Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Cultural bliss!

It was supposed to be an evening of two dudes hanging out, culminating with a trip to watch a show, a friend's graduation dance ceremony. It ended up in a bang. Here's what happened.

We started off with tea at aJesh's place. Nice cuppa bachelor's tea (hot water, tea bag, some milk, speed, efficient, tasty!) and in all, about 30 minutes of freshing up time. We were all set to head out to Brickfields, our agenda being only 2 things : Some good food, and hopefully, a good show. Hopefully, since it is the first time I'm heading for an arangetram show ( a form of solo dance performance, done by the student of Bharatanatyam ( )

A good 20 minutes after leaving Ampang, we reached what is affectionately known as little India. aJesh pointed out that it should be called little Chennai, as there are no north indian elements here. He was not being pruddish, but simply practical. Anyway, we headed next to our main stop. Temple of Fine Arts. Home to two of our agendas. Food, and Dance.

Call us ignorant, but its a blissful state we were in at that moment. True to it's word, Annalakshmi's doors opened right on the dot at half past six, and we walked in, to be greeted to the sweet smell of indian food, fresh, spicy, pungent, delicious, divine.

A good hour later, stomachs full to the brim, our mind was set on one thing. Dance. Not us, we would have made a complete mess of the beautiful state of culinary bliss we were in. The dance was to be performed by a friend, on her first solo dance act. Sort of like a graduation day performance. We didn't know what to expect, this being my first time there for such an event, and aJesh's first one in Malaysia.

We led ourselves into the hall, took our seats, waited for the lights to dim, and then, it took us on a magical ride. A ride, we will both not forget.

See, as a dancer, my friend would have had enough experience from her days dancing Odissi (, but this was a different laddu to savour. One, being a graduation performance, she would be literally put to the sword. Traditionally, dance scholars, historians, renowned peers and who's who from the dancer's circle would be there to witness the occasion. Of course, we both do not fit in any categories mentioned, but we were clueless, ardent rasikas of performing art, in any form. Hence, our excitement here was proportionate to a kid having his first candy floss after having his tooth pulled out for bad cavities, aged 4.

Stage was set, musicians, heavenly on its own, all played live, by some top notch artistes, started the night, setting the tone for what I reckon would be an evening of cultural bliss. aJesh couldn't believe he was here, in Malaysia, savouring everything that is his homeland, Swaziland. No, India. Indian food, a performing arts temple aptly named the Temple of Fine Arts, hospitality that took him back there, the sarees and chudithars, it was mind blowing for him. Then came the Pièce de résistance , the music in the hall, and the sounds of bells clattering from the ankles, signifying her as a performer, ready to enthrall the crowd, and to come out as a full fledged performer.

And she did it with aplomb. Technically, we were both as lost as a monkeys learning physics in Einstein's lab, but the common things performers look out for and feel were all there. Dedication, feel, devotion to the arts, all were literally dancing in front of us as one whole unit. 

By the time we were done with the show, awestruck and literally blown away with the night's proceedings, we prodded off gingerly, taking with us that our hope, and prayers, for a friend, who's graduation dance turned out to be a blast, blossom into a performer with the humility to learn more, teach to anyone, and strive to become part of the cosmic dancer in union; a union of spirits, a union of mind. 

To Shalini, SALUT! 

PS - as Ajesh puts it, this being your graduation performance, must not be labelled your best. Greatness must not be limited to only one such act. It must encompass your legacy. That, will be your greatest show. 

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