Archive for July, 2019

Animal rescue..and afterwards

July 30, 2019

As I stepped into the shower, I noticed a tiny little bug crawling along the ledge where I keep my soap and shampoo. As the water started splashing around, I suddenly realized that a waterdrop had quite inundated the tiny creature. Full of compassion, I used my fingernail to delicately lift up the bug to the vertical wall, where the water would drip off it.

I wondered if I had damaged it, and waited anxiously for a while, looking at the motionless little thing. After a while, it slowly began to crawl up the wall. Brimming with happiness at this animal rescue, I stepped out of the shower stall. Wrapping my towel around me, I walked out of the bathoom, quickly swatting a pesky mosquito.

The Oleander Hawk Moth in verse….

July 25, 2019

Two highly-qualified friends, Rachit and Shubham, were debating about whether the photo of a moth posted on the group we all belong to, was “Daphnis nerii” or “Daphnis hypothous”.

In gratitude, I posted a little doggerel about the scientific name, in a lighter vein….

It may be Daphnis nerii or hypothous…
It makes no difference to mostofous.
More general is our talk:
It’s “Moth, Oleander Hawk”…
We have no other theory or hypothesous!

Here’s the beautiful moth:

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Two views…of me

July 25, 2019

At Begur Panchalinga Nageswara Temple, I was taking copious notes to help me make a blogpost about my visit, when I was clicked by Dr M B Krishna (affectionately called MBK).

Here is the “regular” photo.

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He then “artified”it on his mobile software:

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I must say, I like both!

Theatre Review: “Credit Titles” by Bangalore Little Theatre, Bangalore International Centre, 210719

July 22, 2019

It was like a rare alignment of the planets: several factors come together to pull me out of my usual Ranga Shankara ambit for watching a play.

I had not been to visit Bangalore International Centre, which opened a while ago in Domlur; Bangalore Little Theatre, as part of their “VP 80” festival, was staging “Credit Titles”; the play, written by Vijay Padaki, whose 80th birthday the festival marks, was based on a story by Vinod Vyasulu, an eminent economist whom I’ve known for a long time, as our daughters share a cose friendship dating from 1988. And last but not least, my friend Raji Hari was going to see the 3.30pm show on Saturday, July 20, 2019. So off I went to visit the Centre, and watch the play.

The Centre is a beautifully constructed building, full of indoor/outdoor spaces, airy rooms and several levels of areas that can be hired and used for many purposes; I even enjoyed the plants and trees there. Perhaps because it is still new, there was no canteen open for us to get a snack or a coffee before after the play. This is the second time my friend and I are attending a play at a venue where no food and snacks are available; it does make a difference to our theatre experience if, at the end of a long drive to see a play, we cannot have even a cup of coffee or tea before after it.

The 180-seat auditorium, an even more intimate space than Ranga Shankara, was well-appointed, and seemed to have excellent acoustics; we settled down to watch the play. I must mention here that at no other venue except Ranga Shankara have I attended productions that start on time. On this day, too, the play started twenty minutes late, with an apology for the delay.

The play has an interesting background; I will dwell on it here,because it involves another famous Bangalore institution. Both Prof Vinod Vyasulu and Vijay Padaki were colleagues at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, and published work together, combining development economics and behavioural sciences. When Prof. Vyasulu wrote a short story about the question of intellectual property rights, mentioning that the Dunkel Draft international agreement might well be called the “Darkness Draft” because poor countries seemed to be in the dark about what such an agreement entailed, he asked Prof Padaki to convert it into a play. This was done, and the play submitted to the Hindu competition, recently instituted, for contemporary play scripts. Months later came the news that the play had won the award.

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The cradle of contention.

The play deals with one of several important issues arising from the Dunkel Draft. It isthe ethical-legal question of patenting life forms. In other words: who does life belong to? A couple has a baby using modern technological methods, but the question remains about this DTT (Designer Test Tube) baby…whose baby is it? The prospect of high revenue from this baby, whose genes have been customised for intelligence and success, leads several people to clamour for a share in the pie; a judge has to adjudicate in a matter where the social and the legal aspects overlap and intersect.

The scenes depicting the various issues developing around the “issue” ( a pun on both the child and the issues that his birth bring about) were well done, and there were many moments of both humour and deeper meaning. The dialogues were very meaningful. The cast brought out the ethical issues well, through the narrative, which goes from the couple’s home, where a maid takes an active role in their lives, to the doctor’s clinic, to the court of law where everyone noisily demands a share in the child. At last comes the 18-year-old human being, Vijayendra, himself, and the denouement occurs.

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The sutradharini with the technological miracle baby.

