Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Day I Met a Man [fiction]

This was the day I met a man:

I had my life in a sway, sizzling on a dance-floor made of ivory with clouds bestowing pearl drops upon which I’d shoot and slide.

At times, it all turned into black marble, a dark room; and I would welcome that new handicap, that blindness that allowed me to feel with my body, to mould my clay, to eavesdrop on heart-beats in my blood stream. I’d be a sculpture, then another, yet another, a fleeting shape and a new one further. This blindness would sometimes look down on me kindly, and gift me those fleeting lights, like thousands of shooting stars upon a night-sea. They would take flight from the sky (but that I didn’t see), sometimes under the sheen of the moon, and then take a jolt into the waves. Oh! These shining stars! Yellow! Blue! They would swim in the black-ink sea, wet their celestial bodies, amorphous like the twilight and go back to their place of origin…

Thus did I deploy my body, indulging in the beauty of clay and the wonder of lights.

Then that day I saw a man for the first time. He wasn’t sizzling unlike me, for he did not know the tune of my promenade. But that man…

…That man was still made of something… something… a different kind of sculpture whose substance I could not identify.

It was one of the ivory-stage days, of a pure white with pearls falling from a blanched sky that I could not even see.

There was the man, a piece frozen in time: beautiful, I thought (broad shoulders framed in a rectangular physique, blue jeans fading into a grey texture, un-ironed t-shirt, hair straight out of a pillow fight, stubble of black pepper flanked his cheeks, angular jaws like they were drawn by a cubist painter…). He however did look like a sculpture to me. Not a like the fleeting clay sculpture that I was, but one of those concrete chocolate sculptures; the kinds that do not melt but remain always, even after they have been eaten.

His brown flower-bud eyes seem to speak a language, I language I did not know.

Till then, the only language I knew was the one of clay, the one of corporality, of a body that expresses itself through sculptures in accordance with various rhythms and shades; a body that on the way enters glimpses of lights and flash-bubbles and sizzles on a dance-floor.

This man rose to me, like a mango that, overnight, crops out of a tree. A deep dusky voice told me: “I want to learn your language”.

I wondered… how?

And then he touched me. Fleeting fingers on my hand, like the discreet glimpse of a beggar beseeching a coin of pity.

That touch, warm yet icy, concrete yet fleeting, solid yet liquid. I thought, “the man is made of clay”. May be together, we could make a new sculpture, one of darkness and light, of day and night, of earth, of the wind, the water, the fire: a new language and a new body taking shape. So I accepted.

Thus did I start teaching my language: the language of clay.

We merged, we sizzled, we died and lived again, we lost our individuality in the search for a new one... I liked that game: the new dance I was learning and the redemption that lays in giving up the sculptures that were me.

This was the day I met a man.

A man of flesh (for he was not of clay), for that I learnt... too late!

The day I met a man, I taught him how to dance. I pumped new rhythms into his veins, changed him into a monster: half flesh and half clay.

As for me, who was clay, I imbibed new perspectives: I saw sweat, I saw blood, I saw flesh, and I saw pain and suffering, but above all I saw beauty. Beauty in a man.

I lost my selfdom, but found a new parentage. While giving, I also received. That was the day I met a man who cleansed myself from impurities, and added pulse to the clay of my body. I changed shape, over and over again, and soon I changed substance as well.

I continued sizzling, I swam in my dance-floor always, yet I was not longer clay. I decided to become a man.

That was the day I met a man.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Fantasia Report Two [anecdote]


Day-3 and Day-4 of the Pune tour were definitely less stressful than the first two days. After all the hassles and worries of Saturday (the first Fantasia performance), things fell into place more easily and more smoothly; may be due to our growing experience in handling such kinds of crunches, or may be simply, (and this is my contention) it was just the magic of the performance and the smiles on the children's faces that smoothed it all for us...


Sunday was a fun-day! For everybody! The children began their day by playing in the park in Sindh Society, and after lunch, we all set out to Shaniwar Wada to visit the famous fort. The afternoon turned out to be an enjoyable one, where everybody could finally relax a little bit (except Tanu who spent the whole day on the phone- ekdum call centre type!- trying to get everything fixed for the next day's performance) and enjoy a beautiful sunny Sunday in Pune. Games were played, jokes cracked, legs pulled, and the history of the fort was told as well.

On the way back, the children went back to the Sindh Society park to enjoy themselves... In the meantime the famous "surprise" was being prepared! The children on their way back had dinner and were immediately ushered to bed by 8pm since they had to be up by 5am the next day (so we told them) to be fresh for their performance.

