I’m always looking for new spaces, venues and people in poetry. I’m a very social creator and I find my creative juices flowing with novelty and fresh perspectives. So when I heard about an Open Mic being organised at the Mumbai metro, I jumped to it! Spoken Word derives from several disciplines (right from the African bushmen’s storytelling to the American frontiersmen’s tall tales to Indian village streetplays – many of which are street performances). I saw this as a chance to do the same in a more contemporary setting. I was rather hoping that we’d be performing in one of the public spaces at a metro station, with people passing by. Instead they had cordoned off one small area at Ghatkopar metro station. Still, it was just as noisy and bustling, with a flea market across the bridge and planes flying overhead (who knew Ghatkopar was in any flight path?).
I opened with a revamped version of Flamingos, given it is my only real piece about the city. I’m going to keep refining this one till it becomes the story I want to tell.
We had time for seconds so I went in with Paper Plane, which is not only my go-to signature piece but also the gift that keeps giving. It gives me a shot of energy, a life lesson every time I perform it.
After that Gautam and I went on to another Open Mic we had heard about at another place. This one turned out to be primarily for actors. It was heart-warming to see such spaces available to all the performing arts. A lot of us tend to take a very condescending attitude towards actors and dancers. Jokes abound about ‘the Aram Nagar strugglers association’. But in becoming a performer, I realised how much generosity of spirit, how much strength and courage is required to take pieces of your soul, turn it into art and hold it up for the world to be cruel about. My respect for the other performing arts has been renewed.
The folks at Kabeera presents were very welcoming even though poetry is not acting. I was a bit worried since I am an English performer and there is a minor form of linguistic racism at work in poetry circles. But one of the audience members actually spoke up and said,
“Why are we assuming such things? We are all artists here. Art goes beyond language and other boundaries.”
And true to form, they were really very receptive when I performed Paper Plane.
I’ll be going back there if they’ll have me and even if only to watch their performances. What a lovely Sunday it was!