10/20/11

Bangalore Love Story Diaries:# 3

Lekha Naidu

A Love Story is like
a large sheet of cellophane wrapping ones being. Mummifying a part of you
forever... keeping chips of heart together... One can’t tell how tightly
wrapped you are. It’s transparent, you see...

Mine is tinged with a bit of green, grey and red... it is tinged with a bit
of Bangalore.

I find most people share this tinged cellophane with me...

This is what binds the BLS team together... a ream of cellophane stories
running into each other. Overlapping. Superimposed. Becoming one.

After two weekends at the farm, I see us owning each other’s stories. We
don’t necessarily have to have shared it but we know that everyone is here
for the same exact reason you are here; to tell a story of Love, to give off
oneself.

The second workshop saw people joining us anew, who couldn’t make it the
first week. The ease with which they melded in with the “actors’ workshop”
veterans was amazing. Jyo and Bree burst into the scene with such elegance
and tenderness it made one weep. Mr.Handsome quietly brings an innocent
honesty that makes one want to tug at his cheeks like one would do to a
baby.

One can tell we are all here with the right kind of heart. The same kind of
heart. We are going to be a great team.

“Love feels no burden, thinks nothing of its trouble, attempts what is above
its strength, pleads no excuse for impossibility, for it thinks all things
are lawful for itself and all things are possible.”- Thomas Kemp.


Loads of Love,
Lekha

10/12/11

Bangalore Love Story Diaries:# 2

Charithra Ballal
http://charithra-charas-chai.blogspot.com/?spref=fb

Amjad Prawej
You have a special chapter in your life with a special person. Happy, sad, funny and painful moments are still lingering in the form of memories. Years have passed and you get an opportunity to relive the experience all over again. Everything is exactly the same except that special one.
Our Bangalore Love Story workshop #2 was all about reconstructing those moments. In the course of reconstructing the events, I realise how at times the scene is so different from my memory. It is such a fascinating experience. A word, a look, a sigh or a touch, anything from my co-actor is capable of changing the entire scene. As the scenes are played, I am also forced to reflect on my past actions. Could things have been different?
How different? Why did I say a particular thing? Why did I do that? If similar events were to happen in my life now, would I react the same way I did years ago? Probably not or maybe yes. In all these years I have definitely changed. And so has my reasoning. This workshop is a great experience to compare and learn about my past self and my present being. Thanks a lot Kirtana, Kuki and Tom for this wonderful opportunity. 
By the way I now know for sure who plays my girl in the film. Thanks a lot Charitra for being so patient and supportive. And yes, the murder mystery still remains unsolved!!
Jyotsna B. Rao
I am preoccupied with the beauty of the work and space and the generosity of the entire team. Great to be on board with all of you. Thank you Kirtana, Tom, Cookie, Zui, Dogs, Food, Actors and the limitless sky :)
Thank you again
Jyo
Ashvin Mathew
It all began with a film workshop with Tom Cowan where we wrote a script, shot it, edited and screened it in 2days. I felt i had learnt more things than i did in 2 years at Uni. After the workshop you suggested the idea of workshopping real love stories from Bangalore, create a script with the actors through Improv and then make the film, "bangalore lovestories".
I loved the energy we developed while working with cookie and the others on the Bald Soprano and with that came the trust that what ever we come up with at the end would be worth the time and energy.
We started the workshops last weekend with 4 stories and 8 actors. and we were given scenes and asked to play.
Strraight away the questions flew, How do i know her? whats my relationship with him? do i Like him? and How can i make this man real?
The answer to these questions were, "lets find out".
Over the period of 6 days, we have laughed, smiled, fallen in love, watched others in love, fall out of love, we were served imaginary coffee by 'suresh' who never got the orders right, we fought, we learnt, we took loans we can never pay back and at night we ate like Kings.
As for me, in the proicess of bringing Varghese Mathai to life, i realised its not just one thing that makes a character, He cant just be bad, for he loves love stories too. He lends money on a high interest and borders on asking for a pound of flesh in return and yet he would give away money to someone whose father was very ill. He would dream of a big empire and yet would drink coffee in the company of prostitutes and strangers looking for branded underwear. He would want the good life and yet he would sleep hungry. All this and more i learnt and when Tom asked me to savour the words that came out of Mathais mouth, it hit me. This man Mathai is also in love! he loves his journey, he loves his misery and he loves Bangalore, the city thats made him more than just his fathers son.
Irealised that when you leave your Inhibitions at the door and truly let go, then the sky is the limit and the world becomes your playground and whatever your character speaks the mountains will take chorus and most of all i learnt in these 6 days that ,talent in absence of inspiration more often than not will produce only mediocre art.
thank you for this opportunity, thank you for the love and thank you for believeing in me and most of all i thank, you, cookie and Tom for the inspiration.
Jyotsna B. Rao 
The 3 days spent at the farm and bringing stories together has been a good experience viewing and also rediscovering and revisiting episodes from my life.
Some thoughts that came to my mind during the workshop:
"Love travels beyond distance". 
"It does not affect you until it happens to you".
"When love leaves, everything leaves".
I was on a journey of self discovery and was weaving a story with the other 2 actors and It was easy to replay incidents from real life somehow and absolutely liked the way unexpected meanings emerged from the improvisations.
On a different note I state an observation, which is: Improvs make me less creative when repeated and it would help if actors involved in a particular scene could do an exercise of some sorts.
( theatre/ dance) to help find connections easily and find ourselves on the same boat.

