Posts Tagged ‘bangalore’

Doddakallasandra Kere, 3rd Sunday Bngbirds outing, 180819

August 18, 2019

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A question mark hung over today’s outing, as it rained all over Bangalore, well into the early hours of the morning….prompting most of us to ask ourselves, “Should we go, or turn over in our snug warm comforters for a little more sleep?” Well, some of us chose the former option, and Deepak was delighted to see quite a good turnout at Sri Kumaran School, Doddakallasandra, on such a soggy morning!

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At the very outset, I must thank Deepak for introducing me (and perhaps several others) to a lake that I did not know of in so many years of birding in and around Bangalore.So after people posed for the group photograph (several people joined later), we squelched our way into the muddy and rather slippery path to the lake. It was very heartening to see many newcomers, and we were especially happy to see the rapid recovery which Harish Chandra, one of our experienced birders, is making in his recovery towards good health. The devoted care by Neha, his daughter, is obviously bearing good results! He immediately stepped up to Manvi, and chatted to her as he usually does with children.

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Though cloudy and gloomy, we still started with Rose-ringed Parakeets, Spotted Doves and Red-vented Bulbuls. Several Purple-rumped Sunbirds, Loten’s Sunbirds (all beak and hardly any body!)

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and Pale-billed Flowerpeckers delighted us as they flitted about in spite of the absence of sunlight.

Though the sun did not make an appearance at any point during the walk, it proved to be a productive outing. Sri Eshwarappa (on the left in the pic below)

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is one of several volunteers living near the lake, who have been working tirelessly against alarming odds, to keep the lake alive; he spoke quietly, but with great passion, on the way we have lost our water bodies, and the need to preserve them.

At the lake’s edge, we looked out onto the rain-dappled water, where, as Prasad pointed out, many of the waterfowl were going about their business, heedless of the damp conditions. Darters,

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Cormorants (Little, Great and Indian) roosted on the central island or flew in the gloom; a large flock of Spot-billed Ducks were seen, and Deepak told us that they nest and breed here. A lone Spot-billed Pelican was…spotted!

A Common Iora and a couple of Oriental White-eyes provided a bright touch of yellow to the generally grey surroundings, but soon, my insurance policy (whereby I bring my umbrella or raincoast and it never rains) failed, and the raindrops started coming down in earnest. This stopped our walk, and we were content to just stand near the water’s edge and look out, and up, to see all the birds we could. “Chooee, chooee”, went the tailorbirds, and the “guttrr-guttrr” of the White-cheeked Barbets seem to agree that we should not be walking too far on the path that made me rename the place “Muddy kere!” We learnt about hearing the birds as well as seeing them…in such weather, a good skill to have!

Out came all our umbrellas, proving my point, that Bngbirds is the “umbrella” birding group in Bangalore!

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But that didn’t prevent us from seeing Greater Coucals, distinguishing between House and Jungle Crows, Common and Jungle Mynas, and Black and Brahminy Kites. We noted the presence of several Black-crowned Night Herons, along with Pond Herons and Grey Herons (er, ALL the birds were looking grey this morning!),

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with Little Grebes looking bright in their breeding plumage.

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Spot-billed Ducks and Little Grebes.

Prasad told us about the five facets of a bird which would be needed to identify them. (What are they?…come along next Sunday, to find out!) Several of us were on our first birding outing; and it was very impressive to see Manvi, Sha and Vismay there, bright and early.Children are the way to take birdwatching to the future!

Nor were the birds the only things that we observed. Acacia, Mahogany, Mango, Tamarind, Gulmohar and other trees were identified, and I showed Manvi the Passion Flower (she was unwilling to try the fruit, so I ate them!) the Devil’s Coach Whip, and other wildflowers that we often ignore on our nature walks. Beautiful Damselflies

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and a Scoliid Wasp

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kept us entranced.

The butterflies, too, were not very active because of the dull weather; a few Grass Yellows, one solitary Common Lime, a couple of little Blues, a Common Mormon and a Crimson Rose were the only ones I could see. I am sure the rest of them were sitting cosily under the sheltering leaves and thinking what fools these human beings were, to walk around in such weather!

