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A case of cultural excess

Seems to be the season of plays! After Tumhari Amrita and Zen Katha, watched another one called Class of 84 last Friday. Directed by Rahul da Cunha, the play deals with a set of 7 friends reuniting after many years when one of their group dies. They realize that though they thought they were thick pals, they might not have known him (Jojo) so well after all. Especially enjoyed the performances of Sohrab Ardeshir, Rajit Kapur and Radhika da Cunha.

It reminded me of my school pals… There were 5 of us, thick buddies. Out of the gang, I only keep in touch with one of them and she’s in distant New York. One is married with 3 kids (I think, but it could be 2!) and lives in Calcutta. One eloped while in school and we never heard from her again! One is in Bangladesh, the last I heard. Though highly unlikely, it makes me wonder how it would be if we all reunited now.

Sunday, attended a Tamil wedding and had great fun sampling the food. Realised, I haven’t attended a South Indian wedding recently (or at all, probably)! They first give you really teeny weeny servings of everything – I guess it’s to sample the food – after which I guess you can ask for more.

Unlike traditional South Indian weddings, for our affairs back home, non-vegetarian food is a must. If you don’t serve generous doses of fish (at least 3-4 preparations!)/chicken/mutton you might be ostracized by the community and faux pas will be recorded for posterity. In fact, people will talk about it for days after. Like “You know, at so-and-so’s wedding, they didn’t have fish. I knew I should’ve eaten dinner and then gone!” And no, I’m not even exaggerating.

Anyway, I had fun sampling all the stuff. Interestingly, in between all the traditional fare, was this serving of gobi manchurian! The Chinese – I think they’ll take over the world one day 🙂

11th and 12th night, parked myself at the Palace Grounds for the final Habba events, which turned out to be good fun. We had seats right at the back, about a mile away from the stage (or so it seemed).

But by the time the night drew on, we managed to get in front, up close and next to the stage as people started leaving. Having a Pakistani group perform at the Habba was a nice touch. Strings performed some of the popular numbers from their album, Dhaani, including the one that put them recently in the spotlight, Najane Kyon (OST Spiderman 2).

Pursuing music as a career is a tough enough decision, and must be doubly so in Pakistan. Says Faisal: “I met Bilal and Strings was formed… I gave up everything for my music…thank god I made the right decision. Today with every song we make – I get one step closer to making my dream a reality. It’s so important to know what you want from life.”

Check out the website of the talented duo.

On Saturday, there was also Pandit Shivkumar Sharma and his son Rahul, who I had actually interviewed way back in 1998 when he was just starting to take his father’s legacy seriously. I was impressed with the young man at that point of time and it was good to watch him on stage along with his illustrious father.

Another performance that had me floored were the amazing violin playing brothers – Kumaresh and Ganesh. I haven’t heard them before, but after this performance, I will definitely keep an ear open for them! Alongwith the percussionist, Arun Kumar (and the pakhawaj player, whose name I can’t remember) they were fantastic. The brothers apparently took to the stage at the age of 7 and 5! If you get a chance to see them perform, please don’t miss it!

Once the brilliant percussionist Sivamani took to the stage with his fellow band members, Louis Banks, Karl Peters and a gentleman on the mridangam (whose name I can’t remember either), there was no stopping him. Lending his amazing vocal chords was Shankar Mahadevan, who whipped up a frenzy in the crowd, once he started with his popular numbers like Breathless, Pretty Woman and the Koi Kahe Kehta Rahe (Dil Chahta Hai).

To top it all, managed to finish 3 paintings on Sunday and felt very thrilled with myself. I don’t think I’ve ever worked so fast and furious!

My Airtel Net connection went down for about 3 days. After frantic calls to helpline, finally they called me back on the 4th day. By which time, I log on and find that my connection is miraculously back!! Darn. So helpline guy and me talked about the weather and state of Bangalore roads instead. No, I’m kidding here. He actually gave me loads of advise as to how I should reinstall my operating system and how to get rid of the 1001 viruses that had entered my machine (he kept repeating that!).

Today, Astad Daboo performs with students from the Clarke School for the Deaf, Chennai. Currently, touring India, Astad will showcase this performance at the cultural festival of the Deaf Olympics, at Melbourne in Jan 2005. And a whole week of plays at Ranga Shankara to top it all!

Definitely a hectic December and I’m loving every moment of it 🙂


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