographs is greater. And I looked around for an ideal backup and storage solution with which I could maintain my photographs.

The first option a lot of people suggested to me was Loom, but that is not available where I live. (Loom happens to be US-only.) And then there was Everpix — was — which was free and shut down as fast as it became popular. In all honesty, Everpix was an excellent solution, but faced the biggest problem with cloud storage solutions: they shut down, mostly because they run out of money trying to give storage free. Lesson: never opt for free cloud storage.

Then I tried Picturelife about three months ago and still love it for a lot of reasons. Some readers asked me to talk about my experience with the product and how I went about moving my photographs to the cloud, so this is it.

Update: After this article was published and discussed around the web, Picturelife got in touch with me and offered a generous 20GB of additional free storage for life. Thank you. And here’s to Picturelife for being one of the top cloud storage solutions for all of us.


“The Beatles still sell for €5,99” and other tales of everlastingness

I noticed on my visit to the music shop today that a new batch of low-price The Beetles CDs had arrived. Now I already own all of The Beatles, so I really had no reason to pick up the disc set to inspect it, but I did and one thing stood out: a €5,99 price tag; which is roughly 8 or £5 or ₹500 I suppose. It is fascinating how a rock band that was active for ten years sells, nearly forty years later, for the same price as <a title="My World - enhanced -7 on Amazon” href=”http://www.amazon.com/My-World-Justin-Bieber/dp/B002T921AC” target=”_blank”>Beiber’s enhanced My World disc on Amazon.

Without meaning disrespect to anybody, I think that this shows just how popular The Beetles had become by the time they broke-up. In contradistinction, it is an issue of concern that every music group’s gospel — performing every single one of the Beeth’s excruciatingly hard-to-perform symphonies — sells far cheaper than the mediocre music made today solely for cash. Perhaps that is because everybody does it; but should repetition of a classic make it any less of a classic?

Speaking of Beethoven, I recently answered myself a question that had been bothering me: what on earth does Beethoven mean? As it turns out, Beeth is beetroot (yes), and hof is farm. So that gentleman we all so admire is Ludwig from Beetroot Farm.

But are classics really held far less worthy, or does everything modern generally take precedence when it comes to setting prices, or are our tastes as a society changing, or should there exist a very different kind of motivation to last, as former US Labour Secretary, Lynn Martin, put it:

No matter what your religion, you should try to become a government program, for then you will have everlasting life.

Even more interesting is that most of what we listen to today may be heavily modified; whether it is really done that way or not, nobody can deny that we have enough technology today to make person X sound a million times better than he really is, especially if that Mr X agrees to hand over the producers a greater percentage of profits than the better-sounding-poorly-sharing and more deserving artiste, Y.

I have, bookmarked, this 1919 photograph of Cxechoslovakian violinist and composer, Jan Kubelik, from sometime back. It really is a reminder that we came from a time when state-of-the-art music refinement was done using cones taped to reduce reverberation.

Jan Kubelik (R) with Bruno Seidler-Winkler at the Piano.
Photo courtesy Flickr/painting in light

Today, refinement has come from meaning getting musicians’ unadulterated sound to helping them by making it sound better. It has become Photoshop for audio.

A counter argument I can suggest myself is that the term classics is too loosely defined. Our renaissance classics were modern works during the renaissance. While desperate efforts were being made to save the then-classics, what was really being celebrated — being the centre of attention — during the renaissance was the day’s absolute modern attempts at art.

It then does not seem far fetched to say that Beiber may become a classic singer around the 2050s or later. And we are only paranoid in saying the classics are on a decline. Or that they are in any way comparable to today’s approach to art and society — both of which have inherently changed a lot between the 16th and 21st centuries.

But even such an argument does little to explain why The Beetle’s low-price disc should sell for close to €6.

 Cover image: Flickr/erin 

A Swiss treat: thoughts on an absorbing guitar-flute concert

I last spoke of a violin-piano concert I had attended in October last year, so I thought I would re-visit the topic talking about a guitar-flute concert I had the privilege to experience recently.

