ILLAM, Nepal


My family and I visited Illam for the new years’. For four days I was in the green lush hills, driving down beautiful roads around heavenly landscape and yet it felt like it wasn’t enough. It felt like the feeling of being on a trip was missing or more like I did not feel free enough to do things I was imagining, though I know I can be impractical sometimes. I believe these trips are memorable when you get into uncomfortable situations and scenarios and how you get out of and remember how it all happened. It needs be tenuous. But, it was a family trip, comfortable and limiting. Anyway, since my father was the pack leader which meant I wasn’t making the choices but he was. He decided when it was time to get up and go, where to stay, what to eat and what not to eat, and when we were going back and most importantly, all the conversations with the strangers. Maybe, I wasn’t involved and I was feeling sick about it. Thank god it did not come out directly on him but in a very silent nuanced pulsating revolt. It meant that I was indirectly directing my suppression by talking brashly or ignoring, and rebelling against his decisions or what not.

Anyway, there feels an empty void that nothing could fill but being alone. Being alone, on the road, that’s when I am completely on my own. Deciding all the crazy ideas I get up my head. Walking. That’s most important. When travelling I like to travel on foot. That’s my favorite conveyance. Anything else is just too fast. Meeting strangers and seeing places and eating food and just doing whatever the hell you can imagine and not needing someone else to accompany you on it.

We all to need to be doing solo trips, once in while; guess that will only prove how much we agree with our ideas. I will definitely do a hiking trip. It could just be a small stretch or something, like I would go in the morning and return by evening. No, but that is not something that would be enough or something we should go slow and build ourselves. I want to do something big. That way I would really test my ideas in a huge way. Otherwise, it would be like shaping your mind to come around your own ideas and settling yourself into them when it is all about testing your ideas with the rest of the world’s.

The famous tea gardens of Illam

Anyway there are things to talk about Illam too. The place is absolutely beautiful and the drive even better. I wish we did more walking but anyway, the tea gardens, for me, was a first. They look like grasslands, mesmerizing. Women cultivated them largely. We all know about how pretty Nepali women are, but they are also the ones running the country here, the men are outside in other countries doing all kinds of jobs, while the women irrigate the lands, cook food, bring up their children, teach them and all sorts of things. These women from the hills and villages are surprisingly very upfront like they are not shy speaking to men. I have seen or heard that girls from villages are shy talking to men and all that but they are not. I was the shy one around.

The Long range of Kanchenjunga

We drove all the way to eastern territory of Nepal, Taplejung, beyond which there were no roads. It was bordered by Bhutan on the east and China in the north. We were surrounded by the tall and snow covered peaks of the Kanchenjunga Range. Even from a distance, that we were, they looked gigantic. I couldn’t take my eyes off them until the sun had set and it was out of sight until next morning. People usually come here to make a pilgrimage to a famous Shiv mandir of Pathibhara. We didn’t go there because there were no proper roads and only habituated local drivers can take that route. We would have to hire a Scorpio which we did but eventually changed our minds because it was another 5-6 hours journey and a steep trek that my father completely signed off from. It was situated at a mighty 4000mts and really cold since it was wintertime. Well, that’s that.

Bands from the 70’s

It’s hard not to reminisce that age of music that was harnessed by a symbiosis of the mind and an instrument; not how electronic beats and bass thump every loud speaker these days. The beauty of it lied in the live performances. How a band, on stage, could get the entire crowd thumping to its beats in unison. Ever wondered why people say ‘old is gold’? Well for first timers it probably is because in the old days life was a teeny-tiny bit difficult. Work was done by hand and it took time, practice and patience to become really good at it. And anything that takes time I believe gets more beautiful with age just like how whiskey gets better with age. You would know if you had ever picked up an instrument how many years it takes to ease into it and really get a flow. I of all have always adored the sound of a guitar. Not because it was cool but because I naturally glided into my own world when I heard a tune play. So, here I would like the present the era that really took guitar seriously, the Rock & Roll age. The infamous times that truly was cool not just in terms of popularity but in its achievement in musical expressions and sound. Here, I am going to share those bands and artists that defined the age of 70s’ rock and roll that changed the way music would be perceived upto modern times i.e 21st century.

Led Zepplin
The first choice would undoubtedly be Led Zepplin. They owned the 70s’, and no band could ever put up almost 10 albums in a decade. Actually, most of their work was done in the 70s’ or so until their drummer collapsed on stage of choking and the other members got busy with their own lives. Jimmy Page, one of the worlds best guitarist, put together the band, after he dispersed from his previous band, The Yardbirds. He had nearly 20 years of experience on the guitar before starting the band, and enough knowledge in reading music and most importantly music production. When electric guitar was becoming a phenomenon in the United States and everybody in the rest of the world was drooling to Elvis, this young chap took to it.. Also, over the years, he was pretty inspired by the Blues, which spoke to him. His vision was to set up a fusion of Blues and Rock & Roll and I suppose the band really lived up to it. If you haven’t seen Jimmy Page play the guitar you got to on youtube. The power riffs on the electric guitar are so quick that it becomes impossible to follow his fingers and a nightmare for the band drummer.
I would recommend you start with the first album and go in that order because back in the day it was albums that mattered and not single on top billboards.

