The Vernacular

Everytime my Achan comes to Bangalore to visit us, he brings a suitcase full of vegetables and coconuts for my sister and a book or two for me.  This is a bit of a ritual. Even if he doesn’t bring a book for me per se, he’ll bring one for himself which, chances are, I will nick. Having been at the wrong end of the book-theft-program quite a few times, he now travels almost always with a spare book for yours truly.

This time when he came to visit, he bought me the Malayalam translation of a Kannada book named “Bhujangayyana Dasavataragalu” (which can be roughly translated as the Ten Avatars of Bhujangayan, the protagonist) written by Srikrishna Alanahalli. I started reading it, got hooked and swore to finish it, only to be frustrated by how slow a progress I am making.

You see, there is a pattern here. Everytime I start reading a Malayalam book, I start off with a lot of enthusiasm – grand plans on how I’m going to read it, absorb it and talk about it eloquently to anyone who will listen. And almost everytime, I lose interest halfway through. Well, lose interest is too broad a term. What actually happens is I give up on the language.

I am extremely ashamed to admit this, but it is true. Malayalam is not my mental home ground. One of my English teachers in school used to tell us that to master a language, we have to start thinking in that language. “Most of you”, she used to say, “think in Malayalam and then try to convert it to English. That is why you find English frustrating. Think in English. THINK in English”, she used to repeat time and again.

For me, the case is often opposite. This is not to say that I don’t know Malayalam. I speak fluent Malayalam, I write, I read – all good. What I lack is the ability to appreciate Malayalam literature, the ability to articulate emotions or experiences beautifully. And I can’t put in plain words how much this frustrates and depresses me.

To be fair, I was not always like this. For a better part of my life, I was not aware of what I was missing. I have officially studied Malayalam till 4th std. After that, I took up Sanskrit as an elective. (if you have an hour or two to spare, lemme know. I can rant on and on about how ‘raama, raamau, raamah!’ screwed up my life) And it amuses me to no end what followed. Around 6th std or so, our school saw an influx of NRI malayalees – kids who had grown up in Dubai or Kuwait. Kids who spoke flawless English and took pride in saying “enik Malayalam korach korach ariyam” (“I know very little Malayalam). Stories of how they can’t read Malayalam and how they ‘speak only English’ at home were shared with a lot of panache. Not to be left behind, I decided to follow suit.  No more Malayalam. Na-ah. I became a I-am-too-cool-for-Malayalam person. I wrote out notes to my amma in Manglish. And when she pulled my leg about it, I ignored her.

Somewhere in 9th std, a lot of things changed for me. I don’t remember why or how, but looking back, I think of that period as ‘the time I grew a spine’. Among other epiphanies, it dawned on me how shameful it is that I can’t write a word in my mother tongue. And being the stupidly persistent person that I am, I decided to rectify this by spending an entire summer vacation copy-writing the headlines of each day’s Malayalam newspaper until my handwriting stopped resembling that of a 5-year-old.

But somewhere in between all this, I forgot to learn to appreciate fine Malayalam literature. Contrary to popular opinion, I believe that good tastes are acquired, not instinctive. Sure, the effort that you are willing to put in matters a lot, but it also matter when you put in that effort. There is such a thing called the ‘formative years’ and what you are exposed to then is likely to stay with you forever.

As I grew up, I often lamented (albeit privately) that I didn’t put in enough effort into understanding Malayalam literature. Today I have an additional concern. My baby niece, my MiniatureHuman (or Mihu, as I call her) is growing up in Bangalore. A place that is an amalgamation of all cultures and lifestyles. A place where she will learn a lot of things that I hadn’t. But will she learn her mother tongue? When she hears a poem in her mothertongue, will she appreciate the emotion in it or will she just…process it? I am worried, because as Vineeth Sreenivasan said in an interview, there will come a time in every person’s life when he/she will feel culturally adrift. It is only then that you will realise how closely linked your identity and your roots are.

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When did I become a grown up?

