Lion King – The Musical

This was my first experience with a Musical. And I am actually left wondering – why do they call it a Musical .. they should be calling it a Magical !!! It was an absolutely mind-blowing experience, it had me sitting on the edge of my seat, ready to stand up and sway to their songs with their dancers. But, let me not spoil the description of the experience in this manner .. let me go chronologically…

So, Sharad and I were walking around the Thames near Westminster and we reached Charring Cross. Near the Tube station, there was this tiny little store that promised to sell tickets to various attractions of London for a huge discount. Since this is something we were looking forward to since a long time but never got around to actually buying the ticket and going in, we stepped in and started exploring options. The sales girl took out the layout of the Lyceum and showed us various seats and the price bands. Soon we selected a date, 2 seats and paid up! Now, it was about waiting for 5 long days to pass before we could experience the magic ….

The 5 days passed .. long and slow. It was Thursday. All work was done to perfection before time, and I stepped out to meet Sharad at his office. But somethings have to go wrong, and so, I managed to goof up on the way from the Bank station to his office and got thoroughly lost. Quick calls to Sharad and change of meeting point. 10 minutes later, both of us met on the platform of St. Paul’s station – miraculously, without using the mobile phone to co-ordinate geographical locations and time (it wasn’t telepathy .. just that mobile phones don’t catch signal underground, and you are left to your own devices!) Anyway, so we meet up and moved towards Coventry Gardens. Here we had the option of taking 193 steps to the ground level or waiting for a huge lift with a longer line of people waiting. Of course, we waited too .. Madame Aditi would not climb 193 steps in her finery and arrive at the theater sweaty and exhausted!

So we reached the ground level, grabbed a helpful map showing the layout of the streets and the theaters in this area. A slight detour from my story – this area is amazing. It has all the famous theaters that we read about in books – all at a stone’s throw from one another. Almost every small lane has one theater and lots of eateries. And what a variety of eateries – ranging from the most classy and expensive joints to the road side stalls, which immediately reminded me of Juhu and those Pau-bhaji and kulfi stalls opposite Mocha’s. Back to the story now. We navigated our way to Lyceum (all thanks to Sharad who tried map reading for the very first time under the watchful eyes of the experienced Aditi).

And we made an entry. Bought some Pepsi and popcorn  and settled in our uncomfortable seats with these munchies and a Falafel wrap that Sharad had so thoughtfully picked up when I was lost and trying to find my bearings. Now, to be fair, the seats were really uncomfortable. Tiny, squashed is how I’d describe them. And it isn’t that you could get better seats by paying more. Even if you paid for the costliest seats in the theater, they were still wooden with a bit of cushion, tiny and cramped with other seats. You could not rest your elbows without troubling your neighbor. Fortunately for me, Sharad was one of the neighbors and had to bear the brunt of my elbow issues. And then the musical started …

The crazy monkey started with the very famous theme song of Lion King and the stage came alive with so many animals. The artists dressed up as animals, painted like them or holding wooden cutouts of animals .. there was a huge elephant which walked down the aisle along with monkeys and birds and zebras and so many more animals! I was instantly sitting up on my seat. Suddenly, the uncomfortable seats just did not matter. The songs were just lovely, the artists – perfectionists. Scar was one nasty old lion whom anyone would hate at first sight. And Zazu was such a lovable, Smart Alec-y bird! The King and Queen were royal in their approach and baby Simba was absolutely adorable. Timon and Pumba were sooo funny and the adult Simba was sinfully handsome.

Well, there is nothing much for me to say about the story – it is absolutely lifted up from the movie. However, the light and sound effects along with the props were absolutely amazing. Certain acts had me getting goosebumps and some of them sent shivers down my spine.  The songs – Circle of Life, and Feel the Love Tonight almost moved me to tears.

All in all, highly recommended. It was indeed a magical experience. I am going to ferry all my visitors from India to Lyceum and force them to spend their 3 hours on this really wonderful thing!

PS – I am looking forward to my next Musical experience. Can’t decide between Wicked, Chicago and Shrek … any thoughts?

