Monday, 28 November 2011

A visit to a Bengal countryside...

We often take our homeland for granted and only realise its worth after travelling around the world. My story is a little like that. I have lived in big cities and that probably made me a little snobbish over the years. And, I found that's the same with my sister and cousins too. Just this time when I went to Kolkata I felt like visiting a couple of places which are far and are a little modernised villages. One such place was Belmuri, which is about an hour and a half drive from Rashbehari Avenue, my home in Kolkata. The trip was planned to pay a visit to an elderly grand aunt and uncle, who were very eager to meet my little daughter. As I told my folks about my plan not only did they readily agree, a couple of others joined in too. We were 8 of us and it did sound like a plan!

I haven't been to any place around Kolkata in several years and I did not realise that some of the highways are so wonderfully built. When my uncle told me that we'll cover the 100 odd kilometres in an hour and a half I didn't quite believe. To my surprise we actually did, in fact, a little before the estimated time! I loved the smooth ride, it was an experience I hadn't felt ever before in Bengal. Modernisation may not have reached these places to a great extent, but there is no dearth of Sprite or Lay's wafers all along the way!

As we reached my grand aunt and uncle's place we were welcomed by the entire family. The warmth that I felt as I got there was amazing, can't find such pure emotions in cities anymore. After many years I had a really good time with family and relatives. It felt good to realise that simple pleasures of life are not difficult to get, only if you want them! Also, we had freshly cooked chicken curry, cauliflower-prawn curry and rice!

Here are a few photographs that I took of the house... 

A humble old fashioned house with many modern amenities inside

Rice is stocked in the hut after the harvest

Moving towards modernisation

Aanya is always happy when she is with my mother!

Thursday, 1 September 2011

10 years away from Kolkata...

I relocated to Hyderabad on this day 10 years ago. Not out of choice, but the fact that Joy moved there. While leaving Calcutta (the renaming of the city happened after I left) I was sure that I will be back in 2 to 3 years. 10 years have gone by, I moved from Hyderabad to Mumbai, and I see no sign of moving back to Kolkata any time soon.

Working at All India radio, compering shows, teaching music in an international school, getting into Voice and Accent training, later advancing to soft skills and various other aspects of corporate training... I had a good variety of things to do. I also sang and played with a band called 'A Band With No Name'! 

Hyderabad gave me a lot, but took away a lot more. I could never connect with that city. I never loved that city. But I have to admit that most of my friends live in Hyderabad. And, it's for them I will visit the city whenever I can.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Things to do before I die... a random list!

See Whitney Houston in action... live on stage, wherever it is!
Concert (s) at the Royal Albert Hall
Cats, Phantom of the Opera (musicals) in London
Visit country side in England... see Anne Hathaway's cottage
Visit Trinity College
See Niagra from both sides
Ride a gondola in Venice
Visit Monaco, Casablanca and a thousand places more...
See the Statue of Liberty
Go to Times Square, casinos in Vegas (and lose all my money!)
Greece, Bahamas, does the wish list end anywhere... NO!

I'll get this list organised someday, for sure! :D

Friday, 26 August 2011

Anushka's Birthday Celebration at Sneha Sadan!

Anushka's 1st birthday celebration began on August 7 by visiting a home called Sneha Sadan in the suburbs of Mumbai that takes care of girls who are either abandoned or orphans. Anushka, along with Joy, my mother and me, spent time with the children there, and we indeed had a very good time! Though Anushka was initially a little quiet, she gradually warmed up to the children! Here are some of the photographs taken.

The celebrations continued in Goa! Here are the links:

Anushka's 1st Birthday at Palolem!

Palolem is one of the most beautiful beaches in all of Goa. I did not believe it till I saw it! I am so happy that my sister insisted that we go to Palolem to celebrate Aanya's Birthday, and all of us agreed to it!

In mid-August Goa is not all that crowded, though there were a good amount of people in some parts of Goa as it was the Indian Independence Day just after the weekend - a long weekend for many. Hence, going to Palolem was a great option!

We reached Palolem late in the afternoon, and the moment we got off the car I got reminded of the film 'The Bourne Supremacy'The beach was featured as the Indian residence of Jason Bourne played by Matt Damon. I remember that the initial footage in the movie showed the natural beauty of the beach, and I could almost connect with what I was seeing with my own eyes to what I saw in the movie. Palolem is spectacular! I had never been to any beach like this before. It is still unspoilt even though many people are talking about it these days. 