10/11/11

BLS Diaries: Infinite Souls by Harris Backer

From WALDEN by Henry David Thoreau

SOLITUDE

    This is a delicious evening, when the whole body is one sense,
and imbibes delight through every pore.  I go and come with a
strange liberty in Nature, a part of herself.  As I walk along the
stony shore of the pond in my shirt-sleeves, though it is cool as
well as cloudy and windy, and I see nothing special to attract me,
all the elements are unusually congenial to me.  The bullfrogs trump
to usher in the night, and the note of the whip-poor-will is borne
on the rippling wind from over the water.  


Rain on the Bottlebrush


Charitra by the pond


Sympathy with the
fluttering alder and poplar leaves almost takes away my breath; yet,
like the lake, my serenity is rippled but not ruffled.  These small
waves raised by the evening wind are as remote from storm as the
smooth reflecting surface.  





Ripples in the Sky


Some of my pleasantest hours were during the long rain-storms in
the spring or fall, which confined me to the house for the afternoon
as well as the forenoon, soothed by their ceaseless roar and
pelting; when an early twilight ushered in a long evening in which
many thoughts had time to take root and unfold themselves. 


Pond Bioeme



Rushes


Waterlillies


I am no more lonely
than the loon in the pond that laughs so loud, or than Walden Pond
itself.  What company has that lonely lake, I pray?  And yet it has
not the blue devils, but the blue angels in it, in the azure tint of
its waters. 

10/5/11

Bangalore Love Story Diaries: #1

10 actors plus 3 of us (Tom, Konarak, Kirtana) ... all in pursuit of those good moments on film.
Friday morning, everyone heads out. As soon as we are settled we meet at the large rehearsal space to warm up and prepare. Some diary notes from the first BLS workshop.

Anmol Mothi
"Banglore love story. Workshop no:1. 'Realities, Illutions, thoughts, action, fun, imotions, laugh..... All come. Together... journey starts.."

Tom Cowan Workshop 30 - 2nd Fri - Sun
"One wonderful aspect of the first workshop was the location. That the actors were so relaxed and spontaneous was most encouraging and was helped by the farm/workshop set-up. So we all got off to a flying start and characters and stories are forming already. There are some superb improvisations to draw from. Today we'll review the video and see where we need to go with the movie.
So far so good."

Lekha Naidu
"Workshop 1: raining brilliance in improvs and one liners... Everyone's begun discovering... And Amjad is confused!"

Amjad Prawej
"The auditions are over. I have managed to get myself shortlisted to act in “Bangalore Love Stories”. I am happy. This is the first time ever I have been selected for being honest, sincere and true to myself. This is what I love the most about BLS. I get to be me. There is a slight problem though – seven years of theatre has turned me into a compulsive 'actor'; I can't help but act when on stage or in front of camera.
This is where the intervention was needed. And it came in the form of workshops at the most beautiful and amazing 'Infinite Souls'. The cast and crew of BLS were there last weekend discovering themselves and  interacting and creating 'moments' with other characters in the film (Honestly – Having blast all the way). Tom, Kirtana and Konark knew exactly what they wanted and seemed quite relaxed (I cant be sure though; they are good actors!). Some of us were a little confused at times (Honestly – I think it was only I) regarding the stories. At one point, I mistook one character as two different beings. The other was about someone's death(I am still confused about this one). The funniest one was not knowing who was going to be my girl, for sure. For quite some time I thought she was married to my friend(Now that could be a bollywood twist). 
Well, to keep it short, I did manage torediscover myself and  find some connections with other characters(Thanks to Aswin, Satish, Romal, Lekha, Divya, Moti, Zui and Vineet. You all rock!) The intervention is working fine too and I am learning not to act. Can't wait for the next workshop - I will probably know who dies(I hope its not me!) and finally have my girl, for sure ;)"
Tanvee
"It was an experience of a life time. Interesting. Had much to learn from the artists working with the film. Looking forward to the days where the film will evolve into a charming baby."