The most important women in my life

Its Women’s Day and hence, its time to appreciate all the beautiful women in my life, who are primarily responsible for who I am today. There are many such ladies, but I’d like to thank the 3 most important women in my life…

First, my mom. Yea, this is no surprise…. She’s the one who got me in this world and she’s the one who’s played a major role in sculpting my character. She’s the one who is primarily responsible for the principles I follow and for the person that I am. We look quite alike, and when people say we look like xerox copies, I love to reply back saying “Yea, I know I’ll look gorgeous even when I am in the wrong side of 40”. Words can really not describe what she means to me and and the more I try to put it in words, the more I’ll end up making a mess of it all ….

The second, my maternal Grandmom. She’s one strong lady and made sure all her grand-daughters became just as strong. Her philosophy for any woman “be able to earn and fend for yourself, but, don’t ever neglect your family” is very deeply ingrained in me. It is responsible for making me so conscious of my career, and yet, it has kept me so very detached from it. It has ensured that I know more than one skill to earn a livelihood, and yet, it never let me deviate from following my dreams. And most importantly, she made me realize that I have an identity which is not associated with my family name, but which is associated with the person that I am. Nani, I know I haven’t been able to spend a lot of time with you of late, but that in no way means that I don’t love you any less.

Finally, the person I consider my spiritual guru. I was pushed (literally blackmailed) to meet her by her son (who is a good friend of mine) at a time when I was going through what people of my age call “quarter life crisis”. I never regretted that “push”. She’s helped me grow spiritually;  taught me the “never-say-die attitude”; taught me to give it my best shot, even if I knew I was fighting a losing battle and finally to be detached from failure and to look at it very objectively and then to move on. She’s someone I consider my second mother (sorry future-mom-in-law, you’ll be the third mother in my life) and someone who introduces me to her family and friends as “We got to know Aditi through our son, but now, she’s our daughter since we dont have any”. Everytime she says that, I send a small prayer of thanks to God for sending her in my life. Everyone has one mother who shapes him/her, I have two 😀 (I cant help gloating … Excuse me)

Apart from these 3 women, a lot of others have made me what I am. They are my aunts, my cousin sisters, my nieces, my close friends, friends, acquaintances, family friends ….. Each one of them is unique in their own, each one of them has taught me something and each one of them is very special to me. Here’s wishing all of them “Happy Women’s Day”…

The new festival called – Independence Day !!

Its the stroke of midnight of 15th August 2009. Yes, its the moment India gained, nay won, her independence 62 years back. Its the day, we packed the Britishers in their ships and sent them sailing back to their own island. But I wont want to pepper this post with how well India has done, or how well it could have done, or how the politicians have sapped the energy from the country… We are what we are, and we are proud of it !

What I want to really emphasize is, that now the Indians look to this day as a festival. Open the newspapers and colorful advertisements cry out to you, enticing you with exciting discounts and discount rates which are never on offer even during festivals like Diwali, Eid and Christmas. Innumerable restaurants invite you with 50% off on you bill, and departmental stores decorate their interiors in with ballons and streamers in saffron, white and green(SWG). The children on the crossroads, instead of begging for a coin, try to sell you plastic tricolors and paper weights fashioned like the Indian flag. Magazines carried articles on how to throw successful Independence parties, and how to color co-ordinate your meal so as incorporate the colors of the flag. And as the clock struck midnight, the sky lit up with fire crackers, and the youth came out on their bikes honking and hooting joyously.My phone is already buzzing non-stop with the many Independence Day messages pouring in.

I wont be surprised, if I see children with SWG painted on their face, and if I see women wearing some accessories in SWG and if I see men with tiny flags pinned on their chest. And I wont be surprised if I see the sweet marts displaying the tricolored barfi. And I wont be surprised to see homes with flower decorations in SWG. We are free and we are happy to show it to the world. Its a day we now look forward to celebrate and even wish our family and peers “Happy Independence Day”. For us, its no longer a day of rest and its definitely not “just-another-holiday”.

Here’s wishing you all a very Happy Independence Day. Azadi mubarak ho!