I *heart* Bombay (and well..Boston)

I'm urban..in the way other people are mountain-people or tunafish junkies. I love city life...something about dreary concrete blocks and grumpy people totally gets my juices flowing. Ergo, this will be a blog about me, my two favourite cities (Bombay and Boston), my addiction to Vietnamese coffee and my views on Gregorian chant and it's efficacy in curing some types of tympannic membrane rupture. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Slav to the music...(Word up Babushki!)

That's right.. I didn't make a spelling mistake. I am indeed a big fan of music from Eastern Europe and Russia.

Ilya gets the thanks for that. He introduced me to the sheer awesomeness of Russian folk music as we downed shots of vodka straight from the fridge at my apartment in Brookline. Through the haze, I could hear high pitched, indistinct voices screeching out what passed for harmony set to a techno beat...It sounded awesome in my vodka-haze..plus the fact that both Ilya and me were dancing around my tiny kitchen eating cookies and downing shots made the music that much more memorable.
The next morning, I slipped in the cassette again after the hangover had passed. And I was blown away by the voices. Ivan Kupala (The Russian name for St. John the Baptist) is the name of a group of musicians who travel Russia, Ukraine and Belarus looking for old folk songs that are in danger of extinction and then mix it up with some modern techno and reggae music to create this awesome mix. Ethno-techno? Sure, why not?

Imagine a chorus of 20-30 old babushkas wearing over-sized housecoats and bandana veils all singing in high-pitched Russian style harmony about bees, blackbirds, prety girls and lusty men. And then a toe-tapping beat. Just made me want to turn up the volume in my car and blare the sound out from my speakers. Except I lived in Brookline surrounded by Russkis and I didn't want assorted mafia-types leaning into my Mini wondering who was wailing about lizards that want to get married and magpies making porridge that seem to be the staple for all Slavic folk music.

Here's the lyrics to my favourite song Brovi (Eyebrows) that is still the only Russian song I can sing from memory (though I sound dreadful when I do the high pitched voices). Loosely translated, it's the lament of a pretty girl who can't leave her house becuase she has dark black eyebrows (a sign of beauty in medieval Russia). I'm sure Ilya still remembers me singing this rather loudly at the Russian deli in Brighton. And pretending he didn't know me as I loudly sang about how my father had forbidden suitors for me and how my braids were whitening with age.


Хожу я по улице, не нахожуся
Ой, не нахожуся
Гляжу я на милого, не нагляжуся
Ой, не нагляжуся

Брови мои, брови
Брови мои чёрные
Не давали брови на улицу выйти
Не давали, не давали, друга увидали

Пошёл, пошёл миленький, а вдоль по селу
Ой, а вдоль по селу
А в крайнем-то дворике девка хороша
Ой, Катюша-душа

Брови мои, брови
Брови мои чёрные
Не давали брови на улицу выйти
Не давали, не давали, друга увидали

Over the next few months I discoverd Russian rock..DDT, Kino, Akvarium..and even managed to see them at the Middle East in Cambridge once. Me, a very brown skinny me, surrounded by hundreds of uber-pale, blond, icy blue-eyed Russkis guzzling vodka and doing their "maat" talk all over the place. How much fun!

Thank you Ilya for showing me new horizons in music...and a new way of thinking as well. I miss being friends with you!

Random website:
Punching and choking monkeys in the name of scientific research? Disgusting!

Current Music:
No not Ivan Kupala yet..
Superstar - Jamelia


  • At 9:23 AM, Blogger livinghigh said…

    i am IN LOVE with Superstar!!!!
    yes... yes... ilya too is not bad, i'm sure... once u get done with the babushkas! ;-)

    PS: the one abt the antakshari stuff in de train was fun, too. i'm in love with both rummy and go fish, though - not so much antakshari!


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