I’m gonna go out on a limb and say this happens to everyone. Almost everyone, at least. That feeling of “wow! I’m an adult now? When did that happen?”

One of the instances of that feeling accosting me occurred last weekend. I was at my sister’s place and was out for an evening walk with my sister and my 6 month-old niece when three 10-year-ish-looking girls ran towards us, all giggly. I smiled back politely and maybe encouraged by that they proceeded to tell me the story of how they saw “3 frogs.. no wait, there were 4 frogs – 3 big and 1 small.” The long story was told, debates on the size of frogs were made and they ended the story with “Don’t go there Aunty!”

When they said that, I immediately looked at my sister, because in my head, it makes sense for her to be called “aunty”. ‘Coz, you know, she has a kid and stuff. Only catch – they were clearly talking to me.  (Unless all three had crooked eyes. That is a possibility, yeah?) Then I convinced myself that they called me “aunty” ‘coz I was holding the baby – can’t blame the kids for being politically correct, can I? It took me a few more minutes to accept the reality that I am (and I look) old enough to be included in the ‘aunty’ category, especially from a 10-year-olds eye.

As we were walking back, my sister and I ended up talking about the whole ‘oh-man-she-called-me-an-aunty’. (Dear reader, I can sense you rolling your eyes at me now. I’ll stop in a bit. Thank you for your patience!) When we were talking it dawned on us that there is no equivalent term in English for the Malayalam word ‘chechi’. Technically, it means sister, but colloquially, it is used to address all women who appear to be older than you but is no old-old, geddit? You can’t ask people ‘sister, could you help me get an auto?’ whereas ‘chechi, can you help me get an auto?’ is completely acceptable. The vagaries of languages. Sigh.

As for the growing old part, I feel that there is a huge difference between growing up and feeling grown up, though I am still on the fence about the importance of the latter. All this hungama (which I am causing. Yes, I’m aware of that) is reminding me of a conversation from the movie ‘Liberal Arts’ (it’s one of my favourite movies. Go watch it if you haven’t. It’s super amazing.) which goes as follows:

Prof. Peter Hoberg: You know how old I am?

Jesse Fisher: No, how old are you?

Prof. Peter Hoberg: It’s none of your goddamn business. Do you know how old I feel like I am?

Jesse Fisher: [shrugs]

Prof. Peter Hoberg: 19. Since I was 19, I have never felt not 19. But I shave my face, and I look in the mirror, and I’m forced to say, “This is not a 19-year-old staring back at me.”

[sighs]

Prof. Peter Hoberg: Teaching here all these years, I’ve had to be very clear with myself, that even when I’m surrounded by 19-year-olds, and I may have felt 19, I’m not 19 anymore. You follow me?

Jesse Fisher: Yeah.

Prof. Peter Hoberg: Nobody feels like an adult. It’s the world’s dirty secret.

And now you have in on the dirty secret too. You can thank me in the comments. Or send me Bournville – the super dark one, not the raisins one. That works too.

The Labyrinth

You know what I should be doing? Trying to figure out my life. You know what I am doing? Watching Adele on Youtube and pretending that I am not having a life crisis.

Story of my life.

So I am at the crossroads of life where I have to choose between the perfectly-good, decently-paid job that I have and a probably-not-well-paid, might-or-might-not-be-magnificent job that I don’t have. And since I have exhausted all the people around me by talking about this for the last few years, pretty much nobody wants to hear about this anymore. But I can’t stop obsessing over it and it’s driving me CRAZY. Hence this very short, pretty pointless blog entry.

Something I have noticed is that the catch about having something to look forward to in life is that you often get consumed in what you will do that you often forget to enjoy what you ARE doing.

As John Green writes in ‘Looking for Alaska’, “Imagining the future is a kind of nostalgia. You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you’ll escape it one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present.”

I think that is the best description of my current predicament. Nevertheless, I hope that I manage to get out of the labyrinth someday. But I wonder what awaits outside it. Another labyrinth, maybe?