Laishram Romal M. Singh





"I was a bit worried about the what and how of the story, especially because the story was so close to my being, but then watching it wonderfully melt into so many other stories, equally important and equally Bangalorean, I breathed a sigh of relief.
It's often good, they say to let go of memories that mean so much and look at them from a new perspective and the first installment of my workshops with the team, only left me startled at my ability to disassociate and my willingness to share and make this love story, a love story of everyone's.
I look forward to the next few workshops, with eagerness that I cannot even begin to describe." 

Vineet M.Vincent
"I had a blast this time around!! THE FOOD!!! what can i say....muuuah!!

I was a little angry at first that you put me in a spot but slowly found it easier to deal with, i guess one must confront ones demons to overcome them, not saying that i have though.........yet at-least!! I used to love performing for children when I was with rafiki, but there is some kinda block right now and I'm finding it very difficult to overcome.
Looking forward to staying on the farm and learning more from you and kuki.
Thank you very much for giving me this opportunity."

9/26/11

Time flies like an arrow...

First it was Ionesco's The Bald Soprano, then there was a concert and then we began auditions for Bangalore Love Story.... rehearsals, sets, costumes, sound checks, shows, lights, shows, rehearsals, guitar strings, sound check, sound check, sound check, house guests, love stories, sad stories, stories of yearning, of loss, of love.....God knows how it all went down.

We haven't been to Infinite Souls in so long that Prudence, just thinking of her, brings me wet eyes and guilt. And now we're off! Yippeeeeeee! All of October we're doing actor's workshops there. Harvest of pleasure. Actors in two rehearsal spaces...kalaripayattu for those with willing knees, treks and biomechanics for everyone. Music for sure. And dancing. My cup runneth over.

...fruit flies like a banana.


7/14/11

Green Mango Rice

I said I was going to do it before the season was over... so here I am, bearing the gift of my mother's Green Mango Rice recipe. The mango carts are now covered with Neelams (pretty and sweet, yet harbouring those black beetles) that mark the end, so I just about made it.
Amma's Green Mango Rice
Look, this entire thing depends on how many are eating, how sour you like your food, how much you have and so on. So don't take any of it seriously, just play - it's a forgiving recipe.

1. Approximately 2 cups of cooked rice
2. Perhaps 1 large green mango - grated
3. A little bit of finely chopped coriander leaves

Grind together till fine the following: About 1/2 coconut, a tablespoon of raw mustard seeds, 4 green chillies (or 8, depending on who's eating), 1 teaspoon of jeera seeds, salt to taste.

Mix the whole shebang (i.e. Items 1, 2 and 3 as well as the ground mixture) together, check for salt. Then season with the following:

- Hot oil, into which goes
- A teaspoon of mustard seeds
- A teensy pinch of hing
- A handful of curry leaves (I love them and therefore add plenty, you can add less if you like)
- 2-4 red chillies
- 2 tablespoons of ground nuts
Easy-peasy and it's yummy - so try it before the last mango vanishes!

While on the subject of the much-beloved and seriously good-for-you curry leaves, here is something I make when I am cooking ridge gourd (which, my Ayurvedic doctor assures me, is exactly what one should be cooking in Aashada. "Cook and eat all the gourds - haagalkai, sorekai, heerekai. But NO badhnekai!")
Ridge Gourd Peel & Curry Leaf Chutney


This is fantastic with hot rice and clearly what the doctor orders in this windy season of no dals, channa or rajma. I'm not kidding! Vayu, apparently, is on the rise in Aashada, so one must desist from legumes which cause seasonal aches, pains and lumbago.

1. Scrape the peel off your ridge gourds (I dunno...maybe 2 - 4 ridge gourds)
2. 1 tablespoon urad dhal
3. 8 red chillies
4. 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
5. 1 small pinch of hing
6. 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
7. Salt to taste
8. Wash about 1 cup of curry leaves
9. A lime sized ball of tamarind

Roast all ingredients except the salt, tamarind and curry leaves. When the urad dhal is golden brown, take off the heat. Grind together with salt, tamarind and curry leaves - till fine. Transfer into a dish. I sometimes add a little more oil to the chutney, you can decide if you want to. Mush into piping hot rice and, well, wallop it!

