Blogging from Germany: Palace of Tears

Not much to say. Just that the phrase Tränenpalast is achingly beautiful. Palace of Tears. A nondescript little station it was. The station at Friedrichstraße. The point at which families and friends and lovers said goodbye. The one headed West and the other to remain East. Feels like West should be in capitals while east should remain all lower case.

Much as the seperations of families and friends during the partition of British India in 1947. Much as all separations.

My paternal grandfather, Bhagat Ram Kumar, came from Quetta, Baluchistan. His mother's name was Maya and he told me that she was buried in the Quetta eathquake of  1935. But tough old bird that she was, she was taken out of the rubble alive, and lived till the age of 104. Pre-partition, he taught at the university at Karachi and after Partition, the details are unclear for some reason, but Bhagat Ram's family ended up in  business in Chandigarh and Ludhiana. He, on the other hand, ended up in Benares Hindu University where he got swept into Theosophy by Annie Beasant, met my father's maternal grandfather Sri Ranganatha Mudaliar (who was a widower raising his only daughter, Jaya) and the rest is family history.

Bhagat Ram and Jaya were married by Annie Beasant in a secular ceremony beneath the great Banyan Tree in the Theosophical Society in Madras and went on to live in their grand old house, Nanda Kuti, on No: 20 Beasant Avenue. This house, with its yellow walls and bougainvillea covered verandahs still plays a large part in my dreams. 

The Berlin Wall came down in 1989, the year that I went to America. Exactly 10 years before, Pink Floyd would record their anthemic album, Another Brick in the Wall, that made us feel, no, we refuse to be cogs in some giant, invisible machinery. When I finally returned home, thirsty, and feeling like I had never been away, India was liberalized, unrecognizable. The machinery had changed form.

Talking about the East, last night. That people weren't allowed the idea of luxury. If they had a car, they must share it and it was impossible to have more than one home. To rent a home out, unthinkable. The good heritage of socialism.

Soon it will be the end of another era, as Zui writes. Enjoy every leak and every cobweb. Tränenpalast.

Soon she sets off on her own journey West.

Blogging from Germany: Sunday

Last night we had a seriously bad meal. So this is a warning: When in Mannheim, you see a Greek Restaurant across Mesplatz in front of the Altefeuerwache cafe-bar, avoid it like the plague. We should have run on seeing the plaster of Paris sculptures and fake fruit, but were worse for the wear and not especially savvy. 32 Euros down we are now super-savvy ;)

Sunday in Germany....

For someone from India the silence here is deafening and wonderful. On an average Sunday on St.Mark's Road, Bangalore, you would hear: traffic, auto's honking, people talking as they stream out of St.Mark's Cathedral or into Koshy's for appams and stew, a bit of a bustle around Zui's friend, Coconut Uncle, opposite K.C.Das, and other random sounds like crows cawing, someone at the pan stall spitting and so on.

But here, everything in closed and there is no traffic on the street till much later in the day. The only discernible sound is the glory of church bells from the various churches around us.  Just across the River Neckar and visible from our balcony is the Baroque CityKirche Konkordien.

I'm resuming this post almost 2 weeks later in Münster whose name originates in the Greek 'monasterion'. Münster had always been Catholic till a brief Protestant take over and then returned to being the Catholic city it is today. The exquisite St.Lambert's steeple is not far from the junges theatre offices. Florian told me that the cages one sees on the steeple are where the Anabaptists were tortured and killed. 

Last night as we walked back from the very groovy Pension Schmidt, we heard some music coming out of another church not far from Julia's home. So we stepped in. Fantastic! It was World Dance Day so the church interiors had been taken over by black and violet lights, hip hop crews and freestyle dancers. How wonderful to see something young and current co-exist with the Gothic nave, aisles and transept. No stress about religious sensitivites and sentiments, just a solid affirmation of life and the pursuit of happiness.

I like.


