All that Drama and Music…..

I am not too much of a movie buff…..I mean I watch movies but I would rather go out of my way to avoid them.(My best friend/flatmate on the other hand lives, breathes and dreams movies….I think you can guess what we fight about the most!) I do not like television and only form of creative visual media I really really like is Theatre. I love it…the booming voices, the minimalistic sets (I mean there is only so much you can do with your background when your audience is staring at it!) and of course the acting – a very erudite friend once told me that acting on stage is far more difficult because there are no re-takes; you get it right or you don’t get it right; however at the same time the actor often derives a high from his audience who is sitting right in front of him and from whose expression he can fathom the quality of his performance as he performs.

Anyhow, this weekend I went see an amateur production of Mario Pruzo’s The Godfather. It was a great production and the entire ensemble did justice to Mr Pruzo’s work.  However as I watched the play, a realization dawned on me that while I love plays and dramas, I must confess, I really get a kick out of musicals! (I can see Euripides turning in his grave! Did he have a grave? How did the ancient Greek dispose their dead body…must Wikipedia it!!!) I know that musicals are not perhaps the epitome of highbrow culture; most of them have weak plotlines, but boy!! They are ENTERTAINING!!!!

I think I can blame my love for such ‘common’ form of art on my mother. (I can see her raising her eyebrows and saying in a soto voice “Yes dear! You can always blame everything on your mother. I believe it’s the “in’ thing!) But seriously, my love for musicals stems from my mother, who is a trained Classical singer and for many years had performed live. As far as my memory goes, I can remember her trying to inculcate the love of music in me. It was a great disappointment to her to know that I had no musical capacity – I could not sing and I could never manage an instrument. It was only when she saw me become a proficient dancer (I trained for 22 years…one by force has to become proficient after that!) that she decided I was a worthy daughter. But this maniacal focus on songs and music that my mother imbibed in me and the love of dance that I have, would naturally lead me to love the form of theatre that combined both these elements at its very core – musicals!

I was only 4 when my parents took me to watch “Sound of Music” and my life would never be the same. I think I have watched this production both on stage and the movie more than a 100 times. I have been told it’s a clichéd choice and the work really does not merit any marks on intellectual creativity and ya da ya da ya da! I do not care. It remains without comparison my all-time favourite. Of course, since the age of 6, my tastes have evolved and my list of favourite musicals has grown – The King and I, South Pacific, West Side Story, The Phantom of the Opera, A Chorus Line, Fiddler on the Roof and Hairspray. I love the grandeur, the ta-da effect, the hundred odd dancers lifting their feet to the same tune at the same moment. It’s just an overpowering experience.

Musicals have evolved since they first made their appearance in 1860s and a lot is due to the Irving Berlin, Richard Rogers and Lorenz Hart and Leonard Bernstein, but of course my favourites, Oscar and Hammerstein. (Yes! I know I am going for the clichéd) I know many scholars and theatre enthusiasts have claimed that with the introduction of Oscar and Hammerstein works, the musicals underwent a revolution.  The song and dance routine was combined with tight cohesive plot, which in many cases dealt with serious subjects like spousal abuse in Carousel! Or the struggle to bring modernity in a land steeped with superstition – The King and I or even the concept of inter-racial marriage – South Pacific. But it might be my hypocrisy but when I watch these musicals, I never watch them as political/social drama. In fact that is the last element when I want to judge the merit of the musical. Something like Carousel, actually scores low in my list as does the concept of education overcoming the defects of a low birth …remember My Fair Lady (Yes! I know the original idea was Pygmalion by the one and only G.B.Shaw, but I guess some subjects make better plays than musicals). That’s not to deride the merit of any of these works…..but for me, give me a song with 100 dancers with some snazzy moves in gorgeous costumes and a plausible storyline with a happy ending and that is the quintessential musical that I love. Thank you Roger and Hammerstein for enriching my life!

The wind and the willows and the chimes…..

Photo Curtsey:mentallynaibiting

Nothing rejuvenates me more than going away from the city to the mountains. The sun shining on me, the gentle cold breeze, and the sound of the wind chimes mixing with the wild songs that the birds sing….heaven can wait, this is paradise.

As planned, my flat mate, her parents and I took off for a mountain trip mid this week. This unexplored…. well relatively unexplored and virgin out of the way cottage in the mountain forests is a bliss for all those who love quiet, dig communing with nature and spend hours on doing things they never get time for in the city – reading, writing, thinking, laughing. It’s a quaint out of the way place that reflects the glory of this mountainous land and provides some vintage glimpses into its 140 year old history. The rooms are clean and spacious with antique albeit simple and basic furnishings, the staff is wonderful and to state that the food is yummlious is an understatement.  (Yes, I invented that word and currently hold its sole copyright!) But best of all is its environs – surrounded by mountains on all sides, this 100,000 acre farm ((Yup! It’s a farm in the mountains)  has some of the most beautiful woods, that have been left to nature for their tending without human intervention (I hate pruned and planned gardens!) and have thus a natural and wild magnificence . We spend the days here watching the sun rise over the mountains, trekking up the hills (my flat mate and not me…me not particularly keen on physical activity and I firmly believe one can bond with the various beauties that the nature has to offer from one spot), writing oodles and oodles, listening to forgotten melodies, photographing (again my industrious flatmate) and laughing! In a nutshell, we are having a brilliant time.