A little about the Palolem beach to excite the readers! It takes about an hour to get to Palolem from Margao. Though there are train and bus options to get there, it's best to hire a car to travel to any place in Goa. Otherwise, one can a hire a bike to get around Palolem.

It is a natural bay surrounded by lofty headlands on either sides. The sand is white and the sea is not rough. Joy and I had the courage to take Aanya into the water and walk a bit too. In fact, we saw some surfers there! 

There are various places to go from Palolem, one being the boat ride to see dolphins. We missed all that because all that are closed during the off season months. Water sports are also a big favourite during the season time. 

Since we went during off season the beach shacks were closed for food. We were very hungry and couldn't wait, so we went straight to Dropadi, near the entrance to the beach. It looked nice and had the authentic beach restaurant feel. We had three kinds of awesome prawn dishes besides other stuff and beer. They serve excellent food, and the service was also good.

Here are some pics taken at the beach...


Thursday, 25 August 2011

Goa in the monsoon...

About 3 months ago I decided that we'll celebrate Anushka's 1st birthday in Goa. Joy and my parents readily agreed, and so did my sister after a little cajoling! As a start to the preparations I called my Goan friend who is now a resident of Hyderabad though, and asked for the things that we could at this part of the year. His first reaction was why now, go in October. It took me a few weeks to make him understand that it was because of Anushka's birthday that we were going to Goa, and that cannot happen in October!

Sometimes I feel happy that I don't just listen to what people have to tell me; I have drawn a lot of flak from various quarters for this though! Many other friends and acquaintances warned us, discouraged us, all saying that it's going to rain, and you guys will have to stay at the hotel throughout your trip!

It did rain, sometimes there were little showers and sometimes it rained quite heavily. But to our great luck the rains did not affect our plans not even once... maybe I can call it 'Anushka Luck'! Light grey skies, with a drizzle once in a while, greenery in abundance, comfortable weather, just a few people on the beaches, lovely food... what more could we have asked for! Little Anushka was also enjoying I guess... her food habit and sleeping habit just changed during those days... she was an absolute darling!

Do I still have to say that we had a wonderful time through the four days! :)

Monday, 15 August 2011

Happy Birthday Ms. Anushka Roy!

There are different ways by which one can interpret the essence of songs. Songs can set different moods  for different people. When I was thirteen I learnt Top of the World by The Carpenters, and I had categorised it as a love song; I never thought it could represent anything else. 

Today, as I sit down to write something for my daughter who turned 1 today, the song is ringing in my mind, and I feel the words are so apt to describe what I feel!

Aanya darling, this song is for you! 

"Such a feelin’s comin’ over me
There is wonder in most everything I see
Not a cloud in the sky
Got the sun in my eyes
And I won’t be surprised if it’s a dream

Everything I want the world to be
Is now coming true especially for me
And the reason is clear
It’s because you are here
You’re the nearest thing to heaven that I’ve seen

I’m on the top of the world lookin’ down on creation
And the only explanation I can find
Is the love that I’ve found ever since you’ve been around
Your love’s put me at the top of the world

Something in the wind has learned my name
And it’s tellin’ me that things are not the same
In the leaves on the trees and the touch of the breeze
There’s a pleasin’ sense of happiness for me

There is only one wish on my mind
When this day is through I hope that I will find
That tomorrow will be just the same for you and me
All I need will be mine if you are here"

Happy Birthday my love! All my love and blessings for you. This is your 1st birthday gift! Baba (Joy) you can sing along (in the right key please!)  ... Mama :)

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Whitney Houston: Return of the Diva (Paperback) ~ Parish James R... Cover Art

Yet another surprise from Joy! A great way to begin my autobiography/biography collection of musicians!

Where have all the friends gone?

"If you're lonely
And need a friend 
And troubles seem like 
They never end 
Just to remember to keep the faith 
And love will be there to light the way 

Anytime you need a friend I will be here 
You'll never be alone again 
So don't you fear 
Even if you're miles away 
I'm by your side 
So don't you ever be lonely
Love will make it alright..."

