Thursday, September 24, 2009

Naariyal Paani - An awesome experience!

I had never been to a play till today. (The only one I went to in Chennai, hardly counts!) Rangashankara, quite a popular place in JP Nagar, Bangalore - as a venue and producer for plays - always appealed to me whenever I heard people speaking about it. I don't know why until today, I had not bothered to try the experience of seeing a play there. Thank heavens that I tried!!

This particular play, written and directed by Sandeep Shikhar, is a hard candidate to describe in a few words. With no frills attached and quite straightforward in whatever it wanted to convey, it proved to be the ideal first experience. How happiness washes over us, particularly when we try something, expecting hardly anything concrete to emerge out of it, but it proves to be extraordinarily fruitful and enjoyable! This experience was exactly like that...

Hardly a handful of performers, some very fine scripting and acting along with meaningful and down-to-earth dialogue and lyrics, it really makes for a perfect combination for viewing. Humor is one aspect which is very difficult to pull off successfully while acting. Achieving it in a play is all the more so considering the very nature of the medium. Yet at no point during the hour long play did anybody in the audience feel that the humor on offer was affected or exaggerated.

एक फल की दुकान में वो नारियल पानी पी रही थी.

I don't want to share the entire story of the play. It was very simple as the summary - "The play begins with a character madly in love. Every time this character tries to share his story with others, he is stopped. At one point, he makes the decision to clarify his story to the general public by hiring Rangashankara as a platform to tell his story.It is from this point that the play begins. Taking the stage with the main character, played by Vivek Vijayakumaran, are two musicians playing the tabla and guitar. The musicians are actually co-actors in the performance" says.

I was elated when one of the musicians, Anupam readily obliged to the audience request to perform one of the songs again. Any good story will have something concrete to take away and this one had a number of messages conveyed in a delightfully engaging manner. The audience I was part of thoroughly enjoyed every bit and the appreciation was heartfelt. Hats off to the actors and the director for this wonderful piece of theater that has made me yearn for more!

An experience like this sometimes gets me thinking - What am I doing in this world everyday struck in a routine? The wide world out here is for us to explore. By cultivating a wide range of interests, each one of us would be doing ourselves a world of good. Let us all try to appreciate things that we might not be good at, but nevertheless deserve the recognition and respect. It is the first step towards knowledge and a broadening of the horizon!

Friday, September 18, 2009

The essence of friends and friendship

  • A friend is a person who understands me. He knows when I am feeling bad and why I am feeling bad. He tries to genuinely know the reasons behind and makes an attempt to help me.
  • He seldom needs any explanations for my behavior because I know he understands me and so I don't need to make an attempt to explain the why.
  • He is somebody with whom I can speak my mind without any fear - fear of backbiting, betrayal, rejection and fear of sundry other consequences. He is somebody in whose presence I exist as me.
  • He may not share my interests and my likes but he neither discourages me from pursuing them nor belittles and disparages them.
  • He makes an effort to know why I like what I like and why I dislike what I dislike. He expects me to understand him, his likes, interests and tastes.
  • Expectations - they confuse and confound. But with good friends, it is fair and good to expect consolation and soothing words in times of despair.
  • The true test of a good friendship is the test of time and understanding. Years may pass, but the qualities in a good friend that endear me to him never change and it takes little time to catch up on lost time.
  • A good friend is almost always a good listener too. This is another test that can be applied to this bonding.
  • A friend would be sensitive to my feelings. He would try to think through things from my perspective.
  • A friend would not have a self-interest that conflicts with my genuine intentions.
  • Friends don't keep secrets from each other unless those are the kind of secrets that they would themselves be unwilling to confront.
  • Friendship gets complex with diminishing innocence. Consequently when there is scope for power struggle and one-upmanship, it doesn't thrive.
  • There might be some instances when friendship might not be fair in terms of expectations getting skewed. In my opinion, a good friend will always realize when I am expecting a little more from him and would rise to the challenge.
If this reads like an ideal list, I think it is meant to be. In this age of fast evolving relationships, friendship is something that is getting defined by social networking sites. What a truly sorry state of affairs we find ourselves in!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

How I want to live!!