The concert spanned an hour and a half, with around seven to eight pieces being performed. It, was, all-in-all a very refreshing and absorbing evening. We will go into the details soon.

The players

There were three Swiss and one Indian musician performing on-stage. Two played the guitar, one the flute and one a relatively lesser-known Indian temple instrument known as (I apologise for not being able to confirm the name or spelling) Idikyam.

Mrs Dauwalder (L) and Ms Wysser on stage
Mrs Dauwalder (L) and Ms Wysser on stage

Michel Rutscho, a classical guitarist and professor at the University of Berne, was accompanied by his wife, also a guitarist and a teacher at Basel, and a flemenco dancer, Mrs Christine Dauwalder.

They were accompanied on the flute by Ms Anita Wysser, an acquaintance and colleague from the couple’s hometown in Switzerland.

They were on a world tour to “rediscover the finer aspects of music”.

The ideal

The concert was unique not in that it was a Guitar concert, but that Prof Rutscho et al attempted — as they have done for the past six years — to bring together Western muisc with an Indian instrument in accompaniment.

Michel Rutscho (L) and Christine Dauwalder at the concert
Michel Rutscho (L) and Christine Dauwalder at the concert

The instrument in question (as previously mentioned) was played by Vidwan Nandakumar. It added a sense of explicit rhythm and bass to the leading instruments and together they gave off a feeling of harmonic confluence with surprising ease.

The second important scope of the evening’s performance was the style of music played, and that truly made the concert worth every moment spent listening to. The musicians played classical Baroque guitar pieces from Spain, Portugal, the mediterranean nomadic lands and even as far West as South America.

It was sprinkled with a couple of modern-era guitar songs, what with the guitar being a relatively modern instrument.

The music

I will not go into every single piece in detail, but I will speak about some that I particularly enjoyed.

One of the first pieces performed was Bach’s famous Partita II in D-minor. You may be familiar with it as a violin piece, which it is (because Bach wrote for the violin), but few are aware that Eythor Thorlaksson re-arranged it later for the Guitar, so that was what I heard that evening. And boy was it fun!

Here is a video of the guitar version (because I could not find a properly played guitar version audio):

A second composition by Bach also made it to the musicians’ list: Sonata in C-major for flute and continuo.

Again, I mention this because it is one of my favourite pieces and I listen to it often. I particularly like the flow of the flute in this, and if you know anything about playing the flute (or any percussion instrument, really) you will know just how difficult this can be!

The last piece I wish to talk about is Argentinian composer Piazolla’s famous Libertango. I was thrilled to hear this, and I could not find a better piece to end the evening with.

Libertango is a piece written for liberty, hence the words liberty and tango come together to give libertango. Of course, this is not baroque, but was one of the few more moderns ones performed. This piece also marks Piazolla’s attempt at tango nuevo (the modern style) rather than his usual classical one.

Let me end this article with a small present for you: the final part of the concert filmed for everybody who was not there to witness it in person.

Until next time, and after, stay musical.


The quest for a music cassette, “The power of love”

Everybody’s childhood has something they hold onto even after considerable years. Mine lives in a bucket under the stairway at home, but that is only one part of it. The other is missing.

A thing of the past

Funnily enough, what I call a part of my childhood was never really mine; it even dates back nearly a decade before mine. It was a little, red music cassette known as “The Power of Love” and belonged to my parents.

Once I got around, I used to carry it with me and play it over and over again in-between my classic children’s tales cassette on my personal Phillips Walkman. I was no older than six years of age. And I understood very little of whatever they said in those songs, but it did not matter: for me, it has always been about the music, the rhythm, the tone, the pitch and the feel.

When things begin to change

The songs in that cassette stayed for a very long time until, when I was just reaching around nine or ten, we moved house and a lot of cassettes and large, black, gorgeous looking vinyl records (among other things) either got unwound, broke or were lost. This was one of them. There was also a large, posh-looking gramophone from my grandfather’s era that we got rid of.

Sometimes, when I walk around in melancholy, I can still hear those tunes at the back of my mind. But I realise it is only an illusion; an innocent (freudian?) manifestation of my yearning to get that cassette back.