There was a time when some of my friends and I used to swear by these words and the emotions involved. But today, where is even that one friend who can be there when I need them to be around? 

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Something that I wrote in an interview a few years ago...

People are often asked to write essays during their interview rounds. Among many topics one of the recruiters’ favourites is “what do you think is the single most important problem the world is facing”. Even I had to write once on the same topic, and this is pretty much what I wrote. 

Problems, there are aplenty in the world we live in. Poverty, destruction, racism, pollution, population, the list is endless. If I have to talk about the single most important problem the world is facing, I would say the right for humans to live in peace. Asking for peace is such a dificult thing in today’s world. What attributes to this is debatable.

War and destruction are two words we learn at formidable years of our lives, when we read in schools about ancient kings and their stories of victory. Ironically, what we think is ancient is still so prevalent, probably in a more heinous form. People today still kill people for power, and often, in the name of religion! Terrorism has paralysed the society at large. As a kid I did not learn the word ‘terrorism’, probably because there was no need for it. But today, every kid knows what the word means and they also know a lot about terrorists! Wonder if there are solutions to eradicate the terrorists and terrorism from the face of the earth.

Talking about India, one cannot take a stroll in the park, or watch a movie at a theatre, or just go crazy on shopping without being frisked and being looked at with suspicion. There is hardly any ease of living.

To conclude, I would say that it is the responsibility of each human to ensure peace in whatever form possible, as we already have many other problems to deal with in our lives. If each of us learns to treat others equally, starts to accept and respect beliefs and opinions of others, the world will surely become a better place to live in.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Rare Concert Video of Eva Cassidy - endless joy of music from Joy!

Last night Joy mentioned that he is downloading something for me and that is going to be something special. This morning I find a rare live concert video of Eva Cassidy and a few other live recordings! No matter how hard I try I will never be able to find these videos; and Joy gets away with a lot of nonsense because of these rare little gifts that he gives me every now and then!

Eva Cassidy was one of those rare talents who died very early and the world did not get to hear enough of her. Unfortunately, her genius did not get her as much popularity as Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison among others  who died around that age. The major difference in music between the 3 names mentioned above and Eva was that the 3 of them wrote their own music and performed too, while Eva sang covers mainly, but giving each song  a different flavour. Eva rearranged each song and made them sound like her own while keeping the basic structure and feel of the songs intact. According to me, she was a genius in arranging music, and she deserved  a much bigger place in peoples' hearts. 

I have recommended her music to a few of my friends and they have become huge fans. I want to share this video with the world, but it is so large that I cannot put it up on YouTube. I am on the case now, and I am sure I will find a way!

Monday, 11 July 2011

As time goes by...

Today is the day of social networking, online dating, modern thinking, progressing etc, etc. However, when I listen to this song from the 1931 broadway musical 'Everybody's Welcome' I feel that the very essence of life hasn't really changed much. Read it if you please...

You must remember this
A kiss is still a kiss
A sigh is still (just) a sigh
The fundamental things apply
As time goes by

And when two lovers woo
They still say: "I love you"
On that you can rely
No matter what the future brings
As time goes by

Moonlight and love songs - never out of date
Hearts full of passion - jealousy and hate
Woman needs man - and man must have his mate
That no one can deny

It’s still the same old story
A fight for love and glory
A case of do or die
The world will always welcome lovers
As time goes by 

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Remembering music of Mary Poppins!

Today was just another day when I wanted to spend some time watching music videos on YouTube. I started with some jazz standards, then moved on to some lighter music and then suddenly out of nowhere I wanted to listen to 'Chim Chim Cheree' from the musical film 'Mary Poppins'. While watching the video and getting soaked in childhood memories I noticed the side bar that displayed suggestions of other related songs. And, to my surprise I found 'Let's Go Fly A Kite' besides 'Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious', the latter one I remembered was part of the film. Over the years, I completely forgot that'Let's Go Fly A Kite' was also a part of the same film.

In school, and later in college too, my friends  and I have performed songs from 'The Sound Of Music' several times, and even today many parents and teachers ensure that the kids know some songs from this film. But, do people, especially in India, (can't say about the rest of the world) remember much about 'Mary Poppins' or the beautiful songs that were composed for the musical? I learnt 3 songs when I was about 7 years old (the names I have already mentioned). Well, I haven't known many people who know these songs! And, I wonder why is there a difference? The genre was the same, both films had the charming Julie Andrews, yet both have been treated so differently.

