Sunday, July 22, 2018

CIRCLES!


11 pm, Gurgaon.

Was a lovely workshop.

So, I had a lovely time with the senior citizens of an organisation, which had called me to take a theatre workshop for them.They had called it 'HAPPINESS THEATRE WORKSHOP' and my idea was to make them play some games, which made them happy. I ended the workshop and while coming back home, this idea crossed my mind. The idea, I would like to call 'Circles'!

May be it would be clearer if we call it 'LOOPS'. Our life is full of so many loops. When I looked at these older people, I realised that our lives are a combination of loops. To explain it further, one loop is the 'day'loop:
We get up every morning, get ready for work, do our work every day, have coffee time every day, have lunch every day, come back in the evening, have dinner and we sleep off. And when we get up, the same music begins again!

There is nothing wrong in it. May be I had a problem with it, always. I have so many of my friends who are working hard in this loop system and are earning pretty well too. But when I look at my life from a bigger perspective, is earning my only ambition? I wonder.
I guess I had a problem with the repetition. When I write my plays, I make it a point that the script is unpredictable. I guess, sub-consciously, I had been working to make my life similar.
Whenever we are told to think of a new creative idea, we are told to think 'Out of the box'. This is a western terminology. I guess in the East, it should be to 'thing out of the Circle'. That is the reason when we bump into each other, we often use the phrase "...duniya gol hai!" (The world is round).
As a design student, when I look at Western designs, they use a lot of straight lines, with vertices. But Eastern designs are lot of curves and circles.

I would also like to have something new. Though I am Indian, I would love to experience different forms of cooking. But at the end, I would like to come back to my roots. I guess this is the only circle which has made me the person I am.
And I realised that to break my life's monotonous circle, I need to not only do new things, but think new things.

I also realised that according to my circle hypothesis, we need to respect everyone, everyone is the same age, figuratively. So, I need to respect everyone. Obviosly the older people, but also the younger ones. I will just have friends every where and no enemies. Some would be closer funds, and some would just be acquaintances. But one thing is for sure that there would be no enemy of ours.
And when I follow the same hypothesis, God would be my friend too. He would be guiding me, helping and in turn would be asking me to be 'Good'. It would be as simple as it gets. This would definitely be completing my circles of unpredictability. I would like to end this post, with a beautiful Baul poem by an unknown Baul poet, translated in English by Rabindranath Tagore:

" ...said the man to the God,
I am just the boat,
you are the boat-man, you are the sea,
guide me wherever you want.
I am nothing,
I am nothing."

It was a lovely workshop. I came back and my work resumed.


Friday, July 13, 2018

WHY DID I GROW UP?


As a little kid, sitting right next to the tape-recorder,
while listening to the song, I would look at the cassette cover,
and wonder that the voice is of the singer singing,
sitting inside the tape recorder.
How wonderful!
But as I grew up, I was taught and told,
that there is no singer sitting inside the tape-recorder.
All my dreams crashed,
Now, I just wish,
I had not grown up.
Why?

'WHY DID I GROW UP!"


The Moon story
As a kid, some friend told me,
that on the moon an old woman sits under a tree,
with lots of stories.
Whenever I would look at the moon, I would imagine,
the old woman,
sometimes scary, sometimes mischievous.
But as I studied more about it, my lovely story was lost.
The child in me was sad.
That there is no 'Old woman', but just rocks!
I just wondered, why did I grow up!

Saturday, June 2, 2018

'AGE?'




Gurgaon, 10:44 am

Last Friday I woke up a little early.
I was called to a government arts center, for a selection interview to improve the condition of theatre teaching in the capital. They had actually selected a list of theatre directors to take a summer workshop in some school for the month of June. I was very happy. They had called only those people whose plays had been funded by the government center. ('DRAMA JANTAR KA', our last play was funded by them). So, it was a big thing for me.
I was getting ready for the interview. I had taken out an ironed T-shirt and a formal trousers. I had taken out the originals of the photocopies I had submitted. Three days ago, I had got a call to be there for the interview at 2 p.m.
I got to know about this kids' workshop, through this official who was dealing with Kamaan (my group). He asked me that I can apply for it. He said only directors till the age of 40 can apply. Isaid, I will be 30 this year. He said, "Bahot time hai aapke paas, Harishji, bhar dijiye!" (You have lots of time Mr. Harish. Apply)

This is how the process started. I got ready, picked up my friend near the art center and we reached it. We took the lift to the third floor. As the lift was going up, nervously I checked my watch and it was 1:40. I was happy that we had made it on time.