Blogging in Germany: Berlin Flashback

I´m in Münster and it feels good. I miss my cheap Nokia cell phone which has served me so well taking crappy but swift pictues of my routes and odd stuff that crops up, but never mind. Words shall be my pictures. 

I had all sorts of strange dreams last night: a lorry, a sleazy dive, nasty words exchanged, something that hurt me. So when I awoke, I felt glad and optimistic. 

The week past in bits and bytes:

- Berlin graffiti is the shit. The absolute last word in graffiti. On the way to Sophia's home, I saw a gigantic wall with a black rat or weasel, popping out in black line detail, like a Japanese master.
- Watched many plays, all largely annoying. The overarching theme was reality and theatre, so there was one loooong supremely self-indulgent manifesto called Young and Restless by two edgy theatre-makers with 8 young adults from Münster. It must have cost gazillion euros to produce and had some quite artistic moments (like when the girl with the afro pulled on an adult diaper and fellated a black Barbie. I kid you not.) but for the most part was some trance-y music, cool lights and set design, frenetic dancing (that I liked) an Al Gore chant, whining about global warning and America's poor human right's record. Of course it could have actually been very profound, but I didn`t get it. A good dramaturg could pull it together to a quality 60 minutes and say it all. 
- The reality themed festival program also contained a version of Alice im Wunderland, which I totally didn`t get being, perhaps mistakenly, under the impression that Lewis Carrol took drugs and wrote Alice under the spell thereof and that the book has little to do with reality as most folk know it. Hence the magic mushroom style 'Drink me' bit. Altered reality, right? But the actors were stunningly good and did some whack stuff like using a puppet for shrunken Alice, the White Rabbit played piano, the ensemble danced and sang and in general pulled out as many theatrical tricks as possible from, I`m guessing, the Mad Hatter's hat. Beautiful revue style theatre, is all.
- In my opinion (hugely objective no doubt) Boy with a Suitcase and 9 Leben from JES, Stuttgart http://www.tanzhaus-zuerich.ch/en/projekt/9-leben-ab-13-jahre-blickfelder-2013-kuenste-fuer-ein-junges-publikum were by far the best the festival offered this year. I missed seeing Blue Boy, a documentary play from Brokentalkers Theatre Company, Dublin that some say was very good.. But Boy a Suitcase just blew audiences away. Personally, despite having watched inumerable shows and rehearsals, I was very moved by the seamlessness on stage. There was so much generosity in the performances, a certain knowing of each others way. This is very delicate and not arrived at easily. The music, movment and text were inseparable and one couldn't imagine one without the other.
- In one of the discussion, a young woman asked a question about racism. Whether we had encountered it or talked about it in the making of the play. A pity the question was ignored for this offered us the opportunity to make the Boy experience deeper. Truer.
- Robbert is the lighting designer for Boy with a Suitcase. He and his partner Frederick had a dream about a chocolate shop in Berlin. So they moved from Mannheim and created Mon Plaisir, home to the prettiest macarons you ever saw. Beige yuzu macaron flecked with black sesame, lavender, violet, black, lime green, pink, taupe, magenta, orange....an Alladin's Cave of sugar delights. When in Berlin, do not miss http://www.monplaisir-chocolaterie.de/angebot/macarons/
- The Turkish guy´s good energy (at the Donner/Asia place next to Theatre an der Parkaue). Here's to glorious, cheap Asia imbiss. yum yum yum. Here's to strangers who are warm in big cities as folks speed by being busy and making appointments.
- Anke, the new PR manager at Schnawwl, who is from the Alsace region and was in Berlin for the first time. 'I feel little...the only one to have never been to Berlin before. Little Anke in Big Berlin.'
- Friends. Agnes and Yohanna who drove 600km from Munich just to hang out with us. Ramani and Mata.
- The breathtaking 3 course meal birthday present to me from Agnes at Brecht's (next to the Berliner Ensemble) and alongside the river. Here`s the menu...burn! http://www.brechts.de/en/menu/brechts-menu.
- Besides the food, this was an evening of high drama. The head waiter thought Agnes's handbag was a dog and wanted to bring it water, a silver fox meandered by and took away our water only to turn the corner and pour for us, quite shocking the living daylights out of us for she was so elegant and un-waiterly. Then a lady in a scarlet trenchcoat strode into the kitchen followed by a man who looked like a stripper-cop. When Agnes asked the waiter where the toilets were, he paused and shrugged and said 'Well, there's the river outside'. And things just got freakier after we had walked past Tränenpalast (whose anguished translation is Palace of Tears) and the cabaret distel...
- Lost (and trapped) at the surreal, blue-tiled Alexanderplatz at 2am with Ramani. Wandering the corridors of an un-filled gigantic swimming pool in the wee hours of the morning. The U Bahn, U5, U5...Smell of bread baking but not a soul in sight. Freezing cold and staying clear of doorways with their accompanying blasts of Arctic air. A homeles lady, suddenly, drinking at a water fountain. Three brown folk huddled at the steps looking for a phone number and then...Was macht ihr alle? Nothing, we`re looking for the U5 platform. That way...auf diese weise. Cool, let's go. Then, shock. The U train is out of service. Let's get outta here and take a cab! Then the doors are all locked, we're friggin locked in at Alexanderplatz!!! Alice had nothing on this.
- Quasimodo! Disco Heaven at the Quas. Mike Stern will be playing there this week, but Mata and Ramani made it possible that we hit it on the night of mirror balls, glitter and Studio 54 style fun. The band covered everything from KC and the Sunshine Band to James Brown, it was wet outside, but inside  was so warm :) Walking back at 2 am from the Frankfurter Allee station, we got soaked to the marrow in icy Berlin rain.

