I have seen people spew Shakespeare , debate, order food and what not after downing a couple of drinks. People who normally wouldn’t utter a word of english, when asked for their name or know how many letters in the English alphabet. Malayalam cinema has used this power of the Malayalee to use English to the full extent invoking comedy and romance. No, I am not talking about Renji Panickeresque dialogs, just simple ones, like:

“I am the answer! Kilometres and kilometres! In these days of degenerating decency of Miami beach to Washington DC when diplomacy and duplicity become interchangeable from complicated America to America!!!”

or

“BUT WHYY? BUT WHYYYY??!! The coefficient of linear expansion is the position of the haemoglobin in the atmosphere. But why? But Why?? Full many a gem of mirror serene lay underneath the unfathomed ocean unblossomed. But why?? But why??!

or

“You are the light of my loneliness, love of my heart, dew of my desert, tune of my song, queen of my kingdom & I love you Kalyani”

Some make sense , others dont.. yet..

I have seen people spew Shakespeare , debate, order food and what not after downing a couple of drinks. People who normally wouldn’t utter a word of english, when asked for their name or know how many letters in the English alphabet. Malayalam cinema has used this power of the Malayalee to use English to the full extent invoking comedy and romance. No, I am not talking about Renji Panickeresque dialogs, just simple ones, like:

“I am the answer! Kilometres and kilometres! In these days of degenerating decency of Miami beach to Washington DC when diplomacy and duplicity become interchangeable from complicated America to America!!!”

or

“BUT WHYY? BUT WHYYYY??!! The coefficient of linear expansion is the position of the haemoglobin in the atmosphere. But why? But Why?? Full many a gem of mirror serene lay underneath the unfathomed ocean unblossomed. But why?? But why??!

or

“You are the light of my loneliness, love of my heart, dew of my desert, tune of my song, queen of my kingdom & I love you Kalyani”

Some make sense , others dont.. yet..

Some places are enchanting. They look like time passed by but didn’t give them a full 60 seconds.

This town was once at the forefront of the Industrial birth of the country due to its rich natural resources. Metallic ores, river water, lush greenery. At one time it boasted of 2 major industrial facilities , the first steel mill in the country and a paper mill.

Yet here it was, looking as though it was stuck in a time warp. Perhaps the only hint of modernity would be the availability of alcohol in tetrapak containers.

This was a vacation and my host invited me to drinks, on various occasions to savor the local ambience. This included a dingy spot where snacks would be served on recycled paperware which on the day of its publication held the highest value it possibly could, only to be discarded once the events were perused.

The evening was reserved for friends. We proceeded to a bar. A better looking facility that boasted ceramic tiles , shiny plastic chairs, metal tables, and dim lights befitting an evil cinema villain’s den.

Resam is customarily served for consumption in a shot glass before you start drinking as it cleanses the palate and possibly avoids alcohol breath and spousal reprimand.

Our guests arrived and my host went on to discuss people, events of the past, the evening droned on with me observing and listening, as we waited for one more late invitee.

The person in question arrived and my host jumps up and greets him; ‘oh! my great leader of fortitude.’

Now, I have seen undergraduates who cant spell apple, mouth Shakespeare after a couple of drinks, but my host held a post graduate degree in English and was on the Editorial staff of a leading newspaper.

That he would mouth something which to my mind, made no coherent sense, was unfathomable and left me stupefied as I continued to try to listen to the conversations between them but my mind simultaneously trying to decode that greeting. It simply made no sense and they were perfectly sober.

What did I miss? What manner of greeting is this that I had never come across earlier. They were serious. Was it a code? They both understood each other perfectly. The sender and the receiver both understood and accepted the message. It was normal.

The drinks over and after the friends had parted, I gave up all hope of unravelling this mystery, gave up any pretense that I could untangle this knot, gave up all my pride and asked; ‘what did you mean by oh my great leader of fortitude.’

The guest was my hosts senior in school and was the leader of the house to which they belonged , called fortitude. He had simply greeted a friend and leader who had done him many a favor when he reported late for house activities and other tardy behavior, he explained in between roaring laughter.

What a salute, what a greeting! what a confusing evening!

For the average South Indian male a cabaret dance is the prelude to the entry of the villain, a fight and possible torture of the protagonist.

It usually consists of 1 skimpily clad female in a body glove that imparts a feeling of nudity, a peek of cleavage, in a horrible jiggle and wiggle dance sequence reminiscent of a virtual contraceptive designed to throw off the sensitive viewer. The venue would normally be a hotel bar or the baddies den, surrounded by one eyed henchmen, muscled rogues and of course the bosses moll, who in some cases would indulge in the aforementioned dance.

A Cabaret is none of that. It is a part of French culture. Establishments existing for over a century, like Moulin Rouge carrying on the tradition of providing entertainment can be found in Paris. Possibly adding to the notion of gay Paris.

On offer is a multi course meal, with Champagne and a show. You might find the offer pricey and probably think the food could be had at any roadside brasserie and decide to go for the show any way.

Being in time is important to get good seats and don’t be dismayed by the pre show music. After the dinner service and the lights go off, what awaits is a treat for the senses. The lights, the colors, the sounds, the energy exuding from the performers, the sets, the costumes all flawlessly knit into a script that clearly depicts professionalism and artistic values that surpass the best movie productions.

That so much could be achieved in the confines of a what can be easily classified as a mid sized theatre is mind boggling. Contortionists , animals and a show that has at least 30 people on stage at a time, changing back grounds and characters in real time without a pause like a high speed locomotive that stops for none.

Artists who seem to be molded, fitting a spec, agile, fit and specially coached to move in tandem, to fit into the pieces of the moving puzzle that was being presented on stage.

Photography is prohibited, children are not though there is nudity, displayed in the least offensive manner.

There are other shows in town like the Crazy Horse and Lido. It is a must see of any visit to Paris.

Don’t die without seeing it.

What is it that inspires people to drop everything, hop on to an airplane, and visit a place where you do not know the language, the people, the culture or even the roads.

It is surprising however, to see how easily one adapts to new surroundings. Perhaps out of the hope that one will return back home or there is no choice but to adapt.

The sense of adventure is heightened, to boldly go where one hasn’t gone before. To experience the kindness of strangers, the thievery of swindlers, waiting to take advantage of tourists, the different tastes, smells, colours, sights, sounds and the experience of a clime different from that which you are used to, on your skin.

To see how people live, their daily lives different from one’s own and to be a scopophiliac into the lives of strangers as they pass by you on a street or sit in a bistro and watch life go by. To navigate through the myriad of languages and dialects, the Babel presented by the melting pot these lands are.

Technology old and new intertwined to make lives easy. Infrastructure designed to facilitate the march towards progress. Architecture which has captured history and propelling cities into the future.

He who has not traveled has not lived.