 

The Bad Bad Day

It was a bad bad day. It was a not very feel-good day. You’ve probably experienced one of those before. I have too. No matter how many times you’ve had it, it is one experience that I hope we never get used to.

So where was I? Yes, bad day. What was so bad about it, you ask? Oh nothing. Nothing in particular. Just a day where you mess up a lot of things you could’ve not. You know, work things. Nothing major, just….things. I’m not being very eloquent, am I?

So what do you do when you have such days?  Seriously? The old me would’ve headed to the kitchen, made a cup of coffee, shouted a bit at amma and sat in a corner reading a good book. The new me, on the other hand, deals with such days by heading home, switching on the laptop and going through an entire season of FRIENDS/The Big Bang Theory/How I Met Your Mother/Mentalist/…., you get the gist. Effective, you’d think.

Nah.

So that’s what this post is about. (Yes, there is a purpose to this, you-snarky-person-who-is-grinning-as-you-read-this). This post is a celebration. For what, you ask? Celebration of an aberration. An anomaly. A deviation from the well-treaded path. This post is a hurray to the old-turned-new-turned-old me who is dealing with a bad, bad day by crawling in bed with a cup of coffee and a fascinating book and ending up writing a short post about it, that, in retrospect, doesn’t make much sense.

Exploring Karnataka – Kolar District

So that happened. To be honest, I didn’t think I had it in me to wake up at 4.30 am. But wake up I did, after about 10 min of trying to come up with a legitimate reason to give up the whole idea of heading to Kolar at the crack of dawn.

Yes, Kolar – the destination for the day, primarily chosen for its proximity to Bangalore. My friend and I set off from Majestic at around 7.30am from Platform 3. The buses are frequent and cost around INR 70.00. We reached Kolar bus stand by around 9.00-ish and that’s when the story started.

We found an auto from the bus stand that was willing to take us to the nearby Kolaramma Temple for INR 30.00 (TBH, it is just within walking distance. We opted for auto because we were a bit late and were not sure how long the temple will be open) Incidentally, while planning the trip, I tried, in vain, to find out the timing of the temple. Even now, I have no accurate idea of the timings – it was open till 10.00am on a Sunday is all I can say. The Kolaramma Temple was quaint. Small, but quaint. It took us barely 15-20 mins to see the entire place. It is also pretty famous and draws huge crowds on certain days, an inference I made from all the crowd control measures found inside. It wouldn’t eat up much of your time. After the temple visit, we realised that we are pretty hungry and set out to find a place to take breakfast. After roaming around the entire town, which is pretty small and old school, we ended up at the hotel in the bus stand. And let me forewarn you – Don’t eat from there! The food sucks. Which is why we ended up setting off to Anatara Gange in a semi-hungry state.

Kolaramma Temple
Kolaramma Temple
Inside the Kolaramma Temple
Inside the Kolaramma Temple

Antara Gange is a range of mountains that you first get a glimpse of when you enter the district of Kolar via bus. It is around 4km from the Kolar bus stand – it should cost you around INR 50 to go there – beware of auto drivers just outside the bus stand who’d charge you INR 70-100 stating that they’ll have to ‘return empty’! We had asked a vendor inside the bus stand how much the autos charge you normally, so when the first auto bhaiyya said 100 bucks, we knew better than to take it.

The steps that lead up to the Ganesh temple, Antara Gange, Kolar
The steps that lead up to the Ganesh temple, Antara Gange, Kolar

Now the Antara Gange mountains can be climbed in 2 phases – first there is a series of steps that take you to a temple that is built at the slope of the mountain. The deity is Ganesha and the temple had a decent number of devotees offering prayers when we reached. Now the climb is pretty steep with around 100-200 steps, but no worries – you’ll be escorted by hordes of monkeys throughout. Once you reach the top, the real trek begins. Climb the rocks and you’ll find a narrow path covered with trees and bushes – once you pass through the “portal” (as I like to call it) the mountains beckons. The trail is pretty straightforward – most of the stones even have rough steps carved on them!