Crushed sugarcane cheek by jowl with fresh cow dung,
Dense concrete that overlooks a grand old tree,
Weak limbs on support bearing a little child all young,
Defeated hopes and misplaced expectations clothed in
fancy brands. Humble and joyous spirits decked in
rags. The world is a strange place where opposites lie

Men yearning for the rosy past and dreaming about
lush futures, Women weighed down with yesterdays
and trying to rise above tomorrows. In the midst, the
careless children digging their heels in the present,
soaring high and breathing in the little pleasures.

If the world is a theater, children are the best actors.
If it is a mammoth canvas, the young are the brightest colors.
Vibrant, joyous with hopes, showing their true spirits,
they march to a tune that is music only to their ears.
In this pendulum of hope and betrayal that life is, little do they
know what waits at the end!

The past is over and the future is yet to unravel; to live
in the present is to experience the finer moments. Blessed
are those that have short memories for the slate can be
wiped clean soon. Like a cloth that absorbs easily, I also
yearn for an unfeeling heart that cares little for the pain
and looks to the next moment in anticipation of gain!

When the World is a testimony to contrasts of every shape and size,
When the only way to forget is to erase and live in the moment, what
better examples to emulate than the young and the tiny? One moment,
happiness and the next moment, sadness, their every breath a comment
on this irony!

Here I come! I know not ego, I know not memory, all I know
is that the next moment is for me to live, not judge and brood!
Ignore me, slight me, curse me, strangle me, betray me, I shall
absorb all and rise again. I shall do only the good for I am incapable
of the bad and the ugly. I know deep down that ignorance of truth
and conscience is the biggest sin and I am not guilty. I am a child!!

Sunday, September 6, 2009


Today morning, I was reading this in THE HINDU literary review. The first Sunday of every month is always special because of the literary review, one area in which this news paper, I am sure, cannot be beaten easily. Navtej Sarna writes about Old Delhi - "Her new fancies stare me in the face, I notice her love of brick and mortar, of steel and glass; I rue her fascination with glitter. I watch her flaunt, with an imperial sweep of her overly bejeweled hand, her soaring new flyovers, the rising stadiums, her shiny new metro, her crazily crafted road corridors, her multiplexes and malls. And I shield myself against the callousness with which she has rejected so much that we once shared - my flower-laden roundabouts, my little theater cafe, my corner shop and even my favorite bookshop, owned by an owner who knew his books."

Now, this is writing of very fine quality that, reading it becomes an act of indulgence. What is beauty? Is it only about physical perfection or only about the pleasure of the senses? Apart from the sensuous aspect, is there anything more to it? To me, the answer is a resounding yes! Indeed, as the dictionary says, it is a "combination of qualities giving pleasure to the sight, mind etc"; "an excellent specimen of something."

When I read good books, what I am in fact doing is indulging in beauty - a fact that is lost to people who say it is boring and monotonous to sit in a corner with a book. How I wish they knew what they are talking about so carelessly! How I wish that they partake in this indulgence and experience the pleasure themselves! The pleasures and advantages of reading are multitude.

To sum them broadly, I would say:

  • Reading expands the horizons of the mind. In helping me imagine far off lands, cultures and customs, not only does it introduce me to whole new worlds, by making me every bit a part of the unfolding stories, it broadens the knowledge of the world.
  • It has helped me empathize with others readily. To be able to acknowledge the feelings of others and see them for what they are requires a conscious effort to observe minutiae and perceive with a keen attention. I am indebted to the books for this more than anything else.
  • Books as companions - this is something wonderful particularly when loneliness threatens to engulf. I pick a book and forget the world around. At first, I thought I was escaping reality and getting cocooned elsewhere in the confines of an imaginary landscape, but with age, I have brushed aside these thoughts.
  • Reading good works, as the first few paras of this post demonstrates, is to the intellect what sensuality is to the senses. Beauty is more often than not, elusive. In imagining that it is obvious to the wandering eye, we deceive ourselves. It is in the detail, often deceptively petty, but on a keener discernment, quite evident. When I chance upon an especially good work, I get the feeling that I am blessed and relish it with happiness.
This post is inspired by reflections on reading the article quoted in the first para. When words transcend their perfunctory existence on paper and assume greater meanings that our intellect assimilates, there is no greater joy to the reader. Great authors never seem to take an extraordinary effort; instead there is an easy rhythm by which we are swept away. In being moved by writing, we exhibit a sense of humility and surrender which is so pure. Perhaps that is why - since books give so much and demand little - mankind will continue to be fascinated by them as long as the written word exists!