One River, One Crab (Old article published in The Indian Express circa 2008)

I have been feeling for a while that scripted English language theatre, as against devised theatre, is going through a crisis of form, content and method. But two plays I saw during the Royal Court Theatre Writer’s Bloc Festival, offer hope. One was Turel (River) by Swar Thounaojam and the other, Crab by Ram Ganesh Kamatham. The former sinuous, slithered along the earth, mysterious and apparently placid. The latter was sky bound, with harsh bursts of firecracker dialogue that sounded the way we speak in Indian cities.

Turel is set on a riverbank outside Imphal. A child has died and is being buried. Two characters, the old Brahmin, Eigya and the drunken Luwangcha, are living their separate, yet interconnected lives on the river bank. Eigya comes by every day to put fresh flowers on his grandchild’s grave and Luwangcha teases him, keeps him company.

There are subtle mentions of insurgency and the Meirapeibi – “young men with guns, women with torches” - and one is acutely aware that this is Manipur. The language spells impermanence. The shifting riverbank sand, Luwangcha’s missing wife, the anticipation of violence.

Then that thing happens. Luwangcha is attacked by a commando who, interestingly, speaks in Hindi. All other dialogue is in English with a little Meiteilon. So the choice of Hindi as the language of the commando comes as a scathing indictment of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, which allows the Outsider to penetrate a culture and a people with brutality. As he prods him with his gun, he discovers Luwangcha’s secret and something changes unalterably.

English language theatre in India has often shied away from political content. So watching a play about Manipur that is so exacting is a new experience. The playwright has rooted the play in a deeply personal space – the relationship between Eigya and Luwangcha. But following the discovery of Luwangcha’s secret, the play explodes into the political domain and then unravels further, till personal and political are inseparable.

About Crab, it has nothing to do with the sand critter. This Crab is an abbreviation of carabiner, the rock climber’s tool. Turel and Crab are both written by young writers grappling with the sounds and vibrations of societies that are adrift. The central metaphor of each play is one of longing. The birth pangs of the river. The solitude of a rock face. Both have that quality of viraha, so beloved of Indian aesthetics.

Crab has four characters, but one who matters. Zamiel. The existential heir of Meursault in his remorseless commitment to the truth and Gregor Samsa in his love that is willing to go the length. In 2007, when measures of success are employability, disposable income and other corporate-speak, the “alone-ness” of Zamiel is stark and darkly romantic. In contrast you have the hapless Rocky. Would that he were called Stone. He’s never gonna get the girl. Try as he might to get the job, learn to climb, scramble, achieve… It’s downhill for Rocky. Yet the characters are sufficiently grayscale (Zamiel’s relentlessness could well be a pain in the neck and Rocky’s stupidity is often endearing) to make the audience see oneself in Rocky while aspiring to be Zamiel.

There were things that I would change about both scripts but playwrights are works in progress and deserving of time. The purpose of this article is to say, something’s going on here, man! In the hands of these diverse, angry-joyous-introspective-self absorbed-globally aware Indian kids from Manipur to Banglore – English language theatre is looking up. And the Royal Court Theatre is looking India-ways.

- Kirtana Kumar

Kirtana Kumar is a Bangalore based theatre artist and documentary film-maker.

Mid-March in Bangalore circa 2009

The pretty morning light through my pink Cassia, early mangoes and that smell of wet mud that assures me it’s raining somewhere. Despite the traffic, there’s quite nothing like mid-March in Bangalore.

“Mid-winter spring is it’s own season.*”

So what shall we read when the weather is so alluring? Something clearly curl up-able, something edgy, something new? I’m an everywhere, anytime reader, so here’s what are currently in the loo, next to my computer, on my desktop, by my bed and on the yellow chair in the garden.

Loo – Tehelka

Desktop – The Guardian – Great Poets of the 20th century

Computer – The Shifting Point – Peter Brook

Kitchen – Reading Lolita in Tehran – Azar Nafisi

Chair – Buddha – Vol. 6 Ananda – Osamu Tezuka

Tehelka is a habit. My morning reading of The Guardian is a family joke, but seriously the Great Poets series is lovely, if only to revisit TS Elliot* and Ted Hughes and to read (for me, anyway) Siegfried Sassoon for the first time. Peter Brook is a theatre muse I often return to. But my something new and edgy are the last two.