Favourite Pick: Albums Led Zepplin I, II, III, IV

The aussie band is popular for hard rock that doesn’t fade into noise, inspite of being terribly loud and that’s the beauty of it. How difficult it could showcase your rage and rebellion into an expression so strong. I mean you need to listen to know it.
The band has been around for nearly 5 decades now but within themselves the band has had a fair share of ups and downs. The 70’s were AC/DC’s high point with back to back chart topping albums like, ‘Back to Black’ and ‘Let There be Rock’. Things cooled off in the 80’s after the lead singer Bon Scott passed away but in the 90’s the band was able to maintain its status with successful albums through. The Founder, Malcom Young passed away in 2017, but the band goes on with Stevie Young taking place of the lead. Yes, Stevie Young is the kid who wears a school uniform on stage.
The band had lately been reincarnated in movie soundtrack for Iron Man 2 with chart topping songs like shoot to thrill and highway to hell. But I am sure you would like other albums too if you gave a listen to this hard rock punk ass band.

Favourite Picks: Let there be rock, Highway to Hell, Shoot to Thrill

Pink Floyd
There is a lot to appreciate about this band much so because it is simply a unique band with a unique expression of sound. It has been here for a long long time and people mostly remember its most distinguishing feature, the echoing and reverberating sound that bulbs from a memory, where you were pushed into a space of your own world where everything is dead quiet and calm. Moreover, might I say transcending psychedelic music or space rock, a dichotomy nobody could explain. Their songs are the type people ask ‘what song is this bro?’ It might be an old band but mind you their music is quite modern. The fondest memory I have is participating with a young crowd of school kinds chanting ‘Another brick in the Wall’ that was covered by my school band(and I, honestly, knew no lyrics of that song) The most famous album ‘Dark side of the Moon’ remains vivid in my mind bacuase of its art cover where white light is passing through a prism and spreading into a rainbow; only Pink Floyd could conceive such deep allegories. By the way, many don’t folks don’t know that the name comes from two American bluesmen of the name Pink Anderson & Floyd Council, as a tribute to the music they loved.

Favourite Picks: Another brick in the wall, Marooned, Hey you

You might remember the name from the famous feature film ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and its lead Freddie Mercury but the band has more to offer than what a hour and a half movie can cover. It was known for its live performances and getting its audience to chant their anthems like ‘We are the Champions’ & ‘We will Rock you’. Freddie was a special and unique mix of an artist and moreover a performer. His energy pumped stage performances were so lively and his improvisations so much fun that the crowd couldn’t get enough of him. The story of the band is no special from other rock and roll bands and how it portrays unapologetically the instinctive need to perform. Queen has paved way for its own type of stadium rock. Moreover, it is important to reiterate the band’s philosophy of believing in spontaneity. The story begins when Freddie on spot auditions in front of Brian May and Roger Taylor being a famous duet band before. Moreover, the unplanned collaboration with David Bowie led a chart topper ‘Under Pressure’ reiterates that philosophy. It is definitely a band not to miss. Every band member has written songs that have been a success. It has believed in creating something unique in each album and cross boundaries with all types of genres from pop to funk and more so.

Favourite Pick: Under Pressure, Another one bites the dust, Love of my Life and I want to break free.

Black Sabbath
The band that introduced the world to metal and hard rock, with Tony Iommi on the guitar, Ozzy Osbourne as singer, bassist Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward. Each member comes from a humble background of working class chasing a dream of becoming a superstar someday. Tony worked at a factory and did several odd jobs while Osbourne, his junior in school, worked at a factory too.
Tony lost his middle and ring fingers to an accident at the factory and he was severely depressed that he could not play the guitar anymore. But time passed and he got motivated to continue playing and see what became of such a story. They received recognition with their very first album, ’Black Sabbath’ in 1970 but the next two albums, ‘Paranoid’ and ‘Master of reality’ guided them to stardom all over the USA and UK. Their last album released back in 2013 was called 13. Although, the band spilt on several occasions and Ozzy found success in a career as a solo artist but they always came back for some performance or compiling an album up till now.

Favourite Pick: Paranoid and Iron Man from album Paranoid 1970

Lastly, I understand that there are ample of good bands and artists that haven’t been covered by me but I sincerely have only stated the opinion based on my limited knowledge of that era. Also, I believe that this list in itself is a good tribute to the bands and the era and for anybody who wished to be introduced to rock and roll that was fused with blues and metal. I hope some of us enjoy this music.