Zui was down with a cold and fever and I felt so sorry for the poor mite, all a-sniffing and a-groaning, that I thought I might bake something to cheer her up. What inspiration do my shelves offer? A well scraped (empty) jar of Nutella and some Peanut Butter. Alles klaar! Chocolate-peanut butter brownies it shall be!
Chocolate-Peanut Butter Brownies (or, Nutella-Peanut Butter Brownies) aka There's No Losing Brownies

1 cup salted butter, melted
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
I cup peanut butter (or, 1/2 PB and 1/2 Nutella)



Combine the dry ingredients well. Then combine melted butter, sugar, peanut butter (or PB & Nutella) over a low heat. Take off heat. Mix in the beaten eggs and vanilla extract. Fold in the dry mixture. Pour batter into a greased and floured dish (mine was an 8 inch square dish) and bake in a hot oven for approximately 20-30 mins or till the top starts to feel firm to the touch. Leave for about 10 minutes before cutting. The moistest brownies imaginable with minimal effort. Zui's cold was somewhat appeased :)

7/11/11

Other Folks' Blogs

There are so many fantastic blogs out there by young Indian women I'm grinning widely for the sheer spunk of it. It's a whole new art form, this blogospere, and Indian women have taken to it like, well, like folks who have been offered up a chance to mess with our heads, expand our horizons and challenge any remaining Luddite views we might have on New Media. Expression, opinion, photographs, video, widgets and if one so chooses, anonymity via avatars. Hmmm...diarists never had it so good before. Besides, ain't no nitpicking sub-editor gonna aim at homogenization and complain about punctuation. 

I discovered Third World Ghetto Vampire by Kuzhali Manickavel and it's really bloody fantastic. 
If you come today, you're too early, if you come tomorrow, you're to la-a-ate!

The Dr.Rajkumar byline coupled with her lippy style and  bang-on observations make it eminently readable. http://thirdworldghettovampire.blogspot.com/ 
Here's a sample for those of you who can't be bothered to click on the link above: 
"And now I am going to talk about SlutWalks because this just wouldn’t be a chickblog if I didn’t talk about SlutWalks yougaiz. The SlutWalk in Delhi had interesting and completely predictable effects on certain sections of our illustrious society. Some people who had hitherto been trying to wrap their heads around the novel idea that one should not call women sluts suddenly became superconfused and excited because the word ‘slut’ is very exciting. Other sections of society made the exceedingly clever observation that if women themselves are parading themselves as sluts, then why won’t they be treated as sluts? The aforementioned superconfused contingency took a great deal of comfort from this observation and now these two sections of society are like bee eff effs yougaiz.  The ‘SlutWalk joke’ was born and quickly distinguished itself as a very unique breed of humor where peeps got extremely emo and upset if you did not laugh at these jokes, even if they were mind-blowingly unfunny." 

This is not an isolated case. There are also blogs by...
- Meena Kandaswamy - "blog by a 26-year-old tamil woman obsessed with dr.ambedkar's dream of caste annihilation" - with her poetry, prose and opinion. meenu.wordpress.com


- Shilo Shiv Subramaniam - A stunningly beautiful blog, named for the Beatles song - Across the Universe.
For loveliness alone, this should win every blog award hands down. I dunno where this changeling popped out from with her dreamy vision, pastiche/collage story telling but she is the original "butterflies and rainbows and fairy tales" girl. Don't be lazy, click on this link now, you'll be so glad you did!  http://bonifisheii.blogspot.com/ Oh, and yeah, she's a Bangalore girl :))))

- Anindita Sengupta - She has her own blog dedicated to her poetry and also edits the Indian feminsit blog - Ultra Violet. 
Click here http://aninditasengupta.com/tag/blog-award/ and you'll see that she was awarded a prestigious Orange Jammy! I would give you the link to Ultra Violet except it's been compromised. 

- Toto Funds the Arts - This blog, in a strange way, could be the mother of many other blogs as it supports young Indian writers, photographers and musicians thus paving the way for more funky blogs. http://totofundsthearts.blogspot.com/

- Then there is http://madnessmandali.blogspot.com/. Not saying anything, you check it out :)


- Itisha Peerbhoy - While I'm plugging Bangalore Girls, here's one who is a relative of sorts. She is the Muggle-grandmother of Mushroom, being the Muggle-mother of Paris and so on. Ok, if that is too obtuse, her blog is not. It's awesomely honest and funny. Except that you now have to be an invited reader to access it, but try your luck: http://itishapeerbhoy.blogspot.com/


- Aliyeh Rizvi - And another... If you want to read about a Bangalore that only a Bangalorean could reveal, click on Aliyeh's affectionate homage to a Bangalore that is fragile and on the verge of extinction. http://aturquoisecloud.wordpress.com/about/ I love reading the cantonment names (Cash Bazaar, Madras Bank Road, )and looking at pictures of places that I grew up with and that may not see the light of tomorrow thanks to that anachronism that is development. When she writes about Koshy's that one can "Sit there with a good book, count raindrops trickling down the window and  discover how easy it is to make time stand still." I know the feeling.