Amazon lists this under the name Power of Love but neither the art nor the songs match the one I am looking for.

It is most prominent when I come across select songs, and I seem to know them. It is not a déjà vu, it is quite real, because I can pause playback and hum through the song (sometimes right to the end) even when I am listening to it the first time. Of course, this does not happen with every song, just a couple of them, or three at best, in an entire year.

My explanation is that I listened to those songs for so long, it is in my subconscious — just like how we remember bits of history even if we never took out a book and dedicated years to study it. Now, when I actually want to buy that cassette, I cannot: nobody makes cassettes anymore. Things have begun to change, but that is not even the weirdest part yet.

Another novel quest

If you remember I was once stuck with a song playing itself repeatedly in my mind and a brief quest and a lot of examination later, I learnt that it was a Japanese song used most popularly in the film “In the mood for love”. This was back in late 2010. About a year later, during a local film showcasing, my friend, Raghul, and I actually watched that film and I, for one, loved it.

Now that made me launch a quest back in 2011, to search for this cassette and buy it at any cost. I have looked up and down, turned the earth inside out, asked people, poked them to answer, tweeted, traced sources whenever I heard a familiar song and generally jumped around in vain.

A.K.A. fine times
Photo courtesy: Flickr/Freshly Diced

Having searched for two whole years now, I can confidently state that that music cassette does not exist.

How does something just vanish into thin air? I even remember the cover art and a couple of songs, so, as yet another try, I am going to describe the first and put down the latter before you.

Roses and wings

I distinctly remember that the cassette cover had a red rose on it, with the letters The Power of Love written in white. It was, I think, volume 2, but do not quote me on that. I remember the font was something very similar to Elephant.

Several aggregation, chronicling and e-store services from last.fm to Amazon list a product by name “(The) Power of Love”, but none of them are the one I am looking for. My indication? I am positive there was no Luther Vandross song in my old cassette.

And how do I know what was in there? I recognise some faintly, while others my mother or my father (both who owned the cassette in their youth and adulthood and not as kids of six years) who are clearly better judges at recalling their own (rather vast, I should say) music collection, tell me in passing that some song I happen to be listening to was in their collection way back when.

Photo courtesy: Andrevruas (own work) [CC-BY-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons


I can say for sure that some of my current favourites (none of which are current songs) were in it: there was Cyndi Lauper’s “Time after time”, Bette Middler’s “Wind beneath my wings”, George Michael’s “Faith”, George Benson’s “Nothing’s gonna change my love”, Kieth Whitley’s “When you say nothing at all”, Paebo Bryson’s “Tonight, I celebrate my love”, MLTR’s “Paint my love”, Chris deBurg’s “A lady in red”, Richard Marx’s “Right here waiting” and a version of “Green, green grass of home”, among many others.


From the songs, it is apparent that the cassette was an early- or mid-80s release, and that timeline fits perfectly. I actually have a list of more songs somewhere, but these are the ones that come to mind right now, as I write this, too lazy to fetch the list itself.

Unfortunately, my quest to track this cassette down has not been very successful so far; but it is far from over. My sole reason for writing this and requesting you to take your time to read this is if you already know, or happen to stumble upon this cassette anywhere, do send it my way.

A favour begets a favour. Besides, this will fit in a lost piece of a jigsaw perfectly.

 Cover image: Flickr/Coralí Cros 


Learning to exalt: thoughts on an enriching violin–piano concert

Music, alongside science, constitutes perhaps the only languages universally acknowledged — from the tribes of the Kalahari, away from modern society, to high Paris, the very centre of it. When it touches you, you know; when it does not, hoping it will is only futile. And I am lucky to be among those touched.

Last evening I spent over two hours at a concert listening to Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Massenet, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov and Piazollo. And it was blissful; it was wholesome; it was rich; it was classic; and it was refreshing.

The players

Rasa Zukauskaite
Copyright: Stiftung Podium Junger Musiker

The players at our concert series were Rasa Zukauskaite and Natalia Kapilova. Rudolf Kammermeier was supposed to play the grand piano, but after he was requested back in Germany, Ms Kapilova had to fill in for him.