I thought comics were for babies and that graphic novels were grown up’s name for comics. And am still ambivalent. But I love Neil Gaiman’s Sandman and have since been introduced to the Buddha series by my daughter. Deep, funny and haunting.

Reading Lolita in Tehran is about an academic, Azar Nafisi, defending the cause of literature in Iran during the Islamic revolution. It is interesting to read analogies between Nabakov’s Lolita, and the oppression of citizens in times of political strife. How the simple act of watching Tarkovsky’s The Sacrifice in censored, un-subtitled form can so consume a people when their senses have been deprived.

How much we take for granted, no?

Food in Cinema (Old articles published in Cine Blitz)

My mother’s family is from Mangalore. My mother’s sisters talk about food ALL the time. What I cooked for lunch, the price of bangda, the best way to cook meen pulli munchi, what I will cook for dinner. So if I love foodie-films, how can I be blamed? I grew up, much like Tita from “Like Water for Chocolate”, nurtured by the sounds, sights and smells of many kitchens. My grandmother’s soups fragrant with ginger and chopped coriander, the smell of jeera being roasted for the rasam, crushed garlic and mustard seed crackling in hot oil, cinnamon, clove and cardamom infusing my very dreams. Yes, that’s right - I am totally controlled by the women in my family. And how do they do it? Duh, through their culinary skills of course.

So something in me leaps at the idea of celluloid food.

Food as the ultimate aggressor – that’s what this article is about. Think about it, Mickey Rourke popping a Habanero chilli into the blindfolded Kim Basinger’s mouth in “9 ½ Weeks”. Or Hannibal Lecter gourmandizing on his victim’s liver with fava beans and a nice Chianti. Or the father cooking a spectacular and guilt inducing Sunday lunch for his daughters in Ang Lee’s “Eat Drink Man Woman” … you get the drift?!

Truly delectable foodie films actually influence what you want to eat. It’s been documented. When we were kids reading Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series, we absolutely craved scones and potted shrimp. Same thing, different medium. So if you are feeling gluttonous, here’s a celluloid menu to die for:

1.“Like Water for Chocolate” (Mexican) - Cream fritters, Mole, Quail, Tequila

2. “Babette’s Feast” (French) Turtle soup, Blinis Demidoff, Quail, Clos de Vougeot 1845

“Like Water for Chocolate” is based on the novel by Laura Esquivel and was directed by her ex-husband Alfonso Arau. “Babette’s Feast” is based on a story by Isak Denison (author of Out of Africa) and was directed by Gabriel Axel. In both films, one character uses food to control another or to stir things up. Tita keeps her brother-in-law Pedro well and truly seduced with her cooking. Her emotions infuse her food with all the beauty of magic realism. When she is sad because Pedro is marrying her sister Rosaura, her tears fall into the wedding cake batter making wedding guest weep profusely when they eat the cake.

In both LWFC as well as Babette’s Feast, a parent prevents her or his progeny from marrying, thus causing passion to take on other forms. In the former, Tita’s ardour enter her food. In the latter, Babette with her decadent French style that involves wine, live produce, fresh fruit and herbs shakes the foundations of the puritanical spinster sisters, Martina and Phillipa.

Quails figure largely in both films as a symbol of hedonism. Tita makes a marmalade of rose petals from the flowers that Pedro has given her. She then smothers her roasted quails in this most amorous of marmalades which in turn makes everyone who eats this want to run out and make love! When Babette’s provisions arrive by boat, we have a hint of what is to come when she gleefully collects her cage of live quails. It is hilarious watching a bunch of people, who have been previously subjected to a diet of cruel-gruel and broth, now faced with such epicurean wonders! And when one of them pithily declares, albeit while gorging on quail, “Like the Wedding at Cana, the food is of no importance” you know you are watching a very subversive little film.

There are enough overt associations of food with evil. Women cooking, on celluloid, look like the archetypical witch in Hell’s Kitchen. What with the pots, vapours, bubbling stock and sweaty foreheads. It’s all a bit orgiastic. Tita’s mother, Mama Ellena, asks her if she put an emetic in the cake that has made the guest so sick with longing. Martina and Phillipa speak in hushed whispers about “exposure to dangerous, even evil powers.”