We did make an effort to come back and walk on the deep (bund) side of the lake, but the rain put a stop to that, too…and for the first time in years, as we dripped our way, we forgot to open up and share our snacks! (I hope it will not happen again, either, for a long time!)

We learnt more about the lakes, the way they were constructed, and the way they have been encroached and destroyed; Naveen, who is a doctor,talked expressively about the need to protect our water bodies.

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Sri Eshwarappa also provided some fresh information, and we all dispersed, some of us going home to waiting families and engagements.

Some of us adjourned to a nearby darshini, where the absence of places to sit made us split into two groups, one eating in the “outstanding” area downstairs, and the other shivering in the unneccessary air-conditioning of “Dana Pani” restaurant, upstairs! Piping hot pongal, dosas, iddli and vadas were despatched with coffee.

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A lot of intormation was shared about various eating places in and around Bangalore. Prasad left early to attend the talk ( by Sri Karthik, att the National College Jayanagar) on the history of Bangalore, but not all of us were able to make it, the call of breakfast, and other commitments, being stronger!

We started birding here:

https://goo.gl/maps/WzqPpuGCu4vnRoZg8

The eBird list (49 species, an excellent count for such a rainy morning!) is at

https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S59069325

I have put up my FB album at

and for non FB friends, a Flickr Album at

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The Himalayan foothills of Bangalore

August 9, 2019

Bangalore is supposed to be sited in the Dakshin (anglicized to Deccan) plateau. But increasingly, I find myself in the foothills of the Himalaya, when I look at the traffic going past me.

It begins, as it always does, with gentle slopes. Vehicles gently climb over them. There are, even here, little chasms to be wary of…a broken spring, or a scraped tyre, might result. But we soon leave the gentle foothills and approach the greater elevations; traffic needs to slow down, and then push, with throbbing motors, up and down.

Next come the Big Challenges. Here, a gauntlet is thrown down to the passing motor vehicles, not only in the height, but in the series of hills that the cars or buses have to navigate. Thud-grind, thud-grind, thud-grind, they all go.

Since Venkateshwara’s abode is in the Seven Hills, and Shiva lives in the Himalaya, every house owner in my city deems it a matter of pride to have two hills flanking his or her residence. As the traffic slows to a crawl and stumbles over the hills, the home owners’ ego is satisfied…they, too, are god-like!

I just walked back from my daughter’s home to mine, and I counted 19 small hillocks and 8 fairly large hills, with three or four deep abysses that an unlucky motorist could fall into and never be heard from again….our hilly, and at times mountainous, road topography is known by the rather tame name of “speed bumps” or “rumble strips”…little does the unimaginative BBMP (Brihat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike) know that they are helping us create a City of the Hills on a plateau!

I am looking forward to a time when it will become a matter of routine for roads to be laid in a series of ridges, with the mandatory small and big potholes nestling in the troughs. We can look forward to cars having treadmill belts instead of tyres. We can calculate our riding comfort in BPM…Bumps Per Minute. Every road will clamour for supremacy in these numbers, with the highest-achieving ones resembling corrugated cardboard, rather than a passageway for vehicles. We can count the number of pillion riders (and drivers) flung off two-wheelers. Perhaps, to top the whole thing off, we can introduce square or triangular tyres.

And since there will be ridges and bumps everywhere, there will be no need to even think of putting up signs about these!

The Gedious, 040819

August 7, 2019

K2: As soon as my maths teacher writes out a sum on the board, I call out the answer. so she called me a gedious.
Me: G D S?
K2: No! GEDIOUS! That means I am VERY intelligent!

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Here he is, the Bubble-wrap Monster.

….This very modest guy may be a gedious in Maths, but his English….!

Bngbirds 4th Sunday outing: Jakkur Kere, 280719

August 1, 2019

Email to Bngbirds egroup:

Jakkur Lake, in the northern part of what is now “Bruhat (Greater) Bangalore”, is a waterbody which has many birds both resident and visiting, so I decided to make it the destination for the July outing. It seems to be popular with a lot of birders, too, and more than 40 of us (about 20 more people joined after I clicked the group photo below)

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met at the peepal tree where we usually go to see the roosting Alexandrine Parakeets.