The stage design was quite elaborate, with several screens, and parts of the stage depicting the couple’s home, outdoor spaces, and the law court. Several wooden boxes, painted black, served as seats, or turned into the judge’s bench in a versatile conversion. A deck of cards, with a card game proceeding, brought others of the cast into the action. There was a lot of self-referential dialogue, with the sutradhar being changed into a “sutradharini”, with a male sidekick for a change; they, too, wove in and out of the story, commenting on the development of the play as it proceeded. As is usual in such cases, the couple who wants a baby also consults a godman; the religious, spiritual, ritualistic and scientific steps to conceive a baby went hand in hand.

The sound design was the best part of the play. The acoustics in the auditorium were excellent, and the dialogue was clearly audible (alas, so were the occasional fluffs!) The audience had no difficulty on this front.

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Much happens over a game of cards.

The lighting design did have some loopholes. Though, for the most part, the action of the play, and the characters taking it forward, were properly highlighted, there were times when the strong lights left a character’s face in shadow, even when that character was speaking. This is something that can be rectified by a member of the lighting crew sitting in the auditorium and watching the light effects carefully.

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The godman and the supplicant.

The costume design was excellent. Contemporary clothing, with ethnic wear for the sutradhars, sarees for the women and both formal and informal wear for the men, conveyed a sense of both the everyday nature and the earnestness of the topic at hand. Intellectual property rights may be decided in the refined heights of think-tank towers, but it is everyday people that they affect.

The placement, and removal, of various props (especially the black-painted wooden boxes) did take a little time, and though it did slow down the play, probably, with practice, this can be streamlined.

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All concerned demanding their legal rights.

In all, it was a production that has much promise; with some more rehearsals, and streamlining, it can be a lay that brings home to the audience the ethical and moral dilemmas that accompany today’s modern scientific and technological developments, and asks, in telling terms, what these mean in human terms. Can parenting be subject to patenting as well? is the question that the play raises.

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The 18-year-old Designer Test Tube baby with the two sutradhars.

Credit Titles, by Bangalore Little Theatre
Language: English, with occasional Hindi.
Story: Vinod Vyasulu
Playwright: Vijay Padaki
Direction: Archana Kariappa, Murtuza Khetty
Sound Design: Murtuza Khetty
Lighting: Murtuza Khetty ,Abhishek S.
Backstage: Aditya Nair, S Venkatesh
Makeup: Minti Jain
Cast:
Lalee/Laluram: Guruprerana Shabadi
Leela/Leelamma: Rashmi Vadavi
Ratna Kumar: Brinda Nair
Prabhat Kumar: Sanjeev Gadre
Mira Arora: Divya Krishna
Dr Ram Kapoor: Naveen Tater
Swami Anantanand: Anish Abraham
Judge: Shailesh Rudra
Vijendra Kumar: Jayaditya Parakh
Duration: I hr 20min, without interval
Tickets: Rs.200

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Cast taking a bow after the performance.

All photos by Deepa Mohan.

Back to chaos

July 22, 2019

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As of 15 July 2019, the demolition of the Jayadeva Flyover, 11 years after it was built, has started, with the upper part (leading from Bannerghatta Road to Outer Ring Road) being closed to traffic. I am marking the date to see how long this changeover from road to road/Metro will take.

Theatre Review: “Woogie Boogie”, Ranga Shankara, 180719

July 19, 2019

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Superb special effects.

I am often asked why I go to watch children’s theatre shows. People usually associate children’s theatre, or puppet theatre, with a “fit only for children” narrative, too simple to hold an adult’s attention.

But plays, or to be accurate, performances, like “Woogie Boogie”, by Brush Theatre of South Korea, staged on 18th July 2019 at Ranga Shankara as part of the “AHA!” children’s international puppet theatre festival, show how any adult can be as entranced as a child. On the child’s level, the clowning and the brisk narrative are very entertaining; but on an adult level, one can see the precision of the production, with all the technical aspects of the performance blending seamlessly into a whole.

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Raindrops fall from the cloud that has been drawn.

“Woogie Boogie” was first performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in UK in 2018 and has been travelling ever since. In Seoul, South Korea, the cast and crew end up performing Woogie Boogie every Saturday, at different venues, mainly for young audiences.The storyline is about the story of two friends, (Woogie and Boogie) who go on their first adventure to the sea with their tiny friend, the turtle. The show was first performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in UK in 2018 and has been travelling ever since. In Seoul, the cast and crew give performances of Woogie Boogie every Saturday.

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Performers, showing the costumes and the laptops used.

Even as the audience entered the theatre, they found the cast and crew on and off the stage, casually waltzing, playing the piano and thumping on an empty cardboard box. The central, large white screen or board was flanked by two performers ; electronic organist Sung San Hee on one, and another, operating a lot of highly technical software and hardware, on the other.

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The whole theme of the set and costume design was black and white; the performers wore white shirts, black trousers and suspenders, and paper crowns or cones. The two performers who acted as Woogie and Boogie, drew black pictures on the huge white board, erasing them or transforming them as the play progressed.

