Wednesday, April 17, 2013

When Food trumped Food for Thought

Mea culpa. (Please bear with me and read through to the end for the reason.)

I missed out on an excellent demo because of "Paapi pet ka sawaal".

Revisiting the Cleveland Thyagaraja Aradhana this year after a break of many years ( couple of decades, almost), I took the chance to see if I could land a ticket to the much-anticipated 'rock star' of Carnatic music Sudha Raghunathan's concert at the end of March. It was preceded by a 'Melharmonic' symphony of  young Carnatic singers accompanied by both Indian and Western style orchestral ensembles, punctuated by rather stiffly-played cadenzas in the Western style. This ensured a full auditorium even as I entered to find a spot before the main event following.
The organizers insisted on everyone exiting the theater, waiting in the lobby in typical disorganized Indian-crowd style, to show our tickets as proof we had paid to enter for the concert. Things were getting a bit heated as a crowd about 1000 strong gathered in an area too small to hold them safely. But luckily, reason prevailed and they started permitting re-entry.
The concert itself was very good. Sudha Raghunathan was in blazing form, dazzling with lightning fast korvais, a good mix of mostly familiar songs and the occasional unfamiliars (to yours truly, if not the aficionado audience that included the inevitable gentleman in front who insisted on marking taalam for every song, except the one in Khanda chaapu which had most baffled for more than few minutes.)
Here is a sample of the lighter fare (thukkadas) that she presented at the end, following a rather tediously predictable plea for generous donations to the festival.

After all the razzle-dazzle, coming at the end of three and half hours, I was desperate for sustenance of the non-musical kind, being gifted with a stomach that demands its dues at frequent intervals through the day. I high-tailed it to the Comfort Inn across the street, hoping to get my dose of thayir saadam and pickle before it vanished entirely into the maws of the hungry crowds. It took about an hour to reach the food counter, after standing in line. I gulped down the food and rushed back as soon as decently possible, hoping that the usual IST applied to the start of a demo of a new musical instrument of which I had heard directly from the inventor. Alas, it was down to the final two minutes of the demo, and all that I heard was a brief thukkada, too short to make a determination of the full capabilities of the instrument.
Here, however, is restitution of sorts to the missed opportunity. Enjoy the sounds of the Chitravenu!
Now that is Food for Thought, indeed.


Lekhni said...

Surely they could have had multiple food counters? It's not the first year they are holding this, and it's not like they don't know Sudha draws a crowd, or how many tickets they sold. An hour-long wait in line for food doesn't sound like great organization to me :(

Sujatha said...

That was just because of the limited space in the Comfort Inn. The line snaked out through the lobby, doubling out in places. They didn't have room for more than one food service line. It might have been just better to have stacks of boxes to hand out, but believe they ran out of boxes, and had to resort to trays.
If only the concert organizers had thought to organize a proper rope-line at the concert when they forced everyone out. It was scarily approaching stampede-threshold there at one point.

Lekhni said...

From their website : "The year 2013 is the Festival's 36th year."

But maybe the organizers think there's something to be said about approaching each year afresh, without referring to past experience ?

Sujatha said...

One would think that all that experience would have made things more American in efficiency, but maybe they wish to maintain the old orthodoxy of doing things disorganized desi-ishtyle.