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?

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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!

Honk honk – today is “no horn day” – honk honk !!

A small article in today’s paper told me that Ahmedabad is observing “No horn day” today. This simply means, when you go out on the road today on your two or four wheeler, keep your finger off the horn. Did we really follow it?

Honestly speaking, I forgot about it, till one bright beam of light struck me from the heavens above and I remembered not to honk today. But I promptly forgot about it the very next moment when one !@#$*% guy on a flashy bike tried to do something stupid right in front of my Activa. A loud honk to express my annoyance and a dirty look and I sped away. And then again I felt guilty. So, typical of all p(r)etty criminals, I started noticing how many of us were actually following the “rule of the day”. Funnily, no one was !

Its really not surprising. Let me elaborate.

1. We as Ahmedabadis are very honk friendly. We have a special honk for every need. We have a style to express annoyance, and one to express anger, and yet another one to just say hi to closest rider. And yet another one to flirt with the next rider. And still another one to just show happiness. And the list just doesnt end. Honking to us is what the status message on GTalk is to most chat addict friends of mine. And now you ask us not to honk !!! :-O We’d rather stay at home than be on the road and not honk!

2. The “no horn day” was really not publicised well. I mean, usually, the radio is full of it and all leading dailies start talking about it atleast a week in advance. I open the paper today to see which politician called who what (as a side note, if you are looking to learn “colored words” do read these political articles) and I see a small note saying “Please refrain from honking today. We are observing No Horn Day”. Man! You think I am going to remember this? Specially after it was you who made me dependent on your repeated reminders about something which is going to happen 2 months later!

So, all in all, the “no honk day” was as good as a “more honk day”. Such initiatives are good, but they serve no purpose if observed only for a day. I dont know what was the intention behind this particular “Day” but if it was educating people about noise pollution and encouraging them not to honk so much, it fell flat on its face. Instead of just simply observing “days” we should make short long term plans and try and create incentives for people so that they follow the Day 365 days a year !