Thursday, March 19, 2009

Relatives visit ...

A fortnight ago, Saleh, my first cousin on my pop's side, visited me at the clinic. Having met Nishrin, he then waited for me to also arrive at the clinic and was with us for at least an hour and a half. Saleh continues to be a pragmatic person; what I do find changed in him is that he looks much happier now than he did some years ago when he used to visit us from Dubai. It seems that Canada has been nice for him. Living at a small place called Missisuaga (I hope I have the spelling right), which is about 45 - 60 minutes away from the Niagara Falls, Saleh is enjoying life ... and I envy him!

Today, it was the turn of his younger brother Aslam to visit us at the clinic. His wife Shabnam was also with him. Aslam and Shabnam continue to dwell in Dubai, and their son Husain was also with them today. I gifted them with a small token of my appreciation that they all came to visit us.

Tomorrow, Nishrin's relatives -- her fufi, her first cousin Pinky and her family, are coming down from Chandigarh to spend a few days with us. We are all looking forward to them being with us. They would be going to Nanded next, and finally, to stay with another relative before going back to Chandigarh on the 29th of this month.

So, what does a visit by a relative mean? It means a rejoicing of sorts, as it rejuvenates both sides. It also awakens slumbering emotions and makes people yearn to hope for more.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

More about the Kala Ghoda Festival

The Kala Ghoda Association, which was founded some time in the late nineties of the past century, has been instrumental in organising a multi-faceted arts and cultural festival to showcase the heritage of Mumbai's Fort precinct as well as the cultural and artistic diversity of India's vast cultural scene. My family and I have been intermittent but regular visitors almost every year, but in the past five-0dd years, our attendance has dwindled, thanks to the growing up of our two daughters. In fact, if I am not mistaken, I did not attend ANY function of the KGAF in the last three years!

This year, I decided to participate more actively, regardless of whether my family members did or did not; hence, I did so. I visited the Kala Ghoda core festival site on the second day of the eight-day festival; this is the open area in front of the Jehangir Art Gallery. The milieu changes completely. There is no entry for vehicles. Stalls are set up by various cultural organisations, private parties that deal in arts and crafts, NGOs, and others. There is a special activity are earmarked for children. They have drawing, painting, pottery, drama, acting and other workshops for children every single day. Story-writing, poetry writing and so on are also featured. 

Caferati, a literary organisation that is run by a trio of three enthusiasts, Manisha Lakhe, Peter Griffin and Annie Zaidi, organises the literary aspects of the KGAF. Most of their activities are played out in the rear lawns of the David Sassoon Library just across the road from the Jehangir Art Gallery. This year, they also had internet contests - including flash fiction (story of up to 55 words on the theme of cheating), SMS poetry (on the theme of murder) and Poetry Slam (three theme poems and one free poem), as also Lyric writing and Drama scripting. Anyone could submit their entries on the net, and if their work was selected, they would participate in the final rounds on a later date at the KGAF venue.

I participated in the first three of the above contests, and was a finalist in the poetry slam. I read out my first poem on the theme of "Rock", and was then eliminated in a sort of round robin contest. Anyway, a finalist ... not bad, eh?

I also recited a few poems on one of the other evenings in an "Open Mic" session. That was appreciated a lot by the audience.

KGAF also ties up with the Bombay Heritage Walks Association to conduct free heritage walks on each day of the festival. I was privileged to join three of the seven or eight walks conducted by the BHWA. These were the D.N. Road walk, the Gateway of India walk and the Ballard Pier walk. These walks were fantastic; not only did they inform us about the architectural wonders that are located in the Fort precinct and around it, they also entertained us with the stories of the men and women who created these monuments, who lived in them or worked in them and those who made these simple structures monumental in scope.

In addition to these, I also visited all the installations and exhibitions that formed the canvas of the festival. There were 3-D creations of a rocket made from barbed wire, men and sports figures made from steel and wiremesh, a multi-wheeled artistic form made from bicycle wheels, a statue of Ganesha made from discarded motor cycle parts, and a huge 40 feet tower made of buckets, taps and so on on the theme of conserving water, to name a few. There was a kiosk where visitors could "write" to a Pakistani citizen (thousands wrote notes); a kiosk that enabled us to look inside a slum house where ceilings leaked each monsoon; a kiosk that highlighted the plight of the Indian woman, and so on.

There was a stage too, where the dance and drama events were held. Eats ... from all the restaurants that form the facade opp. the Art Gallery, and free movie screenings at the K.R. Cama Oriental Institute and the Ghia Hall. Unfortunately, I could not attend any screening of any movie due to lack of time.

All in all, a great festival, with something for everyone. I enjoyed being a part of it!