(Photo above is from Unsplash!)
A man in his mid 40's dressed in a staunch yellow Kurti with a white cloth tied around his waist was waiting for his turn. Two women clad in the traditional Rajasthani attire were dancing without the allure of joy. The Man whom we will address as Man henceforth looked like an orchestrator coordinating between the musicians and the dancers. He was also managing the small crowd that had gathered to amuse themselves. He was onto something.
Nonchalantly the Man picked up two large circular utensils and started balancing them on the smallest fingers of his hands. A few of us were amused, others who were Internet scholars not so much. They had seen better. Sensing the displeasure this Man cut short the performance and brought in a stick with a cloth tied at one of the ends. There were a few anticipatory glances.
As expected, he put the end of the stick on fire. Nobody was surprised. He took the stick and with absolutely no chill rubbed the flames on his left hand as if it was the next task on his to-do list. It was just the beginning. He had a quiet meditative moment with the fire before he took the flame in his mouth. A few were alarmed. But then there were a few who had seen it all, and it would take a gargantuan effort to get a reaction out of them.
The Man knew he had to take this to the next level. He added one more stick with fire to his arsenal and then put fuel in his mouth. And he started playing with fire. This part enticed the crowd; well, most of them. Almost all watched the spectacle on a screen though the reality was in front of their eyes. It almost feels like AWS has recruited the entire world to fill their cloud with pointless videos that will never be re-watched.
The 15-minute performance culminated with a resounding thud on the drums. Everybody clapped. And in the very next instant, they left. Onwards to the next act that they will record on their phones. It felt the Man desired something more than mere 2-second recognition that was served. A few onlookers gave him money as that's the only way most of us know how to recognise talent. In 15 seconds like clockwork, the next batch of the audience had gathered around and was ready in their positions to record the repeat of the act.
There was a small gathering I could see from afar. A stage with two large snakeheads gave the impression that they were part of the act. A frail-looking man dressed in off-black was performing magic to the amusement of everyone. He was seated in the middle of the stage with a few props, and people sat around him in a semi-circle. I saw his act twice; not so much for magic but his performance.
He looked like someone who picked up magic for the love of it & saw it become a burden of his reality. He knew the constraints under which he was performing, and yet he twirled with grace in his every move. His revelations were timed with impeccable precision, and he held the audience gasping for their breath just a tad bit longer. Yet, he did not know how to close the performance. The last step of the ladder alluded him. He pleaded the audience to leave with a child-like cry and sought monetary recognition for his talent. A few hands with sordid notes came forward.
Next up was a man dressed to disappoint. He had his child sit inside a make-shift prop that looked like a mistaken spaceship. The child, though in teens, looked trapped in his father's misery. He was waiting for the act to be over. This Man had far fewer tricks and was trying hard to impress. He set up the act for failure. Yet, onlookers were recording with their flash screens. At the end of the act, nobody was impressed.
What is the purpose of pulling a pigeon out of a hat? What itch is one scratching by consuming hot flames? Is it only to amuse people? It is not to make money because there is none. Yet, there are scores of people who indulge in audacious acts.
Art is accepted misery wrapped in fate; delivered in tears.
The magician kept repeating a phrase during his act in an attempt to feed the ego of the audience: "Bade Saab Aaye Hai; Kala ki Kadar Karne Wale Aaye Hai". It roughly translates to: "The mighty sir has come; the one who knows the value of art". Those words seemed as if they had seen better days.