Another great food film is Ang Lee’s “Eat Drink Man Woman”. The scenes of cooking are a work of love. Cutting shallots, throwing ingredients into a hot wok, chopsticks flying about, the greens and yellows of Bok Choy. How lovely that the cook in this case is a man. Although he is a bit of a Mangy mum, with his incessant need to cook and feed his daughters. Why, he could be related to me!

I’ve been wondering if there are any Hindi films where food plays a central character. Did “Pakeezah” feature a scene where Meena Kumari dips her fingers into a bowl of almond covered phirnee? Did Jai and Veeru ever cook a meal over a fire? Some rotis and a chicken smothered in ginger, garlic, curd and turmeric, perhaps? Green chilli and raw onion on the side. Do write and tell me of food scenes you remember.

I certainly fancy watching a film with Shahrukh Khan stirring up an urbane Coq au Vin. Button mushrooms…..a tad of thyme…a quartered chicken and some fine Merlot. Or maybe Ajay Devgan cooking a Yakhni biriyani. Or Viveik Oberoi doing some Red Beans and Rice while singing Pastime Paradise. Or Saif Ali Khan making crepes with strawberries…Or Abhishek flipping a masala dosai….. Oh the mind boggles!

- Kirtana Kumar in Cine Blitz

Heritage:Lost Spaces (Old published articles)

Heritage spaces? In Bangalore? Dear Reader, look around you. The tree massacres, the illegal incursion on Lalbagh, the daily demolition of old bungalows, Central Jail now euphemistically called Freedom Park. Is our heritage worth getting into a lather about? Please, won’t you be the judge?

Driving to BIAL on Friday, I see a shorn and shaven hillside rising up in front of me, evidence of a mining lobby that is apparently unmoved by monoliths or outlays of the Western Ghats and a political mass that fosters such crassness. Yet, the roadscape is slick, reminiscent of an anonymous foreign country. Somewhere along the road, on the right, one sees fragments from the time of Tippu Sultan, a dry-stacked stone wall and mantappa. But in the scheme of things – the political, spatial and social development of Bangalore - they are dwarfed, less important that the grandeur of the road and airport.

Perhaps one should begin with a litany of the losses.

Many years ago Bangalore lost Dr.Miranda’s house on St.Mark’s Road. The Vaz family’s Terra Vera, near by, is practically gone. We lost Victoria Hotel to a mall. We have lost several dearly beloved homes in Basavangudi, including the majestic Sheesh Mahal near Vani Vilas Circle. Onward from Lalbagh West Gate stood Sheesh Mahal, with its ornate mortar work windows on the right. On the left stood a house with wooden trellises and a sign for Afghan Snow. We’ve lost them all. Why, we’ve even lost Vani Vilas Circle or National College Circle as it used to be called. A piece of Bangalore history, we lost it to a flyover. We’ve lost the promenade on MG Road, as also Lakeview and Jamal’s. We’ve lost that old stalwart, Cash Pharmacy. Most recently, we have lost India Coffee House. Dewar’s Bar looks like its days are numbered.

And then work backwards to configure an equation between all that heritage signifies and all that the loss of heritage unleashes.

Heritage has been defined as the tangible and intangible expressions of a society’s culture that have been passed on from generation to generation and as representative of the “cultural capital and inspirational power of people and communities”. Taken in isolation the word “heritage” is itself often factious because it seems to imply ease and the insouciance of wealth. That it is best left to countries with money to make the argument for heritage conservation since we have enough urban issues on our plate what with public transport, sanitation and garbage disposal. Lazy intellects would even posit heritage against development, as if the two were mutually exclusive. Yet, heritage has everything to do with the way we see ourselves, each other and how we articulate ourselves. More importantly, heritage, especially in the form of public spaces and flora, is beyond individual or state; it serves the larger human community.

Having said this, I understand that heritage is a tough nut to crack. Short of clinging to tradition in a Luddite sense, in a country as diverse as ours, it is crazy to try and chalk out criteria for urban heritage conservancy that is based on age, the subjectivity of aesthetics or monetary value alone. For heritage to be relevant to a city I suspect a more citizen driven, ad hoc and ear-to-the ground approach is called for. For most of us, heritage is a bundle of things that make a city special and that mark the denizens of that city with a uniqueness that fortifies them from within and enables them to live splendidly. It is the value we place on the anachronistic and funky, as also on the historic and traditional. Thus an avenue of Rain trees (Samanae Saman) is as precious as Cash Pharmacy. And the two make sense, because we have the wit and candour to love an old bookshop or an ice-cream parlour. It is the way the glass and chrome of the new multi storied buildings is balanced by the harmony of old bungalows with gardens and jackfruit trees. And so on.

