5 April 2012

Act-omonist / Econo-tor

The dude and the auditorium
As I sit in the auditorium of the Apeejay School in Jalandhar, with a congested nose, a headache, a mild fever, an upset stomach and general queasiness, listening to Ustad Vilayat Khan’s aalap in Raag Hamir, there’s a strange mix of emotions running through me.

Life as a performer isn’t all fun and games. On the 3rd of April, I was up at 6 am, and got into a taxi to drive to Jaipur from Delhi. We got there around lunchtime, and I met an old college friend. By the time we had to perform, I was dead from the long drive and sleep deprivation. Yet we performed, and I fell asleep next to my wonderful but extremely ill brother past midnight.
I woke up with a bit of a tingle in my nose on the 4th of April. We drove from Jaipur to Delhi, and the tingle gave way to a sniffle. We got to Delhi and in an hour and a half we started driving to Jalandhar. By the time we got to Jalandhar, we had covered over 600 km. My sniffle had become a proper runny nose, it was 1 am and we had been on the move for 16 hours.
My diet has been turned on its head, I have been to the gym twice in the last two weeks, I haven’t slept well for 8 of the last 12 days and I generally look and feel like crap.
But I’m having fun. The show involves me speaking about 45 minutes of pretty chaste Hindi, which is excellent for my development as a performer. Plus, performing is such a rush. The adulation is addictive. And to add to it, this is the first time our family is really together in six years. When I was 20, I left home to live in the halls of residence at St. Stephen’s College. Then my brother went of to Bombay, and I went off to Oxford and then London. Now, I can’t help but smile when I see mom directing actors on stage, while dad and Gautmik make a lighting plan and focus lights. He’s ill too, Gautmik. He’s also a bit of a genius, and absolutely adorable. We all love each other to bits, but we still tear each other apart from time to time.
The good Ustad has moved on to jor from the aalap.
I’m in a nice place right now. The people at Europe Economics let me work two days a week for them from India. It has been interesting, and quite taxing, to find the time to do economist work during the tour. I remember the first day of the tour. We woke up at 4.30 am to fly from Bombay to Bangalore.* We got to the hotel at around noon, and I connected to the servers in London to start a proper 8 hour work day. By the time I finished at around 9pm, I was a zombie. The same thing happened when we flew from Bangalore to Delhi. We got to Delhi at 2.30 pm, and thankfully I was able to postpone half a day to the weekend.
And now we have a lovely bandish in drut Teentaal.
Life as an act-onomist / econo-tor is good, though. At the end of the day, this is what I wanted. Throughout my life I’ve struggled with keeping one of my passions alive while another takes over my day to day functioning. Now, for the first time after school, I can do two things together.
Of course, being an act-onomist / econo-tor isn’t always a good thing. If you ever find yourself in my position, please do not let your mind wander to public goods and models of efficiently financing highways in a developing country while driving in a state of illness and sleep deprivation on a dark, lonely road that suddenly decides to lose the lane you are driving in.  Keep your eyes on the road, or make sure Gautmik is sitting next to you.
* Madras became Chennai and Mumbai became Bombay in 1996, when I went from Class 5 to 6. However, having lived in Bombay, that is how it will always remain for me. I let school drum ‘Chennai’ into me, but the only place I’d ever use ‘Mumbai’ was in the exam answer sheet. Bangalore has just become Bengaluru, and I doubt it will ever stick for me.
PS. We performed with this in the background in Jaipur. Nice na?

1 comment:

  1. "He’s also a bit of a genius, and absolutely adorable"
    Awww :D Totally true.
    I miss you all. Come back soon.