Most people these days can't relate to quality music. My statement holds good in the Indian context. Be it Indian (all forms) or any other genre, Bollywood music is the only form of music people connect with.  There is such dearth for western music education here in India. I know hundreds of people who have learnt western classical music and some of them even went on to do the diploma courses as well, but I know only a handful who have taken up music as their profession. 

I hope someday there will be enough enthusiasts who will do all that is necessary to preserve the wonderful treasure of music and films that may just get lost in time. I am doing my bit by leaving this video that I found on YouTube. Sing along with it, it'll be a great way to get transported back to childhood!

Monday, 27 June 2011

I am back to teaching music!

Till a couple of years ago I believed that my music career is finished and it'll never come back, and I wrote this. But today, things are a little different. I am back to teaching piano and keyboard again! I cannot say that I have got back everything I had, that I don't think is practically possible. It is a small start considering that I am living in Mumbai for just 3 years and I have a little daughter. The good thing is that I have been receiving calls from reputed institutions to join them. I am just waiting for my daughter to grow a little more before I say yes to one of the institutions. 

Performing does not interest me that much anymore, unless it is for a really prestigious project. What I am interested in is to teach music in a more serious form. I know western music in India is still not treated  that seriously, but I can see little changes in various quarters. I am willing to wait and do my bit, and I am hopeful that I will be among the very few who tried to make a difference! 

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Down memory lane, it's music once more!

A friend came over day before, and as usual our conversation was mainly on different aspects of music. While talking about different artists, albums etc. he asked me to get a copy of The Hitman Returns: David Foster and Friends and listen to it. He said, I will love it! My husband promptly downloaded the video yesterday and brought it for me. These are some of the nicest things Joy does for me, even before I ask!

This afternoon I got some time and played the DVD. My memories came alive! Kenny Loggins, Chaka Khan, Natalie Cole, Donna Summer, All-4-One, Michael Bolton, Seal, and many more belting out 1 hit after another. I don’t remember when was the last time I heard 'I Can't Love You Like That’ or ‘I Swear’, but today, when I heard All-4-One singing the songs I had goose bumps and I was transported back to 1994. The year of 1994 was a very special one in my life for a variety of reasons; hundreds of memories are etched on my mind. Getting back to the band, after 17 years they sound as good if not more mature! Michael Bolton still sings ‘When A Man Loves A Woman’ as passionately and beautifully as he did almost 20 years ago!

I have known David Foster’s name mainly because of Whitney Houston’s album Bodyguard.  It was only when I started watching the video that I realized what a great and accomplished musician and producer he has been, and what great artists he has been working with!

To watch a concert like this is so rare these days with the way music has changed over the years. Any concert I watch on DVDs etc. are at least 10 years old; hence, this 2011 concert is a treat for music lovers like me. I was so ecstatic watching it on a DVD, wonder how it would’ve felt live!

The backup band was amazing, the string section, the brass section - in short, a very well organised and an extremely well-rehearsed band! Usually, these musicians are studio musicians; therefore, you can‘t expect anything but the best! If I am not mistaken Nathan East was playing the bass, but Joy kept saying it had to be someone else and not him. I googled to check but I did not get an answer. I will check again at a later time. Kenny G made a surprise appearance from amongst the audience in one of songs and he played just as well.

The concert had a very large audience and most of them seemed to be above the age of 35, some may have been in their 50’s! It was wonderful to see the excitement in their eyes, and it was even more wonderful to see how the well-dressed, sophisticated ladies were on their toes dancing to their favourite songs; probably they were trying to relive their past. Chaka Khan even made the men dance when she sang one of Whitney Houston’s biggest hits ‘I’m Every Woman’! That’s the power of music I guess.

I end my little write up here as I think I cannot share my excitement and happiness anymore by means of writing. In the next few days I know I will watch this concert over and over again, and celebrate the moments I left behind!

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Health Cover for Domestic Help in India

Read in the Times of India today that "Now, your bai to get Indian Rupee symbol.svg30K health cover". Apparently around 47.5 lakh domestic helps aged between 18 and 59 will benefit under Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana. The article also gives details of how much premium the government would pay, the eligibility criteria etc. 

