Thu 29 Sep 2005
Middle-age has its symptoms. In my case, I sense an old flame flaring up. My passion for travel, especially to the mountains, is getting a fresh supply of oxygen with each passing year. Every experience leaves me craving for more: a more exotic and a more adventurous fix. Best of all, instead of threatening my marital life, mountains help us spend time together away from the constantly ringing phones, endless homework, and the relentless tube.For about 15 years, my passion has been simmering on low burn: I was embroiled in gynecologists and pediatricians (not to mention the associated bills), annual reviews and bank balances (or lack thereof). But as the children started growing up, and the bank stopped sounding like a reminder of inadequacies, I tentatively cranked up the fire. It started with a weekend visit to Kasauli (twice). Next, it was Shimla (thrice). Then, we moved further afield, to Ranikhet (once). Finally, we managed Manali (thrice). The family had caught the mountain bug but we soon discovered that we could, at best, visit a hill-station twice before getting jaded. We had to find something more ‘far-out’, more remote, more challenging or just more unknown.Last winter we decided that we were ‘done’ with Manali. We had spent two summer vacations and one winter vacation there. We had become too familiar with the town, the mountains, and the painted rocks in the river bed (in spite of the court ban) and even the menu cards of the restaurants, which incidentally never change. When you become too familiar with a place you do not quite feel like a traveler any more. To be a traveler is to be an outsider. We had to move on from Manali. (more…)
Mon 8 Aug 2005
Sat 21 Sep 2002
Fri 6 Nov 1998
Directed by Veenapani Chawla At British Council DivisionIt’s been almost ten years since Veenapani Chawla attended Eugenio Barba’s theatre laboratory. Ten years, two substantial productions and a few small pieces for local audiences in Pondicherry, where she now lives. Not much, one could assume, for the quiet girl whose passion for theatre first began while doing backstage work in college productions in Delhi’s Miranda House.The magnitude of Veenapani Chawla’s work at her Adishakti Laboratory for Theatre Arts Research is evident only when we see one of the few productions that occasionally make their way out of Pondicherry. A body vocabulary that is a result of her training in Mayurbhanj Chhau (which she learnt in 1983 in Orissa and Delhi), followed by extensive training in the martial art Kalarippayattu in Kerala, and recently, extended interactions and exchanges with seasoned practitioners of Kathakali and Koodiyattam. Add to that a fascination for cinema, for music, years of delving into the writings of Sri Aurobindo, and the amazing talents of lead actor Vinayakumar (who has gone through a similar process of training in Kalari-Kathakali-Koodiyattam). What you get is a theatre that expands with the body, soars with the word, explores a performance space, and inhabits every nook and corner of our minds. A work-in-progress. Growing, evolving. Where tomorrow holds the promise of new directions, new discoveries as well as the anxiety of funds drying up. A tomorrow that peeks at her from books, from music, from Arundhati Roy’s reference to “Naley” (tomorrow) in “The God of Small Things”. And despite the anxiety, the ups and downs, tomorrow is precious to Veenapani Chawla. (more…)
Thu 27 Nov 1997
With a sudden, lightning-quick leap into the air, the two “uncoil” and meet high above the earthen floor. Back on earth, they recover quickly and take up defensive positions, and begin the next round of attack and defence.Drawing circles of unleashed energy on the earthen floor, the two bodies appear to explore space in all dimensions, leaping high or, with a single stride, covering the breadth of the room. When the clash comes to an end, a moment of silence, and then the salute again. Low and respectful; a return to the coil, perhaps.
THE CRUX of any martial art is an understanding of the mathematics of the human body. In India, this understanding would necessarily be coupled with an understanding of the human mind, as well as spiritual practises meant to bring about substantial attitudinal changes in the temperament of the martial arts practitioner.