The door opened and I saw so many young men and women sitting on sofas. I was happy to see so many young people applying for the posts. As the lift opened, everyone sitting there saw us. I went to the desk and saw that there was an attendance list, which was already full. I felt bad for a second that was I late?

I had started filling in and I noticed that everyone was in kurtas, which is usually my dress. But for an interview I don't wear a kurta, I wear it on a rehearsal or a nice evening. Even the peon was dressed in a kurta. I, for a second felt that was I in a wedding!

So, the man who was getting the form filled asked me that did I apply for a 'Director' or an 'Assistant Director'? I said that I have applied for a director's post. His eyes checked me again. Then he said, let me check and come back. He took my form and left.

As he came back, I looked at the young men ad women sitting in front of me. They were all wearing kurtas on a denim, but kurtas were always for comfort and not a style statement. I wondered how over the years wearing a kurta has become symbolic of art or theatre, as we don't have to go to an office and this outfit is comfortable. In fact, today I was wearing a T-shirt but not on denims, as I never found them good in summers. As I was analysing the dresses, the man came back and shouted,
"K. HARISH SINGH" ... you are being called in for a director's post. Please go in.

I went in and there was a panel of 5 gentlemen sitting and having chai-biscuits. So, one of them asked me, "Good morning Harish, are you formally trained in Drama?"
I replied in a confident voice, "No sir." The man replied,"So, what have you done?" I started telling him about my education in film from National Institute of Design. Some other man, tried making fun of me saying "National Colleges..." se toh bahot log hain. (Many people are from National colleges)

I understood that they had been interviewing candidates the whole day, and I could understand the "Enough yar!" attitude of the man.
The first man asked me again, "Harish, if my shirt is torn, I don't go to a cobbler, will he fix it? Whom do I go to?" This comment was more like a scolding and less like a question.
I said, "Sir, you will go to a tailor!"

The third guy, in a softer voice asked me, "Do you have any experience in theatre?"
I replied, "Yes sir, I have written and directed 5 plays with my group. I usually go to workshops to NID and MICA.

This shook me.


The first man interrupted again, "NID? As a student or an instructor?"

- It in a split second took me to the NID Vijaywada taxi where the driver had told me that usually the professors have a grey beard. I was new, like a student. He smiled and apologised.
- I also remember MICA, where I was waiting outside my class's first day sitting in shorts and the students did not notice me.
- I also remember doing a play in Kamani auditorium control room. I had come to check the lights and the man there said that we won't let me touch them as he was waiting for an 'OLD' director!
- I was also reminded of my interview at Hindustan Times, where the senior asked me that why am I taking this 'chhota sa' reporter's job when I had already worked in two films!

I came back to the interview and I replied,"Sir, as an instructor...as a teacher. I enjoy teaching and sharing. It is a lovely give and take process."

They ended the interview saying that I was nice, but I have ten more years. They would love to meet me again next year. I was shaken by the whole process of the government and people of India. On one hand, they need the teacher's to be smart and updated but they also want the teachers to be 'OLD'.
In ten years, I would not be in sync with the kids. My sense of humour would be rusted!
I was sad.

Last Saturday too, I woke up a little early, and wondered that is knowing too much a fault? I just chucked it and left for Kamaan to start a new play :)

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

'Busy'?


11:06 pm, Gurgaon.

My uncle (my father's real brother) called him after centuries and he wanted to talk with me. He asked a simple question, "Harish, I have a doubt, what do you do now?"
This was a question which shook me and because of lack of answers, I simply smiled.

An old friend had asked me that day that I don't work anywhere,I have my group's rehearsal only on weekends, I just need to teach slum kids twice a week and now there is a summer vacation now, so the college work is closed for sometime. So how am I so busy, always?

But when I look inside, I like having so much of work that there is stuff left after the day too. But where does this work come from? I guess I love 'inventing' work for myself. I have been busy writing a street play, writing a new stage play, and directing a short film, but the worst part is that I like being busy. Only the film part gives me money, and all the rest gives me more pleasure than money.

I also get pleasure in teaching the slum kids, and I end up using my pocket-money in it! Now, after doing for sometime, I have started getting some money from friends as donations, but I travel to a far off distance to teach these kids and after a long search I have found this group whose parents really want the kids to study under me (and a friend).