The spaces mentioned earlier were deleted from Bangalore in order to accommodate (no! not low income housing) but new temples to wealth and consumerism. Not to say they didn’t have previous utility, it’s just that in their new avatar, wealth for the individual is magnified exponentially. But rather than lay the blame on the individual, I think we should question our society that is so obsequious and upwardly mobile in its intentions that it constantly shoots itself in the foot in the name of progress. As a people we haven’t cared enough to protect our heritage, have we? We don’t have an urban commission worth mentioning. Certainly not one that has the vision to develop our city in a manner that is gracious or fine. One that has factored in quality of life for everyone. Even Shanghai, the city that Bangalore aspires to be when it grows up, has protected its Soviet neo-classical, communist era architecture alongside its traditional Shikumen residences. Further, this not an argument about tradition versus modernity. The two can co-exist with ease as in Paris, where the French have had the cultural confidence to place the fantastically industrial Centre Georges Pompidou alongside the 16 century Hotel de Ville.

The productivist mantra of the ‘90’s was that people couldn’t “afford” to hold onto their old properties because of the real estate boom in the city. Implying that an old home has no business standing upright since the land value could generate so much more. So much more what, one might well ask. And have we balanced the equation? i.e. does the elimination of heritage spaces on the one hand make us a kinder, more loving, more joyous people on the other? Clearly not, if the daily news is anything to go by. So perhaps it is time to pay heed to the emotional well being of a city. In keening for lost spaces this author is in fact not mourning lime and mortar, but familiar markers, milestones and witnesses. The stuff that solace is made of. Our souls yearn for that intangible cultural heritage, that long continuum of a city’s ancient and contemporary history. We want to be a part of its warp and weft. When my parent’s sold their home, my then four year old daughter cried “You can’t do this, all my memories are here.” So yes, the value of heritage is beyond aesthetics; it also lies in the domain of memory which one could extrapolate to include family, friends, experience and love.

After all Premier Bookshop on Church Street was not about monkey tops or Italian tiles. Yet it represented a common Bangalore heritage of intellectual enquiry, of relationships, of timelessness. In the post-globalization pursuit of homogeneity, Premier Bookshop was the gentle rebel. A small store, a learned bookseller, Proust rubbing shoulders with Ramanujam. By just being there and doing its thing, Premier Bookshop enriched and gladdened Bangalore. Travelers to the city, via Lonely Planet or the grapevine, knew Premier Bookshop the way they knew Koshy’s, MTR or Avenue Road. It was unique and irreplaceable. Maybe the key to heritage lies in that irreplaceable quality. When the value of a space lies in its being and not in its return on investment.

Finally, perhaps we should question our fundamental assumption that any decision taken to further personal wealth is necessarily a good one. I challenge this rationale. And challenge the idea of the inevitability of greed and the indisputability of gain. Surely that is not our raison d’etre on this earth. Let us instead re-investigate the twin notions of cultural capital and the inspirational power of people and communities. We need to shore up our cultural resources as well for us to feel in anyway complete. Therefore the long term impact of prioritizing one public space over another (road over relic, gated community over family home) and eradicating anything that will connect us to memory, while appearing to be practical and pro-development, may hurt us in very subtle ways. Maybe the disappearance of physical manifestations of grace will mark the end of civility for Bangalore.

So do we feel that the loss of heritage is worth getting into a lather about? Antoine de Saint Exupery, the author of The Little Prince, once wrote “A civilization is a heritage of beliefs, customs, and knowledge slowly accumulated in the course of centuries, elements difficult at times to justify by logic, but justifying themselves as paths when they lead somewhere, since they open up for man his inner distance.”

I seek that inner distance and feel sure, dear Reader, that you do too.

