Friday, March 17, 2006

Welcome to Audience on the mat

Dear all,

Let me take the pleasure of inviting you to Audience on the mat - A collection of three original short plays staged in Bangalore on the 24th and 25th of March (Next weekend). We, Misfit theater group, have written, directed and acted in all the three plays.

The shows are on

Friday, 24th of March - 7:30 pm
Saturday, 25th of March - 3:00 pm
Saturday, 25th of March - 7:30 pm
(All the plays will be staged everyday)

Venue: Alliance Francaise, Vasanth Nagar, Bangalore
Cost: Tickets priced at Rs. 99 (for all the plays together)

If you are interested please get in touch with Anita (Mobile: 9845072710) or Me (Mobile: 9886789204) and we can arrange ways to deliver the tickets to you.

I would so love to give you a curtain raiser on what the plays are about. But I have been advised not to. So, I shall leave you with a thousand words to speak for themselves for now. In the next few days, I shall pretend to let a few details slip and please pretend you didn't notice :)

Would really really love to see you there! So start booking your flight/train tickets and I shall arrange autos from the airport/cantonement railway station for you :)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

A little more life

It was after two whole months of traveling with him that I finally saw his face when I thanked him for the night and wished him good bye. For in the past, all I could see of his face in those last moments of the ride was his long sparkling teeth that shone through the darkness all around. I would see a perfunctory nod before I slam the door and turn away. Today, for the first time, I could see him, his eyes, and I knew how much this little gesture meant to him.
I got down and started wading through the two wheelers and the autos zig zagging all over the wide junction before touching the pavement on Dickenson road. Over the last one year, I have taken this road ever so often that I can close my eyes and find my way; I could even tell you the exact number of steps you need to take to reach the lone, old tree right in the middle of the school play ground; I could recognize voices on the road for I hear them everyday in the same place, at the sametime continuing with their little fights and amusing anectodes - their lives like daily episodes of my favorite soap opera (like my life is for them) - nameless, faceless strangers I know so much about.
Not that I had the time to stand and stare. The shuttle leaves me in the middle of Dickenson road at seven twenty. I have to cross commercial street, make my way through the street vendors near Safina plaza and open the rusted blue doors of Tunbridge high school in ten minutes. So, space and time is a blur and people are three dimensional shadows gliding on rolling wheels. In the middle of running and panting - I catch snatches of conversations, laughs, a after thought of a probable glance and a trail of sleek zooming cars. A blurred snapshot.
But today was different - It was six in the evening. It wasn't night yet and the day was just begining to wind. The pall of darkness had been lifted off the entire scene and all that was black and white was painted in a dull, pleasing dusky hue. It's amazing to watch nature set the pace of life so subtly that it's barely noticeable. Dim the lights, blow the breeze, scatter the autumn leaves on those concrete roads, hint a shower, glide the clouds and paint them with a touch of gray. And soon the flowers will shower, the birds shall sing and men shall stop and stare.
Dickenson road is no boulevard. It is yet another narrow road in bangalore that no one ever believed would be used so often. It has an assortment of buildings right from a military store to a deteriorating green edifice used for something it was not meant for and a few deserted huts with a courtyard that serves the garbage bin for the entire road. Nothing about the road would hint a presence of something that's been there and watched history. No impressive buildings, no Victorian statues nor a mention in any book. That is until you see the trees.
The branches jut out of walls, extend from one end to the other providing a thick green roof over the entire road. The bark is filled with lines of old age and the leaves are an interesting collection of green shades sparsed occasionally with orchid-like flowers. But the most beautiful of them all is the tree inside the century old school campus named after a rai bahadur gentleman. It's a lone survivor in a deserted playground, a dull brown bark arching to its right standing before a off-white colonial sandstone building. There are no leaves left on the aging branches. But the whole tree is full of violet flowers, densely packed all over the tree. And on the ground beneath her feet, is a violet flower bed like an image of the tree on a pond. And if you stand there long enough, you can watch a flower gliding from one of the branches down to the flower bed, playing with the wind till it finally settles in the bed, unrecognizable from the rest of them, making you forget in the beauty of it all that it's actually death that you are admiring.
And soon the sun disappears, the shadows continue to lengthen till they fill the entire sky and I slowly make my way to the theater session. Just as I am about press my foot on the pavement, I see a violet flower praying for life. I step back, pick it up and place it carefully inside my bag and continue walking. For many, changing the shuttle timings to five in the evening is a decision of convenience. For me, it's a little more life, I never realized I missed.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Almost in love

Have I told you about how I once almost fell in love? No. Not in a way you would fall in love with someone, who is unraveled in the course of time, between moments and with whom you can see your life stretched till eternity, till death does you apart. No. I can never imagine enjoying marital bliss with her. She was too infinite for that, too subtle, too free. To marry her would be to bind her, cage a soul into the mire of everyday life.

She was not an accident. Far from it. I was destined to meet her - if not then and there, it must have been here and now, but I had to. Every once in a while, life satiates you in a way that you believe you have discovered it, been there and done it and finally see the unifying pattern that binds souls and events and makes them look like results of a linear equation. And then almost like a non-event, someone arrives and shows you shades and hues on a whitewashed canvas. It could be a word, an unshared thought or even silence and suddenly you feel as if the rug and the roof have been pulled out and you are in the middle of a vast continuum - of life. And it strikes you like an epiphany that, that moment was meant to be.

Now when I think about it, I think it's probably the way she laughed, the way her eyes would widen with a childlike glee and she will break into a fit of laughter throwing her head back as she did that - it was unrehearsed, unconscious, untampered - as pristine as joy itself. It was as if, nothing existed right then but the moment itself, and the joy it was pregnant with. There was no tomorrow, no peril painting itself in the next turn, nothing. You see her and you want to be part of that bubble, to believe in it and see your life begin and end inside it. Probably, that's when I fell in love with her. Almost.

I wouldn't remember the exact time but it was sometime much after midnight. I was standing on the verandah in the fifth floor watching a dozen deteriorating huts just outside her plush flat. I am not exactly sure what I was thinking - It was after whole night of partying and singing and I was drained out physically and emotionally. Standing there surrounded by the emptiness of night felt like being in the vortex of unrest, an emotional void. There was just of hint of sunrise at some distant point in the sky. I could hear her ask for me to those in the room, and in a couple of seconds she was next to me with a glass in one hand and a cigarette in another. There's always something arresting about a sunrise, even a hint of it, that leaves you transfixed and silent. It has a way of filling in silence with something much more profound than what you can ever express.

After what felt like hours, she said, "Isn't it much easier if you are just plain stupid? Never knew you could ask why and never realize there's actually no answer" I said nothing. She continued, "I wish I could always go back, unlearn this realization. That I am just a useless speck and that I can do nothing to change anything". She turned to face me expecting me to say something. I kept staring at the crimson shades in the sky running those words in my head over and over again like a song that's stuck on one's lips. I wasn't sure how long I was standing there but by the time I came into the room, the sun was out and she had left.

A couple of days later, they told me that she had left the city. I got her e-mail address from common acquaintances. But I never knew what to mail her. There was a question to be answered that I refuse to - Because the question is too infinite for an answer, too subtle, too free. To answer it would be to bind it, cage it into a metaphor caught in the mire of everyday life.

And that unanswered question binds us - me to her memory and keeps us caught in a bubble. To answer it would make it a certainty - a result of a linear equation. And to me this state of being almost in love is the most blissful state of all.