The 6th of August 2017 will be cherished for a long time to come. What started out as a desire a few years ago saw the light of day yesterday. As lovers of art, Arupa, Radhika and I had been thinking of ways and means in which we could develop more ‘rasikas’ amidst us. With the population of art lovers progressively diminishing, we felt a dire need to do something that would enable people, particularly the youth to imbibe it in their lives. Slowing down to absorb the countless hues of its eternal beauty will provide the ideal way to balance the frenetic pace of a digitized world. Faced with the trials and tribulations of our humdrum daily existence, the only refuge we can seek is in our rich cultural heritage of art and tradition. It is only when we lose ourselves in its splendour can we truly find ourselves.
All great ideas come to fruition in the midst of great company and good food. So over the most delectably sinful tiramisu at our favourite jaunt, Elma’s , we crystallized our idea by commencing an Art appreciation series. Rasa Aparupa ( the name embodies the essence and beauty of art and it also has our names Radhika, Arupa and Aparna in it) endeavours to expose our attendees to different forms of art once a month. The artist will not just demonstrate but also interact with the audience to explain its many facets. Celebrated Bharatanatyam dancer, Ragini Chandrashekhar kickstarted our monthly series with a scintillating performance at the Sangeet Shyamala centre for arts.
Spurred by a noble idea but with minimal experience in event management, we faced many teething troubles. With just two weeks to plan; our biggest worry was to get an audience going. From knocking on the doors of nearby schools to embassies and active facebook promotion, we left no stone unturned. Thankfully there were about 60-70 eager students and parents in the audience. Director general, ICCR Mr Amarendra Khatua was kind enough to grace the occasion. He was constrained to leave early but not before according us glowing compliments for the initiative and the first two presentations by Ragini.
We were keen to start our show on time at 11am. At 930am the open air auditorium was a mess. The floors were dirty and the stage had not been set up as per our request. Clad in our saris Radhika and I were about to pick up the broom; when the lady arrived, flummoxed as to why there was such urgency. Till 10:30am there was no sign of the light and sound technician and we were getting restless as the testing had not been done. We had assumed that he would be able to manage the stage set up but at 1045am he announced nonchalantly, “ laptop nahin hai CD ke liye”. Once again Radhika and I scurried around looking for one. A parent, waiting in the lobby for his daughter ; was keying in furiously on his Mac. Both of us pleaded with him to lend us his laptop for an hour. Seeing us flustered, he very sweetly consented to giving us his machine. Just when we were heaving a sigh of relief, the technician announced that the aux cable to connect to monitors is missing. With no time to even give him a piece of our mind, we had him racing to the nearby store to buy one. This was at 11am when we were all set to commence. Quite nervously I had to tell Ragini that we might have to do a lecture demonstration without music. Had I been in her place, I would have hurled a host of expletives for poor planning; but she kept her composure. In the sweltering heat the audience was getting impatient. Arupa , charmingly took to the stage with our inaugural address and held their fascination for as much time as she could before inviting Ragini. I must have chewed up all my nails in sheer panic of running the show without music. I had visions of how shame faced we would be among our fraternity of artists and aficionados. I prayed desperately for a miracle.
Ragini started by explaining her piece. With Janmashtami round the corner, Krishna took centre stage. The children looked at her with such amazement. Her abhinaya of an impish Krishna pleading with his mother, Yashoda to go out and play; reminded them of disagreements with their parents.
“ Krishna is actually bhagwaan but also like us na didi" one of my kids remarked on our car ride back. “So if we have to be like him we can be both naughty and God like.” I was quite tickled by this response as also her desire to learn this dance form.
Just as Ragini had finished her introduction and turned to go back stage, I saw the technician charge into the auditorium, sweating profusely but excitedly flashing the cable in his hand. We had our hearts in our mouth as he plugged in the cable. The monitors came alive and the melodious notes of the pushpanjali filled the auditorium. I sank into my chair now with relief and began to enjoy the performance.
As I reflect on the session yesterday, it gives me goosebumps. The arrival of the cable just in the nick of time was definitely a miracle. It was as if a higher force had supported our endeavour and magically stepped in to save the day. It is no coincidence that both our technician, Radhe Shyam and the helpful parent, Krishnan embodied the spirit of Krishna in times of distress.
The deluge of compliments that followed for the artist as well as us made it all worthwhile. It had left us exhausted but also very joyous of a new beginning. Planning such events requires a lot of effort and detailed planning. Krishna may not be there to rescue us each time but I’m hoping our learning from yesterday will help us from the next session onwards. Here’s hoping that what we commenced on friendship day will grow from strength to strength in the coming months.