While everybody was forced into silence and custody upstairs, the preparations for the "surprise" were going on full swing downstairs. Fairy lights were put up all over the hall, music system set, drapes cavorted the walls, windows and fans, and the table received within it's grip chocolate cakes, chips and drinks!


Doubts, frowns, worries on foreheads, scare in eyes...

"What Tanu Didi? Some of us did not wash our pla...?"


And thus did they all come down, in a line of silence... The lights downstairs were off, till they all came in and the lights and the music were put on screaming "SURPRISE" with all their glee! The children could not believe it! Here it was: THEIR party!!

The music and dance went on till 10:30pm or so (interrupted by the security agents who came thinking it was an indecent teenagers' party going on inside!!) and then it was time to go to bed, for the next performance was awaiting the next day.

Conclusion of Day-3: We all went to bed with smiles on our faces, rhythms in our hearts, and our bodies still moved to the music of the day while sleep dawned on us. As for Tanu, she slept rather soundly I suppose for the "mandap" had been put up, the sound system was on the ground, and the electricity issues had already been sorted out.


Day-4 began very early for all of us. Quick break-fast, and we all rushed to the ground, which was barely 200 metres down the house. In no time, all the preparations started, while the sun was shooing away the left-over cold from the previous night. Soon the children were applying their make-up, getting their stilts fastened, and getting into their costumes, while the ground was slowly filling up with hundreds and hundreds of school children and a rather thick bundle of friends and guests.

By 9:30 it all fell into place, and we were ready to start! The performance went off beautifully! The energy levels of our fantastic performers were not as high as they were on the first performance (well, it was 9am!!), but they were still fantastic on the whole. Pandu really "rocked" the show by giving the best of himself despite the fact that he was sick and exhausted.

On the side of the audience, we saw smiles, faces glaring agape, mouths opened in disbelief of the beauty they were witnessing, claps resounded on the grounds at regular intervals, and by the end of the performance, everybody seemed to go back with a semblance of a dream, a dream that had shades of reality to it...

The second show was over, and it all went off beautifully! The children had again managed to put all of us under a magic spell.

I would like here to thank all the people who made the Pune journey possible: I won't mention any names, so that I don't forget any, but in short, ALL of you who were there, for being there, for believing and making it possible! Thank you for the love, the support and the smiles... :-)

The kids were again ushered onto the bus, heading Goa-wards... And then came the last surprise of the trip: Before heading to Goa, the bus stopped at E-Square on the way, and we all watched "Om Shanti Om", before the bus actually found the Pune-Bangalore highway in the early evening!

For all of us, the past three days have been an intense mix of a variety of emotions. But if there is something we retained, it is to SMILE always... to bring that smile on our faces, and others' faces!

To the troupe: Pune misses you already...

[For more please do check and also check the short docu-video by G. D'Souza on ]

Fantasia Report One [anecdote]


It's been two days since the team came down to Pune. Standing at the main-gate of Sindh society, it was quite a sight to see a white bus with a Goa plate emerge from Baner Road, packed with its 25 children, the 3 drivers, the 3 accompanying staff of El Shaddai and the 7 pillars of Teatro Per Caso without whom Fantsia wouldn't be.


Tanu and Lally, despite their rounds all over the city, the thousands of phone calls, the right people met (at times they met the wrong ones as well!), and despite the help they received from the other passers-by in this journey, were as tensed as over-charged electric wires. Still, seeing all those happy faces peering through the windows of the bus, with curiosity in their eyes, a slight tinge of anxiety on their forehead, and above all, smiles on their lips, made us all forget our worries and stresses. It seems to me that the children have now scientifically proven that smiles are contagious: it's with smiles that we welcomed the whole troupe to the house.

It was rather strange for me, since I had not met the children previously, to see them looking at me in a rather alien way, and I am sure, I must have done the same. After they all had lunch however (Oh! They were famished after the journey!) things changed. I came to realise that Pune had in the midst of its city a wonderful group of youngsters, talented, fresh, energetic, and to my surprise, with a great sense of maturity.

It barely took me 30 minutes to talk to all of them, get to know them, what they do, what they like, how they said that Pune is beautiful and the list goes on.

Tanushree on her side was making her best to handle it all: more rounds around the city, more phone calls, more frowns and sighs, but without a single short-circuit! She was as good as a juggler with electric wires! A real artist!

As for me, I was just there, mostly for the sake of being there: to be with the troupe on the one side, and on the other to fill up those blanks of doing the small things that I could take off Tanu's shoulders. In short I tried my best to take care of the "minor" stresses, like fixing the bulbs missing in the house, making sure everybody eats properly, fixing the lines to dry the clothes etc!

