Many happenings


View of the Arch at Valley Forge from way back of the park

The long Thanksgiving weekend was way too long in the waiting. It was more than two and a half months since I was back from India and it had been a near crazy time at work. Trying to keep the project on schedule wrestling a challenging client was the least of them. Don’t know how those 2 1/2 months rolled by. Once the evening gets over on Sundays then it is the anticipation of getting up early that prohibits a good night’s sleep. Then there is that fighting the early morning chill to get off the bed, rushing through the shower, grabbing the coffee, keep on checking the time. In the meantime you squeeze in some routines such as prayers and you know you are pushing the clock. Today  was one such day. I reluctantly got off the bed with my smartphone displaying near freezing temperatures outside. The long weekend was a blast though. Great hike on the red trail on Wednesday, a 4 mile walk at the Norristown farm park on Thanksgiving Thursday, then a six-mile walk at Valley Forge on the outer loop and again a 5.5 at Valley Forge Sunday made it a 18 mile weekend. Well worth the bit of sugar I had after sometime. Saturday attending a friend’s housewarming party that included quite a bit of singing. Got some new folks to come up to the mic and sing along.  Your involvement is your effort in promotion – got to remember that.

A 5.5 mile walk on the last day of this Thanksgiving weekend had me geared up for the week ahead.

A 5.5 mile walk on the last day of this Thanksgiving weekend had me geared up for the week ahead.

Over the past one year, I had taken some singing lessons. Though my interest is Indian Bollywood kind of karaoke songs, I went to a western vocal teacher. The basics should be the same after all right? Not the elements of music, but the technique. I learnt so much of the technique that I had a hard time putting those to practice. After about six months I had to stop as my work picked up and I couldn’t keep up. Some of these techniques I list below – these may not seem new to you if you are into singing:

  • Breath control : modulating how you breathe and hold your breath. Keep your chest open but let the diaphragm push the air out. This is so important to support your voice, else you will sound flat. I still haven’t mastered this simple technique to be honest.
  • Singing into the back of the face (as it is called or into the mask). This adds to resonance of your voice. You should feel the sounds reverberating off the back of your hard palate, in other words, the area to direct your voice is onto the back of your nasal cavity.
  • Opening your mouth: Unless you open your mouth, the voice won’t carry forward and it will be stifled within the mouth cavity.
  • Lower jaw must be loose and free to move
  • Over enunciate the vowels. Some vowels and words need to be emphasized more than in normal speech. That’s what makes an impact on the audience. This isn’t raising your voice, you just emphasize some of the vowels. On the same note, some vowels need to pronounced differently than in speech, but that is something I can’t remember well now.
  • Higher-pitch, higher-volume. If you need to deliver high pitch notes, you have to increase the volume of your voice else they don’t get carried forward.

Many more, unfortunately I haven’t mastered any of these yet. I have sung a lot of songs in the past one year and feel my progress has been not what it could have been. Well, I got to keep working at it.

An revolutionary war encampment replica at Valley Forge Park, PA

An revolutionary war encampment replica at Valley Forge Park, PA

Coming back to the title of this post – there are a lot of happenings in a short span of two hours as it happened today. I got my coffee out and the car out of the garage. Whether it was because it was the Monday after Thanksgiving or not, there was a lot of traffic on the street. Took me a minute to make the turn onto the road. It was still dark and typically it only takes five seconds to stop at the end of the driveway to make the turn. Then I had this guy coming fast behind me and I had to slow down quite a bit to make the left turn again. As I pulled my coffee cup out of the holder, I realized I hadn’t put the lid in the right position. If you have to hold the mug in your right hand to drink, then you have to position the lid opening 90 degrees to the left of the handle right? Well, I had to just grab the mug in the right position to position the opening to my mouth. In the dark and in the rush, when you try to grab and drink, all these matter 🙂  Luckily I got most of the lights turn green, but on the highway the traffic was more than average for the early morning. I had a long trailer who was taking up the middle lane and zipping at 75 mph, overtaking the slower, smaller vehicles. I made sure I stayed away from him. I could still feel the sleep creeping up at the time and I had to push myself to stay fully alert. As you dump the last of the coffee into your mouth, the little tilt of the head backwards could be dangerous in heavy traffic. What if the guy ahead happens to break right at that time going at 70 mph. Maintaining safe distance is the only option, but how can you when there is not much space due to the traffic?

A few more rushers zipping in-and-out of the lanes kept me stay alert through to the airport. I have complained so much about the Philadelphia airport. Today was no different. First off, the open parking slots that are displayed on each lane is totally wrong. When they say four open slots, there should be four to be easily found. But I haven’t had such success with the esteemed airport. I got out of level 1 and into level two to find an empty slot. This just shows how inept the administration is and reminded me of my harrowing experience a few weeks back trying to locate my car. The security guy had given me an incorrect level to find my car after I was delayed and tired and almost disoriented. The gate A18 is at the fag-end of the airport, but Terminal A doesn’t have TSA-precheck. So I stood in line for half hour as the only agent slowly scanned the bags of many non-business travelers. Three sweet but old ladies took their sweet time to unpack for the check even after being reminded to keep their IDs ready, they had to struggle to find them as they approached the agent. Sure I will be in the same position at some point in my life. There should be separate lines for families and business travelers. There is and it is called TSA pre-check but this wasn’t the case at Terminal A. I finally got out making sure I had everything with me. When you are used not taking things out of your bag but you have to, it is a distraction in and of itself. I had learnt that by hard experience. So I paid extra attention to making sure that I had everything. By the time I got to the gate, they were well past the priority boarding. I knew for sure I wouldn’t find space for my baggage and had to reluctantly check in the baggage.

All of the above on the road or on the airport just teaches me to stay calm. Else it would be a bad start to the long day ahead. You just have to keep in mind the end goal and see if you are still on track to it. What does it matter if you need to spend 10 more minutes needing to claim your baggage after reaching your destination.. It shouldn’t be a reason to get upset. A calm mind prevails always whatever the situation.

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