- Kirtana Kumar in the Sunday Herald 2009



I don’t usually weep on reading an article, but when I read Shoma Chaudhury’s piece on Irom Sharmila in this week’s Tehelka, there was no option. She has been fasting in peaceful protest against the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) for the past 10 years… 10 years! Not 21 days, not 1 year… Andhra Pradesh is to be splintered by the merest hint of a hunger strike by Telengana Rashtra Samiti chief K.Chandrashekar Rao, and We the People don’t see fit to pay heed to a single woman’s 10 year long heroic resistance? Don’t see fit to pressurize our government to revoke a cruel, bestial and surely illegal Act? To hear her words - “it is my bounden duty” - is to hold a mirror to self and ask, “What do I really believe in? What will I willingly die for?”

I had the privilege of working on a Manipur based theatre project a few years ago. No state has moved me as much. Even before I reached Imphal, I was already half way in love. A state so steeped in art that every village will rig a stage and put up it’s own plays, where women look like delicate flowers clad in petals of pink and white, where Krishna makes his presence felt in the eyes of young men, where thang-ta is equally dance and lethal war-fare. I traveled in the districts of Bishnupur and Churachandpur and was fed and treated with sweetness and warmth by people who retain their humanity against the sort of odds that would defeat lesser souls. In the Ima Keithel or Women’s Market in Imphal, women laughed as I tried to haggle over a Meitei mekhla. My friend Sarat C. (who brings me rice wine in Bisleri bottles) took me to Ratan Thiyam’s exquisite Chorus Repertory Theatre just outside Imphal, where I watched Nine Hills and a Valley. I sat with Dr.Lokendra Arambam for hours, talking about literature, theatre and the history of Manipur. June 10th 2009 was the 9th anniversary of the gunning down of his brother, the UNLF leader, Arambam Samarendra. Apparently people distributed papers on his views on Manipuri literature and sang his song Chaikhre Ngashi. I was to meet Kanhailal and Sabitri. 60 plus year old Sabitri who, prescient, Cassandra-like, performed Draupadi in the nude a few months before that greatest act of protest at Kangla Palace…but time simply ran out.

To take such a people and do this to them…

Manipur has been at the epicentre of the Golden Triangle for 40 years. Sitting in community centres listening as old men shared their memories of armed jeeps coming in from erstwhile Burma, carrying drug lords and selling them pure heroin. I met a family with three generations of intra-venous drug users – grandfather, son and grandson. Except now pure heroin is a prohibitively expensive drug and sixteen year old boys and sometimes girls will shoot cheap non-injectibles such as Proxyvon for an approximate high. Subsequently they develop huge abscesses on their legs. Their hands and arms, they tattoo with needles and poster colours to hide the tracks. The Meira Peibi, Mothers of the Lost Son, to save their boys from the twin threats of insurgency and addiction, will shoot at their legs in abject desperation. I met a boy whose legs were riddled with shotgun powder. To prevent the spread of infection, activists have set up needle drop-off points and the message is “Do not Share Needles”. Not “Do Not use Drugs”, for they know the futility of this; “Do Not Share Needles.”

What is the word for the decimation of a people? Genocide?

And another…

Manipur has been under siege by the Indian state for nigh on 60 years. Even before AFSPA, there was the controversial 1949 Merger of Manipur with India agreement. Even before independence and the annexation of Manipur, the so-called Indian mainland had this feeling that it must crush the northeast, imagined as the Other, into submission. How else can one explain a Naga girl dragged through Imphal and gang raped in a church by Indian soldiers? In the year 194-? She didn’t die, imagine that. She lived quietly into old age and only recently told her story to a nephew who had it published. I wish I could remember the details of this; the woman, the date, the book.

An independent kingdom and a proud people have been systematically brutalized, sought to be crushed. And we are surprised that the attacks are still met with resistance?

And another…

Imphal is full of cycle rikshaws and all the cycle rikshaw drivers wear masks, like Zorro, scarves tied across the lower half of their faces – to hide themselves. Yes, they wear masks so they will not be recognised by their mothers and cousins. So they can hide the ignominy of being middle class and unemployed. Where are the jobs? Outside of government service and insurgency, where is the work? At a meeting on HIV prevention, I asked my Manipuri colleagues “What is the industry in Manipur?” This was met by silence and later a young boy said “I don’t know about industry and all that. I just know we are good people…and there is nothing for us to do anymore. I am a peer counselor to fellow IDU’s. At least it’s work”

I met one of the Meira Peibi who participated in the July 15th 2004 protest. She was a jovial grandmother who, like the others, was pushed so far over the edge by the years of rape and murder that yet another rape and murder, that of Thangjam Manorama proved too much. Along with 11 other Imas or mothers, she stripped her clothes off and stood before Kangla Palace screaming “Indian Army, rape us”.