- Sharanya Manivanam - Another super articulate blog by a Madras girl. I claim her as sister, being myself the sum of infinite Brindavan journeys from Parent's Home in Bangalore to Grandmother's Home in Madras. I also had a, hitherto undisclosed, summer addiction to the softies at Aavin Milk Bar and an altar boy in the Theosophical Society chapel.
Click here for her take on the Slut Walk: 
http://sharanyamanivannan.wordpress.com/


- Er... this is not strictly by a woman. And it's not strictly a blog...But the author is Indian, young and it's a veritable treasure trove. If you love music and are intrigued by what went down with western music in India in the early part of the 20th century, your search can rest here a while. Naresh Fernandes is coming out with a book about the jazz age in Bombay in October. The website is full of little gems about the then-scene (who was Louise Pacheco?) and archival recordings. Even an homage to Mina Kava, the composer of Bombay Meri Hai. http://www.tajmahalfoxtrot.com/


I could go on. It's a brave new world and young women are doing plenty to hold up the cyber-sky. And, it has to be said, unlike the print media with its images of yawningly boring celebrities and vacuousness à la mode, these girls are all so damned gorgeous. Original, multi-coloured and non-conforming. 
Go for it. Click. Click. And click. Get into it already!

6/30/11

Drama Production Workshop

Tom Cowan, DOP of Samskara, IMAX cinematographer and director of such cult Australian films as Journey Among Women, was at Infinite Souls last weekend. He facilitated a drama production workshop with a group of 12 participants.



The weather was drizzly, blowing hard and the light, blue. "Aashada has started" said Huli Chandru. We have two new young cows on the farm - Gowri and Sarasvati. Zui had also brought the puppies along. So there were 3 dogs and 6 puppies underfoot. The cows got in nobody's way, except when Mushroom danced up a storm around their hooves and they jumped about. "Did they jump over the moon?" asked Kai when I told him this story.


Saturday morning, we all headed to the round rehearsal space. First question to the group from Tom "Think of a character who desires something greatly."


Amjad - Someone desperate for a cigarette and in a place where he can't have one. 
Chandru - A man who desires to put an end to corruption through any means possible
Lekha - A person unfairly in jail who desires freedom
Abhishek - A boy who wants to find his father
Divya - A character who desires magic in her life
Madhuri - An artist who simply can't paint. She desires expression

Etc

Tom picks two stories and the group has 90 minutes to flesh the stories out and crystallize a 3 act structure for each. They will shoot The Artist on Day 1 and The Lost Father on Day 2. The films are cast, art directors get moving, Lekha is DOP for Day 1 and so on. They improv. the 3 act structure of The Artist once, with Madhuri and Tanvee acting. Then Tom says "Let's shoot." 
Shock! 

....but...but..I can't act (Tom:You don't need to)...can we rehearse again? (Tom: No)...how should I react? (Tom: You'll find a way)...ca...can we speak? (Tom: No)..then how...??? (Tom: Let's see)






Here is Tom's process for Day 1:-
1. Shoot a single shot of the whole film (it can be done with proper planning)
2. Review and assess the footage
3. Create a story board for a multi-shot based on the above
4. Shoot the multi-shot keeping in mind light/action/costume continuity (just in case you want to use some of the single shot in the edit
5. Edit
6. Music and titles as need be


By 7.30pm, they wrap the shoot and Tanvee and Madhuri start editing. 
Ashvin had brought in a veritable banquet of food the night before, so the wood-fire oven burns on and some of us party till late in the Magadi night. Some are so terrified of the dark (and perceived leopards, bears and ghosts) that they won't, as Lekha says, "step outside their pool of torchlight" to challenge Ashvin, the source of all their fear. 
Who's scared of the Big Bad Wolf, huh? Huh?

Day 2. In contrast to the Day 1 process, the group along with Tom decide to shoot 2 master takes (from opposite angles) and edit from that material. Abhishek, Zui, Ashvin and Lekha will be acting. As it is a road film, Gypsy the Jeep is to star in it. Folks get ready to rip off its roof for "additional light".

