Singapore celebrated the Asian festival of classical dance ( called Samarpana – which translates to surrender in English) recently and I happened to attend one of the performances. The two artists who performed that evening, were both stalwarts in their respective fields of expertise and the evening was a treat to anyone who loved dance and classical music.
When I first heard of the event through a friend, I was excited and began planning an evening with the family.
I decided that it would be a wonderful treat for my mother, who is visiting us, who is fond of classical music and especially of songs sung by TM Krishna, who was one of the performers of that evening. She attends the December kutcheri’s in Bangalore when she can and never misses TM Krishna’s if he is on the list of performers. She even follows him on twitter and sends him occasional tweets when she is overwhelmed with his renditions.
Then I included my husband in the plan when he confirmed that he was not travelling around the dates of the festival. Given his travel schedules that requires him to be an “out of town” husband many days in a year that was the only doubt I had to clarify. Also, the both of us had decided to improve the quality of our lives, by attending meaningful concerts when we got opportunities. For a long time, we have depended on eating out and watching meaningless movies as the only source of entertainment. Ever since we have moved to Singapore, we have had unbelievable opportunities to add the entire repertoire of theatre, musicals and concerts to our entertainment portfolio.
The last person that I wondered about in the list of ‘who- else-would –like-to -go-to-the-event’ was my 13 year old daughter. Here again, I was justified in assuming that she made it to the ‘should- go’ list, since she has been training in classical music for 6 years now and this would be a great opportunity for her to experience and possibly soak up some lessons about ‘on stage performance etiquette‘. In retrospect, I should have known better. She was upset that I hadn’t asked for her vote and the fact that she had no choice to opt out.
While I was trying to do something meaningful and enriching for all of us, I was acutely aware of how the evening turned out to be a mixed bag of emotions for the family.
First, my husband came back late from work (the event was on a Friday evening) and insisted on driving us there when I suggested that we hired a cab instead as I feared that we would miss the start of the performance, finding a parking slot at the venue. Then, I decided to wear a sari for the evening, in keeping with the theme of the event, which would be attended by people who valued tradition, who appreciated good music and dance. The foresight paid off. Every woman there was dressed in her traditional best, as though someone was going to individually size them up for their worth to be in the same hall as the performers. But I am digressing. It takes far lesser time to slip into a pair of jeans and a tee shirt than turn out in a sari, which added to the delay. (My mom was ready in a jiffy and was all set to go before any of us were.)
Then, I had to oversee that my daughter wore something elegant as well. Friday being a week day, she had woken early for school. So an event on a Friday evening was not conducive to her sleep deprived mood, and definitely not for a classical concert which she was not keen to attend anyway. (This, when she is sure that music is her career choice). So you can imagine the time we lost.
Even though we did not have to wait long at the car park, the seats at the University Cultural Centre, National University of Singapore, were shockingly uncomfortable, pain in the wrong place kind. Two hours in a forward slanting, zero leg room space row (despite them being premium seats) did not contribute to the overall joie de vivre.
Nevertheless, the evening went well. We reached in time; the event began on time and went beyond the scheduled hour and a half. The performance was brilliant and the music mesmerizing. Soon we had forgotten the rush to reach, ignored the discomfort of the seats and got involved in the evening. My daughter (on whom I dared to keep tabs on) seemed happy with the compromise too, at least for the first 90 minutes of the evening after which she desperately tried to catch my eye!
We beat all odds and managed to spend quality time as a family that evening. The chances I took paid off. I will plan more events like this for the family….even though for now I say ‘samarpan’ !