Sunday, February 20, 2005

Of Hypothetical Situations and Escalators

* Hypothetical situation – you are sitting in a plane. The following conversation happens between you and the gentleman sitting next to you.

Gentleman: Great day today for flying!
You: Yeah.
Gentleman: I am Stanley by the way.
You: Hmmm.
[Two hours later]

: Nice talking to you. Here’s my card. Drop in sometime.
You: Huh!

Now suppose two months later you found the visiting card again inside your bag and read the name on top of it - Stanley Kubrick.

This is the point where I’ll try to drown myself in a small unassuming puddle of muck. Now I didn’t bump into Kubrick (he’s been long dead) but I did bump into someone whom I have admired as an actor and who has worked with the likes of Satyajit Ray on a number of occasions. And I just didn’t bump into him. I worked along with him for a whole week on a dramatized poetry reading organized by a friend where I was helping out as stage manager. And we became mighty friendly - talking on first name basis, cracking jokes and stuff. Even after knowing his full name it took me more than a month to realize who he was. This was Dhritiman Chatterjee, the protagonist of Ray’s 1972 classic Pratidwandi. He can now be seen in the much acclaimed film Black as Rani Mukherjee’s father. There is a slight possibility that I might be acting along side him in the near future in a play. I have my fingers crossed.

* The first time I used an escalator was in 1988 in the Delhi international airport. These moving staircases impressed me like no other wonder of science had ever done before. I had already been on an airplane a month before but somehow the experience of riding an escalator overshadowed that experience. Throughout my brief stay in London (summer 1988) I did what kids all over the world have done at some time or the other (most snipers in movies also make their escape the same way) – going down an escalator which is moving upwards or vice versa. I spent endless hours trying to find the perfect speed with my small legs to counter the upwards movement of the escalator. What resulted was something akin to suspended animation (I always liked the coyote more than the roadrunner). Somehow running at top speed and still not moving a meter forward has its own charm (I find treadmills interesting for the same reason).