Monday, September 14, 2015

Handbag wishlist

The one article almost all fashion magazines feature is on handbags and what to carry in them. '5 must-haves for your handbag' or 'Handbag police: What will we find in yours?' or 'Travel essentials: 7 items every girl needs on a holiday' and there's also the 'guide to a perfectly equipped handbag'. It seems as the handbag is the saviour of the world, the real superhero which will have the answer to everything.

Since I am obsessed with bags and do end up carrying a lot of stuff for those 'just in case' moments (which have never really happened in all these years), I made a wishlist of what I'd really like in my handbag...from all my favourite books. 

1. The Invisibility cloak: Both Harry Potter and Amar Ayyar (Tilsm-e-Hoshruba) have one and boy, does it come handy. Once someone asked me if given a choice between the power to fly and becoming invisible, what will I choose? It was a no-brainer really...invisible beats flying any day. Imagine the possibilities of having such a cloak in your handbag?! Endless! 

2. The Light of Eärendil: Galadriel's gift to Frodo, this small crystal bottle of liquid contained the light of Eärendil's star. A light to fight darkness will come very handy in Karachi when muggers try and stop you. Flash the bottle at them, the light will blind them momentarily giving you enough time to make your escape. An extremely handy item for the handbag.

3. The little box Amar Ayyar carries with him which contains a special drug powder. One blow of it in the face of someone and it knocks them unconscious. Will probably come in very handy when noisy and ill-mannered children are screaming near your table at a restaurant. Or in a cinema. Or on an airplane.  Of course, how to go about it requires skill but when one is in a desperate situation, desperate measures need to be taken.

And speaking of Amar Ayyar I thought, why carry a handbag at all? If only I had his Zambeel, his magical bag of tricks in which anything of any size, animate or inanimate can be stored, I won't have to worry about handbags at all. Or muggers or weight limits while travelling! 

What item, from literature, will you like to carry in your handbag?

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Anatomy of a performance

Crazy plans, usually, are made in the most calm moments. 

It was on a nice, pre-summer evening, somewhere in early April. It is that time of the year when the weather in Karachi is not monstrous and one can enjoy a smoke and chit chat in the great outdoors (read: terrace) with friends. While conversation flowed between hubby dear, Z and myself, one of us (I forget who) asked rather innocently if we could put up a new narrative performance this year?

The other two nodded nonchalantly at first but with each passing minute the desire to create something overcame all rational thoughts and a performance started materializing. Books were taken off the shelf, dim lights were replaced by reading lamps and the music was turned low. Discussions followed over the merits and demerits of various pieces. Plans were made and the night ended on a high note. 

Days turned into weeks and months and finally the seed that was planted in April took on a serious form in July and by early August the narrative performance was all set to happen. Dates were locked, essays selected and all was well with the world.

Or so it seemed. 

The first task is to choose the right actor for a piece. Matching the actors with the essays sounds like a pretty dangerous task and it is. In our case, thankfully, it isn't. Both our actors usually want the 'other' one to have the better piece. Unbelievable, right? It is such a relief that we usually perform with two actors only otherwise this 'Lucknavi style' of you, no you would just go on forever. 

Rehearsals are not fun when you have the job of deciding the venue, time, arrangements, menu (actors require nourishment), and then also take into account unforeseen events like strike by oil tankers = petrol pumps closed = no petrol = actors can't reach rehearsal. And then also keep your cool! Who said life was fair?

While the rehearsals are going on the rest of the team has to ensure everything else is in place and it doesn't help if it's only a one man team. So while rehearsals happened, it was my job to promote the event and ensure people turn up. There is no surety that people will come and it certainly doesn't help when every night hubby dear wonders out loud if anyone will even come to see the performance. If there is one surety it is the onslaught of nightmares which will continue till the performance. 

The day of the performance is madness, to say the least. Getting everything in order is no easy task. Costumes, props, lights, music etc. Of course one person in the group usually ends up taking most of the stress and that, in our case, is yours truly. 

Post performance is a time for both celebration and a bit of performance appraisal. The former usually happens on the final day and mostly it is more of a collective sigh of relief than anything else. At least until the next time one can bask in the glory of a successful performance (and not check Facebook to see how many likes have come on the pictures/videos every two hours!).

[That one question which started the entire exercise culminated into two nights of great performances by our theatre group, Qissah Farosh. For details, pics and video, click here]. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Down the rabbit hole I went

I was trying to hide from the world and following Alice's example I decided to go down a rabbit hole. But instead of finding Wonderland, I discovered:

1. All holes are full of mud and poop (rabbit or otherwise).

2. There is a Mad Hatter inside each of us.

3. We create Jabberwocky ourselves and feed it with our fear and insecurities. 

[A message I sent to a friend a few weeks back when I was floating about in the land of blues].