There is always a light

There is always a light
Don't be afraid if you are alone or surrounded by darkness. In some part of the world, the day has just begun. There is a always a light waiting for you to find your way to touch its radiance.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

60 and Still the Most Thrilling of It All!

By Ananya Mukherjee
Monte Casino, Johannesburg, South Africa 

What differentiates an ordinary crime thriller from a piece of theatrical history that has captivated audience, retained its original flavour and overwhelming suspense for six decades over 24,000 performances? Two words. Agatha Christie. Period.

Written by the greatest crime writers of all times, the Mousetrap, West End’s longest running whodunit is currently in its 60th year in 2012. What started as a 30 minutes radio play called Three Blind Mice on BBC and evolved as the Mousetrap, has mesmerised thousands of theatre lovers over the years. Although periodically the cast is changed, bringing in freshness and variation to the play, the basic structure and treatment of the two-hour high-intensity drama remains unaltered. And so enthralling is the experience that the audience spontaneously engages and warms up to the characters, almost trying to solve the country house murder mystery as the scenes unfold.

The setting is the Great Hall of Monkswell Manor in Berkshire soon to be cut off from the rest of the world due to an impending snowstorm. The curtain is raised with the announcement that a murder has been committed in Paddington. The Police is looking for the suspect on the run dressed in a coat and a hat.  

The long opening scene sets the pace as each guest arrives shaking snow from his/her hat and winter coats, blissfully unaware that  they and the young proprietors of the Manor will soon fall under the deepest suspicion of guilt and threat of sudden death. 

The action kicks into gear when the earnest Detective Sergeant Trotter arrives with the disquieting news that the suspect who committed the London murder may be amongst the guests of the now snowed-in Manor. Furthermore, clues carelessly discarded now point to the Manor as the killer's next stopping place in pursuit of two more victims of vengeance . But who are they? No one knows.

The lurking danger is well enhanced by a realistic rural English Manor with doorways, staircases, scones and dim lights that accentuate the suspense as the tension builds and the secret finally unlocks.

By tradition, at the end of each performance, the audience is asked  not to reveal the identity of the killer to anyone outside the theatre to ensure that the climax of the play is not divulged and future productions remain as mysterious as ever. 

Mousetrap comes forth as a beautifully preserved example of a country house murder mystery and the cast does excellent justice to Agatha Christie's characters. Needless to say, the production's historic credentials make the experience both entertaining and exciting right till the end. 

Sholay Revisited

By Anindita Baidya
Anand, Gujarat, India

Thakur Baldev Singh, the Head of Ramgarh Food Supplies Ltd. was more than eager to have a detailed study on the ‘Role clarity’ in his organization.  No, he did not trust Gabbar, his Senior Supervisor-Supplies department, to do that internally.  Gabbar did not particularly have very impressive ways of gathering supplies.  Thakur needed to outsource the study, for the benefit of an ‘outsider’s view’ on the role played by each of his team members.
So he hired Jay and Veeru, two brilliant C-grade B-school interns and entrusted them with the job.  They would spend a month at Ramgarh Food Supplies and draw an organogram with clear roles.
Jay and Veeru valiantly arrived at the organization, was received by the vivacious Ms Basanti, who later on went on to be Veeru’s life partner and business consultant; well, that is a different story. 
The under-grads spent days beating their head in getting to understand what the entire team was actually doing.  Gabbar was the most dreaded Supervisor, one could have ever imagined and made the life of his team, a hell.  In addition to being a veteran in supply procedures, he was an amateur self-proclaimed homeopath consultant.  So anyone who crossed his path was tortured to death by his, ‘Abb goli khaa’…his (homeopathy) goli was the most dreaded stuff in the office. 
Kalia, one of his trusted team members, the fat, curly, cute little thing was the worst hit.  He had been administered some homeopathy mineral, which Kalia termed, for pure fun, as ‘Namak’ but in spite of doses of the medicinal namak, Kalia’s trouble did not decrease. So Gabbar ruthlessly prescribed some Goli for him and in spite of poor Kalia’s vehement pleadings, ‘Sardar, maine aapka namak khaayaa hai..”, the affectionate but stern Gabbar suggested, ‘Abb goli khaa’.
Gabbar spent a considerable amount of time entertaining himself on the internet viewing some item numbers by ‘Mehbooba’ and hitting flies.  ‘Sardar makhkhi maartein hain’.
Samba was the most trusted one, of Gabbar.  For his boss, Samba played the role of a record and appointment keeper. Not one decision was taken by Gabbar without validating with Samba.  Samba supplied all info on appointments; “Holi kab hai? Kab hai Holi”’ and Samba was his stock keeper, ‘Kitne goli hain?’
Samba sat in the office, in an aloof place, most of the time browsing through websites, claiming that he was actually, sharpening his axe.
Here our Jay and Veeru were amidst a lot of confusion about the task each of the officers did.  Basanti was a perfect professional, no unnecessary chat, no friendship; she was clear, Ghora aur Ghaas dosti nahi kar sakte. There was the surma-smeared Bhopali who spent his time chatting about how he out-smarted these two interns, Jay and Veeru. 
And amidst all these, Thakur saab and Gabbar were at loggerheads with each other and Thakur saab secretly ordered the intern duo to suggest something in the report that could usher the oust of Gabbar.
So after a lot of consultation, observation, Jay and Veeru came up with a report.  It actually suggested that in the organization, all are actually doing the same job.  Gabbar, Samba, Kalia all are engaged in the same task, ‘sabhi khayini bana rahe hain’, as Veeru put forth. And this was because Thakur, the Head, ‘khaini bana nahi sakte’, Jay explained, ‘Kyunki unke haath hee nahi hai..”
With a new feeling of powerlessness (on realizing that he had lost his hands to his junior, Gabbar), the annoyed Thakur ordered the interns to stop their research mid-way; however impressed at their efficient ways, he offered them job and free accommodation at Ramgarh Food Supplies, but having only one vacancy, he left the decision to the interns, to decide who would stay back at Ramgarh Food Supplies..
The ever protective Jay suggested a toss and thus went the coin high in the air and Jay decided, ‘Heads I go, tails, I stay’.  And as it was a ‘head’. Jay left and Veeru was inducted into the organization, must to his delight that he could be around Basati now.
It is only later that Veeru discovered that Jay had actually decided to call it quits in the organization, not for the benefit of buddy Veeru but he was allured by a fat offer from an MNC and a prospect of settling abroad.
Only later did Veeru discover that the coin which Veeru often tossed, had Head on both the sides…….!!!!