As the play began, their cheerful “Hello”s were reciproated by a full-throated response from the children. The two came out with white boards with an “O” outline drawn on them, held in front of their faces. They then ran into the audience, allowing some of the eager children to draw eyes, nose and mouth in the outlines. Back on stage, a body was drawn, and the narrative began to take shape, with Woogie and Boogie first playing with the “on-off/black-white” scenario, with superb and precise lighting being switched on and off.

The two began doodling various things (the children and adults both had great fun guessing what each doodle would turn out to be).But to our amazement, the doodles took on a life of their own! A fish that was drawn started swimming in the sea that the board represented, and a little turtle turned from a drawing into a small puppet. And so it went as the action progressed; a delightful melange of drawing, puppetry, mime, and computer-generated moving images, laced with music and audio side-effects kept the audience enthralled.Soon enough, the actors are out on the stage again — amid squealing children, whiteboards in hand. The children excitedly dart up from the seats to scribble on them — this is precisely what the performance draws focus to. Doodles and scribbles are a child’s favourite companions, especially when a blank space is involved. And most often, stories take form through these careless strokes.

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A brain, and the thoughts from that brain.

“It is a multimedia drawing show. We combine hand drawings and projection to make these doodles come alive on this big white board,” says Kim Jae Woong, the video technician in the crew. This was one thing I could appreciate as an adult–the perfect synchronization between the computer graphics and the performer’s actions, so that there was no glitch at all in the story. This was truly amazing, as no matter how much they have practised together, it still needs excellent timing to succeed.

Apart from the music, the strange noises the various creatures make when conjured up. were also produced by various instruments or through the voice of the cast. I was able to get only a few names of the crew members from the net: Kim Dong Hyu, Yeom Yonggyun, Lee Seungeun, Song Eyunjae…I was not sure who played what role in the production that evening; I think all six of the crew can do any of the roles if needed.Unfortunately, there was no brochure provided,nor were the cast and crew introduced at the end of the play.

Innumerable creatures and doodles later, a puffer fish slowly grew into an evil creature which wanted to eat up Woogie and Boogie. Finally, the little turtle returned to the sea and swims off to deafening applause from the audience.

The final few moments of the play also transformed the stage from a monochrome black and white to colour, as Woogie and Boogie performed lithe calisthenics against the board.

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. And, instead of going off to wipe their faces streaming with perspiration from the exertion in the humid weather, they all came to the foyer to interact with the delighted audience once again.

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The cast taking a bow, with the electronic organ and the head of the turtle visible.

Such an evening of a performance that delights young and old alike, and has enough for any age group to marvel at and enjoy, is a real treat, and our grateful thanks to Ranga Shankara’s AHA! for giving us such an opportunity to enjoy this creativity.

“Woogie Boogie” by Brush Theatre, South Korea
Duration: 50 min.
Cast and crew of 6, I could not get all the names.
Multimedia presentation.
Tickets:Rs.200
July 18, 2019, Ranga Shankara

Nature Feature, July ’19: A doomed romance

July 16, 2019

This is butterfly season; you must have noticed these beautiful creatures fluttering past you, in the gardens and even on the roads, everywhere in the city. If you observe them carefully, you will find many moments of drama and tension!

One lesser-known fact about butterflies is that they hatch out of the pupa (it’s called eclosing) as fully mature adults; something I had to think about and accept, being only used to a progression of living beings from infanthood onwards to adulthood.

Because of this fact, sometimes, male butterflies try to mate with a female as soon as she’s emerged from her cocoon; but if the emergence is not complete, or faulty, the romance is doomed. I saw one instance of this at Hoskote Lake, recently.

Three-spot Grass Yellow : Feeding . . .

The butterfly I am featuring here is the Three-spot Grass Yellow, a very common butterfly in our gardens and fields. You can see a perfect speciman in the image above, nectaring on a common wildflower called the Devil’s Coach Whip (Stachytarpeta species)

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You can see the mating of the large butterfly with a much smaller one here. All butterflies need a period of rest after eclosing, to allow them to dry out their wings carefully, and then fly off to lead their lives.

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The female, to begin with, was rather small. The male did not, I think, allow her time to let her dry her wings; so they fluttered around, in obvious discomfort, for a bit. Then they separated, and the female, unable to fly with the wings that dried crookedly, fell to the ground.

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I carefully lifted her on to a leaf; I could not do any more, but had to leave her to her fate. I think her life in the wild would be very short without the ability to fly. This is the ruthless law of the survival of the fittest; if the butterfly is not healthy, it cannot survive and thus produce less than healthy offspring.

It reminded me, sadly, of the many young girls in our cruel world, who are attacked and abused; their wings, too, are broken, and they bear the scars of such incidents forever. Nature is not always kind or beautiful; it takes some effort to accept how relentless life, and death, can be.