The climb up from the Antara Ganga Ganesha temple
The climb up from the Antara Ganga Ganesha temple

We climbed our way to the top of a mountain where we found a bunch of trekkers with a young local boy acting as a guide – apparently, they were in pursuit of the famed Antara Gange caves. Since it was 12.00-ish by then and hot like hell, the breakfast-deprived duo (aka us) decided not to join the team. We found a cosy spot by a tree at the top and rested for a good half hour, gushing about Wild, Reese Witherspoon and the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) and enjoying the view, after which we had an uneventful trek downhill. Autos were readily available at the base of the mountain (INR 50) to the bus stand from where we took a bus to Bangalore.

And the view from the top. Worth the climb, don't you agree?
And the view from the top. Worth the climb, don’t you agree?

All this took just half a day. I was back in my room by 4.00pm.

P.S: You could also try visiting KGF (Kolar Gold Field), the Kotilingeshwar Temple and Someshwara Temple, situated around 35 km from the Kolar town (nearest railway station is the Bangarapet). Frankly, we were too exhausted from the lack of sleep and food to head out there. Antara Gange also offers considerably challenging cave exploration treks which could be undertaken at night – moderately dangerous, yet worth the effort, I’m told! Btw, don’t forget to carry plenty of water when you set out for the trek!

P.P.S: In case you are planning a trip to the place and need any info, please feel free to post your query in the comments. The primary reason I decided to document the trip is the lack of detailed info about the place – you know, the kinda of things that actually help you plan the trip, especially if you are a geographically challenged newbie like me. 🙂

WTH!

Since time immemorial, scientists across the world have been working on trying to come up with logical explanations for many a head-scratching questions like why the bread always fall on its buttered side or the velocity with which Poonam Pandey was dropped when she was a kid. One of the many questions which have baffled the best of the better brains of the universe is deceptively simple – what prompts a guy to offer a random girl a lift? (Nope, not looking for the obvious answer)

Now before the awesome male population that happens to be reading this blog starts writing the script for a “my choice” male-version-video type response, allow me to put out the necessary disclaimer. To quote A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius,

“Any resemblance to persons living or dead should be plainly apparent to them and those who know them, especially if the author has been kind enough to have provided their real names and, in some cases, their phone numbers. All events described herein actually happened, though on occasion the author has taken certain, very small, liberties with chronology, because that is his right as an American.”

The basis of this sudden reflection of an age-old phenomenon stems from an experience I has while I was out for a run today. It was around 10 at night and I was jogging (read panting like a sweaty, headphone-wearing doggy) when I saw a car slow down a few meters in front of me. I was about to pass it when a young man driving it did the whole “Excuse me” thingy and asked me where BTM 2nd Stage was. Assuming that the poor man was lost, and being the queen of FGCP aka Federation of Geographically Challenged People and hence sympathetic to the plight of fellow members, I pointed out with a pleasant smile that “this is BTM 2nd Stage”. And since he continued to look lost, alternatively peering at his phone and saying “Just a moment”, I asked him where he wanted to go. (Of course, HE didn’t have to know that I’m almost as lost as him, did he??) He mentioned another landmark, which I pointed out and proceeded to jog. I had barely gone a few meters when he slowed down again and did the whole “Excuse me” process all over again only to ask me if I am a localite. I was like “Erm..depends”.

And then he asks me if I want a lift.

I was like “Wait…what?” I mean, I was in my track pants and running shoes with headphones in my ears, puffing like a choo-choo train…which part of that spells “I-need-a-lift” to you? I gave him The Look and he speaks again “I could give you a lift” . Me, being the epitome of politeness, goes all “I don’t need a lift, thanks” (yeah, I tend to be excessively polite at times, without meaning to be. Chances are if someone comes with a gun at me, I’d probably be like “Nah..I don’t need a hole in my heart, thank you very much”) By now, I was pretty creeped out. I mean, yes there are people around in a if-I-shout-they’ll-hear-me distance so I’m not outright scared, but the itchy feeling that says “let’s get outta here sweetheart“ was on. So I jogged on, a tad bit faster, two blocks away where there were plenty of PGs (and hence couples – which count as people, I suppose). All good, right?