I have nothing to offer other than my memories of Manipur. And one last visual: From Nine Hills and a Valley – a chorus of women draped in white with babies on their backs, mouths stretched open, twisting in silent agony.

Sharmila’s mother hasn’t met her since she began her fast for fear that she will weaken her resolve. Do read about what is actually happening in the North-East and be informed. Don’t let Irom Sharmila fast alone. Don’t let her fast be in vain.


Mad Puppy

In an effort to stave Bamboo’s depression (on account of Laddu and Rose’s passing, or so we think; maybe he’s just turning into a cranky old guy and this despite still having his tentacles intact unlike Surprise who is deprived in this dept. ), we decided that we must get a girl puppy. Truth be told, it was sort of for The Daughter’s 16th birthday as well.

We looked and asked around for yellow Lab girl pup. Several on the phone sounded dicey and spoke in terms of micro chips, show dogs and KCI when all we wanted was a cheerful baby to kiss and muck about with. This went on for a bit to no avail. Then on a fine evening filled with old friends and music, Sharmon said he knew “someone in the office who had Lab pups”. We followed this lead that led to the fattest, darling-est, prettiest furball you ever saw and she was the offspring of the lovely Itisha’s Paris & Deuce Bigalow (yes, yes…Male Gigolo). Except she wasn’t a Lab, she was a Golden Retriever, a minor detail apparently, ‘cause by now we were besotted we so couldn’t see the woods for the trees. Lab, Schmab. A dog by any other name etc. Some brisk googling on Kuki’s part informed us that crossing a Lab with a GR wasn’t a bad idea as the latter were apparently “more intelligent”. Good, good! Bamboo’s honour will be upheld, Laddu’s noble bloodline continued and doggie-depression shall be kept at bay.

Or so innocently we thought.

I should have known, should have had one teensy inkling, on that journey home. She wriggled and wiggled and squealed so much that I worried the auto driver next us at the Cunningham Road lights would think I was Chinese torturing her, so held her up for all to behold much as Mufasa did Simba. See? Fat and Adorable Puppy, that’s all. I thought the drama was because we were strangers and she missed her Mama. How wrong I was! It’s just that she is an independent little miss. And wants her own way all the bloody time. We didn’t name her Princess Mushroom Peaches Mirabella for nothing. Mushroom for short and Mooshoo for shorter. So when we now say “What’s the Brat up to?” everyone knows the One in question is not The Daughter.

The house, peaceful and dignified a week ago, now looks like a bomb shelter on acid. The floors are strewn with puppy debris; a pink sock, 2 soft toys, Bamboo’s old bone, a guitar cable, a pine cone, Hawaii chappals and every single Pretty Thing from my too-low coffee table including a Welsh Kissing Spoon, a snuff box and copy of On the Road. And this doesn’t include the reams of newspaper everywhere to soak up sweet smelling pup-piss. Or the bits of apples and carrots that she is teething on. Oh, and the little stoneware bowl of water and flowers on the too-low coffee table? She stands on said table, drinks the water, flowers glued to her nose and then leaves wet paw prints everywhere.

And yet, we wander about all day in a love-daze, kissing her endlessly, stuffing our noses into her peachy fur and feeding her sliced bananas and curd rice (she is to be brought up a Brahmin Pup, is this one). The other day some newspaper carried an item about stroking dogs, how that’s good for one’s health. Oh, boy… That’s our medical insurance. That, and full body massage.

And Bamboo?

* One week later…He’s not depressed anymore, I don’t think. He’s just furious. He’s either dead scared of the Precious Pup or dead angry. Either way, it’s a red hot emotion. Kuki says “Just wait for six months, she comes on heat.” But it shouldn’t be just about the sex, should it? Why can’t he let his guard down and go with the flow?

* Ten days later… He’s besotted too and has lost every shred of canine dignity. She’s licking his ear as I write, having jumped all over him, bitten his tail, eaten his breakfast and made him chase her and her rag toy under our bed and through the house. The only hope of discipline lies in Kiara, who every now and again casts a baleful eye over this Creature from Elsewhere and slaps her with a well meaning hiss.