You say Kolkata, I say Calcutta
Categorised in: India 2016
By Performers Without Borders
The PUUBEE aliens from the outer space circus discover the games in Calcutta!
Etta ki? (What is it?)
Smell the fool (flower)
Garam Aloo (hot potato)
Frogger in the traffic
Look at me! Don’t look at me!
Hula hoops everywhere
Slow motion walking
staring contest from taxis
joker kahaan hay? (where is the joker?)
YES, NO game
Namoskar from Calcutta, India! This is the land of Kali ma. Kali is the goddess of destruction and rebirth, representing cycles of time and our infinite potential. She is known to have a garland of severed heads around her neck representing removing the ego, and she stares at you with fierce eyes and her long tongue waves out of her mouth. There are numerous Kali temples on every corner of this big city and she has been watching the PWB team as we pass by on our way to teach workshops and perform shows all over the city!
So what is it like here in this developing huge Indian city? The PWB team has a comfy home located in the Tollygunge neighborhood, close to the main Kalighat temple. Because it is approaching summer, the heat is getting pretty intense in this tropical metropolis. The humidity is pretty thick by 8:30am and its tricky to navigate around in the midday heat. The centres where we teach workshops are accessible by metro or bus or taxi or tukk tukk, or walking. Commuting takes up a lot of time so we really have to plan for it. Team mum, Magnus is very familiar with how Calcutta works and he helps us get taxis and plan our route to our work with the children.
The children we teach are mostly associated with the Hope Foundation, an Irish NGO that PWB has partnered with for several years now. We have offered many circus classes to children at the Nabedeeshas, police center drop in classrooms for street children. Of course they love it! Many children get the hang of plate spinning and diabolo very quickly, they enjoy juggling and balancing as well…. and most of all, Joker Dance with Hot Potato (or garam aloo).
Our schedule has been packed with shows the last week.
First, we returned to the Be Kind Boys home that is run by the Hope Foundation and it was a beautiful show into the sunset and then a fire show! Sara and I started working out a doubles fire juggling routine and we tried it out that night, finishing with some solid fire club passing!
Second we revisited the Chetla Slum community for a spectacular street show that was very well attended. In grand circus parade we gathered the community to come and watch the show. Its very probable that not many people had any idea this was going to be happening that day. Shouniez suggested, “Just imagine what it would be like to all of a sudden see a circus coming right to your home, and set up an incredible spectacle with even a fire show, and then just disappear, and everything goes back to normal!” We are proper space aliens indeed! Abducting the public with laughter! HA HA!!!
I love thinking that the magic of this happening in the world, on Earth, is alive and well!
Our third show this week was for a new partner organization called Peaceworks and the Seagull Foundation. We arrived at a girls home just as the clouds were rolling in, and started our show and it got darker and darker. Then at the end of the hula hoop act… BAM! lightning and pouring rain! What!? We scrambled to get everything picked up and went inside to an indoor space. The show must go on, and we finished sweating buckets, and even concluded with the finale of Shaheen and Shouniez in a two high, and a 5 person club passing star pattern around them (with 8 foot ceilings)!!! It’s possible! They were very sweet girls and we had a big Macarena dance party at the end led by Bea.
Early the next morning was a special occasion, most of the team attended a general mime class at the Jogesh Dutta Mime Academy in Kalighat. Words, literally, cannot describe this experience, and I am honoured to have studied even just a little with the Famous Mime Guru Jogesh. He has spent a lifetime performing and teaching mime and associating with other famous mimes like Marcel Marceau. One may not realise how physical mime is, and after 4 hours of intense exercise, strength training, yoga, pranayama, deep breathing, face stretches, and repetitive picking up and moving an invisible glass, we were exhausted and sore the next day! Serious miming. Im very certain that this will become more and more a part of our personal performing styles, and that we can enhance our teaching techniques with language barriers using some proper miming.
Our fourth show last week, was a local show in our neighbourhood at the Atlanta Club. We were so happy to have a free show for our neighbours who have seen us transform day by day as we go in our house as humans and come out again all painted up as circus space aliens. This was a night show under the lights, and there was a very impressive audience. Some boys from the Asirbad Boys Home nearby also attended and were so happy to see us perform for them. After the fire show we were gifted a BUCKET of Bengali Sweets. Imagine little white sponges soaking in sugar water… apparently this is a well loved Bengali tradition.
Our fifth show was for a new outreach organization called Cossipore Institution for Boys. Over 120 boys who live and attend school in the same big building, they hardly get out for any activities, so having a day of workshops and another day of a show for them was a real treat. They were extremely well behaved and eager to share with each other actually. The whole PWB group is very hopeful that we can teach these boys again in the future.
One amazing gift that came our way was some beautiful professional photographs and videos by our friends Pablo and Shreya. They captured some really amazing moments in the last week. Thank you so much! We are so grateful for your gift of beautiful images!
AND….. now PWB India volunteers have a week off, where we will go our separate ways to find personal adventures, rest and recuperation, new Indian Visas, some natural beauty in the mountains, a short revisit to Varanasi… and then we will reunite in one week in…
Here we come…. Intergalactic Planetary… Planetary Intergalactic!
With Love from India,