Nah.

The guy comes in his car and slows down next to me. Again.

And he goes “Hi”. With a grin. Creepy grin. By now, I’m all “WTH!!” And a tad bit worried. Images newspaper headlines that goes “Single lady raped in car in Bangalore” starts floating around my head. And I go all “What is wrong with you?” and head home taking the long route through the main (aka plenty-of-people) road.

So there. Now you know why I asked what I asked. So what am I supposed to take away from this episode? Was that guy harmless? Or was the whole asking-for-address thing a smoke-screen for something more sinister? Was he drunk? Or was he like “I’m bored. Lemme go scare the bazooga outta some random girl-on-the-road”?

So. Many. Questions.

Just a note.

It’s been a while. It’s almost like I’ve forgotten how to write. For the past few days, weeks even, I’ve been carrying this nagging feeling to jot down something – anything, really. Of course, like the wannabe I am, I’d love it if I could sit in front of my lap and churn away a poignant, eloquent piece of article. However, that’s not how it is to be. I’m trying to come in terms with the fact that maybe this is the best I can do – an occasional peep into the blog to rant/jot about life and its numerous intricacies.

So as I was saying, I’ve been wanting to write desperately for the past few days. In fact, the last time I wrote something meaningful was a good 3 months back. In between these, many a thing has happened that’d have normally had me running to my beloved Word document. And I did too. But somehow, every time I sat down to write something, all the words that I knew of, all the clever metaphors and witty one-liners I had in my mind seemed to fade into oblivion right before my eyes, until all that was left was a wisp of lame English words strung together by the most uninspired of connectors.

I’ve spent quite a few bus rides wondering why this is. For the uninitiated, I love bus rides. And I love not to talk during bus rides. Unless I’m in exceptionally, exceedingly awesome mood, that is. It is during that time that I do a lot of things I like to do. I think about stuff like the Calvin n Hobbes quote I read the other day. Or a conversation I had with a friend about religion/politics. I talk to myself in my mind. I pray in my own warped way. I read sometimes. So my point is that I’ve spent quite a few precious hours (I live at Bangalore, so a normal 15 min bus ride gets stretched to at least 40 min – plenty of time) pondering why I don’t write anymore. As I said, it is not for lack of issues. If anything, it might be ‘coz of too many issues to write about.

After much thought, the conclusion I came into was this – of late, I’ve been exposed to a variety of articles on a wide range of topics that I’ve hit what can be called (sophistically) a writer’s block. Let’s not focus on the fact that I just referred to myself as a writer (I mean, how vain is THAT!) and move on to the point I’m trying to make. Basically, I’m feeling how Cooper might have felt when he stepped on (erm..stepped on? That ain’t right, is it?) space – so much out there that transcends what you know and what you do…so much out there that you know is out there but is yet to find out. And in between all this there is the incomparably insignificant you, your work and your passion that matters so much to you but in actuality, is not even a drop in the ocean. Does that make sense?

Well, if it doesn’t, blame it on the rain. It always messes with my mind. (Yep, it’s raining in Bangalore. And yep, that smell of new soil is overpowering my senses.) I mean, I love rains. Monsoon is my favourite season. However, in what may seem as a contradiction, rain also makes me sad. Emotional. It makes me long for the places I left behind and the places I have to go to.

It makes me feel alive.

Bollywood Bandwagon – My first taste of puppetry

“Bollywood. Puppets. Scandals. The never-aging superstar. The item girl. The love triangle. Super hit songs. Exotic locations. The spot boy. The stuntman. The casting couch. Bollywood Bandwagon has it all! It is a hilarious comedy for adults, which is based on stories from Bollywood, presented with puppets and actors,” promised the BookMyShow page of Bollywood Bandwagon. It had been a long time since I last went to Rangashankara and Jo was also rather keen to watch a live play. Plus, we had both never been to a puppet show!

