Cloaked by the shimmer of their ethnic odhnis were seven women, swaying gracefully in a circle, to the beats of the dholak. The older women beamed their smiles, clearly at ease with the eyes upon them, while the younger girls uncomfortably averted their eyes. The one who did meet my gaze had nothing but a cold stare to offer in return for my smile. Could someone so good at her art be so indifferent to the attention it brought her? She left me with that puzzling thought as she bowed and left. And she left you with what you triumphantly described as “a picture perfect shot, baby”.
It was a perfect picture indeed. The haveli was dressed for the occasion, looking resplendent against the darkness of the night. My thoughts could barely stay still, wandering away into the age of the imperials. You could barely hold the tripod still on the uneven floor.
When the next set of performers trooped in, I couldn’t help but notice how the artist playing Kali looked every bit his part, given away only by the fissures in his heels. The ‘goddess’ probably is just another boy toiling away by the day to earn a living. By night however, all he needs is some grease paint and he turns into an unforgiving demon slayer, who doesn’t betray a smile even as the audience bestows him with a rapturous applause. I hoped you could notice the attention to every little detail, but your attention was probably centered on getting the light settings right.
But a picture would have been a poor substitute for the captivating performance that followed. Everyone was in rapt attention as the dancer effortlessly moved, balancing three earthen pots on her head. At every interlude, she evoked a collective gasp as the pots piled up on her head. I counted till seven and then stopped mesmerised. My heart skipped a few beats as she started dancing bare feet on a mat strewn with shards of glass. I cringed, froze, prayed, looked away, and then applauded, while she smiled through this bizarre dance. All this while, you clicked, fussed, and clicked some more.
As the lights went out on the mansion that night, I lingered on, not wanting to leave yet. You stayed back too, trying to sweet talk the weary artistes into an exclusive photo-op.
You have 135 pictures in a Facebook album titled ‘The Udaipur Festival – I was there’.
I can only smile at the irony of that.
The dream of every writer is to be read. And to be read and appreciated by as many people as possible. BWW makes that dream a reality.
BWW Star is a writer who has worked with us at BWW and whose work amused, moved, inspired, and/or made a difference in our lives. We are sure you will enjoy and be encouraging too.
BWW is proud to present our Star – Ullas Marar. Ullas participated in our City Writes workshop in October, 2011
Ullas in his own words
Had things gone to plan, you would have found me at some railway station in Mumbai, either issuing or verifying tickets. Fortunately, plans don’t always work out. Currently I am a corporate jack, kidding myself into believing that my work is creative in nature. What keep me going are the bits that I scribble and then discard. Never happy with what I write, I write nevertheless. People often ask me if I have found my calling but in all honesty, I have no idea what that means. I am like that nine-year-old kid who wants to be a pilot one day and a doctor the very next day. In many ways, it’s this uncertainty that keeps me going. It’s better to keep looking for the unknown than to get what you want and stop looking, isn’t it?
Encourage our BWW Star
Liked what you read?
Ullas talks about truly living an experience as opposed to experiencing something to show others that you did indeed live through something. What do you think? Would you be intent on capturing life on camera or living out that life?
What’s your story? In a larger context, what is your real motivation in life? Whom do you live for?
Encourage Ullas. Leave a comment.