Photo Curtsey:mentallynaibiting

 

Photo Curtsey:mentallynaibiting

Which is why, I do not understand the psyche of some of the people visiting this place. The farm’s website screams out loudly that this is not a regular deluxe a-la grandee establishment with disco and bar etc. It’s a place to come away from civilization but some guests simply did not get the point. They reach this place and demand to know where can go site seeing and why does the farm not offer pasta! They want to know if they can have a bonfire party and a night spent at the farm is enough to make them miss the city. I guess they never heard of Mark Twain – “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness”. These people undertake to travel to further their prejudices, re confirm all their bigotry and impose their narrow minded standards on the rest of the world!!Now don’t get me wrong, I love my city too…I love the home deliveries, the uninterrupted internet services (asking for God is easier than seeking continued internet availability in this place) and my all night parties. But then when I want to get away from all the madness and competition and the hub bub of the city, I come to a place like this – I come here because I don’t want any part of my city life to follow me here as I try and reinvent my thoughts and think about all the bigger and simpler things in life. I want to see the sun rising and hear the sound of the gushing stream water flowing from the mountains. I do not want to watch television or hear Eminem. I want to eat simple, but fresh and absolutely delicious home cooked meals and not Domino’s Pizza. Most importantly, I want to stand and stare and not worry about how I look or who is looking at me (or in some cases, why are they not looking at me!)

Therefore I want to know why people who want their pizzas and discotheques and bungee jumping opt for holidays in these places. I do not understand how one can look at the magnificent mountains (don’t believe me; just look at the pictures below) and say “But there is nothing here to see but hills and trees! Duh! What did you expect a dancing chimpanzee surrounded by 40 belly dancers all moving to Jennifer Lopez’s On the floor??!! Oh! Grow up! If you don’t like it, scoot! But don’t keep loudly complaining all through the dinner! Besides if they ask me, I would suggest that they take a page out my flatmate’s mother’s life – she is a 60 year old homemaker, who loves life and has kind off reinvented herself on this trip. At the age of 60, at this farm, she learnt the joys of a simple swing (yes! She had never boarded a swing before now…don’t judge her; neither did I before coming here!), she wants to try all the various alternative cuisines that this place offers and wants to go for a trek every day though she is not always confident about her walking abilities and her road sense and busts into songs whenever she sees a sight that enthrals her…..she personifies the very  spirit of a true traveller and if at the age of 60 she can still retain her enthusiasm, without the deluxe luxuries of a 7 star property,  the others can shut up and try and listen to the songs of nature!!

Everybody needs a Television sometime……????!!!!!!

So I have this mammoth confession to make – It’s like one of those closet secret that nobody talks about and everybody knows and they give you the “look” when you walk into the room. You know what kind I am talking about ….right? Anyhow, I have to make a similar confession and I thought I might as well make it now than later …….here goes!

I DO NOT OWN A TELEVISION!

I mean I do not have a television in my apartment. Have not watched the telly for last 10 years when I moved to college and since then have never felt the need. My crazy flatmate also feels the same way, though there are times when in fit of sheer indulgence, she wants to buy a Plasma Flat screen, but sense prevails and we spend that money on books and yum food.  In the last decade, I have been blessed with the joy of not coming back from work and throwing my bag and flopping in front of “the box” and flipping mindlessly through all that madness. I do not want to change that….I do not want a telly. There I have said it……

I have lost count of the number of times, people (friends and foes alike) have looked at me as if I was sprouting carrots out of my head when I have shared this fact with them. I get loads of “What? Do you know the kind of great cool entertainment you are missing out on?” “Do you know there are some great travel and living shows?”  “They make some awesome series out of the books you read, you might as well watch them if you read em?” (I still have to figure out why I need to view something that I have read as a mandate. Watching Harry Porter on screen will convince anyone that after reading a book, one should never indulge in any visual form of the literary work unless, one ones to tear apart one’s hair and go for the “bald  look”!) But the best is “How can you live without a television? It’s all that reading that’s fried your brain!”

Well I must own I have existed peacefully on this earth for the last 10 years without a television and I honestly feel I have not missed out on real heart stooping world moments! Yes, it’s true that I do infinitely prefer reading, but that does not mean I exclude all other forms of entertainment – I love theatre and live concerts and some movies! But I absolutely refused to be chained to something which has reality show which depict anything but reality and news that discusses the merits of Beyoncé’s daughter’s name versus Tom Cruise’s daughter’s name. I do not care if I am deemed anti-social for not being up to date on such “current affairs”.  The sitcoms are hardly funny now that Friends and Seinfeld have gone off the air and let me not get started on Soaps! The television is the strongest reason to take up reading – I mean the plot lines are way better; there is only a limit to which the author will exaggerate the events and you can make the protagonist look howsoever you want in your mind’s eye without feeling bemused at the fact the so called not good looking character is more good looking than an average individual out on the street (Have you not seen all the mush stuff?) Like Groucho Marx said “I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book. “

Besides, there is a brilliant thing called Internet that actually keeps me updated on stuff that I really want to enjoy – movies, songs and yes even some series! The great part is I watch it whenever I want and not when HBO/PBS/NBC/BBC etc wants and I can skip parts I like and replay the parts I want. (Yes I am sure we can that with a DVD player, but I am just enumerating the reasons of my not having a television.)Besides my books, my laptop is most precious possession – I write, watch, and hear whatever and whenever, thanks to this most perfect of God’s creation.

I am truly and I do mean truly at peace with you if you love your tellys and spend hours in front of them. Different strokes for different folks and you might enjoy something which I do not and vice versa. What I refuse is to be treated like a social outcast or a weirdo, just because I do not like or feel tempted to buy a television to watch Downton Abbey (Though I do like the series and watch it online on the Net).

Thus, I will continue to thrive and exist without a television as God is my witness, so there!!!!!