Friday, March 02, 2012


(Revisiting a saved draft - there might be a change of tone in the latter part:-)

My childhood existed in the peace and quiet of nature and outdoor play - entertainment wasn't sought in Pods, Pads or Touches that precede with a insignificant small case 'i". In fact, my introduction to the TV happened when my dad bought home a cube like portable black and white television to catch the world cup action in 1983. I still remember how the wired tape cord that made the TV portable in our vast home was coiled in the diameter of a small hoola hoop and the width of a cumbersome hard bound encyclopedia, secured with country twine and hung obnoxiously on the tip of one of the doors that opened our bedroom into the open roofed living room that housed the elements. The television was used very sparingly - and aired a language that was as foreign to me as the ancient Latin - but to the wonder of many city bred, cosmopolitan people I come across on a day to day basis - I being the small town south Indian girl I am - somehow managed to learn the National language - thanks to DD1 that introduced the purest form of Hindi to my little, undeveloped language palette.
Back on track - i fondly remember running around in the streets, lip syncing to the latest Telugu numbers that were played in a static bearing music system that resonated in the whole neighborhood. The bedlam of random hawkers selling wares and the occasional honks form the traffic nearby added so much of layer to the background score. Movie watchings were few and far between. It is during those days that gaudy colored hoardings of pretty women dressed in florescent leotards and ring masters in longs hats and asymmetrical Abraham Lincoln like coats blinged with sequins the size of a old rupee coins adorned the concrete municipality garbage bins. The speculation started among the rickshaw mates - a gang of six, 7 years and under kids that commuted to the school and back in a manually pulled wagon - "The lions dance it seems!" - added a six year old with dilated eyes while her older brother went on and on about the gig of the clowns who pull their pants off trying to perform trapeze after the trained artists. This was enough information to tickle our collective imagination and thus the canvassing for going to the ostentatiously named "New Grand Circus" launched in the household.
The circus tent was humongous - at least to the 8 year old's eye. There was a stench that lingered in - probably from the droppings of the animals that were left in cages around the tent - much as a display for curious children. The opening act was the Lion show - where the ring master makes ferocious looking beasts behave like tame cats - jumping through hoops of fire - and then the clowns enter - dancing to the then famous disco numbers while a not-so-well built guy holds a bycycle, a table and then a ladder on his lips when the audience applaud in awe. Then the gymnasts enter - the young women glistened in azure glittered eyes and leotards to match.

A couple of decades down the lane I'd been to the "Circus Vargas" show that came to the town, just around the block at the end of my street. Needless to say, it magically transformed me into a time and place that I'd often wish that I had frozen in. The experience hadn't changed much - except that this Circus I went to didn't have any four legged performers. May be it is the new PETA regulations, could be the increasing overhead costs - but it was a good thing that there were no animals. There was cotton candy being peddled along with Coke and nachos and there was an intermission where the clowns sat for a chat with the children in the audience. To my utter amusement, most of the acts were repetitions of the shows I'd seen as a child in a different time and place. At the end, the performers lined up for a meet and greet with the audience outside the gate. There is something magical about entertainers - I remember, that as a child, when I was in awe with the circus show, I used to envision myself as a child in the troop, travelling from one place to another leading a nomadic life. The experience brought back a glimpse of my childhood in a very endearing way - I could not but wonder how such performing arts are faring in the generation of internet entertainment at the punch of a few buttons. Ironically, the seats were sparsely occupied and the IMax complex opposite to the tent on the other side of the road was busting at seams with cars that looked like a car factory had thrown up there. I know, I know - it is a graphic description - but my ever thinking mind could not but wonder if these performances would stand the test of time. No matter how we advance in communication and technology - the old world charm of snail mails, circus performances and county fairs are an experience every child should go through. I would totally date myself but it just startles me the kind of insight I got into the world when I watched puppet shows and small time bands performing movie songs in the neighborhood temple. It was like a glimpse of the world, animated, full of life, real - I sometimes sit and wonder if the future generations would miss out on the hands on experience I had as a child.

Circus Vargas represented life to me - a constant struggle to survive, fighting against odds, Laughing, thrill and fear all amalgamated into a show that is painstakingly prepared - all to cater to one means - the stomach. I walked out of the tent rejuvenated, in a reminiscent mode feeling a tad bit happier and maturer.


  1. This reminds of the puppet shows that were specially arranged in the school, and of something whose name I just can't remember... (shehh!) but it was like a round wooden box, having circular openings on the sides and the openings had thin metal covers attached to the box with chains. You payed the money to peep through the holes. Inside the box, a moving screen was shown which had pictures of the film stars :-D Do you remember? :)I can't remember its name at all...

  2. megzie9:25 AM

    Aarti' s mom is a beautiful writer!!! :)))

    1. Aww....Thanks Megzie:-) You made my day. God Bless.