Monday, April 20, 2009

A Maitri to remember!!

“Aankhon mein sapne liye,
Ghar se hum chal toh diye…”

Shaan crooned in my ears. My MP3 enabled phone showed there were at least ten more Shaan songs to come and I smiled. Tea and songs go together better than Vodka and Sprite.

A roommate suddenly crashed into my room,

“Maitri’s coming up in a month. Dude, you have to be in it.”
“What am I going to do in it?” I knew what he had in mind.
“Err, mimicry!!”
“Yeah, right!”, I mumbled and continued in silence.
I entered the University next day on what should have been like any other day. Doing nothing but looking at the girls, eating, attending a lecture; or not attending anything at all and coming home later in the evening. But as that awaited evening approached I found myself amidst a group of fired up enthusiasts, all my age talking animatedly about “I am in a dance”, “Main dance aur fashion show”, “Ok, folks, gather around…”. Stuff that made little or no sense to me. And then,
“What are you here for?”
“Mimicry? That’s difficult to adjust in the show”, said a girl, who introduced herself as Shilpa later.
For no reason at all, I was disappointed. I should have been happy. Chalo, I'm free
But a girl sitting on the sofa opposite me, looked and said, “Why don’t you audition for compering?”
Uh oh!

I couldn’t stand on stage for more than 10 minutes, throat would, for sure, go dry not to mention a lingering feeling of 3rd degree interrogation. My heart races beyond time and everything blanks out. Urghghgh

“Ok.... I am Saumitra, and you are?”
“Mayuri”. (Nods at both ends)

Audition time: The President of GISO, Graduate Indian Students Org., for the uninitiated, introduced himself, with a small pep-talk about how good he wanted the show to be, and I was blank all the while. After an audition that had me and two others and a half hour later, I was told that I would be contacted. seemed to be bigger than I thought.


After almost a month of not practicing at all and hardly meeting the co-host twice, who had a major role to play later, I was confident that we could pull this off.

April 3rd, 12:00 PM…

Roshiny, the co-host, calls me,

“Saumitra, there’s a prob

I suddenly felt like a bolder hit me, straight at my heart. Even before I could hear her next words I concluded that I was going to be alone on stage, facing the crowd, thinking what do I say, looking puzzled, shivering, and may being pulled away by someone from backstage.

“My advisor is not letting me go, I am going to be horribly late” (Urghghgh Advisors!!)

I let the biggest sigh ever. It was bad, but at least I wouldn't be alone. So what if we were the least practiced of all, I was confident before and I was at least breathing now.

The stage was ready; it looked grand; just like the last time I had stepped on one. Nine years had gone by in ultra-zipped mode. I looked at Roshiny, thought she looked perfect for the occasion. ‘What if I goof-up?’, ’what if I blank out?’, ‘what if….’

The prayer was sung, the speech delivered, and the hosts were called upon.

Moment of truth!! Roshiny looked at me, “All the best”, “Same to you.”


Five minutes later I was back in the wings, banging my head. I had goofed up. Blanked out and all the other ‘what ifs’Okay, I am not doing it again, I told myself; and five minutes later I was almost in sweat and shivering from the second goof-up, and all the spoonerisms.

Roshiny gave me a small pep-talk and all I heard was, “what the heck was that? What are you doing?” although that was not what she was saying.

We went up again, after a near perfect performance by Dhun. I remembered all my lines, and Roshiny took care of the rest. Making fun, involving the crowd, making them laugh, making them clap, basking in those claps… all the perks of being on stage.

Backstage was a totally different story.
“Vishal, I want the next group ready.”
“They are”
“Great, I need them in the wings in one minute”
“Arey, don’t worry about that, concentrate on your compering”
“Saumitra, look at me, concentrate on our job. Don’t look at what’s going on”
‘I can’t, we cannot put fillers for everything’
“yeah, yeah”, I muttered
“So, the next part, we will use this filler…”
‘Everything’s so blurry…’

How in the world was I hearing Puddle of Mudd out of nowhere? But it was what it was – blurry.
The crowd in one section was getting unruly by the minute. Backstage, everyone was starting to get worried, some were getting fired up. Something had to be done. ‘You cannot do that’, I heard someone say. Many were visibly irked by that particular pocket of audience.

“I am going to tell them to be quiet” – Roshiny
“No, please don’t do anything rash” – me


It was my turn to go back stage for the skit. Thankfully, after all the well covered goof-up and near perfect impromptu stuff, with people laughing we left the stage and I was back on… in the half naked Ravana out-fit, I played in the skit.


Singing by Dhwani, another round of fashion show, ‘The Dark side of moon’, and all were waiting for the next event. At least everyone back stage and everyone who knew what was coming up.

Sand-animation was announced. It took a while for the set-up. I let Roshiny go to see it. I had had my share of choking in the noon. Vishal asked me to put in a filler as the set-up was taking a while. But something in me stopped from going up. I did not want the mood to change. It was somber after the exploring the ‘dark-side’, it was about to go up to an emotional high now.

Lights… stage… silence… music… Gandhi… the charismatic Bapu enthralled the audience in sand-form on a white screen. The story-telling was perfect. Many must’ve chocked on one image after other. I saw the show from behind the screen, and the effect was same. With tears in my eyes, nostalgia in mind. The crew went up for what seemed to be an endless round of applause. Omkar later told me that he was very emotional while receiving that applause. They deserved every single bit of it. No more words spoken, everyone rushed towards food in pure desi shtyle. A perfect end to a perfect event. Smiles, congratulatory remarks, hugs, flying kisses, more hugs, hand-shakes, smiles, some more hugs, and food.

It is difficult to put all that went by in words, but Maitri will remain.

‘Mitti ki khusbu aaye, palkon pe aansu laaye,
Palkon pe reh jayega, yaadon ka jahaan’

~Saumitra Vaidya


Mayuri said...

Awesome blog...I wish I could write half as well as you have....:)

Vikram said...

a tad too late.. but zabri likha bey ... :)