The evening turned out to be a rather eventful one where I guess the whole "Pune team" was on the verge of tears. We took the children to Shaniwarwada to watch the lights and sound show, where we previously had a confirmation that said "yeah, please get the children on Friday evening". I was rather nervous at having my first BIG responsibility for I, alone, was to take the whole El-Shaddai team and the drivers to the famous fort.

However, reaching there we saw a gate to which we did not have the secret code, and a web of phone calls brought to our notice that the show was in fact cancelled. Well in Pune, there is only a very thin translucent line that divides confirmations and cancellations, and that line often tends to get blurred. I was really surprised at the children's maturity though- they all understood the fact that the show was cancelled, and they kept smiling despite the shadow of disappointment that crossed their faces for a few seconds or so. But on the whole, they were thrilled to be out in the bus at night discovering Pune with its congested roads, fly-overs, malls and the bike-culture!

We then arranged for a TV and a DVD player so that the children could watch "Le Cirque du Soleil", and by the time the food reached, we witnessed the whole bunker of dal that within an eye-blink simply fell off and spread all over the ground like a tsunami attacking the shores of the house. There was barely anything we could salvage, those things happen, we told ourselves, and we would sort it out. I took that as a sign of my second BIG responsibility for Erica and I were the only ones around. We finally let
the children eat the Kichidi, salad and the sweet dish that were there, while (thanks for even more phone calls!) Tanu said she was on her way with more dal but just to realise on reaching that every-body had eaten already!!

Conclusion of day-1, we all went to bed with a smile on our face! For me, it was a great day, a day that I had been anticipating for long now, and what I retained from that day was simply the beauty of it all! Life is beautiful when you take time to smile!


Day-2 was one that was loaded with the minor and major stresses! But day-2 was also the day of the first performance in Pune!!

An hour before the show, we still had doubts as to whether the show would be happening or not. Well, while the "minors" of the morning were about too much food, and not enough food, and no water, and geyser to be fixed, and clothes that were washed the previous day washed again, the afternoon saw sound problem, electricity problem and crowd problem.

Hopefully and quite surprisingly, the promised help from the Philanthropist, that till now had been only "talk talk and talk" turned into something more concrete. We managed to settle all the technicalities an hour late, and here I must say hats-off to Tanu for handling so much pressure! And by the time the philanthropist had finished his interminable speech, the show started.

The children in the meantime were all very calm backstage, and if they did feel nervous, the nervousness did not even see its way till their faces. The show started! The 100 odd people who were there watching turned into 500 or so within minutes of the beginning.

Fantasia had settled in! From all the balconies, windows, from all the places possible, including the porch of the temple across the roads (where prayers were being recited at the same moment), there were just faces peering. People looking out for the beauty of a dream, the beauty of a smile that would come true.

The children gave the best of themselves! Sonia said it was their best performance ever. Yesterday was also Sonia's birthday, and the children had all decided that the performance today would be for her, a gift to her! In the process, it was also a gift to the hundreds of people who had come to watch.

I could not believe the talent I saw. In simply 10 days' work, what they produced was beauty and energy in their purest form! It was unbelievable how so naturally they seem to surpass themselves, become magicians of smiles, and spread so much joy around. It was subliminal! (As an aside, I would like to mention that I felt small drops running down my eyes at three points of time during the show, and I am not the kinds who cry easily!)

It was with beauty that the performance started and it was with beauty that it ended. Many of the people present came to backstage after the show, to specifically congratulate the Teatro Per Caso and the children for the wonderful performance, and many of them were extremely overwhelmed...

As for the evening after the show, it turned out to be a "fun" evening! I guess the whole group needed it after such a hard day. The children knew there would be a surprise for them, but they could not figure out what it would be! Then, I did a Kathak performance for them, and Preetal and I also performed a piece of contemporary dance that begun with a candle dance! The children received it really well! They clapped and asked for an encore, so Preetal and I thus improvised another piece that was to be Sonia's birthday gift!

We had a wonderful time performing for the children, reversing the performer-audience order, till the order was reversed again when the children started parodying us!! They again surprised me by their talent! Not being content with having enjoyed watching us, they observed and were capable of turning us to ridicule! Again they brought so much smile to all our faces!
Today is Sunday, and its a day's rest for the children. Right now they are at the Park in Sindh Society, and later this afternoon we are taking them to see Shaniwar Wada, after which we have another surprise for them to-nite! But that will have to wait for the next article! Tomorrow's performance will be in Sindh Society and we expect an audience of 1200 children! Am excited already! But till then, I have a whole afternoon of smiles ahead... :)

[For more please do check and also check the short docu-video by G. D'Souza on ]