Theatre Review: Squirrel Stole My Underpants, Ranga Shankara, 150719

July 16, 2019

Do adults go to watch children’s plays? Or to be more precise, do adults go to watch children’s puppet theatre…without children accompanying them? The answer, for me, was a resounding yes. I had been hoping to take my grandchildren to at least some of the puppet theatre festival be at Ranga Shankara, under the AHA! banner.


The “Same-Same” theme of the festival.

Language and music classes in the evenings prevented my grandchildren from coming along with me, but when a friend, Harini Srinivasa Rao, told me that she could not utilize her three tickets, I jumped at the chance, and converted my evening walk into an evening, watching “Squirrel Stole My Underpants”, staged by

The Gottabees

a Boston-based ensemble. It was a show for “children above 4 years”, and since I counted myself in, I settled in amongst the full house of children, parents, grandparents and family.


The queue (it was a full house).

The 45-minute performance was carried by Bonnie Duncan, with auburn curls, a printed frock with a gingham apron, with preppy socks and shoes. Two musicians, Brendan Burns & Tony Leva , kept up the tempo and mood of the show on the electronic cello and guitar. These instruments, which were very slim, shaved-down versions of the traditional ones, were as interesting to me as the rest of the show.


The musicians on the left of the stage.

Though the stage setting was very simple — a clothes stand of two poles with lines! What “Sylive”, the main character, brought to the narrative was, like Baa Baa Black Sheep’s wool, three bags full of props. She started with putting out a large bedsheet, which served later as the screen for the hand puppets. She then added the laundry, and showed especial happiness when putting out the pink underpants to dry. Almost immediately, the squirrel turned up, and off he went, after several hilarious attempts, with that article of underclothing. As Sylvie chased him, out came a smorgasbord of articles and clothing f from those three bags…including a blue-curtain sea, a bag that she could step into and create a boat out of, a sun, a cloud to hide the sun, and so on….in sunny weather and rain, she chased the naughty squirrel.


Sylvie and her clothesline.

It was delightful to see that both the performer and the squirrel had smaller-size puppets to represent them; reality and fantasy flowed into one another with great ease, in just the way it does in childhood. Several times, the audience applauded spontaneously, cheering on the performer and her narrative.


Some papiermaiche puppets in the foyer.

The two musicians, producing a variety of sounds, evoked different moods and enhanced the production very well. The cello was tuned frequently; I did not know whether it just fell out of tune or the accompanying music required the re-tuning. But it was obvious that the musicians, too, were enjoying the spectacle playing out in front of them! At several points, the audience joined in the rhythm of the music, clapping along.

Three-quarters of an hour slipped by fast, and once the show was done and the performers had taken their bows, Bonnie gave a delightful Mime 101, inviting the entire audience to mime taking a cupful of “the most yucky thing” imaginable, trying to drink it, and spitting it out. The audience, even the adults, followed the instructions gleefully. This involvement caused another round of applause at the end.

The innovative use of props (I never knew that a pair of brown trousers and several green underpants could become a tree!) was a highlight of the show.

Speaking of highlights, the light design also added considerably to the visual appeal of the show. Now bright, now dimmed, they followed Sylvie on her adventure of search. Alas, we were not told who handled the lights!

It was a delightful show, simple without being cloying, and it was very obvious that the children and the children-at-heart enjoyed it very much. I am sure many in the audience would follow Bonnie’s suggestion and try their hands at puppetry or mime.

The

AHA! Children’s Puppet Theatre Festival

continues until 20th July,2019.

Squirrel Stole My Underpants
July 15, 2019, at Ranga Shankara
45 min.
No language; puppetry and mime.
Created and performed by Bonnie Duncan
Music by Brendan Burns & Tony Leva
Directed by Dan Milstein
Costumes by Penney Pinette
Set by Hamideh Rezaei-Kamalabad
Tickets: Rs.200

As an aside: Ranga Shankara needs to either update or close down its FaceBook page, which only gives details of the AHA! Festival from 2017.


Small workshops and performances by and for the children also taking place in the foyer area.

Glory Lily, Bhootanahalli,130719

July 15, 2019

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I got the bud, the bloom, and the fading flower.
I got the childhood, the prime of youth, and the departing hour.

Kitchen musings

July 10, 2019

On Monday, I was chopping the spinach the workers in the field gave us on Sunday. They gave us a big bunch and wouldn’t take money for it, so we divided up the bunch between ourselves.

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As I chop, I muse on the fact that all this respectable-looking amount will boil down to just a few teaspoonfuls. So, too, it is with ambitions and desires….the overwhelming, dominating aims and longings of today will melt down into tiny, insignificant things, in the entirety of life. And like the spinach, other wants and needs and must-haves will take their place!