Like this, like this, life was. In this way. Impressions buzzing about my head like crazed bees, making it hard to think or feel. Then Kuki took my Nokia phone and his guitar and went to Munich.

I arrived in Münster and passed out for the night.


Blogging from Germany: Tulips, Dildoes & Wedding Gowns

Some ideas floating around, formlessly.  I wonder what they mean?

Tulips and wedding gowns, Jeanette Winterson's The PowerBook, Harem stories, Bacha Posh (dressed like a boy)....

Bemused, I decide this evening, to walk to Istanbul.

I take the road to Marktplatz. Not the main road but the parallel lane, in the Turkish Quarter of Mannheim. Rows of wedding gowns like brightly coloured flowers and shops selling equal measures of gold and baklava, halal meat, Asia-Africa shops with palm hearts and masoor dhal...

The shape cannot be a coincidence! Tulip-shaped wedding gowns. Did you know that tulips originated in Persia and Turkey and only arrived in Europe in the 16th century? So much for the Dutch monopoly of tulips. The word 'tulip' is derived from the Turkish word for the gauze used for turbans - tülbend.

The arrival of spring
The tulips on the balcony of Herr Lehmann's flat, where we live.. 
The dark core of a tulip represents a lover's heart, darkened by passion...
In The PowerBook, the tulip is even more potent. Beginning with the import of tulips from Turkey to The Netherlands, the tulip then becomes a dildo of sorts. The penis of the girl who is disguised as a boy, sewn as they are, into her trousers. Memorably, she makes love to her beloved princess, using the tulip in more ways than one.

This is a common device in Harem stories, the girl who dresses as a boy to get away with a lot. Love, passion, experience, life. Fancy that. Having to dress up to claim one's birthright.

We think about this a lot, while we're here in Germany. Where it appears that women don't have to worry about what they wear, how they look, what they say, who they're with. 

We think about it even more these days of horror, when, through the international media frenzy over the Boston bombing, penetrates the news of the 5 year old in Delhi. Last night Andrea said that through the reportage of the Delhi gang rape case, Germans were impressed by the way that Indian rallied together. This is solidarity, they said, this is democracy. But now? This is just exhaustion.

