Tuesday, 30 January 2007

PERCUSSION FESTIVAL IN HORNIMAN CIRCLE, MUMBAI


My sister, Viji Venkatesh, lives and works in Mumbai. This is her report of the percussion festival that took place there recently. Her one regret is that she forgot to take pictures.
But here is one of her with her husband Venky.

In the middle of dusty, crowded, grey-brown Fort area of downtown Bombay is an oasis – not lucky enough to have green sprawling expanses that Delhi, Bangalore and even Calcutta have, Bombay can only boast of such cool calm “circles” in the middle of all its chaos - where there is grass and cold cement seats, some beautiful trees, the odd “shengdana” wala ( mumphali ) the only one who will and is allowed to disturb the souls who sit there seeking some solitude and solace.

So, back to Horniman Circle - bang opposite the Asiatic Library – the beautiful pillared white Grecian structure with all those steps where students study all night long under the benevolent lights, and which is made famous by any number of Hindi Films where key witnesses are shot down, running up those steps just before the hearing ….

Horniman Cirlcle is bigger than the other circles, like King’s Circle, or what is left of Sion Circle or Dadar Circle, and has been adopted by the Tata’s, bless them, and is maintained wonderfully well with some of the most beautiful old trees, exotic foliage , elegant fountains and ATMOSPHERE .

We have had hours long patient group meetings there , munching on Samosas and sipping drinks , planning our various projects – there are musical performances and all kinds of other cultural and entertainment programmes …

Last week HC was the venue for three nights of the percussion festival from Kerala – Keli the group is called, and bless Venky for taking me there after work on Thursday – cool bright moonlight , wet grass, silhouetted traceries of the leaves against the deep dark blue of the night sky, the most appreciative audience intoxicated by the beat and for two non-stop hours eight magicians created unbelievable, well, magic with their chenndai and cymbals – no mike , no nothing but these men in their mundus, fit torsos glistening with energy and discipline , hands and heads moving in such unbelievable rhythm , the drum beats extolling, the cymbals cajoling – it was like they were talking to the audience …what a treat it was.

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