Kuki poignantly beseeches "Whoever takes the goddamn roof off had better put the bloody thing back before it rains." He also says "Zui, let me drive the jeep down the mud road, you won't be able to turn her around." "Dada you have no faith in me!!" protests Zui as she whirls around, Ashvin in tow, and drives the jeep away down said mud road. The rest of us, hats on heads, take position, ready to shoot. Chandru regales us with stories of other shoots as we wait. Of how his tiger got away while shooting Huli Banthu Huli, of how we got chased by a tusker on a narrow trail to Doddasampige during the Devarakadu shoot. 

20 minutes later, no signs of Zui and the Jeep. I call Ashvin. "...er..Kirtana..ummm... there's been a ...well, a bit of a thing. Noworrieswe'llbethereinaminute."

10 minutes later. No, Zui, no jeep, no Ashvin. Second phone call "Er...Kirtana, do you have a small mumtee?"

So we head off to find them.
Around the corner, along the bend - the jeep balancing a foot off the ground on two mud embankments. Ashvin trying to rev it out. Zui hiding behind a lantana bush.

Nagraj the Indomitable (along with mumtee and ghatapara) is summoned. Soon his shadow looms on us as he places his foot on the embankment and thrusts his ghatapara into the mud. At that very moment, our  neighbour, Huchappa, and his herd of goats and 4 cows choose to pass by. Taking stock of the situation, Huchappa flings himself beneath the jeep and begins scooping earth out with his hands. Fortunately, Lekha kept shooting through all this so Zui is immortalized in the Making of The Lost Father uttering those words made famous by millions of teenagers "My dad's going to kill me." 

After the drama of the jeep, the rest of the shoot was anti-climactic but nonetheless rendered some quality acting and a timely coughing fit by Divya the DOP. Editing began thereafter. In this case, the choices were largely about point of view. 

By 6pm, the group had 2 short films with music and titles ready to be screened. A small audience viewed them. It was interesting to see what the audience got from the films, how the individual's pursuit of a single thing (the named desire at the start of the workshop) can provide a framework for intersecting stories. And finally - how liberating to be able to tell stories, make feature films without that old fashioned dependence on funds, stars, equipment rental, studios, producers and the million things that perpetuate the myth that the individual is nothing without an army of support. Some participants said they learned more in these two days than in three years of back-benching it in college. Hmmm...

PS - For those who feel for Konarak, folks didn't put the roof back in time, it rained buckets that afternoon and the jeep did in fact get soaked. 

6/28/11

Cooking for the Season

June is the month for mangoes and mango eating. My grandfather would say that we should eat nothing but mangoes during this season, accompanied by glasses of milk. Eww...I can't handle the milk part. But mangoes! Green mango rice with ground mustard and green chillies, mango panna with cardamom and jaggery, mango lassi, mango sasimi, mango kulfi, mango rasayana with fresh coconut, mango gojju...


My mother's family adore the early Raspuris (first to come and first to leave), my father likes Malgoas, Konarak will not be without his Banganpallis (dat old Andhra blood) and our daughter thinks the sun rises and sets with Alphonsoes. But we try not to argue (it's bad enough playing Pictionary in this family) and just get all the mangoes we can and eat them through the season.

We collected two sacks full of huge mangoes from the farm this year. They are perhaps a cross between Raspuri and Badami. Many other plants came to fruit this season as well and the farm was a rhapsody in green. The lemon tree from Arunachal Pradesh that Minam brought to plant at Laddu's grave. The rosemary was in full bloom, perfuming jeans and dogs and anything else that brushed against it. But there were also pomegranates, mosambis, sapotas, papayas, guavas, passion fruit. And my first ever precious avocado! The muse of future salads, guacamoles and prawn cocktails.

Lemon Tree from Arunachal Pradesh

Passionfruit (captured before the cows eat them off the fence)

At least I think they're Mosambis

Guavas

My Solitary Avocado

Rosemary Blossoms

I had so many mangoes at one point that I made a quart of mango ice cream that is serving us well. But the season's hit has been our Ground Coffee Bean and Walnut Cake. On a rainy afternoon, nothing hit the spot quite like a warm slice of this pretty, speckled brown cake with toasty flecks of walnut. I was also aided in pleasure and delight by a book I ask that you all read - "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver, Steven.L.Hopp & Camille Kingsolver   http://www.animalvegetablemiracle.com/
It has inspired me to:
- Shop for local vegetables and ignore those Dragon Fruits and artichokes that I strictly do not need
- Try and grow more edible produce (how hard can it be to grow a tomato?)
- Make mozzarella at home  
- Be determined to raise some chickens (only for eggs, I'm not that brave) before the year is out
- Try to shop at Foodworld less
- Be aware of indigenous produce/ products (see www.vanastree.org/)

Now to the cake...
The beans I used are from Rainforest Retreat in Coorg. http://www.rainforestours.com/ In the spirit of the season and of cooking, I share the recipe with you! Note: The ground beans add a mild crunch to the cake.