The first thing that came to my mind was which half decent hospital will accommodate patients with such a measly insurance cover? When my husband had malignant malaria last year he was admitted to our family physician's nursing home, which I would grade as a decent place, and we paid Indian Rupee symbol.svg25K for 3 days. Imagine what we would have to pay in case of surgeries etc! We paid a bomb when my daughter was born in Lilavathi, Mumbai! Well, an optimist may think that something is better than nothing. At least, the government is thinking about that strata of the society!

Another thing that really irked me was the article mentions the scheme will cost the government Indian Rupee symbol.svg30 crore now and is projected to rise to over Indian Rupee symbol.svg74 crore in the next fiscal year. Why is it so important to highlight those figures? Considering each scam we hear about is worth a hundred crore rupees to start with and goes up to a thousand, what is 30 crores for the Indian government? My point is why can't they spend some more!

Do I have an answer, no? Neither does the 'aam janta' I associate with. At this point I just want to be hopeful that the two ladies who help me in my household work get to benefit from this scheme, and I will do my bit ( if I can) to help them.

Friday, 24 June 2011

A thought...

I was randomly listening to music while doing my usual work at home when 'The World Ain't Slowing Down' by Ellis Paul started playing. I have heard this song several times in the past, but I never really paid heed to the words ever. For the first time a line hit me today. It goes like this:

"I found you sitting on a suitcase crying
Beneath my feet, I feel the rumble of a subway train
I laugh out loud
'cause it's the one thing I hadn't been trying..."

When was the last time I laughed out loud? I don't remember, except the times when I typed lol on chats. Do lol's mean anything at all! With the regular chores at home and outside I find my life going on like a machine. No matter how interesting I may want things to be I don't find myself laughing out loud, almost ever! Wondering is it just me? I don't see many people around me laughing out loud too! It isn't such a difficult thing, don't know why we don't try!

Thursday, 23 June 2011

I want a wardrobe makeover!

I don't belong to the group of women who don't wear their clothes more than once, neither am I the kind who need to change her wardrobe every 6 months... some of my clothes are as old as 10 years and they still fit me, and they don't look worn out! 

In Hyderabad I had three 2-door wardrobes for my clothes, and still some of my clothes used to be stacked on an extra chair, sometimes on the bed. I could never fit in my clothes inside the wardrobes! When Joy and I moved to Mumbai my clothes were confined to just one wardrobe as the other two were built-in ones that belonged to the previous flat owner. Besides the one wardrobe my clothes were stacked in three suitcases because there was no place for another piece of furniture in the tiny apartment we moved in. 

It's been over two years in Mumbai, and I am kind of sick of looking at the suitcases and the one over packed wardrobe. For the first time in my life I am willing to give away clothes. I know that as long as I am going to live in Mumbai the flats are going to be small, and now that I have a daughter, the second bedroom is going to be her's; so there will be no place for an extra cupboard... sad! But no, it's not all that sad any more 'cause I want a clothes makeover.

In fact, I am already in the process of sorting out clothes that I will never wear. There are several reasons why I want to give away those clothes. The most common reasons are one, I have worn them just too many times, and second, I don't fit into some! It feels sad with the second point though that I don't fit into some! Also, after looking at pics of many 35 plus yummy mummies I had a desire to be one of them. Well, I don't know whether I can fit into the shoes of those yummy mummies, but I can definitely dress to look good!

I guess I need to come to terms with the fact that I am fatter than what and how I used to be, and unless I change my diet and exercise regularly I cannot get slimmer. This may sound like an excuse, but it's okay to be a little healthy at 36, isn't it! ;) 

Here are all that I am going to do... after sorting all the clothes I am going to alter and redesign a few of them for a new look (the recycle freak that I am!), give some of my favourite ones to two of dearest cousins. The not-so favourite clothes will go to Goonj.  And finally, I am going to buy a hell lot of new clothes! Why not, there's no age bar to go for a style makeover! :)

Friday, 27 May 2011

My Trip To Kolkata

Well this took me a while, to write about my trip to Cal. Cal is always fun, but this time it was indeed special. We went to celebrate Anushka's Annaprashan. There were 4 events for her, and surprisingly, she took all of them really well, with minor discomfort and crying. Great job for a 6 and a half month old!

