Saturday, April 28, 2012

Is Theatre losing its importance?

Maybe not importance but it is losing audience, if I look around, I find that the majority of the population goes to the movies these days. Most people of my generation do not watch plays.

There was a time when there was only theatre, and it was one of the best ways of entertaining people. My parents watched a lot of plays in their time, though they also watched films, but theatre was still quite popular then.

I have had opportunities to watch plays but not that many. And every time I watch a play, I love it!The content, the acting, and the message everything is so good. Every time I watch a play, my respect for it increases manifold. I wonder why I don't watch plays more often.  It's almost like as if I have to be reminded that plays exist.

One thing that is for sure is that theatre hardly goes through major promotional campaigns. I guess it requires so much money that it does not make sense. Most youngsters these days have not watched a play. They are mostly into movies. This is kind of sad because a good play is something that must not be missed.

I went to watch a Bengali play, Ebar Rajar Pala, written by actor Utpal Dutt yesterday. This was a rendition of one of those classic plays from the 1970s.I was watching a play after perhaps 5 years! And I loved it. The play had it all…it had its funny moments, there was never a dull moment, and acting was out of the world...I did not know how two and a half hours just flew by.

Surprisingly or maybe not, the hall was full and it comprised of a lot of teenaged or college going population. I was pleasantly surprised. I think there is a section of people who are theatre loyalists and they make it a point to watch plays.

Many of our successful actors started off their careers by acting in plays. It is not easy to act in plays. There are after all no takes and re takes. These are extremely talented people.

I have made up my mind to watch at least a few plays a year. Let’s see if I can keep this resolution. But seriously, it is worth the effort to watch a good play, not only is it entertaining, it makes you think, the underlying message is too powerful to miss. I guess this is why plays used to be and still are a good vehicle of spreading a message.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

My husband and his Royal Enfield

My husband's bike
My husband has two loves; his dog, and his bike. The first two places were already taken when I started dating him so I never really stood a chance to be his first love!

I must admit though that I am a bit enamoured with his Royal Enfield, it is indeed something!

When we first met, I was very impressed with his bike. We went out of drives and he even tried to teach me to ride it! But I am afraid I did not show much interest. I have driven bicycles and mopeds (they are of course no match to this) but the thought of driving this machine made me nervous :(  Much to his disappointment! (In my heart I was elated that he even considered letting me handle his bike. He is very choosy about who drives his bike!)

When he was growing up, one of his uncle's used to ride a bullet, I believe he was so impressed with that bike that he decided to buy an Enfield when he grew up.

There can be dirt all around, but his bike has to be shining and glowing. My husband sometimes spends hours and hours grooming the bike, so much so that he neglects himself, forgets to shave, to get a haircut; some romance he has with his bike! And once he goes off on a drive,  I don't expect him back before 3-4 hours.I wish he would devote that much time to me!

He is willing to give me a ride on his bike, provided I learn to enjoy it and not crib too much about how he is driving! It certainly is a great drive (I prefer the car though) but city driving does not permit the pleasure of riding the bike and not worrying that something will hit you. It is nice on the weekends though, when there is less traffic or even when it is drizzling, it is indeed lovely to go on a drive, stop by the roadside eating joints or dhabas, and have those sinful mugs of tea and, just simply enjoy the ride.

He has gone out on long drives on his bike, to Sikkim, Bankura (in West Bengal) etc. I know for sure that he wishes to do more of these but I fear about his safety. But I know sooner or later I will have to let him go off on those long trips with the love of his life, if that's what makes him happy, I guess that will be. And in many ways I am glad that he has an Enfield, it looks and is a real stable bike and I love the sound of it! There is certainly something about it.

If you like going out on long rides on your bike, Here is a link that might interest you - 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The legend of Bon Bibi, Sunderbans, West Bengal, India

I first came to know about Bon Bibi while reading Amitava Ghosh's Hungry Tide. In fact, Sunderbans unfolded before me because I read that book. Strange though, I was living in Kolkata for so many yaers but before that I had never had an urge to travel to Sunderbans! And I call myself a travel enthusiast! But seriously, my curiosity about Sunderbans happened only after that. "Hungry Tide" is a great book. I am a huge fan of Amitava Ghosh's books.

Since I read that book, I have visited Sunderbans twice and I plan to go there again this winter. The legend of Bon Bibi fascinated me. In Sunderbans, Bon Bibi is the deity everyone prays to before going about their everyday business. She is the protector of the people; she protects the people from tigers. Hindus and Muslims alike, pray to the Goddess.
According to the legend, there was a Sufi fakir, Ibrahim who lived in Medina. He was childless. Archangel Gabriel gave him a boon. He had two children, a daughter (Bon Bibi) and a son (Shah Jongoli). When they grew up, Achangel Gabriel, asked them to go on a divine mission to Sunderbans, in India. There they came across a demon, Raja Dokkhin Rai, who had this fondness for human flesh. They managed to overpower him and made him promise not to kill humans. According to the legend, Bon Bibi and her brother did not kill Dokkhin Rai, but they made him promise not to kill humans. Bon Bibi and her brother  divided the forest into areas where people can live and where the Demon would live.
Another legend talks about how she saves a young, innocent boy, Dukhe from the clutches of Dokkhin Rai in the form of a tiger.
It is only when people go into Dokkhin Rai's territory, they get harmed, but the poor farmers of Sunderbans still go into areas where they should not be going because they can be attacked by tigers anytime, but what can they do, they have to earn their living.

So life goes on in Sunderbans, amidst fears of being attacked by a tiger and earning a living. The mid path can so eaily exisit, as per the legend , Bon Bibi divided the forest into areas where people will live and where the tiger would live. I guess, awareness is gradually seeping in and more and more people of Sunderbans are relaizing that it makes sense not to kill a tiger; Tigers need their space too, if they are given the space they need, why would they encroach into human territory?

After all we all co exist together, we need each other for our exisitence. The sooner we relaize that the better for all. Live and let live. How well the legend of Bon Bibi says it.