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I was delighted to find that there were many children present too.

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Abir using his binoculars

That morning, however, was cloudy and overcast, and perhaps because of this, the Parakeet numbers were very low…not more than 3 or 4 at at time flew in, and even these did not stay long on the tree as they usually do. However, many people in the group had not seen these birds before, and even the sight of one or two of them, silhouetted against the monsoon gloom, was enough to make them quite happy. We also spotted some Flowerpeckers in the bushes nearby (though the entire area seems to have been cleared for yet more construction) and Ashwin pointed out a Pied Kingfisher flying across, no doubt to an appointment with breakfast.

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Binoculars out!

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Red-rumped Swallow.

Having also watched several of what I call “CKMP” (Crows, Kites, Mynas and PIgeons…the most common birds in the Bangalore skies!)

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A Brahminy Kite shows its wings and prey.

We once again explained that the common raptors were kites and not “Eagles”, we went to the main entrance of the lake, and entered.

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Pea Blue.

Though I was certainly happy at the large turnout, the disadvantage of large numbers was immediately apparent, as the group straggled out, and it was impossible to share information about the birds, trees, insects and plants with any but those who were near me.However, I had already introduced a contingent of very experienced “north Bangalore birders” …I would like to express my appreciation that so many people associated with eBird (well, OK, Bird Count India!) and some expert naturalists/birders made it for the outing Two birding scopes added to the experience of the participants, many of whom are new to birding.

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Suhel shows some young birders how to use the birding scope.

Ashwin, Harsha, Mittal, Payal, Subhadra, Suhel…you are not people I get to go birding with often, and it was a bonus! All of the experienced birders shared sightings and information with whoever was near them.

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Instead of a Spotted Owlet, we got a Spotted Dove!

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Senegal Golden Dartlet (Damselfly).

We found lots of Spot-billed Pelicans, Black-headed Ibis, and Grey Herons roosting in the central island;

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Birds in the central island

Little Grebes, Eurasian Coots (so aptly called “Naamada Pakshi” in Kannada, because of the white “naama”-like mark on their foreheads!) and Purple Swamphens could be seen along the shallows, with Pond Herons punctuating the shore. Little and Great Cormorats, and a couple of Darters, flew overhead. A lone mongoose ran along the opposite shore, disappearing in a trice, Several “Jakkur Lake regulars” like Venkat Mangudi and R Venkatesh, took us to a mango and jamun orchard

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The magnificient trees in the orchard reminded me of the avenue at Hulimangala.

adjacent to the lake, where a few more Parakeets, both Rose-ringed and Alexandrine, rewarded us. However, of the Spotted Owlets and the Mottled Wood Owl which are often sighted here…there was no sign! A Rufous Treepie, and our state bird, the Indian Roller

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gave us “darshan”, and we returned to the lake bund.

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Datura, a poisonous plant.

Out came some snacks.

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The masala peanuts which I brought, and a variety of biscuits, kept our tummies from growling too loudly. By this time, I realized that I could see very few people from the original group; so I collected some people who were interested, and we went to see the 10th century inscriptions, one mentioning Jakkur,

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which have been placed at the

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Byre Gowda Ranga Mandira, a public open-air theate space nearby. I explained, as best I could, about the “veera gallu” or hero stone, which depicts the “atma balidaana”

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or self-sacrfice by a king, being a ritual beheading with his own sword, as a token of gratitude to the deity.

Musing on both the birds and our history and heritage, some of us adjourned to New Krishna Sagar (another recommendation by Venkat!)

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Common Baron mud-puddling in front of New Krishna Sagar.

and then back to daily life.

I’ve put up my photos on an FB album,

here

And for the many non-FB users, on a Flickr album,

here
The eBird list for the morning is at https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S58517024

I have shared the list with those whose ids I have; if anyone wants me to share it with them, they can send me their eBird ids or email ids that they use on eBird.

Looking forward to meeting many of you in August…and thank you for the many words of appreciation about my write-ups and blogposts!

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

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!