Must we disguise ourselves as men. As boys? Will that stop the hatred? Bacha posh the lot of us, the half that holds the sky up? We'll grow facial hair and Adam's apples. And then will you love us? 

Wedding gowns are a symbol of what? Virginity? Chastity? Purity? 

Oh please.

Give me a tulip dildo any day.


Blogging from Germany: Cake

I'm blathering on through equal portions of lemon cheesecake as well as himbeer/rasberry cake as I write. Seriously, to come to Germany and not stuff one's face with cake is a serious omission. Day One, we had cherry cheesecake, strawberry torte and German apple cake with whipped cream. And this was just for lunch.

Himbeerkuchen from Grimminger's
Just your average garden variety zitron cheesecake....
...off a market shelf
There's not much more that can be written about German cake. Except perhaps this: the stuff that was covered with some indeterminate white icing, brown flakes and red bits of candied papaya peel and called Black Forest in the Blue Moon/Blue Diamond cafeterias before they too succumbed to Mall-Heaven and whose descendants now malinger in various bakeries around Bangalore - is a bloody fake! A spy in the House of Love! 

To taste a real slice of schwarzwälder kirschtorte is to experience the loveliest 'small death' in a flurry of cream, chocolate, black cherries and booze. My friend Isabel Ferrari makes the superfragilisti-best I have ever tasted. Stacked skyscraper high with layers of chocolate cake and whipped cream, she adds generous doses of cherry schanpps to both cake and cream. 

Mannheim is also the city of Mozart. And what Mozart liked to do was sit in a particular cake shop, Konditorei und Kaffee Herdeggen, in the Quadrat and eat cake.

We went there one day, to eat Rhubarb Cake in the spring. But ended up also eating mango/coconut, chocolate/hazelnut and passionfruit. 

It is no wonder that children play...

Backe, backe Kuchen,
der Bäcker hat gerufen.

Wer will feinen Kuchen backen,
der muss haben 7 Sachen:

Zucker und Salz,
Butter und Schmalz,
Eier und Mehl,
Safran macht den Kuchen gelb.
Schieb in den Ofen rein

Baking is really a fine art.

Often on a morning, I go across to buy little multigrain rolls and pumpernickel at Grimminger's. And I find it impossible to resist also picking up a vanilla danish or a cinnamon roll or an enchanting, jewel-like slice of erdbeerkuchen, the strawberries glazed like uncut rubies above a layer of cake.

It was in Dresden that I ate my first stollen. Lemony and flecked with currants, I fell so in love and have since always taken some marzipan-coated stollen back home, to pick on in June or August and have Christmas flashbacks.

Ah.....sehr gut....mmm..mmm...mmm. Thus between the discourse of kuchen and torten and the semantics of fruit, cream, marzipan and chocolate, my waistline expands luxuriously. I stretch, I sigh and I make strange sounds of pleasure.

So, of cake in Germany, it appears one must simply ask "Are you experienced?"

Blogging from Germany: Street Expression

I looked in vain for the knitted graffiti that I saw on a lamp post off Luisenring last year, but it was gone. I swear it's true, knitted graffiti is an actual thing.

But there was plenty of other stuff to keep me busy. Like this giant foot sculpture near the Alte Feuer Wache...someone's painted its toenails. And with real nail varnish. You can't see, but the second toe is painted yellow with black polka dots :)

Franz Kafka has my life or has my liver, depending on whether you read it as leben or leber. 
I'd go with liver.

I just like this because it appropriates the drain or plug or whatever that knobby thing is.

Yeah, baby. Don't be cheap. Hey, you!

What's not to love. We are the revolution. We are the alternative. But...We are the 99% (ya think?)

Random acts of street expression. I forget why I liked these...

...perhaps 'cause of its by-one by-two vibe....

...perhaps 'cause this looks like a man about to free himself from gravity

...as for this! It's pretty clear :)

This is the shop where Zui got a tattoo...

This has got to be an Indian boy...(or Turkish?)