Ground Coffee Bean & Walnut Cake
8 oz Whole wheat flour
8 oz Sugar or jaggery
8 oz Butter
4 Eggs
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
A pinch of salt
2 tablespoons Ground Coffee Beans
100 grams Walnuts broken into small pieces
1-2 tablespoons curd (you may or may not need this)

Whip together the butter and sugar/jaggery till light and fluffy. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Add the eggs to the butter mixture, one at a time, adding a little flour mix each time. Keep beating well till all the eggs and flour are done. Stir in the ground beans and the walnuts. If the mixture is too thick, add a little curd till you have a nice batter. Pour into a greased and floured tin and bake at 250 degrees centigrade until it has risen and a toothpick dipped in the centre comes out clean (about 25-30 minutes). Leave to cool. Or don't! My daughter likes this cake fresh from the oven with a mug of milk on the side. (She doesn't have her mother's problem with milk) Tell me how you'd like it?






5/26/11

dance, dance, otherwise we are lost

You can't kid around with inspiration. Its either there, kicking your ass and reaching so far down, touching places you thought impossible to reach.... or its not. That's the nature of the beast.

Dry months were March and April 2011, when nothing came by, not a thought and I was hard put to dream. And then I saw Wim Wender's PINA in 3 D.

                                                               Pina Bausch in Cafe Muller

Me, I'm crazy in pursuit of what works on stage. Observer, no purveyor of magic. Witness to the make or break of a moment. And die hard groupie of those who dare to be so naked and true that ones heart is larger from the transcendence of what they care, these the absolute royalty of performers, to reveal. Craft is all very ok, but without the added blueness of revelation, I'm just all yaaawwwn. I am willing to experience anything, from school plays to rock concerts, just to witness that moment of liminality, of transparency.

Pina
Pina
Pina

There's no going back. And yes, we must kill every Buddha on the path.



In the words of the artist who made the film about Pina Bausch...

"No, there was no hurricane that swept across the stage,

there were just … people performing

who moved differently then I knew
and who moved me as I had never been moved before.
After only a few moments I had a lump in my throat,
and after a few minutes of unbelieving amazement
I simply let go of my feelings
and cried unrestrainedly.
This had never happened to me before…
maybe in life, sometimes in the cinema,
but not when watching a rehearsed production,
let alone choreography.
This was not theatre, nor pantomime,
nor ballet and not at all opera.
Pina is, as you know,
the creator of a new art.
Dance theatre."

                                                          Cafe Muller - First performed in 1978

Indelible Image # 1: Black and white footage from an early "Carnations" of Pina playing the accordion, topless, in men's underwear.

                                                         Carnations - First performed in 1982

Indelible Image # 50: Pina telling dancer: "You have to get more crazy" and the dancer "trust" falling onto grass, then onto concrete. Rescued from hurt/pain/damage mere seconds before she hits concrete, by able hands.

                                                           From Wim Wender's Pina

Indelible Image # 100: Dancers giving way: Young, fresh, smiling to old, wizened, smiling. Ironic, but funny. As girl turns into woman in the centre of the line, in the shocking pink dress

                                                      Le Sacre du Printemps (Rite of Spring) 1975

It needed an artist who truly loves rock to make this film because it totally valorizes rebellion. And is simultaneously so tender and empathetic to difference, vulnerability, failure. Ah! What a good thing, that.



***************************
I returned to this page many days later. May 25th 2011. 

Two big events in the past month stirred things up.
1. Kuki and I were at the Beatles camp at Infinite Souls. The kids in rehearsal - all wigs, guitars, hats and sun glasses. Zui, at home studying. 

Joan was quizzical, studying metaphysical science...

A Sunday morning call:
"Muma, the bedroom roof has come down. I can see some workers peering in through the hole and I can see the sky."

A parapet wall from the neighbouring school fell on our bedroom roof crashing right through it and effectively destroying both bed and bathroom. 

Bang, Bang Maxwell's Silver hammer....

But no one is hurt or dead. Kiara normally sleeps and purrs on the ironing board that is now on the floor beneath slabs of concrete. Big, pregnant Prudence was in the studio with Zui, as was Kiara.