I celebrated my birthday in Cal after 10 years, with family! I went to Tangra ... after 6 yrs! In fact as a family we went to eat in Tangra after probably 14 years! We even forgot the name of our favourite restaurant and ended up going to another! Kim Fa and Kim Ling don't sound too different, do they ;) I felt nostalgic while driving down the lanes of Tangra.

Joy and I went to Henry's, a very old Chinese shoe store in New Market. Joy needed to buy shoes. Sadly, the store is no more the way it used to be, the glory days are gone. Joy and I did our usual walking on Park Street , Free School Street; it's like a ritual walking on these streets, eating chicken rolls! This time we also went to Braganza's... don't remember after how many years! Also, walked past Uncle Anto's house, just that he is no more.... We spent an entire afternoon on this side of town and headed back home taking the metro rails, another one of our favourites!

Through the 4 events, I met a lot of relatives, friends, some of them after about 10 years or more. Felt at home in fact. No matter how much settled I feel in Mumbai, Cal is still home. that's where my heart belongs.

After a 2 week stay at the place I belong, I had to pack multiple bags, for me, Joy and Anushka, and head back to Mumbai, with lots of fond memories, hundreds of photographs, Anushka's gifts and her 55 new dresses! :D

Friday, 25 February 2011

Travelling begins again!

After a year and two month break Joy and I start travelling again, but now, we have a new little member joining us! I think I am more thrilled that Anushka is making her first trip rather than the fact that I am going somewhere after so long.

Well, this time we are not going to any exotic location nor to a spell bounding scenic place, but to the place where we belong... our own city of joy! Going to ones hometown may not always be a very exciting option, for some it is so matter of fact. But, for Joy and me, Kolkata is no less than any great place; just that one has to have the eyes to look out and enjoy. 

We are going to Cal to celebrate Anushka's Annaprashan. Besides meeting family, friends and relatives, Joy and I have planned a few outings which we'll have to squeeze in as the days are going to be quite hectic. Looking forward to this trip as this is my first after becoming a mother, that is adding more excitement! Will come back and post about all the fun times that Joy and I are going to have!

By the way it's my birthday tomorrow, guess it's a good way to start a trip! Bon voyage to me! :)

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Alo Amar Alo and Anushka!

'Alo Amar Alo' is a very popular Tagore song which almost every Bengali has heard once in their life for sure. I learnt it when I was two and a half, probably this was the second song I learnt after 'Tomari Gehe Palichho Snehe'. Thanks to the school I went to, my orientation in Rabindrasangeet happened at a very early age, and the sixteen years of constant learning and practice in school left such an everlasting impact on me that no matter how many different genres of music I enjoy listening to, singing or playing, Rabindrasangeet is closest to my heart.

The point of writing today is not about my immense love for Tagore's poetry and music, but it is about my little Anushka's love for Alo Amar Alo. I have been terrible all these months as far as singing lullabies are concerned because I find them, well hmmm, not so good. So, I started playing music either on the ipod and put it on the dock or playing music on the computer. She enjoys Whitney Houston, earlier songs of Mariah Carey and a variety of other music. Then came a stage, when she was about 3 months, that she chose to sleep in my arms and I needed to hum a tune to make her sleep. And, without consciously choosing any particular song, I started humming and later singing Alo Amar Alo. 

Well, the consequence, even after 2 months, I need to sing this song for almost everything, when she is hungry or she is cranky or when she just wants to go to sleep. I sing at noon, at midnight, sometimes even at 6 in the morning, and it's the same song, Alo Amar Alo! She doesn't like it if I stop for a moment to catch a breath, such is her immense love for the song, and trust me when I say that my renditions are nothing less than croaking, but my daughter loves it! I have sung this song more number of times in the past 2 months than I have in my entire life; I'm a one-song jukebox!

The real magic in all this is that the song works every time. I don't know how to reason this or analyse this for an explanation. All I know is that such is the power of Tagore's music. Little did Tagore know that his songs will have such an impact not only on younger children but even on infants! What makes me very happy is that in the day and age of cheap sleazy bollywood music blaring away at top volumes, good pure music is still alive.