We oughtn't to be...but sometimes we are ;(

Just the way I feel, oftentimes....

The Family (unintended) Style Mantra

Ok, he's not Bansky, but still...

What can I say?!

Basking in the sunlight, the concrete cats near the Collini Centre that Kai and Mia played on...

I saw this on many walls - MOIS BOYS. A band? Brothers? Mummy's Boys??

Oh ya, Anna Shanice is going to love this.

Compare this to the ghastly efforts of the Karnataka government. From faux Hoysala art to oceans and dolphins and camels and pillars and trees and Yakshagana dancers. Insanity in the guise of aesthetics.   And this to either prevent our walls and metros from being covered with posters or from being pissed on. I'd go with the piss. I must not omit "God tiles" which require a entire post of their own. For those not familiar with God tiles, these are literally just that. Ceramic tiles with images of various deities or religious symbols - Ganesha, Infant Jesus, Shiva, the Ka'aba - to prevent men pissing on walls. Women don't piss on walls. 

But seriously, haven't we more bollocks? More imagination? Must it be a choice between piss, God tiles and hideous paintings? 

Germany has laws against graffiti and if caught, you stand to pay a heavy penalty. Yet graffiti abounds.

I asked some young boys who were waiting to watch Boy with a Suitcase/Der Junge Mit Dem Koffer what they thought about graffiti. Here is what 14 year old Nicolas Reichenbach said: "Sometime graffiti is meaningless and just makes the city look dirty. But a lot of the time, it is beautiful...a  work of art. And it tells of a history and of an alternative opinion. Like the East Side Gallery in Berlin, where it is really beautiful..."

Image from East Side Gallery, Berlin
One of the Schnawwl ensemble actors is a graffiti artist from Heidelberg and his street name is SweetUno. Last year he developed a play for young people called Sky is the Limit. 

18 year old Lea Zillich says "It is about a graffiti artist who has a bad time at home. He doesn't fit in, but when he sprays he feels free, that he can be who he wants to be. In the play he talks with his little brother, about his life, about spraying. Eventually he gets caught and it ends with him not doing anymore illegal spraying. But it's not a play that is against graffiti..." At this moment, 20 year old Lisa Koenen pipes in to say "Like SweetUno. He only sprays in legal spaces now. For instance it is illegal to spray on trains..." Lea says that in her home town, Constanze, there are walls under bridges that are dedicated to legal spraying. Tonight SweetUno has a show on at the Altefeuerwache. He says "This is away from the whole legal/illegal thing. It's about Tags, Throw Ups and Kicks, the basics of graffiti text. We're working on furthering our outlines and hand styles..."

Come in to SweetUno's show

Lea and Lisa both feel that graffiti can be really great, but it's the random acts of kids who want to be cool that "look like stupid gobs of spit" that they don't like. "Like the spraying of a green line alongside a beautiful historic building..." said Lea. But they're not offended by graffiti. Lisa also said that one piece of "ugly art" may be just that, but when a group of kids make a bunch of "ugly art" it becomes something else and eventually will have a meaning and reference. For instance, Lisa feels if there was no graffiti, if all the walls were blank "...the walls of the city would be quiet and the voices of young people would be stilled...sometime when you pass a wall, you feel like it is screaming out the feeling of the artist...when I go by train to Hamburg, I have to smile when I see a new graffiti...just the hmm..hmm. of the train...then when you see a graffiti it is like a light among the grey of the walls...like when you see flowers in a park..."

Lea "On the train to Berlin...there are building with no windows at all...brick buildings and they are covered with graffiti...I have no words for it....so beautiful"

Lisa: "....and when they are really high or really low in the water...I wonder how did they do it? It's dangerous...did they climb so high, swim into the water?"