So off we went – only to be joined midway by my other play-enthu buddy, Shyam (who, incidently was the partner in crime for The Open Couple too)! On the way, we were aided by a very helpful auto bhaiyya who first took us to the wrong place and on discovering that it was not where we had told him to take us, took us to the right location, absolutely free of charge. After this no-minor miracle, our mood was rather upbeat as we filed into the Rangashankara’s beautiful stage. I’ve this habit of unconsciously fidgeting when I’m excited and by the time the show started, I was a mess of twiddling thumbs and jiggling toes. And what a show it turned out to be!

The Hero and his brother
The Hero and his brother
Maya - My fav item girl
Maya – My fav item girl
The Hero
The Hero
The crew of Bollywood Bandwagon
The crew of Bollywood Bandwagon (Picture Courtesy: skimble-scamble.blogspot.com)

And this time, once the show ended, the Katkadha crew were sporting enough to let the audience take pictures and to interact with the crew and the puppets as well – one of the artists even let us take pictures with the puppets! The director of the show Ms. Anurupa Roy, is a postgraduate in History from Lady Shriram College, New Delhi. She is a puppeteer and a trainer and is one of the trustees of the Katkatha puppet arts trust. In between other things, she mentioned that she has been working on this particular act for the past 7 years!

That's me and Jo with a puppet (Thanks Shyam for the pic!)
That’s me and Jo with a puppet (Thanks Shyam for the pic!)

The Bollywood Bandwagon has just completed a tour of Switzerland and Austria and will move on to perform at Delhi from the coming Monday.


Picture Courtesy – http://www.rangashankara.org/

Unexpected Kathak treat!

It was a usual Saturday. Jo and I had spent the better part of the day debating over where we should got out for our ‘evening walk’. Now don’t let that fool you into thinking that by the end of it we had a solid plan – after all that discussion, the only thing we had agreed on was that we really need to ‘get something to eat’.

After a few errands to that we had to see to, we decided that we are hungry specifically for burgers – you know how it is. I knew of this place called The Tuck Shop and Jo had never been there, so we decided that today was as good a time as to go there. Now came the tricky part. You see, I’d just been there once with a friend and being the geographically challenged person that I am didn’t have any idea how to get there. Not that we let THAT deter us. Armed with the address of the place, we attacked every passerby, requesting them to direct us. One of the directions was that we should pass in front of a Ganapathy Temple and it was while passing in front of it that we witnessed a beautiful Kathak performance. Needless to say, Jo and I were drawn to it, hunger all forgotten. We didn’t even care how out of place we looked, in our ratty jeans and tees!

Before I go on, a word about Kathak. Kathak is the major classical dance form of northern India derived from the dance dramas of ancient India. The word kathak means “to tell a story” and the dance is famous for its graceful pirouettes, expressiveness and striking costumes.

Of the two dancers performing that day, I found the movements and posture of one rather arresting as compared to other. With expressive eyes, subtle smile and high cheekbones, not to mention the incredible grace of movement, she was truly mesmerizing – so much so that we, who thought we’ll “see just one piece and go” stayed for the entire recital! So enthralled were we that we even plucked up the courage to go and let the artist, Ms. Simran, know how much we enjoyed her performance. As always is the case with great artists, she accepted our compliments with a graceful smile and when asked if she had been dancing for long (‘coz, frankly, I thought she was in her early 20s), replied, rather humbly, that she has been “for a while”. Just how humble she was I found out only later in the evening.

Ms. Simran Godwani [Pic Courtesy: Krshala Dance Theatre]
Ms. Simran Godwani [Pic Courtesy: Krshala Dance Theatre]

Ms. Simran Godhwani (aka the graceful dancer) is, her bio tells me, an accomplished Kathak artist as well as Founder & Director of Krshálá – the performing arts school in Koramangala. She was an HR professional for four years in a leading MNC in Bangalore. She is a senior disciple of Guru Murari Sharan Gupta, who is one of the senior disciples of the legendary Kathak maestro Pt. Birju Maharaj & the artistic Director of Samam-Center for Movement. She is a principal dancer at Samam. She learnt the classical dance of Bharatanatyam form for 17 years and Kathak for over 7 years.