Ms Zukauskaite was a student of Prof Raben Schalag and is now part of the quartet, Infinitum, as well as the Lithuanian State Orchestra. It was simply a pleasure listening to her, watching the bow move and fingers vibrate in a feverish rise and fall.

Ms Kapilova’s relationship with the piano was clearly otherworldly. A sense of peaceful elegance injected with gusto pierced the air with every depression of the keys and press of the una cordia and sostenuto pedals. A warm echo swept the room and everybody could keep listening to all day long.

They have not the capacity to make their works exalt — they meditate, protest, analyze, reason, calculate, brood, but they do not exalt.

— Sergei Rachmaninoff

The concert

Session 1

We started off with Ms Kapilova’s solo rendering of Beethoven’s Sonata in D Major for piano, Op. 12 No. 1. It was divine. The movements were played with a stallion-like elegance and reverberated through the walls. (And the acoustics of the place certainly helped.)

The piece that followed was played as a violin solo: the famous 2nd partita in D Minor, composed by Johann Sebastian Bach.


The third and final piece of the first session was a warm rendering of Mozart’s Sonata in G Major, K. 301. I managed to sneak a brief video (and, in my defense, so did about half of them present) and you can watch it further down the page. Mozart was played, aptly, under bare candle lights. The room was beautiful, the soulful music even more so. The violin ebbed with the composition as the piano provided a uniform, pleasing backdrop; and the instruments occasionally switched places in one of Mozart’s landmark works.

Having listened to music for a good hour or more, we took a brief rest for about 12 minutes. While we were all thoroughly enjoying ourselves, Beethoven and Bach and Mozart can cause a sweat like an athlete running a half marathon.

Ms Zukhauskaite (L) and Ms Kapilova (R) at the concert

Ms Zukhauskaite (L) and Ms Kapilova (R) at the concert, having just played Mozart’s Sonata in G Major

Session 2

We began our second session with Tchaikovsky’s Melodie. We were not clearly informed which of the so-called melodies we would be listening to, but once the grand piano went in the familiar one-two-three-one, one-two-three-one rhythm and the violin’s eight note motif floated through the air, I was convinced it had to be the serene Op. 42, no. 3.


And now, we came to the part of the concert I had (I confess) been waiting for all these days. It was my favourite on the playlist for the evening, and well nigh one of my favourite classical pieces ever; as our host himself stated it, very few had listened to it being performed live and, yes, I was lucky; I was lucky and excited enough to put away my phone, not shoot a photograph or video, shut my eyes and lend my ears to the music arising before me, like wind whistling through Oak. This piece is so beautiful, I need hardly say more than its title: Jules Massenet’s Thais meditation.


Now we break off for a minute as I give you the video I talked about earlier:


It’s stunning how just half a minute of that music can transport you to a whole new world!

The third piece was an equally stunning, solo piano work, thundering through the walls: Sergei Rachmaninov’s eerily beautiful Musical moment no. 4. If you hear this live, you will want to pay the musicians double and have them play it all over again.



Finally, listening to another Rachmnaninov, Vocalise Op. 34 no. 14, we moved onto slightly more modern times. The last piece of the day, the final sounds of the concert were the 20th century Argentinian classical composer, Astor Piazollo’s, Adiós, Nonino.

Meaning “Farewell, grandad” this piece is tango-infused classical music and one of Piazollo’s best known works, written in memory of his father days after his father’s passing. I had heard to this piece before but never wholly on violin accompanied by the piano and this take was refreshing, clean and heartily lovable.

It sounded no different than the version played at King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima Zorreguieta’s wedding.


A lasting effect

The concert was refreshing; but no words can truly some up such fine music. And it was wonderful to be entertained by two talented musicians from halfway around the world. In a way, anybody who had a musical eye (or hand) would most certainly have found a new spirit of creating after last night’s concert.

When I spoke to the musicians, their humour and charm and infectious enthusiasm was vibrating around them just as the walls and the panes and the door frames had been since the past hours. And, to me, one thing was clear: music, like physics, can make better men of us all.

To-morrow, I resume my affairs in bettering my vibrato. The day after, I hope to do it again.