Friday, November 26, 2004
All Day: A DAY IN THE COUNTRY
We drive to Khongjom, 35 km south of Imphal. Our guide is Dr. Nara. It is near his constituency. We are in nibe vehicles, included some heavy armed security.
I hop into the car with him so we may get some quality time together to talk. He’s been away a lot. I don’t know how many people realize how remarkable a personality he is. A poet, a Communist, a politico, homoeopath (he shows me his original clinic as we drive by it in Wangjing) he has shown some really dexterous and creative use of the sumaang lila form to say what he wants to say. He brings to mind the enlightened artist-politician-public intellectuals of Latin America.
KHONGJOM WAR MEMORIAL
We stop by the 1891 battle site. Maybe a 100 women, in pink sarongs to denote mourning, line our walk up the eucalyptus-lined approach way. We offer flowers at the shrine that has General Paona Brajabasi’s last words inscribed on it.
A man approaches Tamo Nara. He prostrates himself and holds onto Tamo’s ankles. He weeps loudly. Tamo is on his cell-phone. Weird. We later learn he was asking for his help in getting some back pay.
On the way back, I take a picture of Thang-Ta Girl striking a martial arts pose under the statue of Paona Brajabasi. Little did I know then that Paona’s style of swordplay is one of the antecedents of Oja Debabrata’s school.
TOUR OF SLOPELAND PUBLIC SCHOOL
Wow, hundreds of kids lined the road to the school, they clapped, and we joined in, as we walked the gauntlet of welcome.
I don’t know how but Bonnie and I stray from the group with a few teachers who show us the school, the dorms, the kitchen. Tamo Nara is a little peeved we missed the reception. Whoopsy.
INAUGURATION OF SCHOOL SECRETARY’S QUARTERS
Les cuts the ribbon to inaugurate the head honcho’s new house. I had suggested that he should do it on behalf of the group since there was no way for all of us to do it.
But our names will be carved into the foundation stone! Wowee.
PARENTS DAY AND PRESS CONFERENCE: OUR EXPERIENCE IN MANIPUR
Tamo Nara announces that henceforth November 26 will be Parents Day in this school. Neat. We are all gathered in the open-air auditorium. We sit on a dais, all lined, respectable like. I introduce the project, talk about ACC, the help that Tamo Nara and Pabung Deben have given. Each of us in turn says something: I am particularly touched by Bonnie’s speaking as a parent; Zette saying how the lovely scenery and balmy weather reminds her of her native California; and of course Yoshiko. She says, "Communication is more than mere words." She dances. And says “Thank you.”
The Q&A is too formal I feel so we all move off the dais and take questions. Erin sportingly does a Thang-ta routine, but only after saying how she hopes her phanek does not come undone. This gets a big laugh from the women in the audience.
We announce a little gift of R5000 to the school.
As promised, Tamo Nara has tree bean and soybeans on his menu. And phola too. Zette likes the sweet thingummy.
COURTYARD THEATER: THE ROSE OF LIDICE
TRAILER PREVIEW OFUPCOMING ATTRACTION
Sana Leibak Nachom Artistes performs a play about Czechoslovakia 1942. Preceded by a preview of KHAMBA-THOIBI, their next play. What a hoot, the idea of a trailer preview of a play! I think it is mainly because they want to show off Sanaton do the Thoibi dance in his customary drag. He is real purty.
Of course Bonnie gets top billing in Tamo’s introduction because Vit is Czech. She gives them a message from him. She is a big hit.
I enjoy the play even more this time. Especially seeing the entire open-air stage from the top of the hill when I went looking for the men’s room. The soldier who had made way for me through the throng yelling into his megaphone – now, that’s how one should go to pee always – stands next to me and quizzes me about the group. I see Sanaton is in her white wedding dress, playing a lovely young Czech maiden called Silky, way down below. In the distance, the sun is setting over the paddy fields.
We file up on stage and offer flowers as part of the play. I note this is what Ima had suggested when we first saw the play last summer. Zette and Erin bring two little schoolchildren by the hand to offer flowers with them. Sweet.
Boy, does Tamo Nara know how to dance the Thabal Chongbi. I am all uncoordinated as always. Bonnie is great. Yoshiko dives in and dances in the middle. Its fun; its always more fun than I think it will be.
Posted by Trans at 11:59 PM