Friday, February 10, 2012


By Ananya Mukherjee

Kaaga sab tan khaiyo, mora chuun chuun khaiyo maans re,
Par do naina mat khaiyo, mohe piya milan ki aas re

My name is Ruuhan. Given that am not a human, it is an unusual name. The forest officer has a poetic streak about him and a special affection for my ma, and it is he who has christened me thus. Ma tells me, it means spiritual.

I don’t know if there was anything mystical or pious about my birth. Just like any other fawn, I was born amidst an immense and gory struggle of will and contentment in a little shaded corner surrounded by huge tropical trees in India’s Kanha National Park. But unlike many others in my tribe, my birth was registered; I was named and tagged. During the process, I remember overhearing something about being a handsome but rare and endangered species. I don’t know what it implied. However, right from the time that I’ve seen the light of the world I’ve known one truth. I am different, if not special.

And I have grown up with this conviction. Interestingly, this difference that I once so happily assumed, is also quite stark now. It stares me at my face when I stop by the sparkling waters of the stream for a drink. My reflection on the sweet water tells me I am beautiful, that there’s none like me, yet that is also the reason why I am usually alone. In my moments of quiet silence and respite, I have often wondered if it’s the onus of carrying a name with a meaning (something that is unheard of in my clan) or having being born with such a different psyche that I have always been a loner. Another bone of contention in my herd! A stag like me should be a leader heading a band of five hundred gazelles, not grazing around alone in the forest and wondering about the philosophical implications and divine influences of his name. But, you see I am Ruuhan, and I am different.

But there’s a story about me that I haven’t told anyone. I see strange dreams, like frames from an afterlife or one that I have been through and these dreams keep coming back to me like a deja vu. Often in my idle wakefulness, I see myself as a cosmic illusion, a golden deer with eyes like rounded gems, horns and hooves like silver, sprinting around in a forest clearing. And I know that I am here for a purpose. I am being used as a bait and there’s nothing that I can do about it. I am merely following orders with death as an inevitable reward. I vision myself as a small part of a greater plan, a bigger picture, a divine intervention in the imbalance in the law of nature. Then I see an arrow striking me, slicing into my body, and leaving me numb. Even in my hypnotic state of painlessness, I feel something piercing into a formless entity and hear someone call out a name in my mind. Mareech.

Oh, I just ramble on and I think too much like humans, my ma tells me. I am a creature of the forest. I should be led by instincts not logic, she warns me all the time. But I know I am here for a purpose like none other. I am yet to find out what that is, but I know there is a reason for my being for sure. 

One of the possibilities could be finding love. I am still on the lookout for a mate. My handsome demeanor does attract a lot of kohl smudged doe eyes. I have seen many of them cross my path, huddle up and lure me but Ruuhan as I am called, my search is somewhat different. A bit spiritual if I may be allowed to add. For me, it’s not the bark of a deer; it ought to be a call from a soul mate. I wonder why something tells me that voice in my dream that calls out my name with a desperate pain is that of a female. Maybe she was my consort, my mate in a previous life and from the jungles of Chitrakoot to the plains of the Seoni Hills by the Wainganga, I’m carrying her safely within me like my prized kasturi.

It’s getting dark and times are not as good as they used to be. My life has greater threat from men than from predators. Ma tells me there are poachers hiding in the park and I should get back to a safer location deep in the forest after dusk. I must hurry back now and take refuge in the shelter of the thickets beyond this plain. Hush, a moment…I hear something like a rumbling of the earth and before I know it…I feel something rush towards me and pierce into my smooth skin….
My hind legs feel heavy, my breaths are running short…and I know my time is out. Between the two thick forests of bamboo, just when the glorious sun dips its head into a submission to the earth, I can feel a numbness enveloping my senses and life slipping out of me. Flashes from a previous birth come rushing back ...yes, it was a female’s voice and she was calling out my name…Mareech.

I make a last attempt to rise and say, yes, my love, I am here…I can hear you now…but in my last breath all I can manage is crying out a name….hers. 

Ghazal. Someday, they will remember you and me for leaving our legacy behind.   

PS: This writing was inspired by my own passion for music and poetry. Not too long ago, Ghulam Ali Sahab shared a story about the origin of ‘ghazal’. The Arabic word originated from gazelle, he said. Kahete hain, teer khaya hua hiran (gazelle)jab akhri saansein leta hai, uske halaq se dard ki, tarap ki, ek akhri awaz sunaayi deti awaz ko ghazal kahete hain. Kya aap isse waakif thhey?