PC 31 said "We caught a dirty one..."

Rush back into town. Rubble and dust everywhere. Kurzweil keyboard, SCSI drive, RAIDS, Logic Pro, Acid loop CDs, computers, Hugo Boss, silver bangles my grandmother made for me, little boxes filled with beads, nose rings, the arched rosewood mirror my uncle gave me after he and my aunt were divorced. And the sky for a roof. God forbid it rains (before they put a tarp on) and makes for me some Rubble Soup served up in bed.

Bang, Bang Maxwell's Silver hammer...

2.In the midst of the carnage, 3 days after the roof crashed down, Prudence littered. 6 gorgeous Basset-dor puppies. Bamboo's puppies :) Life has a maniacal and self obsessed way of carrying bloody well on.

The sun is up, the sky is blue
It's beautiful and so are you
Dear Prudence won't you come out to play

***************************

And so....despite the hole in the roof and lactating Basset Hound, the marvellous KVK Murthy and I read Kat & Pet from Taming of the Shrew. 

And I'm working on a new play :)

Two smiles in almost as many lines is a good thing. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

3/24/11

Why is the Boy with a Suitcase?


Camp Mannheim, March 24th 2011.

Neckarau. An industrial suburb of Mannheim. Schnawwl has a rehearsal space here. The nearest food is the Turkish market or an organic store called Bittersuche. We usually stop at Tattersall and buy sandwiches for lunch.

Rehearsals for Mike Kenny's Boy with a Suitcase. 
Blocking and dramaturgy debates are done...
The nature of a collaboration
How much Indian/German presence is felt
Whether the structure is too German
The third level of performance

And we open on April 10th.   So now is the time to blog.

Andrea Gronemeyer

Or try and spin tops :)

I just realized that this play is completely about the refugee situation in Europe. Attempts to drawn a link between children's migration in India is futile. Everyday in the German news there are reports about boats carrying children into Europe, sinking. Four days ago forty children drowned. Today there is an article about young girls (largely Romanian) who clean car windscreens at the traffic lights in Berlin. They outline a heart in the soap suds and hope that people pay them before the Polizei get them. This is the context of the play.


Naz, the protagonist, is almost certainly from Afghanistan. The refugee camps are usually in Iraq. Smugglers pick up the children and take them to Turkey, where they get on boats and try to make it into Greece, Italy and Spain - EU countries - from where they hope to make it to wealthier EU countries such as Germany and France.


Krysia could be from anywhere. Serbia, Croatia, Romania...
Unimaginable that in Europe's richest countries, it is possible to find children who have so little and still stand to lose so much.

In India, for better or worse, we see the nature of child labour. In Europe it's a dirty secret.



1/5/11

Ode to Huckleberry Finn

When I think of you, I think "river" and "raft" and "Injun Joe". Not for me the mollycoddling of this new "sivilized" edition. Give me your niggas and injuns and their associated truths; Indian Joe has no resonance.



On January 1st 2011 as we rowed a canoe on a lake, it was you who sprang to mind. You, Tom Sawyer and Enid Blyton were my Adyar-childhood heroes and I wouldn't change you for anything in the world. I have no grouse with Big Ears sharing his toadstool with Noddy, or with Fatty's "furriners". I have no grouse with the use of the word "nigga" 200 odd times.




The canoe we took out glided like silk, not stirring a ripple. Brutus the Boxer swam alongside, anxious that we  were leaving him out of the adventure.




In front of us, two pelicans sailed serenely and then lifted as we approached. And the waterlillies...




The night before Renu asked "What is your new year resolution?" and me, previously annoyed by schedules, deadlines, said "To conquer Time". Time never was so slow as on the lake. And you knew that Huck, which is why Aunt Sally's home, couldn't hold a candle to the river or setting out to the West, could it?



Remembering Shanthi's words about taking the dogs and some beers out to the lake every evening. Man, he's you! He's Huck Finn! We want to be you Huck, don't you see?! So to hell with the kill joys. We've got your back.




Rush singing Tom Sawyer?
"What you say about his company
Is what you say about society
Catch the mist, catch the myth
Catch the mystery, catch the drift

The world is, the world is
Love and Life are deep
Maybe as his skies are wide

Today's Tom Sawyer...

No, his mind is not for rent
To any God, or government..."


BURNT NORTON
(No. 1 of 'Four Quartets')
T.S. Eliot

I

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.

What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden. My words echo
Thus, in your mind.
                              But to what purpose
Disturbing the dust on a bowl of rose-leaves
I do not know.