Culture and all its siblings (cousins included) descended on Bangalore the last two weeks as she witnessed music, dance, theatre and all the assorted ensemble which makes up the wonderful world of art.
Starting with the Iron Maiden concert at Palace Grounds on February 15th, practically every evening was spent in a mood of complete intoxication of (mostly)divine music. Maiden, was a visit out of sheer habit, to attend any international rock act in Bangalore. Unlike last time as I heard, when I missed the show, from attendees that they had come to promote their at that point latest album, A Matter of Life and Death,they did belt out the classics. Song upon song, Bruce Dickinson and the Saggy Gang came at you like a dragon whose fire was not so hot anymore. Though he flung himself all over the stage, cavorted, head-banged, rabble-roused the crowd,etc. the essential trooper quality was missing. Or atleast, so I think. Having sufficiently doused the liver with products from Mallaya's stable, critical thought had been dumbed down to a certain extent. Anyway in between such numbers as The Number of the Beast, Fear of the Dark, 2 Minutes to Midnight and such, there were a couple of incidents worth a mention.
No 1. A tall, rather pretty, blonde, presumably from Poland, passing me, took a moment off from her conversation with her acquaintance, looked at me and said, "You have a nice beard!" Ah bliss. The moment too short, her legs too long and off she had gone.
No 2. Mallya's stable was opened on various occasions through the show and after 4 such runs in the stable, I decided I had to take a bungee jump, which was conveniently located outside the arena. Having taken a medical before the jump, I was buckled and hooked up onto a long elastic cable and then lifted into what at that point looked like the stratosphere (exaggerated now it seems, but nonetheless quite high.) On reaching the highest point I was asked to turn around, let go of the handles and step off. Two seconds later I fell, much like Gibreel and Saladin, though it was 1/222nd the height from where they took off, and I had a cord attached.
On day 2 regulation black tees were shunned and the bright kurtas took prominence. It was after all an evening of cultured grace. Having opened the concerto with Beethoven, the Scottish Chamber conducted by David Murphy were truly magnificent and beautiful. Adding beauty to the stage was a lady of East Asian origin on the cello weaving gracefully, with short flicks of her hair.
Later the stage was handed over to the venerable Amjad Ali Khan on the sarod accompanied by the Pt.Tanmoy Bose and even later the Scottish Orchestra joined the maestro, putting forth shimmering waves of the most divine kind. Each string was coaxed by his masterful hands to a point of no return when suddenly it was realised that there further levels to explore. His favourite tune (I have heard him play it atleast on three different stages before) Ekla Chalo Re by Rabindranath Tagore was rendered most beautifully with the minutest of vibrations being heard clearly across the hall. The latter half was equally exotic with a jugalbandi and hence the name of the concerto, Samagamam.
Day 3 was less cultured to the Day 2. Saw Dev D, and whatay movie. Anurag Kashyap truly blew the levels of societal comfort. His show of excesses realistic yet surreal in terms of its depiction. I especially liked the Twilight Players and what cannot be said about Emotional Atyachar...nothing.
Day 4 was reserved for some carnatic music, the Mysore Brothers, Nagaraj and Manjunath on violin. Three hours of ethereal divinity (though its a word I dont much associate with) and about 45 minutes of that period dedicated to understand the legerdemain of a certain Umayalpuram K Shivaraman and his adept sishya Arjun Kumar.
And so on and so forth...add a bit of Evam and their rib tickling Macbeth-The Original Spoof...some more ransacking of Mallya's stables...an entrance exam to a certain institute going wrong...more ransacking in honour or disregard of the exam...Playstation at Mr P's house...and a fortnight passed.
Day...? The evening sun mellowed into a purplish bruise as I set off from Mr.P's house. Ms M. picked up from a pre-designated spot, petrol tank filled and close to 27 kms later we were at the Srishti Institute of Design. A night of Sufi music infused with Kabir's lyrics awaited us. As we waited for the hostess of the evening Ms. S and Mr. A to arrive I met my cousin N.
What followed was an eclectic mix of nirgun style Hindustani classical (Vijay Sardeshmukh, later to be found as a disciple of the great Pt. Kumar Gandharva) thumris (Vidya Rao), hypnotic Rajasthani folk (Mahesha Ram) and ecstatic qawalis (Farid Ayaz, who sang with true aplomb). It was unlike anything I had experienced in a long while. Unfortunately the police as they usually do, played truant, and stopped the proceedings at about a quarter past two in the morning, in the process leaving a wide gap in the soul, having missed or rather forced to miss the performances of two other folk singers Mukhtiyar Ali and Shafi Faqir.
Having retired to N's abode and proceedings concluded including a viewing of favourite scenes from Snatch, topped by this, we crashed about four hours after the music was stopped at the design school.
The morn brought a bright sun out, leaving little but me out on the long ride to Ms.S's home for lunch. Nice wining and dining followed...
PS- This post was pending a long while since the first thought of it happened as soon as the tall, blond Pole complimented my beard. It took a while in the making...a couple of hours on the upper end in front of the comp...hazaar ransackings of Mallya's stable and pit-stops at various points across Bangalore as well as of the mind.
PPS- It is dedicated to cousin (removed twice?)A, who was the prime reason for me landing at the Maiden concert. If you are reading, lets RockNRolla!