No wonder she is as good as she was! You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that it takes immense courage, dedication and hard work to succeed in performing arts and to actually make a career out of it – more so once you’ve known the perks of an MNC life. Especially in dance, which is often considered as nothing more than a frivolous hobby for girls in our society. As always, I am much moved and inspired by people like her who go on to do what THEY want to, oblivious to the society norms.

More power to such passionate trendsetters!


P.S: In case you are curious – Yes, Jo and I did manage to find our way to The Tuck Shop. And it was lovely. Though the food ain’t all that exceptional, the ambiance was worth the entire trip. A decent meal for two can be managed under Rs.500. I’d recommend that you check it out!

My choice for the evening - 'Oh Basanti'. Yeah yeah, I choose food based on their name.
My choice for the evening – ‘Oh Basanti’. Yeah yeah, I choose food based on their name.
The menu card that I kinda loved!
The menu card that I kinda loved!

[Her bio as given at the official site of Krshálá Dance Theatre]

The Open Couple

At Thrissur, the place I hail from, there is a place called the Regional Theatre. It is one of the many cultural hubs in the city of Thrissur widely known as the Cultural Capital of Kerala. Also it is barely 5 minutes away from my home. Hence it is a matter of colossal shame (to me personally) that the first play I ever saw was after I came to Bangalore – a month or so back, to be precise. It was a wonderful experience and it certainly moved me enough to decide that I’d be back to theatre many a time in future – a promise I was not able to make good of until yesterday.

On Sunday, a friend and I decided to go to a play called “The Open Couple”. I had been harping on about how Bangalore’s cultural strength is overshadowed by its bright new malls and discotheques (not that I’m against it!) and it is perhaps to gain momentary relief from this that he came up with this idea. Besides, there is something exhilarating about paying 300 bucks to watch a play as compared to spending the same amount for watching a less than decent (and often downright crappy, IMHO) movies, don’t you think?

So back to our play. The Open Couple is a satirical English play written by Nobel Prize winner Dario Fo and his wife Franca Rame in 1983 and is directed by Faraz Khan who was recently featured in Anand Gandhi’s Ship of Theseus. It revolves around the life of Antonia (Vaishali Bisht) when her husband, referred to as ‘The Man’ (Anuj Gurwara) decides that he is bored of their normal married life and proposes that they be in an open relationship. The play opens with Antonia as a suicidal emotional wreck and through a series of funny, poignant vignettes, concludes with a complete role reversal.

The Open Couple (Pic Courtesy: http://metawards.com/)

The Open Couple (Photo_Courtesy:http://metawards.com/)

The play is nothing like you expect it to be. For one, the first thing I noticed when I got inside the hall was that there was a commode at the center of the stage. Just a commode and no other furniture except for 2 wooden stools. Also the troupe uses painted faces and includes some miming techniques and several exaggerated body movements to convey the ridiculousness of certain situations. It goes without saying that the two actors have done a wonderful job of portraying Antonia and The Man, especially the adorable Italian accent – so much so that I actually thought that the actors were of Italian origin! (Of course, this was a source of great humour to my friend!) It was only after I got home and Googled the play that I realized that the actors are rather acclaimed in the theatre world. Vaishali Bisht, Google tells me, is a graduate in theatre and drama studies from the University of Kent in Canterbury, England and Anuj Gurwara is an active theatre actor in Hyderabad and has worked in films with directors like SS Rajamouli, Sekhar Kammula and Nagesh Kukunoor.

At the end of the day, The Open Couple certainly lived upto its promise of being “A larger-than-life and bizarre with unexpected dose of life and laughter.” The show is on at Jagriti Theatre, Whitefield, Bangalore everyday till 28th September 2014. Online booking is available at bookmyshow.com

Happy watching!