Tuesday, April 27, 2010

'Twas A Sultry Evening

Ok. So this is not a Mills & Boons-like post at all. In fact, it is something quite different from what the title seems to suggest.

I had arrived in Mumbai the previous night and was absolutely sleep-deprived owing to the IPL finals being played at DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai. Mumbaikars will sympathise with me when they understand that I was scheduled to stay at The Trident, Nariman Point. The journey from DYP to TNP was gruesome and tiring to say the least.

However, that was the night before. This night was an entirely different story though. I had finished early from work (purposefully) and had resolved to lose some flab and exercise my slightly bulgy sinews by taking a walk down Marine Drive - The Queen's Necklace (am sure the 'freedom fighters' of the country won't be proud to hear it being called 'that' again).



Therefore, with sleeves rolled up, a strong resolve, an iPod in hand, and earphones in my ears (where else?) I commenced my short, albeit brisk walk from Trident to Pizzeria unfortunately. Yes - that's where I stopped. So much for 'losing flab'.



Anyway, before I walked into the restaurant, I noticed that there was a crowd that was flummoxed and occupied by a certain individual who had either lost his marbles, or was one of the millions of 'strugglers' in the Hindi Film Industry. At this point, I confess to being a drop in the ocean too (that of aspiring actors). Coming back to the topic at hand here, there was this long-haired, lanky, dark-skinned, 17-year old boy who was carrying out an impromptu acting performance in the middle of the pavement.

His method of acting was such:

Each act in this skit of his would last approximately 2 minutes 30 seconds. He would walk 10 steps towards the road, turn around to face the guffawing audience, brush his hair back, and start walking towards the same audience with a swagger at times and sometimes with a drunken stupor. All of a sudden, he would break into a jig, fling his arms up in the air, unzip his shirt, roll up his sleeves, and perform the Taandav. NB: Apologies for the poor quality of the video.


Each act was varied in nature and he pretended as though he actually had a film camera staring at him in the face and the audience all around him were his 'fans' who were lucky to watch the method actor perform in front of their eyes.

The entire show lasted for 1.5 hours and I was riveted to my perch on the raised cemented platform overlooking the sea admiring the zeal and enthusiasm as well as finding humor not in the actor's performance, but more in the reaction of people surrounding him.


There were groups of people who were sitting there in good humour, just trying to appease the young dolt and guffawing away, sometimes ridiculing him, and sometimes, just laughing at his idiocy.


There were people who were out for their evening walks walking around the actor so as to not arouse his desire to acknowledge them, whom he considered were fans approaching him to take his autograph.



There were young boys (of the same age) whose jealousy knew no bounds, whereby they tried to distract and irritate the young actor in a bid to disrupt the performance.


There were young girls who couldn't stop giggling, which further egged on the boy to do more and more, which eventually caused him to get his zipped shirt stuck around his head while he attempted to do a 'Salman Khan bare-all act', and in turn further increased the entertainment value that was being derived out of the performance.



There were people who were scared of what this fellow was capable of doing were he to use these people as props in his act and start beating them filmy-style or asking them questions. These people turned around immediately upon laying eyes on this 'chokhra'.

Soon, vendors too flocked the scene at realizing that a crowd had gathered and they had a better chance of selling their wares here than anywhere else on that street.



There were lovers who couldn't be bothered even if a meteorite landed right in front of them. They were oblivious to everything around them.



There were foreigners who were clearly bemused and amused at the same time on seeing this slumdog boy, who in turn, realized the opportunity of earning some dollars from the 'goras' and waved madly at them each time he saw one of them pause to take a picture or wait for him to do something dramatic, which unfortunately scared the 'goras' out of their wits and forced them to flee.



There were artists who were drawing caricatures of this creature contorting his limbs without reason and started offering them to people as proof of their expertise so that they could earn some money by being called upon to use their skills to massage the ego of a few tourists who were also admiring (or not) the antics of this crowd-gatherer.

There were people who just walked by, without blinking an eye as though it was the most normal thing in the world, with an air of "So what?"

There were men whose egos were as large as their posteriors, who to assert their upper hand over any and every situation, purposely got in the way of this artist and rapped him on the head a couple of times to show that they are in control.



There were teams of policemen who were busy cursing their bosses (for reasons that this picture will depict), catching an innocent bystander to tell him that he was jaywalking, while he was stationary all this while.



I couldn't take a picture/video of all that was going on around me because of a lack of a device, but if you ever want to experience all the facets of India and draw a parallel with things around you by just standing in one place, just turn up on Marine Drive on any sultry evening.

~ H.

PS - I hope I am still alive to read comments and respond to them after this post has been published. A thousand apologies if I have upset anyone (or anything).
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