Lea: '"...sometime I think, ok, so they wrote on a wall, so what. Then I look closer...it gives you a feeling....today, when the news and media...everything is so bad...a plane crashes and you think oh, another plane crashed. There are not many things that touch you anymore....sometimes graffiti touches me"

Lisa: "....but I hate it when they make swastikas on church walls. My sister studied in Mannheim Art and during a showing of her work, a lady from the city came and asked her if she would paint the city electric boxes. So she started this work in August..."

Let me leave you with more pictures from the East Side Gallery Berlin and from SweetUno....

Image from East Side Gallery, Berlin
Image from East Side Gallery, Berlin
By SweetUno
By SweetUno


Blogging from Germany: Richard Wagner

Yesterday as we walked to Andrea's flat for kaffee und kuchen, Tille told us that it was Wagner's 150th and every city was doing its own Ring Cycle or Der Ring des Nibelungen. Wow...go Wagner

The 2013 Ring Cycle at the National Theatre, Mannheim
I've blogged before about the sets in Schnawwl's Alles für das Feuer, based on the Tristan und Isolde story and I might have watched an hour or so of The Ring at the National Theatre, but besides that my experience of Wagner is zippo. (Postscript: My friend Anne Richter just reminded me that I was watching Götterdämmerung with her once but  abandoned her and Wagner to drink beer and watch the football finals. Oops...super-pleb) So I consulted trusty-wiki and here's what caught my eye - 

Quoth Woody Allen "I can't listen to that much Wagner, ya know? I start to get the urge to conquer Poland."

Quoth Richard Wagner "I believe in God, Mozart, and Beethoven."

Quoth Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: "After the last notes of Götterdämmerung I felt as though I had been let out of prison."

ouch. that's got to hurt


So I decided to do a little survey. I know how Indians feel about Rabindranath Tagore, especially if he gets dissed - beepy, banky and  bollatile. So I thought, cool, let's see how Germans feel about Wagner. 

I mailed Survey # 1: Who is Wagner? What does he do to you? 

And just in case that didn't stimulate any creative juices, I sent out Survey # 2: Kindly respond truthfully to Nietzsche's intriguing question (that he immediately self-answers) - "Is Wagner a human being at all? Is he not rather a disease? He contaminates everything he touches - he has made music sick."
Richard Wagner

Friedrich Nietzsche
Ah...the responses come pouring in. First Sophia Stepf, who recently directed M.D.Pallavi in "C Sharp, B Blunt" in Bangalore.

"Wagner is one of the biggest German composers, who invented new forms of theatre and opera (and music for that matter) and was highly abused and misappropriated by Hitler. Therefore complicated!" - Sophia Stepf

She knows complicated. her play is about smartphone apps and gender stereotypes.

Then from Andrea Gronemeyer, director of Schnawwl Theatre and known in India for directing the hugely popular "Boy with a Suitcase"

Wagner as a historic person is a problem because he was an Antisemit and admired by Hitler. So his oeuvre became a symbol for the “bad German spirit”. But on the other hand, must I hate his music just because Hitler was his fan? Wagners music is overwhelming.  It is like a drug or like an ocean of sound to drown in. I hope to experience this many times…. - Andrea Gronemeyer

Then from Agnes Stache-Weiske, who studied at Sophia's in Bangalore, knows lots of the Bangalore musicians and is an old time India hand.

First of all Richard Wagner is the name of a garage and BMW-salon in my next village – and since “Wagner” means “wagon-maker” I find that very appropriate! 

The composer Richard Wagner is of course present at many places in Munich, where his patron and benefactor King Ludwig II was one of his early fans. I always think of the picture where Ludwig went to the theatre to listen to Wagner’s operas – and since he hated people, had the operas performed just for him alone. But since the accoustic was not so good in the empty opera house he engaged hundreds of soldiers to just sit there. They were not allowed to move and hardly to breathe to give him the impression of being alone ...