So, I don't have an office, but I have work! I guess that is what keeps me busy.
Invention of new work has kept me running around and kept me busy in that. I am not against people who have 9 to 5 jobs. But I have not found myself capable of fitting in that scene. I run more and earn little, but it keeps me happy!

I came across my PG student of mine who asked me," Sir how do I explain it to a new person who asks about my profession?". I smiled again. I guess I have learnt to answer that question now.

I was traveling in the train from Delhi to Hyderabad and I met a PhD student from JNU. He was silent and though we were sitting on the side berths, it took us some time to open up. After a short conversation, surprisingly he got what I was doing. He said something very interesting. He said that he was doing a research in Micro-biology and he was happy. But he did not need to give an explanation to the work of what he was doing. He smiled. I loved that smile of fulfillment.
He said that you know yourself the best what work you are doing, so why explain it to any one. I was so impressed by the calmness in his voice. He was so full.

I shared the story of the JNU scholar in my class with my students and all the students smiled.

My uncle asked from the other side of the call again,"Harish, you there? So, what are you doing now?"
I took a deep breath and said, "Nothing!"
I smiled like that PhD student.



Monday, April 16, 2018

Is change actually constant?

"Is 'Change' actually constant?"

The neem tree opposite my balcony hasn't changed,
the universe has not changed a bit,
the clouds are still the same.
the fresh breeze hitting my face,
on a summer afternoon is still the same,
Change does not exist for nature, nor for the Universe.
CHANGE is 'constant' only for MAN, n no one else.
Isn't it?

- KHS, Apr'18

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Back home after ages!


Gurgaon

I have always believed that if you want to see India in the best possible way, take the Indian Railways!

We had started about a fortnight ago from Delhi to basically rest to Hyderabad, but I had no clue that there was so much in store already. I had gone with no expectations, but just to meet my aunt, Tuffy and lots of rest. But I had surely expected train journeys, which always make me think, think and may be think more. But I got gifts which were not material, but very emotional.

I loved Hyderabad's evening breeze, which is amazing always. That I guess is the only constant in this ever changing city, for the better. This breeze is an icing on the cake after you get up after a nice afternoon nap!
But what was nice was meeting and chatting with my cousin Nannujiji, who had come from Brisbane, who had come back without any airs. I like it when people don't forget their roots and habits. She was exactly the same person I had seen when she left India, twenty years ago.
The cover or the surface of every person has to change with time, but what matters is the core, which was intact for Nannujiji. The joy with which she met her father first and Mosi/Khala later,at the airport was a vision worth cherishing.
And then she reached home, and she met the lady herself, her mother. Wow, what a hug it was. Plain love!
I remember the three people who saw the hug (including me!) could not prevent smiling to the fullest.


My mother or her mosi asked her that what would she have and she replied within a second, "Chai!"
Happiness everywhere!

We slept off with it and then I woke up with Nannujiji shouting and showing Malathi badamma (her mother) faceapp videos of her kids. I thought I was not ready, but she got the phone to me and I saw Yaseen and Ifrah smiling at us. We were sofar from each other geographically, but the smiles had got us very close.

As the gifts were being shown and shopping being done by Nannujiji, my mother and Chhote mai, she landed to meet Chhote mama. Lots of blessings and love exchanged with minimal actions. Smile, again was the common link.

As the smiles were settling in, came Tuffy, rushing in...

Nannujiji was in Hyderabad for just a week, but in this course we saw her birthday, someone's wedding, her cousins meeting her, a distant relative's death and a death-prayer meeting. She met so many people, with no plans. I realised that God makes plans and we should listen to the universe.

I liked the fact when Yaseen and Ifrah would be talking and facing us on faceapp. Technology had definitely bridged gaps. I kept writing, eating and sleeping like a log. Meanwhile, she left for Brisbane.
I remember the first time she was leaving for the country down under. We were all so young, so different then.
She walked in and did not turn around once to her parents, as that would make anyone cry! But this time, things were different. She went in and she kept waving at my mother, me and most importantly, her father.

It's just a matter of fortune that I am somehow always there whenever she is here. I have seen Yaseen and Ifrah at different stages, but this time we saw the cute Hasnain.

A lovely trip which looked as if it was super-planned, but we just listened to the universe and we saw so many smiles.
I was back to my college taking lectures today, was fun. I also have to pen a new play which is growing inside. So, summing it up, I am back to life :)

CIRCLES!

11 pm, Gurgaon. Was a lovely workshop. So, I had a lovely time with the senior citizens of an organisation, which had called me to take...