Sunday, May 27, 2001

On and Off Air with Urmila & Valli

Not much has happened in these couple of months when we went "off air" and yet a lot has happened in our lives. But, we''ll resume from the latest with snippets from the past few weeks in reverse order of chronology.
Since we don't have "Memorial Days", we make do with "Bandhs" to get our quota of long weekends. Starting today ( Sunday ) there is a 3 day national Bandh and after a day's break on Wednesday (allowed, thoughtfully, to let people to get a refill of ration and some much needed constitutional ), there is another strike on Thursday called by an arm of the Maoists. So, for all practical purposes, this week is going to be a wash-out. Bandhs, someone remarked, has been the most enduring export of West Bengal to the region - so what if the rest of India has developed immunity to the follow Bengal syndrome and no longer catches a cold everytime the Bengali sneezes. In Bangladesh, they now have weeklong hartals and the trend is soon catching up in neighbouring Nepal through the Bangabandhu corridor across the Fulbari.
Alarmel Valli, who came for her second performance to Kats in 2 years, was superb beyond words ( what's more - at last night's dinner she turned out to be a nice - no airs - person as well). S came along primarily to redeem his reputation of being 'culturally challenged' but admitted that it was one of the most peppy ( vibrant ) Bhartnatyam performance he has seen - tho' others didn't quite appreciate his comment that, she is something of a more classical version of Urmila Matondkar. In a recent TOI interview - Urmila said - 'sexyness' is something 'raw' that comes from within . Valli brings that to life that primal passion - combining a rare earthiness and an unmatched sensuality. In each of her movements and unbelievably perfect postures, she alternates between the sublime and temporal, transcending from the physical to the spiritual with consummate ease. Little consolation for him that, she is married also to a Ghose (Bhaskar - who spells his surname also with an 'e' at the end ). Much of last evening's cocktail conversation was speculation over whether - Sagarika, Bhaskar's daughter of his earlier marriage ( a journalist and now author of a book on Delhi's socialite bureucracy - 'The Gin Drinkers' ), was older than Valli. But, she must be having a spell on older men. Last time, after her performance, we had the doddering Kishunji going up on stage to present her the customary bouquet and asking - whether she was a Miss or Mrs ? When she clarified that, it really didn't matter - lovable KP retorted that it was indeed of vital importance since he himself was a bachelor.

We had the Ramaswamy family with the children and Usha's parents over for lunch today. It's a pity that, they'll be leaving soon. June it seems will be a month departures. After Ram & Usha, it will be the turn of the Hormises. Believe it or not, DCK has called it a day ( not from Golf but from the Bank - rather abruptly - it would appear to outsiders ) - though the grapevine has it that they may be around in Kats for some more time. At 70+, he seems to be a good match for gritty old Koirala in powers of "staying on" and , infact, could lend him a tip or 2 on or off the course. Jeff Cox of the Grindlays had also to prematurely following the merger with Stanchart and he was none too happy about it as he made quite plain in his now famous "good-bye" note. We must get ready to join the queue soon - otherwise, professionally it can only be downhill - the way things are going here.