By Dr. K. Javeed Nayeem, MD
My recent article about the play ‘Barff’ which I attended at Chowdaiah Memorial Hall in Bengaluru and my own experience while attending a medical conference, which was similar to that of the main character in the play, has drawn many responses from readers. While all of them have written or called to say that they were very moved by the human interest element both in the fictional story and in my own real-life experience too, a good many of them have lamented that such popular plays are never staged here in Mysuru, a so-called heritage city.
While events like these are held regularly all through the year in Bengaluru, our city always seems to get the go by from their organisers. Like my readers, I also wonder why it is so. In fact, our city despite having once been the seat of our former Maharajas with their generous patronage of all arts and artistes has now almost lost all its cultural connections. Actually, with Mysuru being a city of shorter distances, lesser traffic jams and, therefore, greater after-work free time for its citizens to indulge in leisure activities like concerts and plays, our city should have been the hub of many cultural activities even now. But sadly it is not so.
Many years ago my wife and I had an occasion to attend an enchanting concert by the late Ghazal Maestro, Jagjit Singh in the same Chowdaiah Memorial Hall. After the three hour show we spent some time conversing with him backstage since we were there with a friend who knew him very well personally. When I complimented the Ghazal King on his superb performance and asked him why he had not thought of holding a concert in Mysuru he smiled and said that it was simply because Mysureans had never invited him to do it! He also said that he had always been under the impression that Bengaluru was the only city in Karnataka which had good auditoriums and a good concentration of Ghazal lovers.
I told him how mistaken he was and assured him that we not only had a much larger auditorium than the Chowdaiah Memorial Hall but also enough Ghazal lovers to fill it to the brim! That was when he clasped my hand and said “Doctor Saheb, if that is so, I will certainly come to Mysuru sometime soon and hold a concert there if you can find someone to take care of the necessary arrangements.” But very sadly that time never came because the time for the great man to leave this world came much sooner than the time came for him to come to our city.
But I think the time has now come for us Mysureans to sit up and think what we should do to once again revive the cultural legacy that was once a part of our city. If some of the large business establishments that now exist and thrive in our city can join hands with the many lovers of art and culture who still dwell here I think we can give our city a cultural makeover that befits it. Maybe we can even make a small and immediate beginning by having an annual art and theatre festival that can become our star attraction!
Of Trains, Slow and Fast!
I am writing this just a day after our jet-setting Prime Minister has signed a deal with his Japanese counterpart to link Mumbai and Ahmedabad by a Bullet Train. And, the Japanese Prime Minister has announced that on his next visit to our country he hopes to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Indian countryside from the windows of this superfast train. I wonder whether he will really be able to do this because unknown to him, its speed is not something at which anyone can relish and enjoy the slow-paced pace of the beautiful Indian countryside!
My last week’s article about keeping our trains slow and safe too seems to have been a hit with readers. Most people agreed that there is much sense in keeping them that way and being able to enjoy train rides at a sensible pace that not only takes us where we want to go reasonably quickly but also safely with the added bonus of allowing us to savour the sights and sounds that delight us and soothe our souls. The only dissenting note that I received was surprisingly from my very close friend, Prof. Chandra Prakash, himself a very familiar and frequent writer in Star of Mysore who is right now on a long haul flight to the US.
He writes to say that having superfast trains that blur or even completely wipe out all the visions of the places that they pass through, do make some sense because travellers will then not be offended by some of the sights we invariably see along our railway tracks early in the mornings as our trains enter our towns and cities. Sadly, railway lines seem to be the favourite places for people to relieve themselves although I’ve never been able to understand the reason for this affinity. But, our much pushed and promoted ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’, once again the pet project of our Prime Minister will hopefully make this a thing of the past!
A New Way to See Our City
Last evening Kiran, a friend I’ve made from my writings, dropped into my consulting room unannounced. From the broad smile on his face I deduced that he had not come to me in pain as most of my patients do and thankfully I was not wrong. He handed me an invitation card which he said was from a to-be-launched company he was joining and wanted me to attend its inauguration on the coming Monday. He was going to be a part of ‘Open Jeep Tours’, a novel venture of the already well known ‘Safe Wheels’ Group.
This concept involves taking tourists around our city and its immediate environs in groups of six in an Open Jeep in a two-hour-long conducted tour with an audio commentary of the sights and locales it passes through. It is not unlike what we see in many other cities of the world like London, New York, Dubai and Singapore to mention just a few. I wonder why no one had thought of this although our city has always been a city of tourists!