I saw the “Ring” – all four performances – in Munich in the eighties – and it left a lasting impression – but not the operas but the system of getting tickets. A week before the advance booking started, you could sign your name in a list. Per name you were entitled to 4 tickets – and you had to pay in advance. Every two hours you had to came in person to confirm that you were still on the list. A private car was parked on the very glamorous Maximilianstrasse where someone put a mark next to your name on the list every time. Since we were 4 people under one name we took turns  - first one at 8:00, second one at 10:00, third one at 12:00, fourth one at 14:00, first one again at 16:00 and so on .... all 24 hours. Once not confirmed – you were off the list. The organizer of the list promised to buy the tickets in the order of the names on the list once the box-office opened.
It had something very conspirative to knock on a car-window in the middle of the night – say your name and get an ok for that shift ...

The night before the ticket office opened other fans who boycotted THE LIST camped on the pavement to be the first at the box office in the morning. They refused to accept that some hundreds of people were in front of them in the virtual queue of the list. Early in the morning some were calmly sitting in their sleeping bags on their camping-chairs, drinking coffee from Thermos-flaks, while others got into a veritable fight with the keepers of the list. Lots of shouting and abuses – and in the end the police had to be called.
But as far as I know everyone got their tickets. And after all that effort – I sat through all 4 operas on four days – but the drama on the street was much better that that on stage!!! 

About Nietzsche and Wagner – I can’t comment – both are similarly overloaded with too much symbolism and drama - Agnes Stache-Weiske

Hot from the press!! Here is a response from Coordt Linke, percussionist extraordinaire and father of a new born baby that he has named after the Star Wars character CC-2224 - Cody :)

I remember I was reading a Biography about Richard Wagner, the composer, but only a few things I remember, he seems to like Brass Instruments a lot and big round female singers.
Although I like the Siegfried topic, when Siegfried took a bath in dragon blood and became invulnerable apart from that little spot which was accidentally covered by a leave, just tragic, but that anyway has nothing to do with wagner.
I remember my percussion teacher told me once a story, when he had to play in a wagner opera he had long breaks and gaps during the play so he was able to go home or even to take on another gig.
Percussion is all about timing isn't it?!

hmm... I also remember a flute player with that name... I think thats pretty much it!!!

I wonder what Nietzsche would say if he would live nowadays - Coordt Linke

And from the uber-cool Gerd Pranschke, three precise answers to the three original questions asked:

1. Who is this Wagner?
German composer. Grown up with the music of the 70s and 80s so Wagner wasn´t my music hero, I don´t know so much about him and his music by seeing or listening to his operas. I´ve heard about his life, love affairs, the Bayreuth Hügel story and all that Hitler and Nazi stuff. He must have been a strange person with all this germanic stories in his brain in the 19th century.

2. What does he do to you?
Nothing at all in my life. He´s an historic figure that I´m not interested in. Maybe I will love him and his music when I´m older, but I don´t think so. I don´t like that cultural mainstream.

3. Regarding the Wagner-Nietzsche fracas?
Not interested in it. 

In March this year, Agnes stayed with us in Bangalore and often in the evening we wondered - what is it about the German spirit that finds resonance in India? Or vice versa. Agnes' parents, both German, met in Mysore. Her father, Dr.Wilfried Stache, was the third director of the Goethe Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan in Bangalore. (The first director, Mrs Graefe-Krack, is buried at the Hosur Road cemetery in Bangalore. The second director was a Mr. Breuer.)  Her mother, Dr. Valentina Stache-Rosen, was an Indologist who published many articles on India.  She collected Indian art and Agnes still has her collection of more than 300 antique Andhra leather puppets. A Chola bronze stands in her garden outside Munich.

As we spoke about theyyam and Balan Nambiar's latest work on mirror deities we wondered if it was our mutual love of all things mythic. Characters who are gigantic, with supramental grandeur. Götterdämmerung is after all, apocalyptic, a war between Gods. Much like the Mahabharatha.

A Scene from Gotterdamerrung

I would encourage you to do as I say and not as I do. Andrea's right, Wagner is a drug. Drop some Wagner today. Here's a good link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1I7vEGYDOA