Mar 28, 2010

Cats and CNN-IBN Hero Awards

It was the annual day concert at D’s school today. I don’t much think of the schools in mumbai’s suburbs, having enjoyed some terible teaching experiences in them. Which is why I was pleasantly surprised when D announced one evening over a month ago that she was participating in a concert called 'cats' where their song was called skimbleshanks. As any T.S.Eliot fan will tell you, these simple words are enough to recall one very funny book – Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. The plot is fairly simple:

“Cats expands on the theme of wisdom by depicting Deuteronomy as the leader of the show's Jellicle tribe, providing comfort and guidance to the other characters. Deuteronomy also has the task of making the "Jellicle Choice" and choosing the cat who can ascend to the Heaviside Layer (Also spelled "Heavyside"). Much of Cats' plot is fueled by this; several characters perform and try to convince Deuteronomy to choose them. At the end of the show, Deuteronomy is kidnapped by Macavity and restored by Mr. Mistoffelees. He then persuades the other cats to listen to the outcast Grizabella, selects her to be reborn, and escorts her to the Heaviside Layer.” Wikipedia

Skimbleshanks, Macavity, Rum Tum Tigger, Bustopher Jones and Grizabella are some of the other cats, each vying with the other to be elevated to Heavenside Layer and be reborn.

Classes Jr Kg to Grade 3 put up the spectacular 2.5-hr musical. The sets were splendid, the costumes varied and imaginative, the selections from Andrew Llyod Webber’s music were thoughtful. Again, the whole idea of kindness and charity, even toward those who have once wronged us, is at the core of this musical. Grizabella, who is now old and repenting, wants to be given a chance to be reborn. In her youth, she was the most glamorous amongst the cats and was selfish, vain and proud. Now, realizing fully well, the transience of beauty, youth and earthly glory, all she wants is a chance to be accepted by her feline brethren again. You will not be dry-eyed as she sings:

All alone in the moonlight
I can smile at the old days
I was beautiful then
I remember the time I knew what happiness was
Let the memory live again”.

(after the show, i rushed back home to play my personal fav - Streisand's poignant renedition of 'memory'. Listen to it, if you havent.)

I am not the kind of mom who celebrates everything her child does; somehow I marvel at mothers who can summon such degree of enthusiasm. But watching D roll in her railway cats act and again at the end move her tail to such gay abandon, I felt utterly grateful to God for his gift. I’m now searching frantically for Eliot’s book and we have both been poring over Youtube watching acts from the Broadway musical Cats. Much fun.


I don’t much watch TV in India. The shows are pathetic and there are too many distractions. With D sleeping, the maid away and some free time, I was flipping channels when I caught the CNN-IBN Real Hero Awards in the evening. Truly inspiring, most of their stories. As Smriti Irani aptly put it, “Today, by making her (one of the winners) stand beside Nita Ambani and Sachin Tendulkar, you have given her respect and recognition.” Rahul Bose was his usual sensible self when he spoke of the invisible indian who keeps doing what he does in the hope that it does make a difference (how easily we say that no matter what we do, it won't make any difference.) nita and mukesh ambani were restrained and dignified; rajdeep was grinning like the baboon he resembles and came across as unusually pompous and grating; aamir khan was polite and predictable; jonty Rhodes elucidated on team effort by saying how he always tells the MI team that if every member stops a run each while fielding, they are that much closer to winning; zaheer khan was eloquent and dignified.

I don’t want to dwell on the winners as they all have fantastic stories to tell. You can explore them if you’re really interested. But sruti mahapatra, ramesh babu kushwah, uma preman and T Raja have stayed in my mind. What amazes me about these people is how truly courageous they must be; of what mettle must they be made of that they stand tall despite having suffered so many blows?

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